Great Dane Nutrition

On this page I will share any/all info I have or learn about Great Dane Nutrition.

Proper diet is so incredibly important when it comes to dogs, but even more so in regards to Great Danes. Especially during their most crucial growth stages. It is one of the most talked about issues with our breed, or rather, the most common question all new dane owners ask when researching or bringing home their new dane pup. What to feed….

While there are quite a few quality kibble diets out there now, the most important point to make is that a comercial, grocery store or walmart brand food is NOT for danes! Alot of danes have serious digestive issues, are sensitive or allergic to different things found in kibble, and a food filled with nothing but corn, bi products and fillers is just begging for trouble.

In growing danes, we want to be very careful about the calcium/phosphorous levels in whichever food we choose. Protein content is also much discussed. Many dane experts say absolutely NO protein levels about 23-24%….while many others say that protein in of itself is not the issue AS LONG as it comes from a true meat source, not a carb or grain product.

The first mistake a lot of new owners make is thinking a dane pup should be fed puppy food. NO!  There are only a couple of brands out there that I know of, that are suitable to a growing dane pup. Innova Large Breed Puppy is one, although some people no longer use Natura products due to the changing ownership of the company. Orijen Large breed puppy has a good calcium/phosphorous ratio. Precise Holistic is another one I see mentioned, I think that one is grain inclusive. Most puppy foods, even large breed puppy foods have far too much calcium and phospherous levels. If NOT fed one of the rare few that are ok, then a dane pup should immediately be put on a quality adult food, or if your brand comes in all life stages, with the proper ratios and ingredients, they are fine as well.

Below is a list of commonly used foods for danes. I do not have much info on what brands there are outside of Canada and the U.S., so keep in mind if you live elsewhere in the world, this list may change for you.

Luke is now being fed Orijen Adult. He did well on Taste of the wild for a while, but then I noticed he couldn’t seem to maintain his weight, even with eating nine plus cups a day, so I switched him to the Orijen. It is pricey, but a higher quality than TOTW, more meat content, but worth every penny!

 Taste Of The Wild, Pacific Stream. This is a great GRAIN FREE choice, in the right range for calcium, phospherous and protein and many danes I know, Luke included do incredibly well on it. This brand also carries a few other great varieties.

High Prairie Canine® Formula

Sierra Mountain Canine™ Formula

Wetlands Canine® Formula

Also reccommended are:

Chicken soup for the adult large breed/ or plain adult. (Luke was on this for his first year and did great on it. I only switched to TOTW because he started getting tired of it and I really wanted to go grain free))




Blue Buffalo



Diamond Naturals


There are a few more…the point is, do your research. Understand the importance of what you are feeding and why. There is an abundance on information on the net, but my best advice for any new owner is to find a breed specific forum to get a greater idea of what everyone is feeding, what they’ve tried and the honest results from that. Feel free to check out the nutrition part of our forum any time. New info will be added there as we get it.



Why Supermarket Foods are NOT a Bargain
by Lyn Richards

Many large and giant breeds are identified with specific limb and joint conditions. Giant and Large breed dogs are particularly susceptible to some of these conditions. Bone disease is often the result of factors other than genetic or inherited in these large and giant breed dogs.

Assuming that you have purchased your dog from an ethical breeder who has  taken advantage of testing and genetic registries (OFA, PenHip, CERF-for example), not a pet store, puppy mill or a rescue where we are unable to determine genetic predsiposition, we can rule out poor conformation and genes.

High intake of calcium is associated with various bone diseases in Large and Giant breed dogs. Owners mistakenly believe that “more is better” and attempt to supplement all kinds of things with bigger breed dogs. Diets high in protein also increase the growth lameness tendencies for large dogs. Most experienced breeders also recommend that no vitamin or mineral supplement (other than Vitamin C) be given to puppies of these larger breeds.

Poor quality foods bear quite a large part of the blame for growth problems like HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy), OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans) and Pano (Panosteitis). The problem is too fast growth caused by too much protein, unbalanced fat to protein ratios, or poor quality protein and fat sources.

Usually a good quality Adult dog food that is 22-25% protein and 15-19% fat is recommended.  In recent years, protein requirements have turned into a numbers game. Research has shown that 21% to 24% protein is optimum for various life stages.  It’s not just the quantity but the quality of your dog’s protein source that is vital.  For example, a 32% content of a poor quality protein source could give your dog too little protein.

Many pet food companies add low-quality protein products such as meat and bone meal, by-products and corn gluten meal, knowing they can increase the percentage of crude protein on the label, without making a better food.  Low quality proteins are not easily digestible, therefore not easily assimilated by the dog.  You may be paying  for food that your dog can not utilize. One of my pet peeves is with companies like Iams, Eukaneuba and Purina, who make “puppy foods” which contain low quality and way  too high poor quality protein content for Giant Breed dogs to do well. 

Quality dog foods usually contain more calories per pound and are more digestible than store brands, so it takes less quantity of a quality food, to meet your dog’s needs. Also, smaller amounts of highly digestible, quality food mean less stools–another major advantage of quality digestible food.

Dogs of many breeds are susceptible to bloat and torsion so the less stress on the gastrointestinal tract the better. Good highly digestible diets are a MUST for most breeds, many even recommend feeding a Raw Food diet.

Many folks interested in feeding for maximum health, low cost and low environmental impact now espouse a feeding plan called BARF (Bones and Raw Food) . Based on the premise that when fed a natural whole food diet, animals are far healthier than if fed cooked and processed foods. This harks back to the “natural” state for wild canids, of the need for raw freshly killed meat, and the partially digested vegetable contents of the stomachs of their prey.

Puppies are usually fed 3-4 times a day, gradually decreasing to twice a day between 6 months to a year. NEVER, EVER feed puppy or growth food (high low quality protein levels of 28-30% and high calories which promote accelerated growth) to a large or giant breed pup, that’s like asking for leg and bone growth related problems.

Another “mistake” that food companies and dog owners make, is lowering fat content in foods. (Read our “Fat is Where It’s At” and “Why High Fat?” articles)This causes several problems, the most serious of which are skin and allergy type disorders. Veterinarians will many times suggest dropping fat contents in foods fed to overweight dogs. This in fact causes weight GAIN, due to hunger caused by protein to fat imbalances in the diet, which make the dog constantly feel hungry. Instead, feeding a higher fat (15-19%), moderate protein (19-23%) food with LOWER calories and supplementing with some raw foods (meats and veggies) will facilitate steady and gradual weight loss, with little stress to the dog or its digestive system.

I can tell you that 90% of the “housebreaking” problems I encounter are UTI or Diabetes related issues!

Also, many of the eating disorders (Coprophagy, wallboard chewing etc) are all related to poor quality food. By this I mean that the High Carb, Low Meat-based protein foods CAUSE the problem by not filling strategic nutritional “gaps” in a dog. They are still “mentally” hungry, so they chew or eat inappropriate items. A GOOD quality dog food will have at LEAST 12% fat, 23% protein from PRIMARILY meat based sources, and will also have a variety of whole fruits/vegetables to help fill fiber needs while providing nutrition as well. Foods with a high Beet Pulp content (Iams, Eukanuba, Diamond to name a few) are providing a large volume of nutritionless fiber (artificial stool hardening as well). Beet Pulp DOES act as a Pre-Biotic when added to foods in a very SMALL quantity, but it should be WAAAAY down in the ingredients list…not # 5, 6 or 7. Many of the other foods (i.e.. Purina, the feed store brands like Blue Seal etc) use Plant based proteins, which may not be sufficient for many dogs needs.

If you research the foods that are for instance, recommended by Whole Dog’s Top Ten list, you will find that the “best” foods are not the Pet Supply Store brands, and a good explanation of what a to look for in ANY food.

Certainly SOME eating disorders are based on “psychological” problems, but not as many as people will have you think.


Click here to read


~~~~~New information will be added here whenever I recieve it~~~~

2 thoughts on “Great Dane Nutrition

  1. Good info. My mommy feeds me Orijen 6Fish and I love it! Keep blogging, it is really good to see someone who loves the breed as much as my human parents.
    Slobbers and kisses,

  2. I’m so pleased to read this.

    This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.

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