Have you heard of George, Zeus, and Freddy? While many Great Danes won’t be as tall as these three record holders, you should never underestimate how big and beefy your boy can grow. After all, Great Danes are among the largest canine breeds on the planet.
Rapid development takes place in the first few years of a Great Dane’s short life. Hence, proper nutrition is crucial to ensure long-term health. These canine Apollos can also weigh over a hundred pounds. Therefore, knowing how much to feed a Great Dane is essential for every owner.
Excess weight places excessive stress on the joints of your pooch, which could lead to orthopedic problems later in life. Being overweight also increases the risk of bowed legs, diabetes, and osteoarthritis that often strike large and giant canine breeds.
While these conditions develop usually between the second and seventh month, a growth disease can manifest in as early as the second and fourth month of a Great Dane’s lifespan. Additionally, the giant frame of this breed makes them highly susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia. Thus, you don’t want to twist the knife.
So, how much should you feed a Great Dane? Read this article before you decide to bring a puppy home.
Great Dane Puppy Feeding Guidelines
The following chart is a general criterion to feed a Great Dane puppy and adult.
Meals per day
2 - 4 cups
3 - 5 cups
4 - 6 cups
5 - 7 cups
6 - 8 cups
6 - 9 cups
6 - 9 cups
7 - 10 cups
7 - 10 cups
12 - 18 months (males)
7 - 10 cups
12 - 18 months (females)
6 - 9 cups
18 – 20 months (males and females)
10 - 12 cups
20 – 24 months (males and females)
How Much to Feed a Great Dane
As you can see from the chart above, you may start feeding Great Dane pups with dry dog food in as early as two months. Females should start at the bottom of the range, while males should start in the middle of the range. For example, two-month-old male Great Danes begin eating three cups of food daily, while females start only with two cups of food per day.
Increase the puppy’s food gradually until the low end of the succeeding month. Doing so gives your furbaby enough energy as it continues to grow. A male pup should be able to consume three and a half cups of food halfway through the month and end the month at four cups daily.
A female pup, on the other hand, should eat a total of two and a half cups of food midway through the month and end the month at three cups of food per day.
Once a Great Dane pup reaches five-months-old, you may reduce the number of meals. What matters most is that you divide the amount of food equally throughout the day. You might assume that feeding your Great Dane pup as much food as possible will ensure it is getting enough nutrients.
Should I Feed a Great Dane Pup Commercial Puppy Food?
The general public has been taught to feed puppies a high-calorie diet to match their energy levels. Then again there are skeptic pet parents, like you and me, who are impervious against savvy marketing strategies.
Commercial puppy foods can be problematic, says Prof. Linda Arndt of Blackwatch Canine Nutritional Consulting LLC. Pet food manufacturers seldom perform large-scale feed trials on giant canines for an extended period. Since there is no extensive testing, you can’t be sure whether or not these puppy foods provide enough nourishment for a fragile breed like the Great Dane.
A majority of puppy food manufacturers often neglect the importance of micronutrients and turn their focus mainly on carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Great Danes require only a lower percentage of proteins (25%) and fats (12% – 15%) compared to that of other breeds.
This statement holds true, especially for Great Dane puppies so that they receive the right caloric balance that might otherwise affect their growth.
And although some brands boast of how their products offer nutrients from A – Z, the values may not be enough for the growth and overall development of your massive pooch. The micronutrient composition of the food is critical, especially that of calcium and phosphorus because it is already an intrinsic trait for Great Danes to grow speedily on their own.
Unlike small breeds, Great Danes will grow to their full potential size without the need for growth formulas. The ideal diet should allow the bones and muscles to develop on their own accord.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Great Danes
Always remember to check the fine print and do not rely on salesclerks to sell you the best Great Dane dog food. So, how do you select a premium dog food for your gentle beast? The following should be your criteria:
- Holistic nutrition
- Meat as the #1 ingredient
- Quality Protein from Meat, Not Legumes or Grains
- Chelated Minerals and Probiotics
- Naturally Preserved
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The hallmarks of a holistic dog food are unrefined, unprocessed, organic, and locally grown ingredients.
The ingredients are listed in descending order by amount, which means the #1 ingredient takes the biggest slice of the pie. Therefore, you want the largest ingredient to be meat. Great Dane experts, nutritionists, and veterinarians recommend at least 23% of protein in their diet.
The dog food should provide quality protein from multiple meat sources, such as chicken, turkey, duck, beef, lamb, and salmon. Multiple proteins are an absolute must for muscle development.
Avoid any product with meat meals for proteins. “Meat meal” could be a euphemism for roadkill and double-dead animals. Specified protein meals, on the other hand, are preferable as secondary protein sources.
Unlike meat meals, specified protein-dense meals are clean and beneficial.
Chelated or sequestered minerals and probiotics are a welcome addition to your pet’s food. These minerals are chemically bonded with amino acids to enhance the absorption of these minerals for your dog. As for probiotics, it promotes daily digestion, eliminates bad breath, and helps boost the immune system.
The dog food should not contain artificial preservatives.
Great Danes need to consume healthy fats (12%) just as much as other canines. A good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is what your pooch needs for improved heart health and thicker, shinier coat. Salmon, herring, sunflower, and flaxseed are good fat sources.
How Much Should My Great Dane Weigh?
According to the AKC, the standard weight for most female Great Danes range from 110 to 140, while males range from 140 – 175 pounds. Nonetheless, it isn’t strange if you will see some Great Danes weighing a lot more than that. Bear in mind that it takes three years for a Great Dane to reach its full size.
What if My Great Dane Doesn’t Like its Food?
Great Danes can be finicky eaters, but unless they are showing signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, there is nothing to worry about. A Great Dane’s appetite comes and goes due to growth spurts and fluctuating hormones. This is a common occurrence for Great Dane pups below 12 months-old.
If you wish to make a switch, start by taking half of your dog’s old kibble and mix some of the new kibble. The second meal should be a mixture of 75% new kibble and 25% old kibble. Ultimately, the third meal should consist of 100% new food.
Some canines do not like sudden changes and so doing this would help your pooch continue eating its food. An immediate change can be tough on sensitive stomachs, too. So, it is beneficial to add probiotics to your dog’s food to ensure smooth development during the transition. I also recommend using an elevated feeder to hold both your dog’s food and water bowls.
Next to fresh water and a comfy bed, providing your Great Dane high-quality food is one of the most important tasks for their survival. In summary, you should select a holistic dog food with at least two protein sources. The food should provide the right balance of proteins, fat, and calcium for optimal health.