What are Great Danes?
Great Danes are very recognizable and are one of the largest breeds of modern domestics dogs. It will come as a surprise to many that Great Danes are, in fact, not Danish in origin and are instead, German.
Great Danes are thought to have first been bred by German nobility to aid them with hunting Wild Boar on their vast estates. While Great Danes may have once been fierce hunting dogs, most of their ancestor’s ferociousness has been bread out, and a very loving and gentle breed remains.
As we mentioned, Great Danes are one of the largest, if not the largest of the common dog breeds, only Irish Wolfhounds are known to be taller, and they pale in comparison to a Great Danes weight. Male Great Danes can be genuinely huge at thirty to thirty-four inches tall and weighing in at one hundred and twenty to two hundred pounds, which correlates to the weight of the average fully grown man.
While not quite as large, female Great Danes are still huge and can be twenty-eight to thirty-two inches tall and can weigh one hundred to one hundred and thirty pounds, which is still significant.
Another important note regarding Great Danes is that they can take a notably long time to fully develop during the puppy stage of their life. It is not uncommon for a Great Dane to continue growing up until the age of three, which is unheard of in most other smaller breeds.
In particular, the first eighteen months of a Great Danes life will see tremendous growth, which is why a carefully controlled diet of high-quality food is exceptionally vital.
Sadly, due to their enormous size, Great Danes have a shorter life expectancy than smaller dog breeds. It is considered very fortunate if a Great Dane can live a healthy and active life beyond the age of ten, and many Great Danes only live to between six and eight years of age.
For an in-depth look at the Great Dane breed and their history, you should check out the American Kennel Clubs page.
Great Danes – Nutrition & Diet
As we have noted, Great Danes are a giant breed of dogs, and the most obvious consequence of this is that they need a plentiful and nutritious supply of food to fuel the growth, repair, and maintenance of their great physiques.
While a large bag of kibble might last a smaller dog a few months, a Great Dane could quickly work his way through it in a matter of weeks without even breaking a sweat.
For this reason, many dog food formulas designed for large or giant breed dogs tend to have a higher proportion of carbohydrates from ingredients like Potatoes or Legumes in order to keep the recipe at a more affordable price.
While it would be ideal for providing large breed dogs with a diet very high in protein and fat, it is not realistic to the vast majority of consumers as this would be exceptionally expensive.
As we will discuss in the Common Health Problems For Great Danes section of this article, rapid growth can be dangerous and so it is not advised to provide your Great Dane an unlimited or plentiful supply of high-calorie food to fulfill their never-ending hunger.
Careful and controlled portioning is highly encouraged to prevent health problems, especially when a Great Dane is young. While this may sound tedious and time-consuming, many dog food formulas provide easy to understand feeding guidelines on their packaging that you can follow.
In addition, many Great Dane owners and dog enthusiasts believe that providing a large breed dog such as a Great Dane with a high protein or fat proportion can be detrimental. We only agree with this sentiment to an extent and believe that protein and fat should still make up the vast majority of a Great Dane’s calorie intake.
The dangers of large breed dogs’ fast growth should not be an excuse to feed your Great Dane puppy a low-quality formula packed full of cheap high-carbohydrate or filler ingredients.
Common Health Problems For Great Danes
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia are one of the most common health problems for large and giant breed dogs like Great Danes. Dysplasia is a Greek word that means abnormal. In this context, this translates to mean that the dog has an abnormal hip or elbow joint. There are several causes of Dysplasia in dogs, including genetic factors, environmental causes, and inadequate or inappropriate nutrition.
The most important of these factors is genetics. The breeding of dogs without hip and joint problems is the best way to prevent it. Sadly, this is no help to those dogs who are already experiencing Dysplasia.
Nutrition is another critical factor, especially during the growth period, when the dog is a puppy. Nutrition should be especially important for any dog with a genetic background for Dysplasia. The best way to prevent Dysplasia is to avoid a high-calorie diet, which could also be described as consuming a low-calorie diet.
This approach should reduce and prevent rapid growth. The effects of a lower-calorie diet can make the disease less severe or prevent it altogether. However, this is disputed by some.
There are other factors that cause Dysplasia, and it can most commonly be seen in two distinct groups of the dogs: Puppies between the ages of 4 and 12 months and senior dogs with chronic joint diseases. Younger dogs often get Dysplasia due to partial dislocation of the hips, small fractures, or injuries.
Older dogs get Dysplasia because of arthritis. The consequences of Dysplasia can be difficulty running or walking, or in extreme cases, difficulty or pain with all movement. Usually, severe cases of this health problem require surgery, which can generally reduce its severity and improve the dog’s health.
A supplementary read to our breakdown on Dysplasia is this article by pets.webmd.com on Joint Health, Pain, Osteoarthritis, and Other Joint Problems.
Gastric torsion, or Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome, means twisting of the stomach, and this condition usually occurs because the stomach has become filled with gas. Gastric Torsion mainly occurs in deep-chested breeds but can occur in dog breeds without deep chests.
The exact cause of the condition is perceived as a bit of a mystery. However, it is thought that if there is enough room in the abdomen for gas-filled organs to move, then occasionally they will. This logic is why many think the condition is most common in deep-chested dogs. So why do the organs become gas-filled in the first place?
The primary suspect is diet. If dogs are transitioned onto very fermentable foodstuffs that produce gas at abnormal rates, the stomach can then struggle to cope. For many, it will not deal with the gas efficiently by burping or passing it into the intestines, and instead, it will build up.
It is also recommended to feed dogs with a predisposition or past of bloat with smaller and more regular meals. These smaller meals are less likely to cause bloat, and the added frequency will ensure a continuous and safer cycle of digestion.
For more information on this topic, we recommend you check out the Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV; “Bloat”) page.
Bone Cancer, also known as Osteosarcoma, is most commonly found in the front legs of large and giant breed dogs like Great Danes. However, it isn’t isolated to these specific bones and can also manifest in bones in the skull, jaw, and back. It most commonly affects middle-aged and senior dogs of both sexes.
The most common symptoms of Bone Cancer are lameness, weakness, pain, and swelling, among others. If your dog experiences any or a mixture of these symptoms and is a giant breed dog such as a Great Dane, it is vital you see a veterinary professional as soon as possible. Treatment for Bone Cancer can include chemotherapy or amputation. Sadly, very few dogs that are diagnosed with bone cancer survive and are still alive a year after their initial prognosis.
Sadly, Great Danes are among a number of dog breeds that experiences an increased risk of heart disease. While this might worry you, the risk of heart disease can be significantly reduced with a carefully chosen diet.
The two most important micronutrients to watch out for when you have a dog with heart disease are the level of the Omega Fatty Acids and the quantity of Salt in their dog food formula.
You want to ideally limit your dog’s intake of Salt to a tolerable level. Finding out if a dog food has a tolerable level of Salt isn’t a simple task as many commercial dog foods do not list their salt content on their packaging. This lack of information makes searching for a low-sodium formula challenging.
You may, therefore, have to contact the manufacturer directly to get an estimate of the salt content. However, avoiding food that contains significantly added Salt or naturally salty ingredients is a wise start.
Secondly, you want to seek out foods high in the Omega Fatty Acids, especially the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These fatty acids are crucial to maintaining the health of your dog’s heart and are most commonly found in high levels in oily fish ingredients, such as Mackerel and Trout. However, they are also present in other ingredients like Flaxseed.
While it is not required to list the level of the Omega Fatty Acids on the Guaranteed Analysis of a dog food formula, many brands do so. This additional information makes the challenge of finding a suitable dog food formula with a high level of these fatty acids a more straightforward endeavor.
Best Dog Food For Adult Great Danes
Nature’s Variety Instinct’s Original range is a safe bet for almost all dogs of any shape and size. While the brand may be better known for its selection of raw and semi-raw formulas, their traditional dry food recipes provide excellent nutrition at an affordable price.
It is true that their formulas may not be tailored specifically to large or giant breeds like Great Danes. However, they are still very suitable for adult dogs who no longer need to worry about the effects of rapid growth or mineral imbalances.
The original range offers a variety of different meat and fish ingredients, and we have taken a particular shine upon the Salmon Recipe due to the high levels of the Omega Fatty Acids that it contains.
As we discussed earlier in this article, the Omega Fatty Acids are a fantastic nutrient that can help prevent Heart Disease as well as maintain healthy skin and coat. Along with Salmon, the recipe also contains some other fish ingredients such as Herring and Menhaden.
Menhaden Fish is a small oily fish, and its meal is often used to increase protein levels in dog food without adding lower-quality plant-based material. Find out more in our Menhaden Fish meal In Dog Food article. Finally, these fish ingredients are combined with a small portion of vegetables, such as Peas and Tapioca.
Merrick has a fabulous collection of dry and canned food available, and their Grain-Free Real range is one of the best. There is a large range of formulas that utilize a number of meat and fish ingredients, including some that are less common. Also, they have a formula specifically designed for large breed dogs that focuses on Chicken.
The large breed formula doesn’t have quite the proportions of protein and fat than some of its sister recipes do, but it is still very satisfactory and above average.
Sadly, the lower levels of protein and fat are most likely required to keep the formula affordable and align with large breed dogs’ great appetite. Another notable point is that the level of the Omega Fatty Acids in this formula are very satisfactory, especially given it is not a fish-centric formula.
The range of legumes and starchy vegetables in this formula is large, which provides a range of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. However, a large number of ingredients may make it inappropriate for those dogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies.
Nature’s Logic may be less familiar to consumers than some of the other brands mentioned in this article, but their recipes plug an essential gap in the premium and hypoallergenic dog food market.
We try not to suggest dog food formulas that contain a significant quantity of grain ingredients as we believe them to be low-quality. However, for those dogs who do react poorly to other vegetable and starch ingredients, then there is a place for them. An example of a dog who may benefit from grains could be one with a severe Pea and Legume allergy.
Nature’s Logic’s dry dog food recipes make use of the grain Millet. While we don’t consider Millet to be quite as advantageous as other grains like Brown Rice and Oats, we believe it is far superior to the other grains such as Wheat and Corn, which are low-quality fillers.
The Duck & Salmon Meal Formula featured above contains a mix of Duck, Turkey, and Salmon ingredients along with Pork Liver. Liver can provide many minerals and vitamins that traditional meat cuts can not. The proportion of protein and fat in this formula is extremely satisfactory and suitable for dogs of all activity levels.
Nature’s Logic has a number of other formulas, including a Pork Formula, which is worth mentioning for those dogs who do not react well to multiple meat and fish ingredients. Its nutritional profile is identical, but it only makes use of Pork Meal and Pork Liver alongside the everpresent Millet. Be sure to check out its review here.
Holistic Select has been featured in a number of our articles due to its high-quality formulas and unusual ingredients. As part of their large range of dry dog food products, they produce a formula that is tailor-made to large and giant breed dogs.
While the formula’s overall nutrition may not be spectacular, the level of both Calcium and Phosphorus in this particular recipe is very well balanced and could help prevent some of the dangerous conditions that large and giant breed dogs develop if not their diet is not carefully managed.
The formula makes use of both Chicken and Pork, which provide the bulk of the protein and fat. In addition to these meat ingredients, there is a large portion of potatoes and legumes which provide carbohydrates and fiber and help keep the cost of the formula low, which is essential for large breed dog owners as their canine friends consume food by the pound.
Best Dog Food For Great Dane Puppies
Orijen formulas are famous for featuring an extremely large number of high-quality meat and fish ingredients. No other commercial dog food brand can match this trait. Their formulas contain up to ten different meat or fish ingredients, which, when combined, form at least 85% of the total quantity of ingredients used.
Luckily for Great Dane owners, Orijen produces a formula specifically designed for large breed puppies such as Great Danes. Puppy Large features a range of poultry and fish ingredients such as Chicken, Turkey, Flounder, Mackerel, and others. Fresh fruit and vegetables provide an appropriate proportion of carbohydrates and fiber, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.
This combination of ingredients is similar to their Original Formula, which may make transitioning a Great Dane Puppy to the adult formula significantly easier.
Finally, Puppy Large is calorie limited to help prevent disorders such as Osteochondrosis and Dysplasia, which can be aggravated by high-calorie diets and quick growth.
We highly recommend following the feeding guidelines on the packaging. However, the protein and fat proportion of this formula are still high, and if you have a strong belief that this is a risk to large breed puppies, then this formula may not be for you.
Farmina isn’t as well known as Orijen in the super-premium dog food space, but it still produces some fantastic formulas that are worthy of discussion.
The primary focus of Farmina’s N&D Chicken & Pomegranate Puppy formula is on two core meat and fish ingredients: Chicken and Herring. Both of these ingredients are ideal for a puppy’s diet and provide a plentiful supply of protein and fat.
The Herring, in particular, supplies a very satisfactory level of the Omega Fatty Acids, which can help improve the health of your puppy’s skin and coat.
In addition to Chicken and Herring, the formulas include Potatoes and a select number of fruit and vegetable ingredients. While we don’t believe Potatoes are the ideal source of carbohydrates, the portion of them in these formulas is low enough, which is not of significant concern. Some examples of other fruits and vegetables present in small quantities are Pomegranate, Apples, Carrots, and Spinach.
We acknowledge that this formula may be more calorie-dense than the above mentioned Orijen formula, but it is still not a high-calorie recipe and, in fact, contains more calories from its protein content than its fat content.
Protein is known to be more filling and will, therefore, hopefully, help your hungry Great Dane self-regulate their intake of food. If that isn’t sufficient, Farmina provides very detailed feeding instructions to ensure a healthy and steady growth rate.
Best Dog Food For Senior Great Danes
Go! is a relatively new brand but is one that has piqued our interest and, as a consequence, keeps finding its way into our articles. Their recipes are simple and straightforward and have a strong focus on whole meat and fish ingredients, which is ideal for a dog’s diet. They produce a single formula aimed at senior dogs, and it shares many of the great traits of the other formulas they produce.
A mix of poultry and fish ingredients make up the first five listed ingredients of the recipe. Examples include Chicken, Salmon, and Trout. These ingredients provide a plentiful supply of protein but keep the fat proportion low, which is essential for senior dogs as they are less active.
The formula also includes a broad range of vegetable and starch ingredients, including Potatoes, Lentils, Tapioca, and Chickpeas. This vast range of meat, fish, and vegetable ingredients may make this formula unsuitable for those with severe allergies or sensitivities.