Feeding a Great Dane puppy an appropriate diet to encourage slow, steady growth ensures they enjoy the best possible bone health in adulthood.
Great Dane puppy owners can choose between dry kibbles, canned food, raw feeding protocols and home cooked diets.
Your giant breed puppy needs the right amount of the correct food in order to grow big, and strong.
Don’t be tempted to feed them the same as you would a medium breed puppy. There are a few key differences for Great Dane puppies which you’ll need to account for.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know.
From how to switch puppy food brands, choosing the best food, and adapting how you feed your puppy as they grow.
Swapping Puppy Food Brands
Before your new puppy arrives, take some time to figure out a plan with regards to their feed.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a new family member, but you want to make sure they get off to a great start.
Keeping your puppy’s feed the same means there’s one less thing for them to adapt to straight away.
Speak to your breeder, and find out what brand of feed they use, and what quantity. If you can, try and buy a small bag, or a few tins, of the same food. Use this to feed your puppy for the first 2 weeks.
This reduces the possibility of them having an upset tummy on arrival. It also gives you time to research which puppy food may suit them best, as you get to know their personality and preferences.
Once you’ve selected their new food, you can start to swap them over to the new brand.
This isn’t something to be rushed, so we recommend you mix it with their existing food.
For the first week, use a mix of 25% new food, and 75% old food. Over the following month or so, gradually add increase the amount of new food, and reduce the old. Eventually, your pup will be fully transitioned onto their new diet.
Great Dane Puppy Diets
As we mentioned at the start of our introduction, there’s a massive range of feeds available, specifically designed for large breed puppies.
If you’re looking for recommendations for particular feeds, our guide to the best food for a Great Dane puppy includes a range of foods designed with this breed in mind.
Great Danes can be prone to a condition known as bloat. The risk of this can be reduced by feeding larger pieces of food. Research suggests that individual pieces of food should be larger than 30mm. This applies to both kibble, and wet or raw food.
Puppy food which is specifically designed for large breed dogs will use a kibble or meat size which is within this safer range.
Due to their size, Great Dane puppies continue growing for a long time. You might think that this means they need a dog food with high levels of energy, but the reverse is actually true.
Let’s take a look at how your feeding regime will change as your puppy grows next.
How Feeding Changes As A Great Dane Puppy Gets Older
Giant breed puppies like Great Danes mature much more slowly than smaller breeds.
Studies have found that giant breeds such as the Great Dane continue their period of rapid ‘puppy’ growth until they are 5 months of age.
Great Danes are not considered adult until 15 months old. This means you should continue to feed them a high-quality puppy food until this age.
You might be tempted to switch them onto a standard, adult formulation dog food before this time, but we’d definitely caution against that.
Standard dog food usually has higher levels of calcium protein, phosphorous, Vitamin D, and energy than your Great Dane puppy requires. This can have a negative impact on their skeletal development.
It’s a good idea to speak to your veterinarian at each puppy check. They will be able to advise you when to make the switch to adult dog food.
Once your Great Dane puppy is fully grown, you can expect them to weight around 110 – 175 pounds.
Make sure you also take a look at our guide to puppy bath time for info on how to wash your puppy.
What To Feed A Great Dane Puppy
There’s a huge range of types of food available for Great Dane puppies. If you visit your local pet store, or check on Amazon, without an idea of what you’re looking for, the number of choices can be overwhelming.
First of all, puppy food can be split into 4 different types:
- Wet Food
- Raw (BARF)
You may already have a preference, especially if you own other dogs. But if not, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each type.
Feeding A Great Dane Puppy Kibble
Kibble, or dried dog food, is a versatile way to feed your dog.
It comes in bags in a wide range of weights, meaning you can often try a smaller bag to see if your puppy likes it. Then you can invest in a larger bag if they do.
The majority of brands will offer a kibble which is specifically designed to meet the nutrient requirements of giant breed puppies.
Make sure you choose a brand which includes essential fatty acids, and high percentages of protein. Grain-free is also recommended.
Great Danes can be prone to Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. This is a life-threatening condition that affects deep-chested breeds.
Scientific studies recommend feeding kibble with a larger size as a way to help reduce the risk of GDV. Aim for kibble pieces bigger than 30mm in size.
If you’d like to find out more, head over to our full article looking at the advantages and disadvantages of feeding kibble.
Feeding A Great Dane Puppy Wet Food
Wet food designed for puppies can be found in trays, pouches, and tins.
There’s a whole host of flavors to choose from, in a range of textures such as pate, or meaty chunks in gravy.
Wet food is not normally supposed to be fed on its own. It doesn’t contain all the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy.
It can also increase plaque deposits, and the possibility of periodontal disease. This is because it’s too soft to help remove plaque from your dog’s teeth.
Instead, it should be used as a topping for kibble. This can help fussy eaters to eat their full ration.
Feeding A Great Dane Puppy Raw Food (BARF)
Another option which is becoming more popular, is feeding your puppy raw food.
This is also called BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
You can buy BARF meals in frozen packs. These can be defrosted as and when you need them. This makes them very convenient.
The majority of dogs absolutely love raw food. One area where you’ll need to take care is when handling raw food. Due to its nature, there is a higher risk of contamination.
Our article looking at the pros and cons of BARF is a great place to find out more.
Feeding A Great Dane Puppy A Homemade Diet
The last option is to prepare a homemade diet for your Great Dane puppy.
You can use a wide range of foods that you may have in your pantry for your own use. This could be potatoes, rice, fish, vegetables, and meat.
This is a great option if your puppy seems to suffer from allergies. By removing ingredients step-by-step, you can see if this helps your puppy feel better.
Homemade diets are probably the most complex and time consuming to prepare though.
You will definitely need to speak to your veterinarian before you head down this path.
It’s essential that you include the right blend of ingredients to make sure your puppy doesn’t end up with a nutrient deficiency.
How Much Should I Feed My Great Dane Puppy?
As every puppy is different, the answer to this question will depend on a combination of factors. Start off by using the guidelines provided on your dog food. This will give an indication of the average amount of food required.
As every puppy is individual, bear in mind that you can need to increase, or decrease this amount depending on your pup’s requirements.
Be cautious of feeding free-choice, where your puppy can graze from their bowl throughout the day. This is not recommended for Great Dane puppies.
Research indicates that following proper feeding practices, and encouraging slower body growth in Great Danes, is far better for their development in the long run.
Large breed puppies, such as Great Danes, have a lower bone density than smaller puppies. This means their skeletons are more prone to damage if they are overweight.
This can cause developmental orthopaedic disease (DOD). This includes osteochondrosis, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, osteochondrosis dissecans, and cervical spondylomyelopathy (wobbler syndrome).
Is My Puppy The Right Weight?
You might be concerned that even though you’re feeding the correct amount, your puppy is over or underweight. In this case, the best thing to do is talk to your veterinarian.
They can check your pup’s body condition score. A score of 4 out of 9 is the goal as your puppy is growing.
You might need to adjust the amount you’re feeding your puppy as a result.
Your vet can also teach you how to score your puppy using the body condition scoring scale yourself. This is a great idea, as it means that between veterinary checks, you can keep an eye on your puppy’s weight yourself.
My Puppy Is Still Hungry
Even if you’re following the recommended guidelines for the amount of food your puppy needs – they may still seem hungry.
Some dogs naturally enjoy eating, and might always be on the lookout for more.
Don’t’ be tempted to overfeed your puppy as an automatic reaction to them asking for more food.
First of all, establish if your pup is underweight. If they are very active, they might need more food to compensate. Use the body condition score as we mentioned previously, to check your pup is the right weight.
If your puppy becomes overweight, this can put too much stress on their skeleton as it develops.
My Puppy Won’t Eat
Puppies can be sensitive to change as they adapt to their new home.
This can sometimes mean that they will not eat as much as usual, or stop eating altogether.
If something stressful has happened recently, such as a big family gathering at your home, or friends visiting, your puppy may go off their food.
Your pup may also be teething, which can cause discomfort.
Speak to you veterinarian if your pup doesn’t eat for more than a day or two.
They may prefer a different brand of food, or a wet food topping could encourage them to eat more.
How Long Is A Great Dane Considered A Puppy?
Great Dane puppies have a much longer growing period than smaller breeds. As we touched on earlier, Great Danes grow rapidly until 5 months old.
Contrast this with smaller breeds, which complete this rapid phase of growth within just 11 weeks.
Great Danes also take longer to reach adulthood than many other breeds. By the time they’re 15 months old, they are considered an adult.
That means you can review your feeding practices, and start using a dog food formulated for adults.
We still recommend you select a dog food designed for giant breeds, as this will contain the correct balance of energy and nutrients that they need.
We hope this article has given you plenty of information on how to keep your gentle giant of a Great Dane puppy in the very best of health.
If you have a Great Dane, or would like to share your feeding recommendations for this breed, please let us know in the comments below.
References and Resources
- Oba et al. 2018. Nutrition as a tool to control periodontal diseases in dogs and cats. Nutrition and food science.
- Hazewinkel, et al. 1991. Growth and skeletal development in Great Dane pups fed different levels of protein intake. Journal of Nutrition.
- Hutchison et al. 2012. Seizures and severe nutrient deficiencies in a puppy fed a homemade diet. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Hawthorne et al. 2004. Body-weight changes during growth in puppies of different breeds. The Journal of Nutrition.
- Theyse, et al. 1998. Small size of food particles and age as risk factors for gastric dilation volvulus in Great Danes. The Veterinary Record.