Great Danes are gentle giants. Underneath its majestic posture is a confident, loving, and highly devoted hound that makes it one of the best dogs to have around kids. Nutrition is such a very important aspect of caring for a Great Dane. For this giant breed, growing slower than other breeds is the key. As such it is important to carefully consider the food you’re going to give them. We’ve asked animal nutrition experts on what this breed of dog really needs. Using the information given to us, we’ve been able to identify 5 of the best dog foods for Great Danes that pet parents of the breed also use.
Best Dog Foods for Great Danes Buying Guide
If you have a Great Dane or you’re seriously considering on getting one it is crucial that you pick the best nutrition for your pet. To help you better understand the unique nutritional requirements of this breed of dog, we’ve prepared this buying guide especially for you.
How Much Food Do I Feed My Great Dane?
Great Danes are considered giant breeds. As such, they are known to have one of the fastest growth rates among dogs. They can reach their full adult weight of about 140 to 175 pounds for males and 110 to 140 pounds for females as well as their height of between 30 and 32 inches for males and 28 and 30 inches for female in just a matter of 3 years. When compared to other breeds, this is exceptionally fast from puppyhood.
The key here is to help your Great Dane develop slowly. Allowing it to grow too fast can lead to a host of problems. Their bones and joints should grow together with their muscle mass. Additionally, Great Danes are known for bloating so you really have to be cautious about how you feed them.
So how much should you feed your Great Dane? Here’s a rundown of how much you can give your dog. Keep in mind to give your dog the lower limit of the range if it is female; the middle-high range if you have a male.
- 8 to 11 weeks old – 2 to 4 cups daily, divided into 3 meals
- 12 to 15 weeks old – 3 to 5 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- 16 to 19 weeks old – 4 to 6 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- 20 to 23 weeks old – 5 to 7 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- 24 to 27 weeks old – 6 to 8 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- 28 to 35 weeks old – 6 to 9 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- 9 months to 1 year old – 7 to 10 cups daily, divided into 2 meals
- Adults – 8 to 14 cups daily for males and 6 to 9 cups daily for females, divided into 2 meals
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What are the Nutritional Needs of Great Danes?
It is easy to think that Great Danes will have the same nutrient needs as any other dog breed, except that they will need sufficiently larger amounts of dog food per serving. On the contrary, while other breeds will require high protein diets, this and a few other ‘unusual’ nutrient requirements are specific to Great Danes. Here are the nutrients your gentle giant needs.
- Moderate to Low Protein
Great Danes should not receive more than 24% proteins in its diet. Although we did find some literature saying that these dogs should get at least 23% of proteins, the reason for a low to moderately-low protein diet is quite understandable.
Since protein is basically used for building tissues especially the muscles, beefing up your Great Dane with substantially more proteins especially in its first 18 months can lead to significant weight issues, not because of the fat or excess carbs in its diet, but rather because of an increase in lean muscle mass. While this can be seen as greatly beneficial, muscles typically weigh more than fats. As you can already imagine, the gigantic size of your Great Dane doesn’t really favor having extra weight although they do weigh up to 175 pounds for males.
Too much weight can put a strain on your dog’s still-developing bones and joints. It is also one of the most common causes of hip dysplasia in these dogs. That is why experts recommend to go slow on the proteins. Keep in mind that Great Danes will need to grow slowly but surely so that their bodies will be able to accommodate the growing strain and stress exerted by their developing and growing organs.
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- Low Fat
The ideal fat percentage for a Great Dane diet is between 12% and 20%, although some would say it should not exceed 14%.
- Moderate Calories
Great Danes are originally bred to hunt wild boars as well as guardians of their respective families. While the AKC classifies it as a working dog, the UKC categorizes it as a guardian dog. The important thing to understand is that Great Danes don’t actually have high energy levels. In fact, they won’t mind lying all day long on their doggie beds, making them perfect for apartment-dwellers. That being said, you should be cautious on the number of calories as giving it too much can lead to hyperglycemia and diabetes.
You may also like our review on the best dog food for Boxers.
Best Food Ingredients for Great Danes
Given that Great Danes are extra-large breeds, they will require certain nutrients more than any other.
- Digestible Proteins
Great Danes are very prone to bloating. That is why they need easily digestible proteins to help minimize the incidence of bloating. If the dog food contains carbs, it is also crucial that it is easily digestible as well.
- Joint-friendly Nutraceuticals and Minerals
We cannot help but emphasize the importance of calcium and phosphorus as well as glucosamine and chondroitin in ensuring healthier and stronger bones and joints. This is crucial especially if you do decide to give your pet high protein diet that can accelerate the growth of its muscles, leading to substantially heavier weight than what the bones and joints can safely accommodate.
One of the major issues facing Great Danes is a certain type of cardiomyopathy. Giving antioxidants can help minimize this concern while also aiding in the establishment of healthier digestion and reduction of inflammatory processes.
These are essential in helping prevent bloating by improving the digestion of food molecules present in your dog’s gut. These also help improve immune system functioning considering that this breed of dog is prone to a certain type of cancer.
What to Avoid Feeding Great Danes
Great Danes require a special kind of diet that is appropriate for their gigantic size. You should also avoid giving them any of the following foods as these can adversely affect their health.
- Table scraps especially those that are heavily-seasoned and very fatty
- Garlics and onions in various forms
- Liquor, wine, beer, or any dish that is cooked with alcohol
- Chocolates, cocoas, coffee, tea, and other stimulants
- Milk as well as other dairy products
- Bubble or chewing gum and candies
- Macadamia nuts
- Raisins and grapes
- Persimmons, plums, and peaches
- Salt, salty and sugary drinks and foods
Issues to Watch Out For
They may be giants in the dog world, but Great Danes are not immune to health problems. Here are some of the health problems that you really need to watch out for.
- Gastric torsion
This is the natural consequence of frequent bloating. It is considered a veterinary emergency as the stomach abnormally twists onto itself, severely cutting off circulation. There are no medications for gastric torsion. Only prompt and definitive surgery can help save your Great Dane. It is known as the number 1 killer of these gentle giants.
- Hip dysplasia
This is one of the reasons why Great Dane puppies need to grow at a much slower rate. This is to help prevent unnecessary strain on the hip joint.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
In dilated cardiomyopathy, the size of the heart grows but the relative thickness of the muscles of the heart grows thinner. This leads to insufficient pumping capacity of the heart causing oxygenation problems to the rest of the body.
- Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
The bones of the Great Dane puppy grow at an unusually faster rate than normal, leading to painful bones because of the pressure exerted on the surrounding tissues. Again, the culprit is giving the dog more nutrients, especially proteins, than what is absolutely necessary.
This is cancer of the bones, although Great Danes are also known to develop cancer in other body parts. Osteosarcoma is very common, though.
Great Danes also have a propensity for Wobbler syndrome, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and elbow dysplasia as well as a handful of other problems seen in giant dogs.
One of the most common mistakes of newbie Great Dane pet parents is that they tend to overfeed their dogs, thinking that it needs to grow as big as possible. Sadly, this exposes the Great Dane to a host of problems. With these 5 best dog foods for Great Danes, helping your pet achieve its optimum is now made easier.