Best Overall: Merrick Dry Puppy Food
“The Merrick Dry Puppy Food is available in two flavors and has additional supplements that your growing pup needs. It contains good protein and fat levels that’s ideal to keep your puppies healthy and full of energy.”
Best Value for the Money: Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
“Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food is the best value option and is ideal if you’re trying to avoid any allergens for your dog. It is formulated for your pup’s improved metabolism and optimum growth.”
Best for Sensitive Stomachs: Nulo Dry Puppy Food
“Nulo Dry Puppy Food keeps your dogs healthy and strong, providing them the protein they need to fuel growing muscles. It is delicious, nutritionally balanced, and affordable.”
Great Danes are enormous even as puppies!
They belong to a giant breed of dogs that need specific nutrition.
It’s incredibly important to give their lanky frames enough support to hold those muscles up, and keep their joints strong and healthy!
Aside from having a strict dietary requirement, they can also suffer from sensitive tummies.
That’s why you need to take extra care when feeding them.
Right from the start, choose the best dog food for a Great Dane puppy to make sure they grow up healthy and strong.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown
- Best Dog Food for a Great Dane Puppy in 2021
- Everything You Need to Know About Canine Nutrition
- Types of Dog Food
- What to Look For When Buying a Dog Food for a Great Dane
- Food to Avoid Feeding a Great Dane
- Common Health Concerns of Great Danes
Best Dog Food for a Great Dane Puppy in 2021
1. Merrick Dry Puppy Food
Premium Option: Complete and Balanced Nutrition for Puppies
- Choice of chicken or beef flavors
- Good protein and fat levels for a puppy
- Perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio
- Added joint supplements
- No variation in flavors apart from the two, both of which can be allergens
Merrick Dry Puppy Food comes in two flavors, so if your little Great Dane is sensitive to chicken or needs to avoid beef, either one can be avoided.
It contains everything a growing puppy needs to grow up strong and to give them the best foundation for a healthy life.
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2. Nulo Dry Puppy Food
Runner-up: Avoids common allergens
- Avoids all the most common protein allergens
- Three different flavors to choose from
- Added probiotics to improve digestion
- High calorie content to meet puppy’s needs
- No glucosamine in any of the recipes
Great Danes are known to have sensitive stomachs. It could be due to a bad reaction to a protein, or even carbohydrates like potatoes.
The Nulo Dry Puppy Food offers enough choice for your Great Dane to not get bored, but still avoids allergens. Your Great Dane should be able to eat this without feeling any digestive upset at all.
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3. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
Best Value for Money: Less than a dollar per pound of high-quality kibble
- Less than a dollar per pound of kibble
- Contains helpful L-carnitine
- Superfood carb sources
- Proprietary probiotics for improved digestion
- The “puppy” recipe doesn’t contain glucosamine
Great Dane parents can get plenty of value out of Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food.
It’s a good choice for just about any large and giant breed, and contains premium-quality ingredients, as well as some supplements you don’t often find in lower-priced foods.
If you want to spend less and get more, this is the kibble you should try.
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4. Diamond Naturals Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food
Best Without Glucosamine: Best used in conjunction with a glucosamine supplement
- All-natural, impressive quality ingredient list
- Added L-carnitine
- No chicken or beef
- Proprietary probiotic blend for digestion
- No flavor variation
- Lamb could be an allergen
If you’re already feeding your dog a glucosamine supplement, you may prefer a dry food without it. The Diamond Naturals Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is the puppy version of the food above – our best value option.
It’s specifically for large and giant breeds. If your puppy gets bored easily, unfortunately there’s just the one flavor.
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5. American Journey Large Breed Puppy Food
Best Energy Booster: High-fat, high-protein recipe
- Avoids common protein allergens, uses only fish and eggs
- DHA and ARA for brain and eye health in puppies
- Joint-fortifying additions
- Digestive, gluten-free grains
- May be a little too low calorie per cup
- May give your Great Dane fish breath
Our runner-up food for Great Danes has slightly more fat and slightly less protein than our first choice. If your puppy needs a little more energy during the day, the American Journey Large Breed Puppy Food could be the one.
This particular recipe would be great for puppies who have trouble with a variety of proteins, as it contains only fish and eggs.
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6. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food
Best for Very Active Puppies: Biologically-appropriate nutrition
- High in protein, fat, and Omegas
- Raw, “biologically appropriate” nutrition
- Designed for large breed puppies
- Fruits and vegetables for vitamins & antioxidants
- Higher in price than many others
If your little Great Dane is very energetic, the ORIJEN Dry Dog Food could be what he needs to sustain his energy levels.
It’s higher in protein than others by quite a bit, and moderate in fat. Puppy Great Danes will gain the benefit of an activity-fueling fat count and a muscle-building protein count, with a perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio too.
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7. Wellness Wet Dog Food
Best Wet Food: Higher protein content than most
- Contains DHA
- Higher in protein than many others
- Real meat and vegetables
- Balanced nutrition
- High calorie content, so be careful when adding to dry food
- Contains carrageenan, which may be tough for Great Danes to digest
If your youngster is struggling to hit their calorie count for the day, adding a wet food like Wellness Wet Dog Food to their daily kibble could help. It isn’t grain-free, so if your dog is extremely sensitive they may react to the ground barley, but most will be perfectly okay with it.
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8. Blue Buffalo Puppy Dog Food
Best for Immune Support: LifeSource Bits promote great health
- LifeSource Bits for strengthening the immune
- Antioxidant-rich ingredients
- Specially sized and shaped kibble for large breed
- Added DHA and EPA
- No variation in flavors
- No glucosamine
The best dog food for Great Danes shouldn’t just provide calories. It should give them everything they need to function at their healthiest, and that’s what this one aims for.
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9. Canidae PURE
Best Limited Ingredient: Variety of non-allergen recipes
- Fewer than 10 ingredients
- Variety of flavors to avoid allergens
- Grain-free food
- High levels of glucosamine
- Expensive food
Canidae PURE is the best dog food for Great Danes with food allergies or intolerances.
With fewer than 10 ingredients in each, there should be no chance of bad reactions (or boredom!).
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10. Zignature Dry Dog Food
Best Without Chicken or Beef: Interesting and healthy flavors
- Large range of unique flavors
- Very easy to avoid common allergens
- Contains L-carnitine
- Good calorie count per cup for a large breed
- No glucosamine
- Expensive food, imported
If your dog doesn’t do well on a beef or chicken-flavored kibble, it can be hard to find one that comes in a variety of non-chicken or beef flavors (that don’t sneakily contain chicken meal).
Zignature Dry Dog Food may be pricey, but it’s among the best dog food for Great Danes who are sensitive to these two common allergens.
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Everything You Need to Know About Canine Nutrition
We humans tend to eat anything and everything. Dogs can’t do the same! It’s up to us to make sure we feed them the best dog foods we can so they grow up healthy and tough.
This will cover all you need to know about how to feed a dog and what you should be looking for in their daily meal. This covers all canines, so if you’ve got more than one dog at home, you’ll know the ropes for them all!
Protein is the single most important nutrient in a dog’s food. Different breeds will need different amounts, and so will different life stages. An adult large breed won’t need quite the same as a small breed puppy, for example.
But no matter how much they require, they all agree on one thing – animal protein is the way to go.
Choose a food with a high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient. More than one protein source is acceptable if your dog’s stomach can handle it! Be aware that protein allergies are common, so pay attention to what your dog eats and what they don’t.
Fat is a dog’s main source of energy. Again, it differs by breed, but anything between 15% and 20% is right on the button. Highly active dogs (hunting dogs working dogs) could do with upwards of 20%.
Make sure it’s from a high-quality animal source, just like the protein. If your dog is allergic to chicken, don’t worry – chicken fat doesn’t cause allergic reactions like the meat does.
Carbs are necessary for a dog’s diet, just in smaller quantities. The quality of the carbs is what makes all the difference.
For dogs like Great Dane puppies, who can have a fussy tummy, it may be best to avoid grains altogether. If you do find a kibble you like with gluten-free grains in it (oatmeal, brown rice, millet, sorghum, quinoa), those should be all right.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Don’t assume that joint supplements are only necessary for large breed dogs like Great Danes! Small breeds need them too, to protect those little joints.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are what you should see on the ingredient list. Some dog foods have only glucosamine, which is also great.
This helpful supplement regulates metabolism and energy balance. It’s not found on many foods, but if the food your pooch likes has it, then you can be sure it will help keep them healthy.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids give your dog’s coat a shine and keep their skin nourished and moist, amongst other things. You’ll see Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids on the list.
If you’re looking for a puppy food, you want to see two extra essential fatty acids: DHA and EPA. These are specifically for puppies, and contribute to eye and brain development.
Types of Dog Food
Dog foods are many and varied. We recommend choosing dry kibble over others as your puppy’s main meal. But all of these have advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll explain briefly below.
Whichever one you choose, make sure it meets your dog’s nutritional needs, and doesn’t trigger any food allergies.
Dry Dog Food
Dry kibble is the most common and most affordable choice in the long run. It also has some other benefits, though, so don’t feel like you may be buying it for the wrong reasons!
Firstly, it lasts for a good long time (depending on how much your dog eats) and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which is a bonus. Another big plus is that it helps keep your dog’s teeth clean, as the crunchy kibble reduces tartar.
Lastly, it’s high in protein, fat, and other nutrients that your dog needs.
Canned Dog Food
Canned food is a great addition to dry kibble if your dog needs more calories or a treat. We don’t recommend using it as your dog’s only food though – it doesn’t contain nearly enough protein or fat, has no added supplements, and is usually very high in calories (compared to dry dog food).
It does get a thumbs-up for being high in moisture, in some cases up to 78%. We recommend canned dog food only for dogs who are recovering from surgery or injury to the mouth and can’t eat dry kibble, or seniors who can no longer handle hard, crunchy food.
Dehydrated or Freeze Dried Dog Food
These kinds of dog foods are usually raw or lightly cooked before they’re dehydrated or freeze-dried. Freeze-drying preserves the nutrients in the ingredients without the need for artificial preservatives.
It also lasts a long time, and you just need to add water to make a meal for your pet. Dehydrated dog foods are also a little easier to digest than kibble, so they’re a great option for dogs with a sensitive digestive system.
Fresh Dog Food
Feeding your dog fresh food is a good, healthy option. You have the power to be sure nothing bad gets in there, and you can vary it up so they don’t get bored.
The downside is that you’ll need to add your supplements separately, and it can become fairly expensive.
If you’re willing to buy things like glucosamine supplements separately, and take the time to cook for your dog as well as yourself and your family every day, this could be a worthwhile and healthy option.
Raw Dog Food
Raw feeding works well for many dogs, and is designed to be as close as possible to the meals they would have eaten in the wild, as an undomesticated dog.
It consists of raw meat (muscle and organ), raw bones, vegetables, and fruits. Generally, a raw diet is easier to digest than others.
You’ll also need to make sure you’re covering all your dog’s nutritional needs, so you may need to supplement outside of the meal as well.
The downside of raw is that you need to shop every other day for your dog’s food, and it doesn’t last as long as kibble.
What to Look For When Buying a Dog Food for a Great Dane
Now that you know the different types of dog foods, you can get on looking for a puppy food for your Great Dane puppy!
When choosing a puppy food, you’ll need to read the guaranteed analysis list to enure they’ll be getting everything they need.
AAFCO has some basic guidelines which serve as an absolute minimum. Here’s what you need to look for when buying a food for a Great Dane puppy.
All-natural high quality ingredients is what you want to see. The first ingredient should be a real meat, animal protein, followed by fruits and vegetables.
This mixture of ingredients gives your Great Dane everything they need, in an easy-to-digest package.
Real meat provides amino acids and protein, and is easy to digest. Slow-burning vegetables are perfect for providing sustained energy throughout the day. Fruits add a dash of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Avoid artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Also, stay away from by-products – they’re low in nutritional value and are used as fillers.
There’s nothing wrong with having ingredients like potato protein or pea protein in your dog’s food.
But high quality protein sources from animals should be the main protein, because your Great Dane puppy needs amino acids that plant proteins just don’t provide. This could be real meat, like chicken, or meat meal, like chicken meal.
Be aware that Great Danes suffer from food allergies, so you’ll need to pay attention to which proteins your Great Dane puppy may not like or be intolerant of.
The puppy food you choose should contain between 25 and 30% protein. Slightly more or slightly less is acceptable, depending on the dog.
Fat is what dogs need to give them quick-access energy throughout the day.
They can use carbs for slower-burning energy, but that immediate, run-out-the-door, jump-on-the-neighbor’s-child energy comes from fat.
A Great Dane puppy should do well on a food containing around 15% fat. Those puppies who are very bouncy could go higher, while those rolly-pollies who need to shed some puppy fat could get by with a little less.
Calcium Phosphorus Ratio
A large breed puppy has the tendency to grow too quickly if they’re fed too much calcium and phosphorus. This can lead to brittle bones and a higher risk of bone and joint problems later in life.
A calcium phosphorus ratio of 1:1 is acceptable. It’s even better if there’s slightly more calcium than phosphorus. It can go up to a ratio of 1.8:1 quite safely.
You should be able to find these counts on the guaranteed analysis list. Double-check before buying!
Great Dane pups may not be huge yet, but they’re growing fast and their joints need protection from an early age!
Great Danes can grow to over 100 pounds, so it’s extremely important that their joints are strong enough to handle their own bodyweight.
Start them on a food with glucosamine and chondroitin from puppyhood. If the food you prefer (or they prefer) doesn’t contain it, you can buy it as a separate supplement and either add it to their food, feed it to them as a treat, or give them the tablet, depending on the dog and the type of supplement you chose.
Food to Avoid Feeding a Great Dane
Great Danes, from puppies, can have a sensitive digestive system. You’ll need to pay attention to them while they eat, especially puppies, and take some time to understand which foods they like and which they can’t tolerate.
You may need to go so far as to check their poop (sorry!) after they’ve eaten to ensure their stomach can tolerate the food. Here are some foods you shouldn’t feed your Great Dane puppy or adult dog.
Grains with Gluten
Gluten-free whole grain ingredients, like brown rice, are a great source of fiber and healthy carbs. But grains containing gluten are hard for a dog to digest, and are often considered to be low-quality fillers.
Corn, wheat, and soy are the main culprits. Personally, here at Dog Embassy we don’t recommend dog foods containing these ingredients.
Dogs like Great Danes, who have fussy stomachs, may not react well to gluten grains. Considering their low nutritional value and potential for allergy, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
If your dog doesn’t enjoy chicken-flavored kibble, it may be because they’re suffering from a chicken allergy or intolerance. Don’t assume that they’re just being a picky eater!
Pay attention when your dog eats so you can spot when he or she finds something they don’t like, or that doesn’t agree with their digestive system.
Thankfully, there are many flavors available out there, so if you know your dog doesn’t like one particular protein, it’s not difficult to find others.
Artificial ingredients like colors and flavors are added to make the kibble or canned food look, smell, and taste more appealing. If you think about it, this is kind of silly – we’ve all seen a happy, well-fed dog eat from a trash can, so it’s safe to say that dogs don’t care about the color or flavor.
If you see long chemical names on the guaranteed analysis list, or find artificial ingredients, it’s best to choose another kibble. Dogs like Great Danes, who have sensitive dispositions, may react badly to ingredients that aren’t natural.
By-products are the parts of the animal that are left over after the best cuts of protein have been removed. You never know what by-products really are – they may be bits of organ, which could be healthy for your dog, but they’re most likely things like hooves and beaks.
Once again, there’s very little nutritional value in these compared to a proper protein. Dogs who are sensitive, could have an adverse reaction to by-products. The lack of transparency about what exactly is in them is something we worry about!
Common Health Concerns of Great Danes
Great Danes are prone to certain health problems. It’s important to be aware of these conditions, because what you feed a Great Dane can have an impact on their health.
Food Allergies & Intolerances
These giant breeds tend to have a sensitive stomach and can develop allergies and food intolerances as they grow.
Often, the protein sources are what cause the allergy. Chicken, beef, and lamb are common allergens, so keep an eye on your Great Dane after he eats to see how his stomach responds.
There’s nothing you can really do, except choose the best food for Great Danes who happen to have sensitive tummies. This will depend on your Great Dane, their lifestyle, and their individual tastes, though!
This is a life-threatening condition that giant breeds, or any dogs with deep chests, can suffer from if they eat too much or too quickly.
If your Great Dane’s stomach fills up too quickly, or they accidentally ingest a lot of air when they eat, it can cause the stomach to expand, cutting off blood supply to organs and possibly leading to death.
Knee, elbow, and hip dysplasia happen more often to giant breeds. Whether the Great Dane is classed as a giant breed or a large breed adult, they need joint support.
It’s a good idea to start supplementing with glucosamine in a Great Dane puppy food, so that by the time they’re an adult, their joints are already protected.
The calcium/phosphorus ratio in your large breed puppy’s kibble is also important to prevent this painful condition from happening to your Great Dane.
This condition occurs in large and giant breed dogs, and usually shows up before the age of 7 months. So it’s super important to look out for signs and symptoms in your large breed puppy.
In this disease, there is a decrease in blood flow to part of the bone, leading to inflammation and even death of the bone cells.
There’s not much you can do about it, but feeding your Great Dane puppy a kibble that’s lower in vitamins, especially vitamin C, could be helpful.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland fails to function at its normal level. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, like a decreased appetite but increase weight, skin and fur problems, and getting cold very easily.
If your Great Dane has been diagnosed with this chronic disease, it’s best to choose an all-natural dry dog food that avoids beef (this can be a problem ingredient). Grain-free dry dog food is best, with the exception of perhaps brown rice. Look for kelp on the ingredient list.
You won’t be able to cure this condition, or any of these health problems, by buying the best dog food for Great Danes. But feeding your Great Dane a kibble that’s designed to give large and giant breeds all they need is a good foundation for keeping your dog happy and healthy.
Finding the right food for Great Danes, whether puppies or adults, isn’t a daunting task! The best Great Dane food really depends on a variety of things – and your specific dog.
As long as you choose a dry dog food that fulfills your Great Dane’s nutritional needs, helps to reduce tartar build-up, and doesn’t aggravate their allergies and intolerances, you should be good to go!
Remember, large and giant breeds need extra care and attention to stay healthy. We’ve put together this list of the best dog foods for Great Danes specifically to help you compare and choose, so you (and we) know that your Great Dane is getting everything they need, and enjoying every bite.