Great Danes are giant dogs that grow rapidly and require proper nutrition to support their development.
As a Great Dane owner, diet is a key area in the healthy development of your Great Dane and should be taken with all seriousness to avoid developmental health problems.
In this article, you will learn how much dog food a Great Dane eats, whether Great Danes need special food, and their nutritional requirements.
How much Does A Great Dane Eat?
The amount a Great Dane eats depends on their age and gender but in general, the daily amount for an adult Great Dane is 2 meals per day while a Great Dane puppy eats between 2 to 3 meals per day. For the specific amounts of food to be fed based on a Great Dane’s age, follow the below general daily amounts:
3 – 6 months: Males 4 – 8 cups
Females 3 – 6 cups
8 – 1 year : Males 6 – 10 cups
Females 5 – 8 cups
Adolescents: Males 9 – 15 cups
Females 8 cups
Adult Dogs: Males 8 – 10 cups
Females 6 – 8 cups
The number of cups of food provided for each life stage and gender should be evenly divided among the number of meals fed per day.
Before the age of 4 to 5 months, a Great Dane puppy should eat 3 meals per day and thereafter 2 meals per day for life.
Do Great Danes Need Special Food?
Great Danes need special food formulated for large and giant breed dogs which are specifically designed for healthy development by allowing gradual growth and development of strong joints and bones.
Great Danes grow rapidly compared to small dog breeds therefore they need differently formulated dog food. They cannot eat any regular dog food because it is usually too rich for them and should only eat dog food designed for large or giant dog breeds.
Nutritional Requirements For Great Danes
As a rapidly growing giant breed dog, the Great Dane’s diet needs appropriate nutrition for healthy growth.
The wrong diet can be detrimental to their health either by having insufficient nutritional supply which limits proper growth or a diet that encourages rapid weight gain that can lead to orthopedic health problems.
Overfeeding and weight gain puts pressure on the joints and bones causing diseases such as hip dysplasia, bowed legs, knuckling over, among other skeletal conditions.
To understand what and how to feed your Great Dane, you need to understand their nutritional requirements.
Nutrient requirements for an adult Great Dane
The basic essential nutrients of the diet should include water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Compared to small breed dogs, Great Danes also require higher calories. As a large and giant breed dog that grows to 100 to 200 pounds, a Great Dane needs about 25 calories per pound of body weight.
This translates to 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day, that is, 350 to 450 calories per cup of food served.
Adults dogs can be fed kibble or wet food. Do not feed them one large meal all at once in a day. This increases the likelihood of the development of bloat which is a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition of Great Danes.
Read more: What is bloat in Great Danes?
Typically a Great Dane’s diet should contain:
- 23% protein from a real protein source as the first ingredient (meat, fish, poultry)
- Moderate fat (12%)
- Digestible carbohydrates in low amounts
- Supplements to promote bone and joint health (Omega 3 and 6, Glucosamine and Chondroitin)
- Probiotics and prebiotics for gut health
- Whole ingredients to provide micronutrients and antioxidants
An adult Great Dane’s diet should consist of high protein and moderate fat. Protein in the diet is a basic requirement that contributes to healthy muscle development.
Great Dane puppies require more protein than adult dogs. However, too much of it on the other hand can affect the calcium-phosphorus ratio which negatively affects bone and joint development.
Nutrients essential for skeletal development include calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A&D, zinc copper, and manganese. Deficiency in this compromise development leads to abnormal skeletal development.
Calcium is one of the Essential elements for bone development and should not be provided in excess because it causes a deficiency in other elements such as phosphorus.
It should be in the right quantity to also work with phosphorus for healthy bones and joints. Too much calcium in young Great Danes also makes them absorb too much of it which can cause abnormalities in skeletal development.
Senior Great Danes should be fed a high-quality diet formulated for their nutritional requirements. The food is specially formulated for senior large/giant breed dog breeds.
The diet usually has lower calories, lower carbohydrates, higher protein, and lower sodium.
The diet also includes probiotics or prebiotics for supporting healthy microbial populations in the intestine, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin to promote joint health, Omega-3 fatty acids, and other antioxidants to prevent inflammation.
What nutrients do Great Dane puppies need?
Puppies require large amounts of food because of their rapid growth and the high energy that they have and use. A high-quality balanced diet promotes healthy muscle and bone growth.
Fast growth is regulated by the diet. For a rapidly growing Great Dane puppy, the diet should contain high-quality puppy dog food for large breed puppies which has the correct proportion of nutrients to regulate the rate of growth and support healthy development.
They have high-calorie requirements which are used in skeletal and tissue development. However, the number of calories should be regulated so that they do not become obese.
A high-calorie diet encourages fast growth and weight gain which is stressful to their bones and results in abnormalities in skeletal development.
Any nutritional mistakes for a large breed puppy such as the Great Dane can lead to irreversible, severe, and lifelong health problems. For example, high calcium or protein foods can lead to orthopedic health problems. Therefore do not supplement calcium.
After being weaned off their mother’s milk, Great Dane puppies can be fed kibble, wet puppy dog food, or a raw diet.
A Great Dane puppy nutrient requirements include:
- Protein content 23 to 29%
- Fat content 12 to 18%
- Phosphorus to Calcium ratio of 1:1 to 1.3: 1
- Probiotics and prebiotics for gut health
- Essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6
The good thing is that commercially processed dog food for large breed puppies has been formulated correctly and you do not have to do all the math during the serving. You just have to follow the quantity specified for each meal depending on a Great Dane’s age and gender.
The transition from a large or giant breed puppy dog food to adult large or giant breed dog food should be done when your Great Dane reaches 18 months of age.
Not all dog foods are alike and feeding a Great Dane requires the right diet to support proper growth.
Great Danes grow rapidly during their first year including having growth spurts in between and they must grow at the proper rate.
Rapid growth and weight gain increase stress on their developing joints and bones and can result in skeletal malformation.
With a large number of commercially processed dog food in the market, choosing the best food for a Great Dane can be daunting. The main thing to remember in all this is to choose dog food formulated for large breed puppies or adult dogs.
Select from brands with good quality standards and if you find yourself in doubt ask your vet for recommendations before going shopping.
Also, follow the feeding quantities to ensure your pup or dog gets their daily recommended nutritional amounts.