Feeding Requirements for Large and Giant Dog Breeds
What is the best dog food for Great Danes? Great Danes are generally considered to be one of the largest dog breeds in the world. They weigh a minimum of 100 lbs (50 kg) and up to 200 lbs (100 kg)!
Despite their size, they’re gentle giants! But, like all giants, they have a lot of growing to do. As a rule of thumb, Great Danes aren’t entirely done growing until their third or fourth year, which demands a lot from the food they receive.
Holistic Select Dog Food was our favourite dog food for Great Danes this time around. It is made especially for adult dogs that are large or giant breeds. It contains supplements that support their joints, a frequent source of issues in large dogs, but it also contains wholesome and healthy ingredients to keep your giant friend overall happy!
Take a read below to learn more about feeding your giant best friend!
Considerations to Take Before Buying Great Dane Dog Food
A Great Dane can be your best friend almost from day one, and they will love you throughout their life! Return this love by feeding them with the best dog food for Great Danes. But, what is the best Great Dane diet? There are a few things you should consider when buying dog food for such a large breed!
Protein is, of course, one of the most critical factors in dog food. Amino acids make up the proteins that are used as “building blocks” when cells are created. Muscles, skin and organs all depend on a constant supply of proteins, but the immune system also utilises proteins to defend against foreign pathogens that may attack the body.
Real meat, fish or poultry should be the primary ingredient in the best dog food for Great Danes, with the quality of the meat being essential. Animal by-products like bone often don’t contain enough protein, whereas pure meat from organs and muscles contains high concentrations of quality protein.
Remember: Protein can also be sourced from vegetable origins and be part of a high quality diet for dogs!
Unlike humans, dogs can’t digest large amounts of fat in their dog food, which is why the best dog food for Great Danes contains moderate contents of animal fats. However, some fat is an important energy source and part of the metabolic pathways and contains vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Quality oils like fish oil containing healthy fatty acids are also an essential part of the metabolism and maintaining healthy joints, fur, and skin and should be part of healthy dog food. Glucosamine is also a helpful oil for Great Danes as it supports joint health, a good idea when you are a 150 lbs (68 kg) dog!
Also an important energy source, carbohydrates sometimes get “cast” as the “bad guy” in both human and animal food. Excessive carbohydrate intake can lead to issues like weight gain, but it is important to note that they’re different carbohydrates.
All Great Danes need some carbohydrates but generally, look for dog food with a low concentration of carbohydrates to avoid your dog gaining too much weight. You and your family can also accomplish this by choosing dog food with the “right” types of carbohydrates.
Polysaccharide carbohydrates are beneficial carbohydrates coming from grain products, like potatoes, and whole-grain flour, which are essential energy sources for both humans and Great Danes.
Bad carbohydrates are mono- and disaccharide carbohydrates that stem from white bread, starch, and sugar and belong nowhere near a dog food bowl!
Portion Size and Feeding
The amount of dog food you should feed is often laid out in guidelines by the dog food manufacturer and should be adhered to – within reason. If you, for example, have a dog that runs around all day in the field, it may need slightly more than recommended. Ask your veterinarian if in doubt whether your dog is getting enough food.
When you feed your Great Dane will depend on its temperament and age. It is vital to ensure that a young puppy gets the right amount of food; you should therefore feed a puppy three to four times per day in small meals as they burn calories quicker. You should keep this up until the puppy is at least six months old.
When your dog is older than six months, you can reduce the number of meal times to twice a day. For some dogs, you can even reduce it to once as large, and giant breeds burn calories at a slower rate than smaller breeds. However, it is not recommendable to feed your dog ad libitum as there’s a high risk of overfeeding.
A Great Dane puppy has very different nutritional needs than a senior dog. Puppies need dog food suitable to support their fast-growing bodies. This is especially relevant for large breed puppies that have a lot of growing to do. They need the right amount of protein and minerals like calcium to ensure a healthy growth curve.
A puppy needs higher concentrations of protein and calories compared to its adult counterparts. Still, they shouldn’t grow too fast either, as this may lead to a higher risk of developing orthopedic diseases like joint dysplasia. As a general rule of thumb, large and giant breed puppy foods should contain at least 30% high-quality protein and 9% fat.
The dog food should also contain the optimal calcium to phosphorus ratio to support puppies’ healthy bone and joint development. The calcium-phosphorus ratio should be between 1:1 and 1:3. Excess calcium will affect the phosphorus within the body, which could lead to skeletal malformations.
Food for a Great Dane puppy should contain somewhere between 25-30% of protein and no less than 22% and fat content of roughly 9% ideally. Of course, there need to be some calories, but always look for food with not too many calories as you don’t want your best friend to gain excessive weight – and consider the treats you’re giving while training your new family member!
All dogs of all breeds and ages will need food. How much they need is also dependent on their activity level. Generally speaking, Great Danes are not the speediest of dogs, but once fully grown, they’re pretty happy to go for very long walks or even runs, with the proper training.
If you’re planning on taking your friendly giant on very long walks or runs, it will need more dog food, and it may be worth considering a dog food aimed at dogs with a more active lifestyle if you feel that your dog isn’t getting as much as it needs. If you are in any way in doubt, you can also consult your veterinarian.
Lastly, it is always recommendable to choose dog food for any breed that consists of ingredients from natural sources. It should also contain no artificial additives like colorants and other unnecessary additives.
The Best Dog Food Brands For Great Danes
|Holistic Select Dog Food (Best overall)||Contains chondroitin and glucosamine |
Taurine for a healthy heart
Calcium and phosphorus
|Royal Canin Great Dane Adult Dog Food (Best dog food for the Great Danes only household)||Made specifically for Great Danes |
EPA and DHA for joint support
Unique kibble size
|Wellness Complete Health Dog Food (Best for all life stages)||Supplements for joint health Vitamin A and E for a strong immune system |
|Diamond Naturals Premium Large Breed Dog Food (Best for the dog that loves superfoods)||Quality lamb Vitamin A, E, and B supplements |
Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and fur
|Eukanuba Adult Dog Food – Large Breed (Best for an active lifestyle)||High-quality chicken meat |
DHA and vitamin E for brain function 3D Denta Defense to support healthy teeth
|Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Dog Food (Best dog food for large breeds in general)||Made with natural and wholesome ingredients |
Chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health.
Antioxidants for the immune system
|Taste of the Wild Dog Food (Best grain-free)||Unique meat source Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat|
Probiotics to support healthy digestion
|Solid Gold Holistic Adult Dog Food (Best holistic dog food)||No artificial colors or flavors |
Probiotics to support digestion
Omega fatty acids that support the skin, coat, and immune system
Great Dane Dog Food Reviews
Here is dry dog food made especially for adult dogs of large and giant breeds. It can be used for any breed but is especially useful for the larger ones as it supports healthy hips and joints, with added glucosamine and chondroitin. It also supports digestive health with pre-and probiotics as well as taurine for a healthy heart.
This food is made with chicken meal as the primary protein source and oatmeal instead of wheat. It also contains no artificial colors or preservatives. This Great Dane diet also contains added calcium and phosphorus to support healthy joints as an added bonus.
This dry dog food can be bought as a 15lb/7.5kg or 30lb/15kg packages.
Holistic Select Natural is a company that has been producing dog food for over ten years and is focused on using natural ingredients. Generally, their products contain low proportions of fat but slightly high levels of carbohydrates. At the time of this article, there’s been no known dog food recalls from the Holistic Select brand. The dog food is made in the United States.
This dog food is a great all-around food for Great Danes and other large and giant breeds. It supports digestion, the joints, and overall health—all the while keeping your big friend happy and full, with natural and healthy ingredients. I could say a word or two about using a chicken meal, but as it is made from chicken and no chicken by-products, it’s a minor issue – if one at all.
Our ILV rating: 5/5
Best Dog Food for The Great Danes-Only Household
Climate Pledge Friendly (Read more about this HERE)
Are you looking for dog food made specifically for Great Danes? Royal Canin‘s dog food for adult Great Danes is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of this friendly giant of 24 months and older. Unique kibble size and high energy formula should meet the high energy needs without overfilling the stomach. The food also supports healthy digestion and EPA and DHA for joint support.
The primary protein source is chicken fat and chicken by-product meal, concentrated in kibbles shaped to encourage chewing and slow eating.
You can buy this dry dog food in a package of 30lb/15kg.
Royal Canin is one of the leading dog food producers globally and is known for its breed-specific recipes, and is generally considered a very reliable brand for quality and safety. Along with other large dog food producers, Royal Canin participates in animal testing, which to some may seem outdated. The products are produced by their own facilities across the United States.
This dog food is another great dog food for Great Danes. It aims to support the large breed with high energy density kibbles to prevent bloating and overeating, a great idea to attempt to avoid any injuries. The only slight downside to this dog food is the use of chicken by-products and that it has a significantly higher fat content than other products.
Our ILV rating: 4/5.
Best for all Life Stages
Amazon’s Choice in Dry Dog Food
This dry dog food made with crunchy kibble is designed to support the health of large dog breeds through nutrient-rich whole foods and glucosamine to support the joint and bones. The crunchy kibble also helps keep teeth clean.
This specific type of dog food is made only for adult dogs, but you can find the same brand for puppies and other breed sizes as well – there is really a dog food for everyone!
The primary source of protein in this food is high-quality chicken, with wholesome grains like brown rice and barley as well. It also contains vitamin A and E to support a healthy immune system in your giant friend.
The dog food is available as a 15lb/7.5kg bag or 30lb/15kg bag.
Wellness is generally considered one of the better producers of dog food and is owned by the same company that produces the Holistic Select series. They use high-quality ingredients most of the time, and their recipes are generally above average. However, as of November ’21, there have been five cases of Wellness products recalled. Most of their products are produced in Indiana, US.
Wellness Complete is a wonderful dog food that can follow your dog throughout its life, from the puppy stage to adulthood, and will provide your dog with all the nutrients it will need. It is especially great for a household with more than one type of large dog breed.
ILV rating: 5/5
Best for the Dog That Loves Superfoods
Diamonds Naturals large breed dog food for adult dogs is a wonderful option for your giant friend. It contains the proper nutrient levels for large breeds, blueberries and oranges to support the immune system, and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and fur! It also contains proprietary probiotics that help support healthy digestion and chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health.
The primary protein source and flavor is a high-quality lamb meal and wholesome brown rice, barley, and oatmeal as a great source of grain. This dog food also contains vitamin B supplements and vitamin A and E to support general health.
It can be bought as a 6, 20 or 40 lbs pack (3, 10 or 20 kg).
Founded in 1970, Diamond is one of the largest pet manufacturers globally, with its whole production taking place in the United States, but using products sourced from worldwide. The majority of their protein comes from quality meat meals, which is a bonus. Unfortunately, diamond has had a few of its products recalled throughout the years.
Diamond Naturals dog food for large breeds is a portion of fine dog food for Great Danes. It contains probiotics which are great to support healthy digestion. Diamond, however, also markets their product as containing “superfoods,” which, although beneficial, can be misleading to consumers as there’s little documentation for their effect on dog food.
ILV rating: 4/5.
Best for an Active Lifestyle
Is your gentle giant an active Great Dane? This might be the dog food for you both! It is complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs over 15 months of age and weighing over 55 lb (23 kg). It contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin that support healthy joints and bones in large dogs, while optimal levels of fat and carbohydrates fuel an active lifestyle.
The main flavor and protein source is high-quality chicken meat. Added DHA and Vitamin E support healthy brain function. At the same time, the Eukanuba 3D DentaDefense effect reduces tartar buildup to help keep the teeth and gums healthy!
In this food, you also get a specialized fibre system made from natural beet pulp, and prebiotics promotes nutrient absorption and healthy digestion.
Available packages are 16 lbs (7 kg) and 33 lbs (15 kg).
Eukanuba is one of the most well-known brands of dog food in the world and is owned by Mars that also owns Royal Canin. Most of their products are produced in Ohio, United States. But, it is difficult to determine where their products not made here are actually produced then. Historically there have been some recalls of Eukanuba dog food.
This is a great dog food for active Great Danes as it contains high levels of glucosamine that supports the joints, and kibbles that support dental health are always a benefit! I could argue that Eukunuba could use a more wholesome grain source (compared to wheat), but it has to be considered a minor deficit with this product.
ILV rating: 5/5.
Best Dog Food for Large Breeds in General
Amazon’s Choice in Dry Dog Food
This dry dog food is made for large breed dogs, including Great Danes, 18 months or older. It is made with non-GMO ingredients, no meat by-products, and no artificial preservatives, colors, or additives! It is formulated with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints and essential antioxidants to support the immune system.
The primary protein source and flavor is chicken meat and wholesome whole grain brown rice and sorghum.
For large breeds, this Nutro Natural Choice dog food can be bought as a 13, 30, or 40 lb pack (6, 13.5, or 18 kg).
Nutro Natural uses recipes made with recognizable ingredients without chicken by-products, corn, wheat, or soy, which is definitely applaudable. It is owned by Mars, like Eukanuba and Royal Canin. There’s some history of recalls, but generally, it’s not a lot.
This dog food is an excellent option for anyone with a large breed dog, although it is not explicitly aimed towards Great Danes. It contains some good ingredients and a few lesser quality products; the protein content is slightly at the low end of the scale for these types of dog food.
ILV rating: 5/5.
Amazon’s Choice in Dry Dog Food
This dog food is for adult Great Danes that love a different taste or are allergic to common types of protein found in dog food. It is a grain-free recipe made with sweet potatoes to replace it and also contains omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and probiotics to support healthy digestion.
The main ingredient and flavor in this dog food is bison, but it also contains lamb and chicken, getting it to a pretty high protein content. It also contains antioxidants, while added zinc, selenium, and Vitamin E supports the immune system.
You can buy this grain-free recipe in packs of 5, 14, or 28 lb (2, 6, or 13 kg).
Taste of the Wild is a relatively new producer on the dog food market and is owned by the same company as Diamond Natural. Their products are produced solely in the United States, and generally, their recipes are considered average or above average, especially with their varied meat contents. They do, however, use pea protein in a lot of their products.
This dog food is good for dogs that are a bit picky with their regular food and for dog owners that prefer a grain-free diet! Some anecdotal evidence does, however, suggest that grain-free diets can increase the risk of heart diseases, especially in large breed dogs, which is important to note before buying this dog food.
ILV rating: 3/5.
Best Holistic Dog Food
Is your Great Dane ideally moderately active and otherwise happy and healthy? Do you perhaps have another dog in the house as well? Then this is the best dog food for overall health. This dog food contains natural ingredients, including great whole grains and probiotics to support digestion and omegas to promote healthy skin, coat, and immune system.
The number one ingredient and the main flavor is lamb and lamb meal, supported by wholesome grains like brown rice, pearled barley, and oatmeal. It also contains no artificial flavors or dyes, nor any corn, wheat, or soy.
You can buy this holistic dog food in packs of 4, 15, or 28.5 lb (2, 7, or 13 kg).
Solid Gold was founded in 1974 by Sissy Harrington-McGill, who actually raised Great Danes! All dog food recipes are produced in the United States. Solid Gold is not a recall-free brand; however, its recall history is limited to a single recall.
A portion of nice all-around dog food for all types of dogs, made with some good ingredients, is naturally sourced and should help keep your dog happy and healthy throughout its adult life. However, it is not made especially for large or giant breeds, which is why it is lacking slightly in supplements targeting their specific conditions.
ILV rating: 4/5.
FAQ’s on Great Dane Dog Food and Nutrition
How much food should I feed my Great Dane?
How much food you need to provide your Great Dane with depends on many things, including life stage, activity level, and other health conditions that may affect your dog’s metabolism. If your dog is generally happy and healthy, all dog food products will have a feeding guideline somewhere on the packaging.
Remember that is only a guide and not a fits-all plan. If you are in doubt whether your dog is receiving too much or too little food, you should contact your veterinarian.
Which foods should I avoid feeding my Great Dane?
Always attempt to prevent low-quality ingredients, including meat by-products and low-quality vegetable by-products like pea protein. Besides that, you should always avoid ingredients that may be toxic for your dog – especially if you’re feeding your dog a homemade diet.
Onions, raisins, chocolate, and coffee are just a few of the many things dogs may be intolerant towards, and giving them to dogs may result in everything from minor discomfort to death. If you are in doubt, contact your veterinarian.
Which issues should I watch out for when it comes to my Great Dane?
Like all large and giant breeds, Great Danes are predisposed for developing joint problems like hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease, but factors like excessive growth rate and improper weight and nutrition can significantly magnify the genetic predisposition – which is why it is essential to feed your Great Dane a high-quality diet!
Is grain-free dog food the best for my Great Dane?
It is recommendable to contact your veterinarian before you feed your dog on a grain-free diet. Although some may benefit significantly from it, it is vital to have regular heart health checks when feeding grain-free.
Some evidence suggests that grain-free diets can lead to an increased risk of heart diseases, especially one that often affects large dogs, called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).
ILV’s Top Pick for the Best Great Dane Dog Food
It wasn’t easy this time to choose the very best dog food for Great Danes with so many wonderful options to choose from, but our top pick became: Holistic Select Dog Food (Best overall).
It contains healthy and wholesome ingredients, is free of artificial preservatives and colors, and is full of supplements that support digestion, the heart, and joints!
Especially the joints are essential to look out for when it comes to Great Danes, so buying dog food with chondroitin or glucosamine (or both) is definitely what we recommend. But, it is also essential to look at other factors – and look at your dog!
You know your dog better than anyone. Together (perhaps with your vet as well), you will definitely find the best dog food for YOUR Great Dane!
Catharina is a Veterinary Medicine student from Uni of Copenhagen. When she isn’t making camp in the library, stuck to the books, she’s also a writer and avid photographer. Capturing everything from buildings to dogs – especially her poodle Bailey is a frequent subject.