Great Danes are truly the gentle giants of the dog world. Noble and loyal, these even-tempered dogs have had a strong following for hundreds of years. Because of their extra large size, these dogs have unique nutritional requirements. It's imperative to discuss the best dog food for Great Danes with your veterinarian.
They are one of the most recognizable breeds out there and frankly, you just can’t miss them! The Great Dane is about as tall as a 3-year old child, standing about 30-34 inches at the shoulder. Their girth is impressive too – they can reach 150 pounds!
They come in 9 different colors and are born with floppy ears and a long tail. Unfortunately, due to their extra-large size the lifespan of the Great Dane is all too short at about 6-8 years. Danes tend to have low activity levels, but enjoy a walk several times a day.
As a giant breed, Great Danes have special nutritional requirements as they age. It is extremely important to not over-feed your Great Dane at any age, but especially during puppyhood. An excess of calories can predispose them to a host of orthopedic diseases.
I'll discuss some of the common health concerns with this breed in just a moment, but for now here is a quick list of the 6 dog food brands I'll be recommending in this article. I'll tell you which life stages these brands are best for and the health benefits that they offer your dog.
|Dog Food Brands||Price||Value||Rating|
|Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food||$$||$1.16/lb||4.5/5|
|Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Formula||$$||$1.23/lb||4.5/5|
|Royal Canin GIANT Line||$$||$1.80/lb||4.3/5|
|Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Satiety Support||$$$$||$5.33/lb||5.0/5|
|Natural Balance Synergy||$$||$1.96/lb||4.6/5|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d||$$$||$3.21/lb||3.9/5|
* Click on the Great Dane dog food for more information and prices or scroll down below for more details.
Common health conditions of the Great Dane
Danes are genetically predisposed to developing a painful condition called hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is the abnormal growth of the hips. Over time, the abnormality can cause painful hip arthritis, even in puppies. While selective breeding and screening can help diminish the prevalence of the genes in the Great Dane population, it is still present.
While there is a genetic component to these diseases, there are significant nutritional risk factors that play a part during puppyhood. These risk factors are rapid growth and excess dietary calcium intake.
Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) is a common problem for Great Danes. It is a genetically-linked disease that can be worsened by poor diet and fast growth. Specifically, it is a disorder of the bone ossification and cartilage formation at the joint. The cartilage can wear off, causing lameness and even painful “joint mice” as early as 3 months of age. It occurs most commonly in the shoulder, elbow, hock and knee.
Most Danes are very easy going and tend to be ‘couch potatoes’. It is essential not only for these gentle giants to not grow too quickly but to keep a lean body condition their entire lives.
They are relatively short-lived as a breed and extra pressure on their joints from obesity can reduce their quality of life during the short time they’re with us. The best way to keep them in top form is to feed the best dog food for Great Danes appropriately and maintain an active lifestyle.
Best Dog Food for Great Danes
6 Vet Recommended Brands
How to Feed a Great Dane
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
Puppy Great Danes
Great Dane puppies are larger than life almost from birth – the average newborn can weigh in at 2 pounds! These not-so-little guys can demand food from you 24/7. As mentioned previously, it is important to not overfeed your Dane pup.
It is also important to follow feeding guidelines closely that are listed on the packaging of the best dog food for Great Danes that you choose. You'll also need to work with your veterinarian to maintain proper body condition.
Great Danes don’t mature into adults until they are 18-24 months of age, so it is important to feed them appropriately during this crucial time. My top pick for the best dog food for Great Danes in the puppy stage of life is Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food.
Eukanuba has worked hard at improving their large breed puppy formula over the last decade and with great results. It includes a tasty large-shaped kibble perfect for larger puppy mouths and an impressive nutritional pedigree.
High quality ingredients include DHA-rich fish oil and prebiotics for improved digestion. Reviewers boast that their puppies had beautiful coats while eating this tasty food.
If you can’t find Eukanuba or if it is out of your price range, don’t despair! Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Formula is another great choice for the best dog food for Great Danes in the puppy stage.
Purina Pro Plan’s Focus formula boasts an impressive range of benefits and is a great value. The most impressive ingredient in this formula is glucosamine. We normally see glucosamine in senior diets but for giant breed dogs that may have developmental problems with their joints, this can be a big plus in starting them off on the right foot.
Best Dog Food for Adult Great Danes
Around 18 months of age, your giant is officially an adult. When making the transition from puppy food to adult food, it is okay to switch brands. Whichever food you choose, be sure to mix the old food and the new food together for 4-5 days before solely feeding the new adult food.
Normal Body Condition Great Danes
A great place to start for an active, normal body weight/condition Great Dane is Royal Canin GIANT Line. Royal Canin often tops my list of best dog foods due to their commitment and track record for safety, quality and premium ingredients.
Royal Canin has divided its GIANT dog food line into different age groups. You can start them with the puppy formula until 8 months of age and go to the junior formula, which is up to 24 months of age.
This adult formula is for adult Danes over 18 months of age. The kibble size sets this food apart from other large breed formulas in that it is extra-large for mouths that are larger than life. It also includes very specific feeding instructions based on your dog’s activity level, making it easier for you to keep him fit and trim.
Overweight/Obese Great Danes
Great Danes like to take it easy, and sometimes this can translate to extra pounds around the waistline. This extra fluff can put unnecessary strain on their joints and spine, accelerating painful arthritis.
If your Dane is overweight or obese, talk to your veterinarian about their overall health and body condition. It is worthwhile to take a look at switching to a “lower calorie” food that will help them stay fuller, longer.
When I need to recommend the best dog food for Great Danes, I always suggest Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Satiety Support. For over 40 years, Royal Canin has produced top-of-the-line premium foods for pets. Their Satiety Support formula does not disappoint and is a good choice for overweight Great Danes.
This reduced calorie food is high fiber and high protein – supporting good muscle health and digestion. Ingredients like chondroitin sulfate help to keep your dog’s joints in top form, marigold and rosemary extracts provide an antioxidant punch. This diet is a Veterinary diet, so talk to your veterinarian about obtaining a prescription and weight loss support.
Senior Great Danes
Great Danes are considered senior or geriatric around 4 years of age. As they age, their nutritional requirements change as well. It is best to choose a food that will help to support them and their medical challenges.
The biggest problems that Danes have as they get older are related to digestion and mobility. If your Great Dane suffers from tummy troubles or stool that is often too soft or too hard, consider Natural Balance Synergy.
Natural Balance is another high-quality dog food manufacturer with a great track record for quality products. Their Synergy formula provides balanced nutrition for senior dogs and boasts an ingredients list that will help to promote all body systems.
For adult and senior Great Danes with digestive issues, this food stands out. It contains a high level of fiber from flaxseed, oat fiber, beet pulp and psyllium. High fiber in this diet helps feces pass more easily and makes clean-up easier for you.
Even Great Danes with healthy hips and elbows at birth can succumb to degenerative joint disease (DJD) in their senior years. If it is getting harder for your Dane to get around, talk to your veterinarian and consider switching to the best dog food for Great Danes suffering from this ailment.
In this case, I recommend Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d. If your Dane suffers from arthritis from DJD, it is worthwhile to talk to your veterinarian about this Hill’s prescription diet. j/d formula has one of the highest levels of chondroitin, glucosamine and omega-3's out there on the market.
It helps preserve cartilage and decrease inflammation naturally with essential fatty acids and antioxidants. It can also help your dog’s mobility in as little as 21 days. With the help of j/d, you can keep your Dane “med-free” and comfortable for as long as possible.
The Doggy Bag – Take Home Message
Great Danes tend to live the longest, healthiest lives when they are kept in a leaner body condition, receive life-stage-appropriate balanced nutrition and routine veterinary care.
It is important to follow feeding instructions carefully and consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health or nutrition. You also need to discuss a change in diet with your vet if you're considering switching your pet's food, even if you've chosen one of the best dog food for Great Danes.
READ NEXT: Top 10 Best Organic Dog Food Brands