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When you think of the largest dog breeds out there, you probably picture the Great Dane. These dogs are often classified as a giant breed because they have the capacity to reach an adult size well over 100 pounds. As large as these dogs are, they have hearts of gold and they make excellent family companions. In fact, these dogs love spending time lounging on the couch with their human companions. Although they have the best of intentions, Great Danes can sometimes be a little clumsy so keep an eye on your valuables and supervise interactions between your dog and small children. He definitely will not act aggressively, but his size and awkwardness can sometimes lead to accidents.

The Great Dane is one of the largest dog breeds out there, standing between 28 and 32 inches (or more) at the shoulder and weighing anywhere from 110 to 190 pounds at maturity. Despite this breed’s formidable size, they are big teddy bears at heart, though they can be protective when they need to be. Plus, their loud bark is enough to scare off any intruder. Unfortunately, larger dogs have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs and the Great Dane is no exception. This wonderful breed has a tragically short lifespan of just 7 to 10 years. Great Danes are affected by a number of serious health problems which can decrease their life expectancy drastically. Bloat, for example, is a very common condition and many Great Danes develop cardiomyopathy later in life.

While some of the conditions to which this breed is prone cannot be prevented, feeding your Great Dane a high-quality and healthy diet is a great way to preserve his health for as long as possible. Large and giant breeds like the Great Dane require a protein-rich diet to help preserve their lean muscle mass with moderate fat content to provide a concentrated source of energy. If you want to make sure that your Great Dane’s nutritional needs are met, your best bet is to start with a large- or giant-breed specific formula. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Great Danes and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this beautiful breed.

General Nutritional Recommendations

Before you start shopping for a new dog food for your Great Dane, you need to learn the basics about dog nutrition. Dogs are primarily carnivorous in terms of what they are designed to eat, though they do have a limited ability to digest plant products. Still, protein is the number 1 nutritional consideration for dogs and it should come from quality animal sources like meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Animal-based proteins are considered complete proteins because they contain all 10 essential amino acids that your dog’s body cannot synthesize on its own. Protein is especially important for large- and giant-breeds because it helps them to maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy bodyweight. Plant-based proteins are not necessarily bad for your dog, but they are less biologically valuable. A quality animal protein should always be the first ingredient in any product you choose for your dog.

3 Brands We Highly Recommend Feeding your Great Dane

1
Precise Dog Food
Overall, Precise seems to be an above-average brand of dog food that offers a decent selection of product choices. This brand pays close attention to the quality and safetyRead full review
4.7
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2
Orijen Dog Food
Overall, Orijen is one of the highest quality brands out there. Not only are they committed to creating biologically appropriate diets for cats and dogs, but they are very careful...Read full review
4.8
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3
Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Simply put, this Company sets a standard for quality in pet food that all pet food manufacturers should strive to achieve. Not only do they use the freshest...Read full review
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After protein, the next most important nutritional consideration for dogs is fat – it too should come from animal sources. Named animal fats like salmon oil or chicken fat are very valuable for dogs because they provide a concentrated source of energy. Because fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of protein, you need to moderate your Great Dane’s fat intake to keep him from growing too quickly or from becoming overweight. Plant-based fats like flaxseed and canola oil can help to provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which is important for your dog’s skin and coat health, but the primary source of fat in any recipe should come from an animal source.

Once your dog’s needs for protein and fat are met, you can start thinking about other ingredients like carbohydrate and supplements. Dogs have a limited ability to digest carbohydrates so look for whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes as the primary carbohydrate sources because these are the most digestible options for your dog. In terms of supplements, fresh fruits and vegetables are great natural sources for key nutrients – much more biologically valuable than synthetic supplements. If you have to use synthetic supplements, look for chelated minerals – these are minerals that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Dried fermentation products which act as probiotics are also a valuable addition to any large-breed dog food formula.

Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations

As a giant breed, the Great Dane has some special nutritional needs outside the realm of general dog nutrition. When your Great Dane is a puppy, you need to be very careful about what you feed him and how often. Great Dane puppies take 12 to 18 months (or longer in some cases) to reach their adult size so you need to feed them a product that will support steady growth without going overboard on calories. If your Great Dane puppy grows too quickly it could put excess strain on his bones and joints, predisposing him to musculoskeletal issues as an adult. The best thing to do is feed your puppy a large-breed puppy formula three times a day for the first six months. Feed your 2-month-old puppy 2 to 4 cups per day and increase his ration by one cup every month until he reaches 6 months of age. Keep his ration steady until he reaches 9 months, then cut back to two meals per day for a total of 7 to 10 cups until the puppy is 1-year-old. At that point you can switch to a large-breed adult recipe.

In addition to considering how much to feed your Great Dane, you also need to be careful when shopping for the ideal pet food product. Feeding your puppy a large-breed specific puppy food is a must because it will contain enough protein to support your puppy’s growth and development without having so many calories that it contributes to overgrowth. Large-breed puppy formulas are often supplemented with DHA for healthy brain and eye development as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy bones and joints. Most large-breed puppy formulas contain moderate fat content to reduce calorie content without compromising the overall nutritional balance. This is the same for large-breed adult formulas – they are rich in protein with moderate fat content. Many dog owners recommend switching your Great Dane puppy from a large-breed puppy recipe to a large-breed adult formula once he reaches 80% of his adult size.

Another thing you need to think about with your Great Dane is the risk for bloat, also known as gastric torsion. This is a condition that frequently occurs in large and deep-chested breeds when they eat too much at one time or if they consume a large quantity of water after eating. It can also happen if the dog engages in vigorous exercise after eating. These things can cause the dog’s stomach to fill with gas which may then cause it to twist on its axis, cutting off blood flow to the stomach and other vital organs. Bloat is a very dangerous condition and, if not treated promptly, it can become fatal. The best way to prevent this condition is to keep your dog from eating too much at once and to limit your dog’s water consumption and exercise within an hour of eating. You may also want to invest in a special dog bowl that helps to keep your dog from eating too quickly.

What is the Best Dog Food for My Great Dane?

When you are ready to start shopping around for a new dog food for your Great Dane, you need to consider the unique nutritional needs of large and giant dogs. Protein is absolutely essential to help your dog maintain his lean muscle mass and his fat intake should be controlled to prevent overweight and obesity. The best way to meet your Great Dane’s nutritional needs is to find a high-quality commercial dog food formulated specifically for large- and giant-breed dogs. Feed your dog this formula for several weeks while monitoring his condition to see if any adjustments need to be made. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Great Dane:

Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Chickpeas, Organic Peas

Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe

If you are looking for a high-quality diet formulated for large-breed dogs like the Great Dane, consider this Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe. This recipe is made by Castor & Pollux, the leader in organic and natural pet food, so you can rest assured that it will meet your Great Dane’s unique nutritional needs through quality ingredients. This large-breed formula features organic free-range chicken as the primary ingredient, supplemented with organic carbohydrates like peas, barley, and brown rice for digestibility and dietary fiber. Overall, this formula is designed to provide complete and balanced nutrition catered to large-breed dogs and it is loaded with natural flavor!

Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Food

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Ascorbyl Palmitate)

Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Food

This Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Food is formulated for dogs that weigh at least 50 pounds at maturity – a category that the Great Dane definitely fits into. This formula features premium proteins like chicken and chicken meal as well as digestible carbohydrates like ground brown rice and oatmeal. For concentrated energy, this formula relies on healthy fats like chicken fat, flaxseed, and menhaden fish oil. Overall, it provides a minimum of 25% protein and 15% fat with just 3.5% crude fiber. Overall, this recipe is a great choice for your Great Dane because it provides the protein he needs to maintain a healthy weight with just enough fat to support his energy needs.

Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Adult Dog Food Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Pork Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Rice, Dehulled Barley

Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Adult Dog Food Recipe

Not many dog food manufacturers offer formulas specifically designed for giant-breed dogs like the Great Dane but this Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Adult Dog Food Recipe is one of them. This formula is designed for dogs weighing more than 50 pounds at maturity and it features high levels of protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate content to help keep your dog lean and fit. This recipe features chicken meal and pork meal as the primary protein sources to support your dog’s lean muscle mass with healthy fats like chicken fat and flaxseed for concentrated energy. This formula is fortified with a complete vitamin and mineral package and supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for additional bone and joint support. Plus, it is free from corn, wheat and soy ingredients as well as artificial additives.

What is the Best Dog Food for Great Dane Puppies?

Choosing a high-quality puppy food is absolutely essential if you want to start your Great Dane puppy off on the right foot. Because Great Danes grow to more than 100 pounds at maturity, it can take them 2 years or more to achieve their maximum size. During that time, you want to make sure that your puppy gets the protein he needs to fuel his growth and development without too many extra calories that might lead to excessive growth. The best thing you can do is feed your Great Dane a large- or giant-breed puppy formula until he reaches 80% of his maximum size then switch to an adult recipe. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Great Dane puppy:

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe

This product belongs to the Wilderness line of protein-rich recipes from Blue Buffalo, one of the leading manufacturers of natural pet food products. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe is a great choice for large-breed puppies like the Great Dane because it is built around premium proteins like deboned chicken and turkey meal which will support your puppy’s lean muscle mass as he grows and develops. This formula relies on sweet potatoes and potatoes as digestible complex carbohydrates with carrots, blueberries, and cranberries for antioxidant support. It is supplemented with DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development as well as a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health. Plus, it is made with Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which consists of a blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help round out your dog’s nutrition.

Precise Naturals Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Ascorbyl Palmitate)

Precise Naturals Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe

If you are looking for a product that is specially formulated for large and giant breed puppies, consider this Precise Naturals Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe. This formula features protein-rich chicken meal as the primary ingredient, supported by digestible carbohydrates like ground brown rice and oatmeal. To meet your dog’s needs for energy, this formula contains healthy fats like chicken fat, sunflower oil, and menhaden fish oil which also provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. To make this recipe even better for giant breeds, it is fortified with an optimum ratio of calcium to phosphorus for steady growth with glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation as well.  It is also full of natural flavor that your Great Dane puppy will love!

Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Eggs

Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe

For a high-quality product that not only meets but exceeds your Great Dane puppy’s nutritional needs, consider this Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe. This recipe belongs to the Instinct line of products from Nature’s Variety which features premium proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates. This particular recipe is naturally grain-free and features protein-rich chicken meal as the primary ingredient. It is supplemented with balanced levels of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as DHA for brain and eye development. With ideal levels of calcium and phosphorus, this formula supports steady growth and supports the health of your dog’s growing bones and teeth. Overall, it provides quality nutrition optimized for large-breed puppies.

Because the Great Dane has such a short lifespan (an average of 7 to 10 years), you want to do everything you can to keep him healthy for as long as possible. It all starts with a healthy, protein-rich diet that will meet your dog’s needs for energy and nutrients without going overboard on calories. When it comes to feeding your Great Dane you have to walk the fine line between giving him enough food and giving him too much food. Starting off with a large-breed puppy formula is a great way to ensure that your Great Dane puppy grows up big and strong without growing too quickly. Then, switch to a large-breed adult recipe to maintain your dog’s healthy bodyweight for the rest of his life. If you need help getting started with your search, consider one of the top recommended brands of large-breed puppy or adult dog food reviewed above.

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Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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