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Feeding Great Danes and Great Dane Puppies

Massive Great Dane laying in the rear hatch of a small crossover SUV.

Feeding Great Danes and Great Dane Puppies

To think the giant Great Dane above weighed just 2 pounds at birth is insane. But we’re not crazy to warn that feeding Great Danes to grow to this enormous size is no joke. Great Dane puppies can increase their birth weight by 60 times or more the first year and continue to mature until age two!

Owning Great Danes and publishing since 2005 we can attest.. Unlike genetic, hereditary and congenital issues, WE as Dane owners have full control of our dog’s diet & nutrition. We’ll pay forward decades of info here about feeding Great Danes and Great Dane puppies for slow healthy growth, with fingers crossed for a long lived Dane.

Our challenge when feeding Great Danes and many other giant breed dogs is to avoid developmental orthopedic diseases (DOD). Conditions such as HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy), Pano (Panosteoitis), OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans), bowed or deformed front legs, knuckling over and swollen carpals can be avoided by feeding Great Dane puppies a diet of appropriate nutritional value. In addition, proper diet can reduce or delay the onset of diseases such as wobbler’s syndrome or hip displasia even if these maladies are present in your Dane’s lineage.

Feeding adult Great Danes is less critical yet there are breed nuances that can complicate your diet selection. Great Danes can have sensitive digestion and be quirky towards certain proteins, suffering loose stool, diarrhea and flatulence.. Nothing beats a gassy Dane! Just kidding here;) And, the mother of all evils which resides in the back of the mind of all GD owners, BLOAT.. more about bloat below.

Free Feeding Great Danes

Bloat is a concern, did I mention bloat is a concern? Good, because Bloat is the #1 killer of Great Danes! And for this reason, free feeding can be deadly as mixing food with activity is thought one of the triggers of bloat. Here is why scheduled meals with subsequent rest periods are highly recommended when feeding Great Danes. Just like childhood memories of your parents telling you to wait an hour after that hot dog before you jump back in the lake. A few hours rest after your Great Dane eats is always important protocol. Two servings of food for adult Danes per day is customary, when raw feeding, one meal per day works well.

Adult Great Dane Diet Tips

  • Feed kibble of quality ingredients, see our Feeding Dry Section for more info.
  • Choose kibble with calorie content of 375 to 450 calories (Kcal) per cup based on your Dane’s activity level.
  • We recommend kibble with primary protein sources from quality named meats.
  • Ideal protein content between 23% & 30% (Grain free kibble may be higher).
  • To minimize chances of bloat, grain free kibble formulas preferred over grain based.
  • Feeding Great Danes foods with added Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Omega 3 & 6 EFA’s are a plus.
  • Your Great Dane will require between 2,500 to 3,500 calories per day depending on age, weight & activity level.
  • Two daily meals recommended, free feeding should be avoided.
  • Raw Feeding Great Danes is awesome for adults and puppies.

Feeding Great Dane Puppies

Once weaned off of mother’s milk, Great Dane puppies should be fed a quality large & giant breed puppy formula kibble, adult formula kibble, or a Raw Diet. Hungry pups can really pack away food so it’s important to portion their meals into two or three servings per day. Take care not to overfeed Dane puppies, especially in one large serving.

Like all giant breeds and any large breed that goes through a rapid growth stage, care must be taken in selecting the proper diet when feeding Great Danes. Remember, these young dogs will be reaching full skeletal size in about a year which can be an increase in birth weight a hundred fold!

Feeding Dane puppies requires a diet with low calcium levels, minimal added supplements and a calcium/ phosphorus ratio as close to 1/ 1 as possible. In short, we want quality ingredients with moderate nutrient levels similar to those found in an adult maintenance formula or quality large breed puppy formula. We’ve Recommended Brands Here and discuss how a Raw Diet fits the bill here.

Protein levels are still believed by some to be an important factor when feeding Great Danes, yet the topic has been highly debated. Much has to do with the source of the protein, whether it’s sourced from meats vs. grains, etc. We suggest to err on the side of caution when feeding Great Dane puppies as excess protein will just be excreted by your dog’s bodily functions anyhow. Protein levels of 25% and fat levels of 15% are right on par for Great Dane puppies (Slightly lower is OK).

Great Dane Puppy Diet Tips

  • Only quality ingredients, see our Dry Dog Food section for more info.
  • Moderate calorie kibble recommended, 350 to 400 calories (Kcal) per cup.
  • Main protein from a named meat source.
  • A secondary named meat protein source.
  • Ideal protein content between 23% & 29%.
  • “All Life Stages – Adult – Large & Giant Breed Puppy” formulas with nutrient levels as discussed.
  • Ideal fat content ranging between 12% to 18%.
  • All important calcium levels best for large breeds, between 1% to 1.3%.
  • Phosphorus levels from 0.8% to 1.3% and calcium to phosphorus ratio between 1:1 and 1.4:1.
  • Essential fatty acids (EFA’s), digestive enzymes, probiotics & trace minerals.
  • Keep your Great Dane puppy slim enough to feel their last rib.
  • Avoid foods with added calcium, NEVER supplement calcium!

Great Dane Puppy Exercise

A growing Dane puppy can be fragile, ironic as this sounds. Exercise is acceptable but should be postponed with Danes for an hour or two after they’ve fed. While playing, take caution and calm your puppy if she gets too rambunctious. Young Great Danes are prone to bone and joint injuries during their rapid growth phase. Great Dane puppies are also a bit clumsy and aloof, so supervising playtime in a safe outdoor area on soft grass or dirt is always good advice to follow.

As always and with any puppy, be sure to socialize your Dane pup with other dogs and people. Remember, your Great Dane puppy will be a massive dog in about a year, conditioning calm during early social and physical development will result in a easy to handle giant.

Additional Feeding Great Danes Info

All the best to you and your Great Dane! For help choosing kibble dog food for your Dane plus more information about raw feeding, visit our Homepage for quick banner access to the major sections of our website!

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