Best Overall for Great Danes: Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food
“Keep your Great Dane protected against canine bloat with this dog food. Not only does it have the right ingredients specifically for large breed dogs, it also provides concentrated nutrients that help boost immune health and maintain strong, healthy joints.”
Best Value For Money: Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
“Fill your Great Dane up with tasty, well-rounded diet that won’t cause any bloat with this large breed formula from Diamond Naturals. It’s not just safe for your pooch, it’s perfect for your budget, too!”
Best For Great Dane Puppies: Merrick Grain Free Puppy Food Recipe
“This one is specifically formulated to help young Great Dane puppies grow healthy with strong bones. The added supplements help prevent hip dysplasia which is quite common for large breed dogs like Great Danes.
Great Danes are a gentle, affectionate breed. And while they’re relatively easy to take care of compared to most dog breeds, there are some common health issues that dog owners need to look out for. The most common of which is gastric torsion or canine bloat. It’s a serious condition that sneaks up on you and your dog. One way to prevent it is to make sure your Great Dane is getting balanced, well-regulated diet.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown
- Best Dog Food For Great Danes
- 1. Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 2. Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
- 3. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food Recipe
- 4. Gentle Giants Natural Dry Dog Food
- 5. Taste Of The Wild Canned Stew
- 6. Earthborn Holistic Hip & Joint EarthBites Dog Treats
- 7. American Journey Beef & Potato Dry Dog Food
- 8. Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- 9. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
- 10. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 1. Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Great Danes
- Great Dane Feeding Guide
- Common Health Concerns that Great Danes Suffer From
- Questions & Answers
Best Dog Food For Great Danes
Here are our top picks for the best dog food for Great Danes:
- Best For Active Great Danes: Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Best Value For Money: Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
- Best For Great Dane Puppies: Merrick Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food Recipe
- Best For Great Dane Seniors: Gentle Giants Natural Dry Dog Food
- Best Wet Food For Great Danes: Taste Of The Wild Canned Stew
- Best Treat For Great Danes: Earthborn Holistic Hip & Joint EarthBites Dog Treats
- Best for All Life Stages: American Journey Beef & Potato Dry Dog Food
- Best With Chicken: Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Best Low-Protein Food: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
- Best For Dogs With Food Intolerances: Instinct L.I.D. Grain Free Dry Dog Food
1. Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Best Overall for Great Danes: High fat content for active Great Danes
- Good protein and fat content for active Great Danes
- Contains a decent amount of glucosamine and chondroitin
- High-quality ingredient list to improve immune system
- High Omega fatty acids
- Contains chicken (some of their other recipes don’t, but all the large breed specific formulas do)
- This food is a little pricey compared to others
Wellness Core Grain Free Dry Dog Food is ideal for Great Danes who has an active lifestyle. 34% protein is the optimum amount for healthy adults who get plenty of exercise. 12% fat content coming from premium quality sources is exactly what a growing Great Dane puppy needs.
No matter your Great Dane’s size or age, this dry dog food is packed with quality, all-natural ingredients and good levels of fatty acids to build strength and a tough immune system in your pet.
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2. Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
Best Value For Money: Packed full of nutrients in a wallet-friendly price
- Premium animal protein and fat sources
- Perfect protein and fat counts for Great Danes
- Has joint-strengthening supplements included
- Also contains L-carnitine for weight maintenance
- Contains no real meat – meat meal is still a decent ingredient but real meat always wins
Diamond Naturals Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food uses premium quality lamb as its main protein source. This, paired with good quality, gluten-free grains like brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and sorghum, make up an easily digestible food for your Great Dane who is prone to canine bloat.
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3. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food Recipe
Best For Great Dane Puppies: Supports proper growth and development of large breed dogs
- Puppy-specific formulation
- Great calcium and phosphorus levels, as well as added glucosamine to start strengthening joints from a young age
- Protein and fat levels are ideal for young Great Danes
- Not much variety in flavours
- Slightly pricier than others
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food Recipe has everything a developing Great Dane puppy needs to grow up into a healthy, well-functioning adult dog. It has a superb ingredient list, with muscle-building proteins, energy-sustaining carbs, joint-fortifying supplements, and fatty acids for healthy brain and eye development.
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4. Gentle Giants Natural Dry Dog Food
Best For Great Dane Seniors: Toned down nutrient profile in an easy to digest kibble
- Great for all breeds but specifically formulated for large dogs
- Made with antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits to boost immune system
- Good glucosamine levels
- Decent calorie count for seniors
- No real meat
- The calcium/phosphorus ratio is not specified on the label
Gentle Giants Natural Dry Dog Food meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages. This means it would be perfect for your Great Dane no matter their age. Although, its protein and fat counts work better for older dogs and it contains extra joint-strengthening substances to support your pooch as he grows old.
It is formulated using only natural ingredients, with multiple proteins and a blend of fruits, vegetables, and grains as carbohydrates. New Zealand Green Mussel provides glucosamine and is known as a highly nutritious source of chelated minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and Omega fatty acids.
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5. Taste Of The Wild Canned Stew
Best Wet Food For Great Danes: High-calorie wet food formula for large dogs
- High moisture content
- Nice calorie count for Great Danes
- Various flavours available
- No carrageenan in this dog food
- Not the cheapest food
If you want to feed your pooch a high-calorie snack between meals, or you want a tasty treat as a training incentive, the Taste Of The Wild Canned Stew is a great option and will add a good bit of extra nutrients to your Great Dane’s meal. It’s also an amazing kibble topper if your Great Dane starts getting picky and you want to switch his food up a little.
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6. Earthborn Holistic Hip & Joint EarthBites Dog Treats
Best Treat For Great Danes: Sugar-free doggie treats
- Specifically formulated to fortify joints
- Low calorie (6 calories per treat)
- Contain L-Carnitine
- Sweetened with honey – no sugar
- Only one flavour available in the hip & joint variety
Great Danes are one of the easiest breeds to train and discipline, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need tasty, nutritious treats every now and then. Earthborn Holistic Hip & Joint EarthBites Dog Treats are packed full of glucosamine, chondroitin, fatty acids, and L-carnitine to keep your Great Dane’s joints and immune system in prime condition.
They’re like medicinal supplements in the form of doggie treats loaded with healthy and delicious ingredients.
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7. American Journey Beef & Potato Dry Dog Food
Best for All Life Stages: High protein and fat levels in a grain free food for large breeds
- Completely grain-free to limit the chances of food allergies or sensitivities
- High protein and fat levels make this great for active dogs
- Slow-burning vegetables for sustained energy
- Contains glucosamine and DHA fatty acids
- There is chicken fat in the non-chicken flavours
Earthborn Holistic Hip & Joint EarthBites Dog Treats contain all the good stuff for your Great Dane and none of the artificial, non-nutritious, or allergy-inducing ingredients which are common most dog foods. It’s limited ingredient list means each one is chosen for its contribution to the health-promoting properties of this dog food.
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8. Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Best With Chicken: Optimal protein and fat content using chicken as main protein source
- Optimal protein and fat counts for Great Danes
- Added glucosamine and chondroitin to keep those big joints tough
- L-carnitine for aiding digestion and regulating energy levels
- Contains Blue’s LifeSource Bits, an antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral mix
- Chicken may not be tolerated by all dogs
Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed Dry Dog Food is a tasty flavor option for Great Danes who aren’t too sensitive with chicken. It’s got a good Omega fatty acid profile for a grain free dog food. It features the exclusive LifeSource bits that promotes immune health while providing probiotics to aid digestion.
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9. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
Best Low-Protein Food For Great Danes: For dogs with kidney issues
- Good protein number for Great Danes on a low-protein diet
- Contains plenty of chelated minerals which help absorption
- Fewer than 10 ingredients, which leaves little room for food sensitivities
- No added glucosamine
- Slightly lower calcium and phosphorus numbers than other dog foods
If your Great Dane has problems with their kidneys or liver, a low-protein diet is the best way to take some pressure off their body and help manage their health better. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food contains 20% protein and keeps a good fat count, which makes it an excellent choice for Great Danes with kidney or liver issues. Chelated minerals are also added to make the digestive process easier.
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10. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Best For Great Danes With Food Intolerances: Reduces risk of allergies from dog food ingredients
- Very limited ingredient, which is super for Great Danes who are prone to dog food allergies or intolerances
- Plenty of added vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids
- No grains, chicken, dairy, or other common allergens
- Higher in calories than most on this list (but this can be worked around by how much you feed your Great Dane)
- Doesn’t contain glucosamine or chondroitin
The Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food consists of a single animal protein and a single vegetable, leaving very little room for food allergies or intolerances while still providing enough nutrients for your Great Dane to thrive. It’s devoid of grains, dairy, eggs, chicken, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial ingredients.
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How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Great Danes
1) Calorie Count
Because Great Danes are giant breeds, their metabolisms are a little slower than smaller dogs or even a large breed. Also, because they’re very lanky dogs, any extra weight on them can be a problem as it puts pressure on their bones and joints and increases the risk of hip dysplasia.
The best dog food for Great Danes will have a lower calorie count, so your Great Dane can get a decent, filling meal but not overeat and gain weight. The average, moderately active Dane will need around 200 calories per day, while a more highly energetic one will need closer to 3000. Puppies will need between 2500 and 3000 a day.
These will need to be spread over a couple of meals, so we’ve tried to stick to foods for Great Danes with calories in the lower to mid-300s unless otherwise specified. This depends on your Great Dane though – you can use this calorie calculator to work out what would be best for your big guy or girl.
2) Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio
Too much calcium in your Great Dane’s diet can cause their bones to become a little too brittle to support their bodies properly, which can lead to problems that can be painful and dangerous for your pet. AAFCO recommends between 2 and 4.5 grams of calcium per 1000 calories, so you’ll most likely need to do some calculating when checking the calcium content of foods.
Going hand-in-hand with calcium is phosphorus, and these two minerals should be found in a particular ratio. This ratio in the best dog foods for Great Danes should be 1:1 to 2:1 – anything other than that will result in a deficiency of one or the other after prolonged use. This problem is particularly prevalent in a large breed or giants.
3) Glucosamine & Chondroitin
These two things have a very specific property that is highly beneficial for Great Danes – that is, they help strengthen and lubricate joints, which is crucial for giant dogs who are prone to hip dysplasia.
You should see this on the ingredient list when looking for the best dog food for Great Danes. This breed typically is pretty lanky, so they don’t have as much weight on their joints as some other giants, but they’ve still got quite a bit of weight behind them, even if they’re of average size and weight.
4) Protein Content & Fat Content
Although it may seem logical that giant dogs would need a higher protein content due to their size, this is not so for Great Danes. Because they are so slim and lean, they actually need less protein than you may think.
The best dog food for Great Dane dogs should contain 18% protein minimum for an adult dog, but 23% is optimal for healthy muscle growth but minimal weight gain. 25% is a great number for growing Great Dane puppies. Animal proteins are always best, and contain the most amino acids your Great Dane will need to keep his body healthy. Meat by-products should be avoided, though.
Fats are concentrated sources of energy that are very useful for your pooch. Don’t think more fat equals a more overweight Great Dane! As long as your pet is active, they’ll convert that fat into energy very nicely. Great Danes should eat a food containing between 8 and 12% fat at the minimum.
Feeding an enormous, hungry animal is no mean feat! These pups can eat up to 5 cups of food in one meal, so a bag of kibble tends to not last as long as they do with smaller breeds. While affordability is an important consideration no matter what dog breed you own or how much you earn, it’s something you’re far more likely to think about if you’re going through a couple of bags a month feeding your Great Dane.
We’ve added this criterion to give you a good idea of cost at a glance, so you can compare and make a decision that works best for both you and your pet. After all, while this is mostly about choosing the right food to keep your dog healthy, your mood affects your Great Dane far more than you realise – so a happy owner will also make for a happier pup!
Great Dane Feeding Guide
Great Danes Feeding Requirement
A healthy, active Great Dane who is getting plenty of exercise will need to eat around 3000 calories a day to keep his energy levels where they should be. Seniors and less active Danes should go for around 2500 calories a day, and puppies can eat between 2500 and 3500, depending on how bouncy and energy-expending they are.
The amount of cups or scoops of food you feed your Great Dane will depend on how many calories are in one cup of food. If your active pup’s food contains 300 calories per cup, they’ll need 10 cups a day, which would most likely be split between 2 meals, making it 5 cups per meal. This depends on a good few things, though – your Great Dane’s appetite, activity level, and whether or not you want to give them a few treats during the day.
If you want to feed your pooch some treats between meals, you’ll need to give them slightly fewer calories during their mealtimes to make space for a couple of snacks. Be aware of the calorie count of treats too, to make sure you don’t go overboard and give them too many calories.
Essential Ingredients to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Great Danes
Great Danes, like all pets, need wholesome, all-natural ingredients in their food of choice. It may be easier to find a large breed dog food than one specifically for giants.
Animal proteins and fats are the best ingredients to ensure your Great Dane is getting all the necessary amino acids. A healthy, real meat source that is identified is essential, and meat meals are also acceptable protein sources. Plant protein is not advised, because it doesn’t quite offer the same nutrients as animal sources.
Fats are essential to provide energy, and should also be from animal sources. Salmon oil, chicken fat, pork fat, and so on, are fantastic ingredients. Other fat sources that are good quality include flaxseed and canola oil.
Carbohydrates aren’t usually found on the guaranteed analysis list, but it’s imperative that these are complex, slowly-digesting ingredients that are all-natural. This means fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free grains such as millet, oatmeal, brown rice, and barley.
Additional ingredients you should be looking for on the guaranteed analysis list are glucosamine, chondroitin, calcium, phosphorus, DHA (especially for Great Dane puppies), and Omega fatty acids.
Ingredients to Avoid When Feeding my Great Dane
Great Danes can suffer from sensitive tummies, and grains like wheat, corn, and soy should be avoided. These are more difficult to digest, and so you should avoid feeding them to your Great Dane for his own comfort and health.
- Chicken. Chicken is another common allergen for these big fluffs. While not all of them are going to react badly to it, it may be best to avoid feeding them a chicken-flavoured food, or a kibble containing chicken fat or other ingredients.
- Artifical Ingredients. Anything artificial can also cause digestive upset. This includes artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, so if you spot any questionable ingredients on the list, it’s best to steer clear.
It’s also a good idea to avoid feeding your giant breed a general adult dog food, as these usually don’t contain the extras that giant breeds need to live a healthy life. Some large breed dry dog food make great options, but we’ve also gone through a few of them above so you can see which ones are more appropriate for your Great Dane.
In general, though, if you can find a food aimed at giant breeds that contains all the important ingredients here, that would be your best dog food choice.
Common Health Concerns that Great Danes Suffer From
These big guys and girls can suffer from food allergies and intolerances, so it’s really quite important to pay attention to their diet to alleviate these as much as possible.
1) Gastric Torsion. There are various other diseases and disorders that these giants can be prone to. Gastric torsion is a particularly dangerous one, and is basically a twisted stomach or intestine due to bloating. It’s the number one killer of giant breeds, unfortunately. It’s very important to be aware of the signs and symptoms, therefore, as the only way to fix this problem is emergency surgery.
2) Hip Dysplasia. These tall, lanky pups can also suffer from joint problems, such as knee and hip dysplasia. This is one of the reasons glucosamine and chondroitin are such great ingredients in a dog food for giant breeds – it helps limit the chances of your Great Dane suffering from this condition. Arthritis is another bone and joint disorder that can affect these pooches.
3) Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy. Great Dane puppies can also be susceptible to developing something called hypertrophic osteodystrophy, which is when the pup’s bones grow too rapidly and cause pain due to them exerting pressure on the tissues around them. This usually affects puppies and is outgrown when the rest of your pup catches up in the growth department, but it’s a painful condition to suffer from. Making sure to feed your growing puppy the right amounts is essential to keep the chances of this condition at a minimum.
Other things to be on the lookout for include hypothyroidism, Wobbler syndrome, DCM, and osteosarcoma.
Questions & Answers
How do the nutritional requirements of a giant breed differ from those of a large breed dog?
Don’t think that just because giant breeds are bigger than other dogs they need more of everything in their food.
They tend to need fewer calories because their metabolisms are slower than others. They also need joint-strengthening supplements to reduce the chances of hip dysplasia and other joint problems.
Puppies need a great calcium/phosphorus ratio to make sure they don’t grow too quickly and put extra pressure on their bones.
Despite popular belief, they also don’t need a whole lot of protein. Around 23% is adequate for these big fellows.
It can be hard to find a food made for these types of giant dog breed. An adult large breed food should provide all the necessary nutrients needed for the best dog foods for Great Danes.
What distinguishes the top puppy food for Great Danes from other puppy foods?
Great Dane puppies need specific nutrients from the start, to make sure they grow up healthy, strong, and with the best start.
The best dog food for a Great Dane puppy will have some specific traits. It will contain a high-quality animal protein source right up front of the ingredient list, and may contain more than one. There will be healthy carbohydrates – the best dog foods will contain fruits and vegetables, or gluten-free grains (brown rice, oatmeal, or barley – no wheat, soy, or corn). There should be multiple healthy fat sources, preferably at least one animal source.
A Great Dane puppy food should also show DHA on the label, for healthy development. EPA is another fatty acid that is helpful, and glucosamine and chondroitin are a must. The calcium/phosphorus ratio should be close to 1:1, and an additional fact that is very helpful is that the kibble size should be on the bigger side. This helps decrease chances of eating too fast and being susceptible to bloat.
Make sure not to simply choose any food that says “puppy” on the packaging – not all puppy foods contain the nutrients and supplements necessary for these big little pets to grow as they should. You should be prepared to feed your Great Dane a puppy formula until about the age of 15 months.
Can I give my Great Dane puppy more food to make her grow faster?
This is never a good idea, but even less so for giant puppies. As you will have read above, Great Dane puppies can suffer from something called hypertrophic osteodystrophy, which is what happens when your little guy or girl’s bones grow too quickly for the rest of their body. In addition to causing your beloved Great Dane a lot of pain, this can lead to other complications down the line.
Feeding your Great Dane puppy more than they need can also cause their calcium levels to rise too much, making their bones too brittle. When they get bigger, this can be dangerous as their bones aren’t strong enough to support their big bodies, even though these pooches are leaner than most giants.
We highly recommend that you stick to the recommended guidelines for feeding your Great Dane puppy and don’t try to add to it. You won’t be helping your pet out at all – in fact, you’ll be contributing to possible health problems.