While Great Danes are the second tallest dog in the world (after the Irish Wolfhound) the tallest dog ever was a Great Dane called Zeus. Zeus ate just over 2 pounds of food every single day, and an average adult Great Dane needs the same number of calories as a fully-grown human. That’s a lot of food required to fuel his body, and the poorer the quality his food is the more of it he has to eat, so it’s best to get his nutrition right from the very start, and this is where this guide comes in.
After reading our guide to the world of Great Dane nutrition, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make the very best nutritional choices for him and his humongous body, and using that knowledge we have also scaled the market so that we can recommend the top foods for him for every stage of his life. This makes your decision for him a whole lot easier, and it saves a lot of time and confusion too, because trust us when we say there’s a lot of bad products out there!
All of our recommendations get the Association of American Food Control Officers (AAFCO) seal of approval, as AAFCO set guidelines regarding the quality of all pet food. We also think that it is important to recommended food that have been recommended by other large and giant dog breed owners, so you know that they have all been tried, tested and loved.
At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods For Great Danes
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- Great Dane Puppy Nutrient Needs
- Adult Great Dane Nutrient Needs
- Senior Great Dane Nutrient Needs
- Best Food For Great Dane Puppies
- Best Food For Adult Great Danes
- Best Food For Senior Great Danes
- Food For Overweight Great Danes
- Final Thoughts
Great Dane Puppy Nutrient Needs
When Great Dane puppies are born they only weigh 1 or 2 pounds in weight, but within 6 months or so they can weigh 100 pounds and over, so that is a lot of growing to do. All that growing needs a lot of high-quality protein, energy and nutrients, and it is recommended that large and giant puppies consume a kibble that provides them with a protein content of around 30% and a fat content of approximately 9%.
As the Great Dane is known to suffer from Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, and Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, it is important to feed him a puppy formula that is specifically designed for large or giant breeds. The likelihood of your Great Dane suffering from these conditions are increased with excessive growth rate, and specific breed-size puppy formulas contain optimum levels of calcium, phosphorus, fat and vitamin D to steady his growth, so nothing else will do here!
Free-feeding is also discouraged by Veterinarians as this has also been linked to skeletal abnormalities, so be sure to feed your Great Dane puppy 2 to 3 meals a day. It is important to follow the package instructions regarding how much to feed him according to his weight. We have a Great Dane puppy feeding chart article that will be useful. We also hate to be a spoilsport, but because excess weight can have a detrimental effect on a giant dog’s health, it is crucial to factor treats into his daily food intake too. It’s also normal for Great Danes to eat alot, and sleep a lot. Their low energy levels happen as a result of nature to ensure their bodies grow into their large frames.
Adult Great Dane Nutrient Needs
Between the ages of 15 to 18 months the Great Dane will need to be switched to adult food. The average adult Great Dane will need around 2,500 calories a day, and a particularly active one will thrive on 3,000 a day, so again, a high-quality and nutritious diet is key here. Even Great Dane mixes are known to have appetites as adults. They can also be gassy pups, so it’s recommended to buy a food for gassy dogs if your pup starts making a stink around the house.
Similar to the Great Dane puppy, he will still need a food that is focused on large or giant breeds, as their bodies need much more energy compared to smaller breeds. His energy needs will be dependent on his weight and activity levels, but a lower protein content compared to his puppy life-stages is advised here, and most adult Great Dane products are significantly lower in protein.
The Great Dane is known to have a relatively slow metabolism, so it is important to ensure that he is not given too many Scooby snacks, like the famous Great Dane Scooby Doo. His bones and joints are already supporting a lot of weight, so don’t add to the pressure by overfeeding him.
What needs to be remembered here is that the number one killer of adult Great Danes is bloat, so be sure to clue yourself up on the causes and symptoms of this life-threatening condition, but multiple smaller meals per day and avoiding exercise around mealtimes are the best way to avoid this.
Senior Great Dane Nutrient Needs
A Great Dane is considered to be a senior at around the age of 6 or 7 years, much earlier than smaller breeds, but this is because they only have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years. While this is wholly unfair, it makes it even more important to invest in a high-quality food that will keep your elderly Great Dane with you for as long as possible.
Senior Great Danes will need around 2,000 to 2,200 calories, again, dependent on how active they are. Because their activity levels decrease it is important to find a product that provides much less calories per cup, otherwise they risk getting too large for their aging frame. High-quality protein is still important, and they would do well on a protein content similar to that of the adult foods.
Great Danes need a lot of glucosamine and chondroitin, and all brands aimed at large and giant breeds will often use meat and fish meals as their protein source, as well as extra added supplements. Ingredients such as taurine will look after his heart, and plenty of fruits and vegetables help to boost his weakening immune system.
Best Food For Great Dane Puppies
Because Great Dane puppies grow so quickly, you’ll find their nutrient needs are different than other dogs. Giant breed dogs in general need extremely nutrient-dense and calorie-rich foods in order to meet the demands of a giant breed that grows rapidly. Similar to Mastiffs, you’ll find some common brands that we recommend here for Danes. Brands like Blue Buffalo stand out from their competition for giant breed pups. In no particular order, let’s take a look at the dry kibbles we recommend for Great Dane Puppies.
Wellness Core Puppy Large Breed
This recipe is made with deboned Chicken, Chicken meal, and Turkey meal, and these ingredients can be found right at the top of the ingredients list, so you can rest assured that lean protein and healthy muscle growth is a key factors in this recipe.
Salmon oil and ground flaxseed support a healthy coat and provide him with DHA for brain and eye development. Superfoods such as bananas, spinach, and blueberries also ensure that his immune system is supported with all the nutrients it needs.
We love that each kibble piece is covered in ‘acticoat’, which is a unique probiotic solution that contributes to a healthy digestive tract.
Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy
- Boosted nutrition for large breed puppies with high-protein kibble + freeze-dried raw.
- Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient.
- Balanced mix of poultry, fish, and meat.
- Natural DHA from chicken eggs.
- Free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and artificial colors and preservatives.
- Made in the USA.
This recipe has the highest number of calories and fat, which means that your Great Dane puppy has lots of growing power with this kibble. Real Chicken, Chicken meal, and egg products are found in the first 4 ingredients so you can be sure that his protein needs are met, and plenty of glucosamine and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are present too for his bones and brain development.
Flaxseed and fish meal provide him with plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to keep his joints supple and his coat nourished, and superb coat health was one of the main observations from other reviewers.
We love that this recipe has tasty meal toppers mixed in with the kibble pieces, and not only do the freeze-dried chicken pieces provide extra nutrients, but they are also a big hit with puppies.
Orijen Large Breed Puppy
- High-protein formula.
- Uses raw and fresh animal ingredients.
- Made with wild-caught fish.
- Made with cage-free egs.
- Made in the United States.
- 449 Calories per cup.
- 38% Protein, 16% Fat, 6% Fiber.
This recipe is packed full of protein, and with the first 15 ingredients being meat, fish, organs, and egg this recipe is unparalleled when it comes to high-quality protein sources. It is biologically appropriate, which means that whole prey is used, and while organs and cartilage sound awful to us, your Great Dane will love the taste and it is supremely nutritious.
While this recipe is grain-free it has the highest fiber content. While not specifically made as a high fiber content food, it has additional fiber thanks to whole lentils, beans, and peas, so his digestive system is well cared for, and his stools will be firmer too. Calcium levels are optimum for his soon-to-be giant body and most reviewers commented how much their picky pups loved this recipe compared to others.
We love that this premium recipe has the highest protein content which provides him with the essential building blocks for lean and strong muscles.
Blue Buffalo Puppy Life Protection
- Super 7 package of antioxidants.
- Chicken is the first ingredient.
- No corn, wheat, soy, or by-product.
- DHA for brain development.
- 398 calories per cup.
- 27% Protein, 16% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This grain-free recipe contains Chicken, Chicken meal, and fish meal, which provides him with lean protein sources that help him to build strong and healthy muscles. Fish oil is a terrific source of omega fatty acids and DHA, which is important for his coat health and brain development.
This recipe uses healthy complex carbohydrates such as peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes to keep him energized and to provide him with fiber for a healthy gut. This recipe also ensures that his developing immune system is supported by antioxidants such as blueberries and cranberries.
We love that this recipe contains LifeSource Bits, which are a precise blend of nutrients that he needs for his rapidly growing body. They also offer some great product lines, like dog food made with real bison.
Best Food For Adult Great Danes
You’ll see some common brands here in our recommendations for adult Great Danes, as they share similar nutrition requirements to other giant breeds, like the Great Pyrenees. As your adult Dane continues to grow, you’ll want to move them to adult food by the time they reach 12 to 15 months in age. Keeping them on puppy food will potentially equate to unwanted weight gain, so switching them at the right time is important. You’ll want to introduce the new food slowly so you don’t upset your pup’s digestive tract. In no particular order, we compare our favorite foods for Dane Adults below.
The Farmer's Dog
- Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
- Personalized meal plans.
- 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
- Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
- Manufactured in the United States.
- Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.
The Farmer’s Dog offers four grain-free recipes that always offer more fresh-frozen meat than any other ingredient. Depending on the formula, you may find sweet potatoes, green beans, or even broccoli among the fresh produce fiber sources. All of these fresh superfoods pack a lot of nutrients, maintaining a robust immune system. And, since every recipe is AAFCO-certified for all life stages and the meal plan is customized for your unique dog, you can feel confident that your dog’s next meal will meet all of his nutritional needs to keep him healthy and strong.
If you’d prefer to include grains, you can always cook up some rice to mix in. This will diversify your dog’s diet and also help spread the food across more meals, saving you money!
We love that these recipes are cooked fresh based on a personalized meal plan for your best friend. And since every ingredient is human-grade, you can be sure that your dog is getting the very best dog food possible.
Holistic Select Giant Breed
Holistic Select Adult Giant Breed
- Taurine for heart health.
- Probiotics for digestive health.
- Healthy Fiber for digestion.
- Made with healthy fruits and veggies.
- Made in the United States.
- 433 Calories per cup.
- 24% Protein, 14% Fat, 4% Fiber.
This formula is designed specifically for giant dog breeds, and the Great Dane is definitely part of that gang. Chicken and Pork meal provide him with the protein he needs to maintain his lean muscles, as well as high levels of glucosamine to support his bones and joint health.
Digestion is the focus of this kibble, with added prebiotics, probiotics, live yogurt cultures, and digestive enzymes to keep his digestive tract healthy. A list of superfoods are present, such as pumpkin, papayas, and pomegranate to name just a few, which all boost his immune system and keep his body fighting fit.
We love that this recipe offers the highest number of calories per cup while not being extremely high in protein or fats, so he will still get all the energy he needs.
Eagle Pack Natural Dry Large Breed
- Features optimal protein, fat, and carbohydrate levels for large breed dogs.
- Glucosamine supports healthy joints, omega fatty acids support healthy skin and coat and antioxidants promote a strong immune system.
- Made with no corn, wheat, meat byproducts, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
- Natural Performance Proven Nutrition, loved by dogs for over 30 years.
- Made in the USA using only the finest globally sourced ingredients.
This recipe is made with Chicken meal and Pork meal, that not only provide protein for healthy muscle tone, but they are full of glucosamine and chondroitin to support the bones and joints of large and giant breeds over 50 pounds. There is also extra added glucosamine in order to provide giant breeds with the extra support they need.
Flaxseed and biotin help to maintain a healthy coat, while taurine helps to care for his heart. Brown rice and oatmeal feature high up in the ingredient list to provide him with carbohydrates that keep him energized throughout his day.
We love that this recipe has a lower calorie count for those Great Danes who need to watch their weight, but not enough to warrant a weight management kibble.
Royal Canin Giant Breed Adult
- Specifically made for extra-large breed dogs 2 years and older that weigh over 100 lb.
- Glucosamine, chondroitin, and EPA & DHA help support bone and joint health.
- An exclusive vitality complex of antioxidants for dogs promotes cellular health.
- Nutrients, including taurine, support heart health.
- Easy-to-digest proteins and a balanced blend of fibers provides digestive support.
This recipe is also aimed at giant breeds who weigh over 100 pounds, and with plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin, their large bones and joints are supported. The kibble size is ¾ inch in size, with many reviewers commenting that their giant pooch had to chew the pieces instead of inhaling them compared to other kibbles.
With a precise blend of antioxidants and nutrients, this recipe promotes cellular health for overall wellbeing.
We love that this recipe is made by Veterinarians for giant breeds, and it has the lowest fiber content for those Great Danes who need a low fiber diet.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein
- Made with the ingredients to help support your large breed’s unique needs including glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
- Contains omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin and coat health.
- A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, and life stage.
- NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors
Blue Buffalo has created this recipe for those pooches who do not like the taste of the most common protein source which is Chicken. Chicken meal is listed, but the first ingredient is Salmon, and with fish meal listed too many reviewers commented that their pooch loved the fish taste.
This grain-free recipe also offers the highest fiber content, which will ensure that his digestive tract is well looked after thanks to sweet potatoes, peas, and dried chicory root. The high fiber also helps him to feel fuller for longer, which is important if he is constantly begging for food scraps. In addition to the meat and fish meals, glucosamine and chondroitin are listed to keep your giant Dane’s joints feeling young and supple.
We love that this recipe offers a higher level of protein compared to the other giant recipes on this list, which makes it a great option for those Great Danes who do better on a high protein diet.
Best Food For Senior Great Danes
Unfortunately for Dane owners, senior years come early and don’t often last long for these gentle giants. If your Great Dane makes it to 10 years, consider yourself hitting the Jackpot of Great Dane ownership. Once your Great Dane hits around 6 years of age, it’s typically safe to start transitioning them to a senior dog food. It’s not a bad idea to move them to a food that contains glucosamine for additional joint support. In no particular order, below are our favorite foods for your aging pup.
Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed
- Vet-endorsed brand.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin for joints.
- Antioxidant-rich for immune support.
- Formulated for large and giant breeds.
- Made in the United States.
- 353 Calories per cup.
- 15.5% Protein, 10.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.
This diet is based on science, and it is made and recommended by Veterinarians from across the world, so you can be sure that it has the precise blend of ingredients for senior large breed dogs. The protein content is the lowest on this list, but some aging dogs find they need much less protein, so this will suit some Great Danes. Chicken meal is the first ingredient and main protein source, and it is also a great source of glucosamine for his joints.
There is a precise blend of antioxidants for his heart and kidney health, and it nourishes his skin and coat with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as Chicken fat and flaxseed.
We love that this recipe has the lowest fiber content which makes it a great option for those senior Dane’s who need much less fiber.
Purina Pro Large Breed
- Specialized Nutrition for Large and Giant Breed Dogs.
- Glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, for joint health and mobility.
- High in protein to promote muscle condition when combined with proper exercise.
- 26% Protein and 12% Fat.
- Chicken or Salmon is the first ingredient.
This recipe is made with large breeds aged 7 and older in mind, and thanks to the list of added botanical oils such as arginine it is said to increase his alertness within 30 days of eating it. Many reviewers commented that it returned their pooch to their younger alert self.
Eicosapentaenoic acid and taurine are listed which are known to contribute to a healthy heart, and DHA from egg products also help with brain function and eye health. It also has the highest amount of calories which would benefit those senior Great Danes who are still active.
We love that recipe promotes mental sharpness and alertness in aging large breeds.
Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ Senior
- Precise nutrition specifically made for large dogs 8 years and older weighing 56–100 lb.
- An exclusive blend of antioxidants for dogs helps support long life vitality.
- Senior dog large breed dry dog food helps support bones and joint health.
- Easy-to-digest proteins and a balanced supply of fiber promote dog digestive health.
This recipe is made with older dogs in mind thanks to its precise blend of antioxidants which support their aging immune system and long-life vitality. Thanks to the higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin compared to their adult and junior recipes, it supports his aging joints and keeps them as supple as possible.
The kibble is large in size, and rehydratable if your Great Dane is struggling to crunch the kibble pieces, which is a big hit with many of the reviewer’s dogs.
We love that this recipe has the lowest calorie count which suits those senior Great Danes who are a lot less active in their senior years.
Wellness Limited Ingredient Wet Food
- Limited ingredient wet food.
- High-quality turkey is first ingredient.
- Does not contain gluten or wheat.
- Includes probiotics and prebiotics.
- 482 Calories per cup.
- 8% Protein, 7% Fat, 1% Fiber.
This recipe considers your senior Great Dane’s overall health, and it has a little bit of everything that he needs, so you can rest assured that he is in good hands with this recipe. Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal ensures that all of his protein needs are met as well as provides him with an abundance of glucosamine for his large bones and joints.
It also has plenty of omega-fatty acids which are beneficial for his skin and coat, and it is full of antioxidants such as blueberries and spinach which support his aging immune system to keep him fighting fit. Prebiotics and probiotics contribute to a healthy gut too.
We love that while this recipe is not specifically designed for large breeds, it does have the highest levels of glucosamine and chondroitin on this list which is fantastic for his joints, so it is equal, if not better, to many other senior options available.
Food For Overweight Great Danes
While the Great Dane is known for towering upwards, if you’re not careful with his food intake he can also expand outwards. It is really important that the Great Dane’s weight is managed because his bones and frame cannot cope that well with the extra pounds, so if you or your Veterinarian suspect he has munched too many Scooby snacks switch him to one of these kibbles.
Purina Pro Weight Management
- Made specifically for heavier large breeds.
- Reduced calorie content.
- Probiotics for digestive health.
- Lean proteins for muscle retention.
- Higher fiber content to promote digestion.
- 361 Calories per cup.
- 27% Protein, 9.5% Fat, 5.5% Fiber.
With a protein content of 26% and a 9% fat content, this kibble still provides him with his other nutritional needs while significantly reducing his fat and calorie content. The glucosamine level is 500mg/kg, which is higher than most kibbles to ensure that his large bones and joints are well supported.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
- Grain-free formula.
- Doesn’t sacrifice protein content.
- Promotes an ideal body weight.
- Free of corn, soy, wheat, or by-products.
- 353 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 10% Fat, 10% Fiber.
With a protein content of 22% and a 9% fat content, his nutritional needs are still met, but the fiber content is 10% which ensures that he feels fuller for longer which also benefits his digestive tract. The glucosamine level is 700mg/kg, which is significantly higher than the above recommendation, so you can be sure that his joints and bones get all the support they need.
We love Blue Buffalo’s wide selection, and adding healthy weight food for larger breeds just makes sense.
The Great Dane is unique in his nutritional needs, so it is imperative that you chose the right nutrition for him. His growth rate will determine how well his body develops, and the right nutrition choices as a puppy will help him to develop into a healthy Great Dane.
Remember, age-appropriate food designed for larger breeds is key to finding the best food for your Great Dane, unless specified in our above recommendations, and be mindful of any extra unnecessary weight, making sure that you factor in treats to his daily allowance.
So, be sure to stick to our recommendations and the sky’s the limit when it comes to your Great Dane’s health, quite literally if you have the next Zeus on your hands.