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When they are puppies, the average Great Dane is as big as most of the other dogs he might encounter at the dog park already. By the time they are adults most of them are true giants, but the most remarkable thing about a Great Dane is not his size - or the fact that one of the most famous dogs in pop culture of all time, Scooby Doo, is a representation of the breed - but his heart. The Great Dane is a true gentle giant. They may have been bred to be hunters but that was centuries ago. The modern Great Dane is a lover, not a fighter.
One of the things that often concerns the pet parent of a Great Dane the most is their diet. It takes a lot of energy to fuel that hulking frame, and so choosing the best dog food for Great Danes is very important. It's not just about how much they eat, but what they eat and they do require far more in the way of nutrition than just a Scooby snack.
With all of this in mind, and to help you ensure you are giving your Great Dane everything they need at mealtimes here's a look at some of the best dog food for your Dane available today.
In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of why you need to carefully research foods and understand the nutritional needs for large breeds, the health issues that impact Great Danes, and what to look for when shopping. On top of that, we’ll also refer you to our top picks for the best dog foods on the market.
Nutrisource is a big favorite among the pet parents of Great Danes (and their vets) and for some very good reasons. Although it is available in a number of different flavors - dogs do have flavor preferences they would like to have indulged once in a while, just like we humans do - by far and away the most popular is their chicken and rice blend. The amount of chicken in various forms - raw chicken, chicken meal and chicken fat - is impressive, it makes up a little over 70% of the formula - and the variety of chicken 'types' included means that pups get a ton of protein, which is exactly what a large breed like the Great Dane needs.
Protein is not, of course, the only thing they need. The Nutrisource formula, while not entirely organic or 'all natural' does contain plenty of ingredients that provide ample servings of the vitamins and minerals large dogs need, as well as extra supplement content. It's also worth noting that flaxseed, one of the best natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, comes high on the ingredient list. The formula also contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin, minerals that are essential for better bone and joint health.
But here's the big question, why is NutriSource such a popular choice? Pet parents who are fans of this dry dog food cite the fact that their furkids really seem to enjoy eating it and that it seems easier for them to digest than some other brands they may have tried and stomach upsets do not seem to be an issue. They also like the fact that the kibble itself is on the larger side - despite the calorie count being in the right range - something that gives their furkids teeth a workout and helps maintain their all-important dental health as well.
Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed is another very popular dry food choice among Great Dane owners. It differs from Nutrisource in that it does not contain raw chicken, its primary meats are sourced from chicken meal and chicken fat. This is not necessarily in any way a bad thing though. As slightly gross as it may sound to humans chicken fat is actually one of the best sources of protein that can be derived from a chicken of all and chicken meal is simply the dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin, so it is the 'real thing' just in a slightly different form.
Where many pet parents feel that Holistic Select stands out is the amount of vitamin-rich fruits and veggies it contains. High on the ingredient list, you'll find flaxseed, tomato, carrots, alfalfa, peas, apples, blueberries, cranberries and dried kelp. This all offer many of the vitamins and minerals a dog needs in their 'natural' form but the formula is also supplemented with Vitamins C, D, E and a variety of B vitamins as well.
The formula used to create Holistic Select dry dog food is designed, the manufacturers say, to be easy on the stomach. Many Great Danes are susceptible to bloat (more on that shortly) and the ingredients used help decrease that risk.
Those pet parents who prefer to choose Holistic Select as the best dog food for their Great Danes do so, they say, because of the fact that the taste seems to appeal to their pups and the food itself seems to cause fewer stomach problems than other brands. Many also comment on the shine and health of their dog's coat and the fact that the larger kibble size is a great dental workout.
Most vets and breeders recommend that any dog, but especially a Great Dane, is fed a combination of wet and dry foods, not only for variety but also to keep their liquid intake at a good level. When it comes to wet food Canidae Life Stages Wet Food Formula is a bestselling choice among Great Dane pet parents.
Unlike some wet dog foods Canidae All Life Stages Wet Food Formula is for - as the name suggests - for all life stages from puppy to senior. This offers the advantage of not having to worry about if the formula 'is right' for your pet's age and allows them to keep on eating the same food they love.
In terms of ingredients, only whole meats are used - chicken, turkey, lamb and whitefish - which, along with dried berries and flaxseed provide not only all the protein pups need but also ample servings of essential vitamins and minerals along with a hearty - and very healthy - dose of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Pet parents who choose Canidae Life Stages Wet Food Formula for their Great Danes praise the formula's low fat composition and its (apparent) great taste. Many whose furkids had stomach issues when being fed other brands of wet food did not have the same problems with this formula, and it seems to be particularly popular with 'picky eaters'.
This formula is, for the most part, very similar to the Holistic Select formula we have already covered. This is a high-quality recipe that use more whole foods such oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa and proper levels of protein and fat, active probiotics and healthy fiber. Lamb meal and chicken meal are rich sources of protein for a growing puppy and calories per cup are just 433 kcal/cup. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in this recipe is at the recommended levels - 2.21% calcium :1.25% phosphorous.
However, in order to meet a growing puppy's slightly different nutritional needs. Additional digestive enzymes are added - via natural yogurt - to help make the food very easy to digest and the kibble is sized slightly smaller. Holistic Select is also supplemented with DHA, which helps young eyes and brains develop in a healthier way.
Like most dog breeds there are some health conditions that Great Danes are genetically predisposed to.While they cannot be solved or eliminated completely, nutrition does play a large part in keeping them at bay including prevention. Some of the health conditions affecting this breed include the following:
As Great Danes are very large dogs it should come as little surprise to learn that they do often suffer from joint and bone issues, especially as they get older. Large breeds such as the Great Pyreenees, Lhasa Apso, Newfoundlands and Irish Wolfhounds. Hip Dysplasia - a condition in which the hip ball and socket do not form properly - can be more common in Great Danes than in some other large breed dogs. The condition can lead to osteoarthritis and difficulty walking and it may begin when the dog is still a puppy (as a result of a genetic disposition) or when a dog is older (as a result of bone weakening).
Hip Dysplasia can be harder to treat and must be done under a vet's supervision but many vets do recommend a diet that includes an adequate amount of glucosamine, chondroitin, and Omega 3 fatty acids as all of this help protect and nurture bones and joints throughout a dog's life.
Another joint issue that some Great Danes display is a phenomenon known as 'knuckling' or 'knuckling over'. It is similar to 'bow legs' in humans and can significantly affect the way a dog walks and their overall balance.
Some knuckling is actually perfectly normal in Great Dane puppies, but vets recommend a combination of the right nutrition and gentle training and correction to prevent it from becoming a permanent habit. Once again in terms of nutrition, this means ensuring that their diet contains plenty of glucosamine, chondroitin, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Bloat is when a dog's stomach fills with air and, in itself is common and temporary. It becomes a problem however if it develops into gastric torsion, which is when the stomach literally begins to twist. This can be a life-threatening condition if not addressed promptly.
While nutrition is not the only way bloat can be prevented it is often the most important way. Pups should be given a combination of wet and dry dog foods throughout the day and those foods should not contain a high fat content. Foods that specifically address gastric issues and encourage regular bowel movements are very helpful as well.
Great nutrition is key to keeping your pup healthy and insurance premiums for your Great Dane at a minimum. While this list of best food for Great Danes is not a definitive one - there are many other options - it will help you make the right decisions when you are looking for the best food to give to your furkid.