5 Best Dog Foods for Great Danes to Slow & Steady Growth 2019

Great danes and other giant breeds make awesome pets. They’re goofy, fun-loving clowns with hearts almost as big as they are.

Sadly, most large breed dogs live shorter lives than their smaller counterparts. That’s why it’s so important that you feed your dane a high-quality food, made to keep them healthy and happy.

If you aren’t sure if your current food fits the bill, check out our list of the best dog foods for great danes.

Finding the Right Food For Your Dane

It used to be fairly easy to pick a food for your dog. You’d go to the store and grab anything off the shelf that was in your price range.

But now there are multitudes of options available.

There’s puppy food and adult food. There’s small breed, large breed, even giant breed foods!

When looking for a food for your dane, it’s important to know what they need and what is just an overpriced gimmick.

What to Look for in an Adult Dane Diet

It’s probably no surprise to you that your giant breed dog is quite different from a teacup pup, but did you know that their nutritional needs vary greatly as well?

Large breed adult dogs have slower metabolisms and burn fewer calories on average compared to smaller breeds, according to petmd.com. Large breed dogs are also more likely to suffer from arthritis as they age.

When looking for an adult dog food for your dane, try to find one with lower than average calories, higher than average protein, and with added glucosamine. Buying a brand advertised for large or giant breeds is a good place to start.

Optimal Characteristics for Large Breed Adult Dog Food:

  • Less than 400 kcalories per cup
  • More than 20% protein
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin

What to Look for in a Large Breed Puppy Diet

If you’ve had your large breed dog since they were a puppy, you already know how fast they grow from tiny newborn to towering adult. This is one more reason it’s important that large breed dogs get nutrition made for their needs.

Danes and other large breeds grow fast, but it’s important that they don’t grow too fast for their bones and joints to keep up. According to vcahospitals.com, large and giant breed puppies need food made with balanced calcium, phosphorous, and protein levels to assure proper growth.

When picking a food for your large breed puppy, make sure to find one marketed as a “large breed puppy food.” These foods are required to contain the correct amounts of protein and calcium to help your dog grow up healthy.

Optimal Characteristics for Large Breed Puppy Food:

  • 1.5% calcium
  • At least 30% protein
  • 9% fat

Reviews of The Best Dog Foods for Great Danes and Other Giant Breeds

#1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Best Overall

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed
Score: (5/5)

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Grain free food with quality ingredients, high protein and added glucosamine for your dane.
Pros

High protein

Added glucosamine and chondroitin

Quality ingredients

Cons

Both flavors contain chicken

Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness recipe for large breeds is number one our list of best foods for great danes because of its quality ingredients and high protein levels.

Like all the foods on our list, this one is designed especially for large breed dogs. It meets our minimum recommendations of protein and calories with an outstanding 32% protein and 380 kcalories per cup.

Because this food is grain free and available in two different flavors, it is one of the best dog foods for great danes with sensitive stomachs.

This food also has added glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your dane’s joints healthy.

Both the salmon and chicken flavor contain animal proteins as the first two ingredients, an important factor in helping your dane maintain a healthy weight with strong, lean muscles.

Another great feature of this food is the price. The price point is midrange, which isn’t bad at all considering this is our number one choice.

Customers love this food because of the affordability and how much energy it gives their large breed dogs. If you’re looking for something to make your adult dane act like a puppy again, this is the food for you!

#2. NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Adult Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds

Best For Your Budget

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed
Score: (5/5)

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Natural ingredients and added glucosamine at an affordable price for your dane.
Pros

Affordable

Quality ingredients

Added glucosamine and chondroitin

Cons

Contains grains

Lower protein

Nutro’s large breed formula comes in second on our list for its quality ingredients and for meeting all of our recommendations for large breed foods.

Like our number one choice, this food comes in two flavors: lamb and chicken. In both recipes, the first two ingredients are animal sourced, something your carnivorous dane is sure to appreciate.

Unlike our first choice, this food does contain grains. It is also much lower in protein at 21% and in total calories at just 330 kcalories per cup.

These factors make this a great choice for danes that need to lose a little weight, are older and less active, or for those who just struggle to maintain a lean look.

Like all our top choices, this formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin in addition to an array of other natural and healthy ingredients.

And best yet, this food is on the lower end of the price spectrum. A great feature, as any giant dog breed owner knows!

#3. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

Best for Puppies

Orijen Puppy Large Breed
Score: (5/5)

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Superior quality animal sourced ingredients and high protein for growing dane puppies.
Pros

High levels of animal sourced ingredients

High protein

Optimal calcium levels

Cons

Pricey

If you’re looking for a quality dog food to help your dane puppy grow into a healthy, happy adult, look no further than Orijen’s large breed puppy formula.

As you know, proper nutrition for your growing dane puppy is vital to them thriving as an adult giant breed dog. We chose Orijen as the best dog food for great dane puppies because it meets or exceeds all our requirements for optimal puppy health.

This food has an impressive 38% protein content to help your dane grow up strong and lean. More importantly, the first fifteen ingredients in this food are all animal sourced, so you know all that protein is coming from quality animal ingredients and not hard to absorb plant sources.

This food also contains the ideal amount of calcium and added glucosamine and chondroitin to get your pup’s bones and joints off to a healthy start.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best dry foods for great dane puppies that you’re going to find. So it shouldn’t surprise you that this food is high on the price scale.

But, keep in mind, your dane will only be eating this food for about their first year of life. It’s such a crucial time in their physical development, you may want to consider spending the extra money to make sure they get superior quality food.

#4. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Runner Up

Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed
Score: (4.5/5)

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Grain free diet with quality ingredients for your dane.
Pros

Multiple flavors

Low calorie for weight management

Grain free

Cons

Lower protein

Our fourth choice on our list is another Blue Buffalo product. Blue Buffalo is one for the best dog food brands for great danes for the variety of large breed formulas they offer.

Their Freedom line has less protein at just 22% than their Wilderness line. However, it also contains fewer calories overall and makes a better choice if your dog is less active and needs help keeping off excess weight.

Another great feature, especially if your dog is picky or gets bored with their food easily, is that this formula comes in three flavors: beef, chicken, and lamb.

Like all Blue Buffalo foods, animal protein sources are the first two ingredients in all three flavors. They also all contain glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.

Also like our number one pick, this food is grain free and a great choice if your dane is sensitive to ingredients like corn, wheat, oats, or rice.

This food is priced lower than the Wilderness line but is slightly more expensive than our number two pick.

#5. Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Large Breed Adult Canned Wet Dog Food in Gravy

Best Canned Food

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Canned Diet
Score: (4/5)

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Large breed specific formula low in calories for your less active dane.
Pros

Affordable canned diet

Low calorie for weight management

Enticing for picky eaters

Cons

Lower quality ingredients

Contains corn and grains

We included Purina’s Pro Plan large breed canned food on our list for those owners who want to feed something other than or in addition to dry kibble.

This is an especially great choice if your dane is a picky eater or has missing teeth. These soft meat chunks in tasty gravy will certainly appeal to them.

Like many canned diets, this food is a great option if your dog needs to lose weight. At only 306 kcalories per cup, this is the lowest calorie food on our list.

While there are some great animal sourced ingredients in this food, it does also contain meat by-products and corn. These two ingredients are less nutrient dense than others and can cause some stomach upset in sensitive dogs.

It will cost more to feed your giant dog canned food than the typical kibble. This food, however, is on the lower end of the canned food price spectrum, making it a great choice if your dane needs to eat a canned diet exclusively.

Of course, if you’re looking for a wet food to supplement your dane’s dry diet, this is also a great choice.

What is the Best Dog Food for Great Danes?

After looking through a lot of great large breed dog foods, we have found Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness large breed to the best dog food for great danes. This food combines quality ingredients, high protein, and lower than average calories to keep your dane trim and healthy.

This food also has added glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy bones and joints so your dane can continue being the giant clown they are for a long time to come. And, as an added bonus for you, this food is priced to be budget friendly while still offering quality ingredients.

If your dane is sensitive to chicken, this Blue Buffalo formula may not be the right choice for your dog. Luckily, many of the other foods on our list offer chicken-free options for you to try.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I feed my dane puppy adult large breed food?

Dane pups, just like all large breed puppies need very specific amounts of calcium and phosphorous to grow correctly. Always feed your dane a food made just for large breed puppies.

When your dog is about a year old, you can switch them to an adult large breed formula. To find out more about large breed diets, check out this article.

Danes are prone to bloat. Are there foods that help avoid this condition?
Bloat in dogs is very serious and often deadly. Choosing a dog food that is low in fillers like corn and soy can help reduce this risk, but more important than the type of food is making sure your dane is not active within an hour or so after eating a meal.
Can my dane eat adult food not marketed specifically to large breeds?

Adult danes do best on a diet intended for large breed dogs as these have macronutrients in the correct proportions for their size and added glucosamine for joint health.

However, many larger dogs do just fine on normal adult diets so long as they are lower in calories and they get additional supplements to help their joints if needed.

Summed Up: The Best Dog Foods for Great Danes

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large BreedNutro Wholesome Essentials Large BreedOrijen Puppy Large BreedBlue Buffalo Freedom Large BreedPurina Pro Plan Large Breed Canned Diet
Features for Great DanesHigh protein, lower than average calories, added glucosamineQuality ingredients, low calorie, added glucosamineHigh animal protein, quality animal-sourced ingredients, optimal calcium ratioQuality ingredients, grain free, added glucosamineLow calorie for weight loss, highly palatable
Ingredient Quality5/55/55/54.5/54/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$$

Sources

  1. Lynn Buzhardt. “Nutritional Requirements of Large and Giant Breed Puppies” vcahospitals.com, 2017.
  2. Deborah E. Linder. “Confused About What to Feed Your Large Breed Puppy? New Rules May Help!” vetnutrition.tufts.edu, 24 February 2017.
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