The Tasty Top: A list of the Best Foods for Great Danes

5 mins read

We are compiling the ultimate list of the best foods for Great Danes!

When we did this search ourselves, we found four things:

  • Outdated advice, including food brands that no longer exist
  • Nutrition information and ideas that are not based on actual research and science
  • Recommendations for food brands that are poorly formulated and may lead to secondary DCM (from unbalanced nutrition)
  • Click bait articles that seem to know very little about Great Danes
  • Promotional articles from dog food companies that don’t know how to formulate for Great Danes
  • A whole lot of confused Great Dane owners!

This blog post today is for those who feed KIBBLE, and we are bringing you science-backed, UP TO DATE information about what kibble to feed your Great Dane!

Great Danes have very specific nutritional requirements. 

The appropriate food will keep them at a healthy weight and will support their gut health, joints, growth, and structure. Read on!

Best foods for Great Danes

Food Requirements for Great Danes

The best foods for Great Danes are formulated specifically for the growth (puppies) and maintenance (adults) of large and giant breed dogs.

Great Danes MUST be on a science-backed LARGE or GIANT BREED dog food.

When choosing a kibble, we like to see real meat or meat meal as the first ingredient. Studies show that meat and meat meals help lower the risk of bloat! (See that study here:

All about Calcium & Phosphorus Levels

Calcium should be 1.4%-1.0%
Phosphorous should be 1.1%-.8%

The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be as close to 1:1 as possible.

Fat should be in the neighborhood of 12-18%.

However, these are NOT the only considerations! A food with the correct ‘analysis’ may still be incorrect. This is why choosing an appropriate LARGE BREED formula matters.

What protein level should Great Dane food have?

There is a lot of outdated misinformation out there about protein levels in Great Dane food.

Quality protein from meat, meat meal and meat by-products is necessary.

Too many calories and too much nutrition is what causes growth problems in Great Danes, not too much protein.

22-29% protein is acceptable.

Large Breed foods have optimal fat, protein, calcium and phosphorus levels. Most also offer joint support.

A more extensive list of our favorite foods for Great Danes is below, but until then, here are some of our favorites.

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Great Dane puppies have additional needs when it comes to their food. You can see our blog post on Dane puppy food brands here:

Find a veterinarian that has a lot of Giant-breed knowledge and experience and talk with them when choosing food for your Great Dane.

We recommend following the advice of your veterinarian, NOT a pet store sales employee or “nutritionist” with no verifiable veterinary credentials.

Great Dane Food Dealbreakers

Here are some foods that you definitely want to avoid for your Great Dane.

Grain Free Food for Great Danes

Unbalanced foods from boutique companies are believed to lead to dietary-induced heart problems (Secondary DCM).

Grain-free foods in particular are problematic as most are from boutique food companies that tend to replace a lot of actual meat content with peas, potatoes, chickpeas and legumes.

There is a growing body of evidence that should be addressed, especially because Great Danes are already prone to genetic heart problems (Primary DCM).

For more information on Diet-Induced DCM, Grain-Free and Boutique Dog Foods, READ HERE.

Secondary (nutritional) DCM is often a silent killer. You may not know your dog is sick until it’s too late.

Secondary DCM is often reversed completely, however, by choosing science-backed dog food formulated by Veterinary Nutritionists.

Bloat & Nutrition Risk Factors

Avoid foods with fat in the first 4 ingredients. According to this study , this factor correlates with a 170% increased risk of bloat.

This is a common formulation problem of VICTOR foods, and has also been seen in Life’s Abundance. Neither Victor, nor Life’s Abundance employ Veterinary Nutritionists to formulate their foods.

MLM Foods for Great Danes Scam

MLM foods such as Life’s Abundance (also NuVet Vitamins) are foods where breeders profit off of the (expensive) food being sold to puppy buyers.

Some breeders also participate in the unethical practice of requiring this purchase or in offering a more robust health guarantee if you feed this food (and thus continue to support their commissions scheme).

For more information on the problem with Life’s Abundance food, READ HERE.

Here are our top choices to feed your Great Dane:

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What is WSAVA?

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) is a worldwide non-profit dedicated to supporting veterinarians and research.

Any and all dog food companies can donate funds to and support the WSAVA. Only a few companies do.

The WSAVA does NOT approve, certify or recommend specific food brands. They make no money on their recommendations. There is no such thing as ‘WSAVA Approved’.

WSAVA has published a helpful guide of things to look for when choosing food for your dog.

You can see the WSAVA nutrition guide HERE.

Some foods meet WSAVA Guidelines but unfortunately, most don’t.

Look past the marketing and fancy words on your dog food bag.

Start asking questions.

On the top of that list if recommendations is that food should be formulated by on-site, employed, credentialed Ph.D Veterinary Nutrition professionals with extensive, certified knowledge in veterinary health and nutrition.

If you reach out to a company and they have a list of excuses for why they don’t actually staff a board-certified Veterinary Nutritionist, or why they don’t also then test their foods by investing heavily into research and trials, tread cautiously.

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The List of Best Foods for Great Danes

As before, this food list is not exhaustive. Remember to get your nutrition advice from credentialed professionals and those who share the same ethos of choosing science-backed, highly researched nutrition.

This list is for ADULT dogs over the age of 12-18 months.

Puppies should be on the PUPPY version of these formulas.

These are the same foods that are recommended by veterinarians and fed by the top breeders (whose dogs are healthy, lean, robust and long-lived). We recommend putting your favorite on autoship from!

For puppies, choose the Large Breed puppy version.

The addition of fresh whole foods and toppers (up to 10% of the diet) on a professionally formulated food will provide better nutrition than a few dried blueberries in a bag of ’boutique’ food ever will. You can always add a scoop of balanced raw food, Olewo Carrots, Dr. Harvey’s, or fresh veggies.

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Here is a list of ‘popular’ Great Dane food brands that we do not recommend.

Why are these foods on the ‘not recommended’ list?

Simply put, they don’t meet basic criteria for ethical, quality formulation and nutrition.

In other words, these foods are not typically formulated, researched and/or then fully tested by people with legitimate credentials to do so.

Most ’boutique’ foods only look healthier and feel ‘higher quality’ because of marketing, not because they actually are.

They do not participate in common canine health research and journals (choosing instead to do their own ‘testing’), and they often do not substantiate their formulas in actual food trials (choosing instead to pay somebody to just look it over on paper to see that AAFCO minimums are reached).

Most of these brands below have documented, verified cases of secondary (dietary-induced) DCM.

This is despite having only a tiny market share and minuscule sales compared to ‘big dog food’ (science-backed brands with a huge market share) that do not have any documented cases of nutrition-related DCM).

It is a myth that ‘holistic’, ‘ancient grains’, ‘super premium’, or ‘human grade’ boutique dog foods are healthier or better for your pet.

These are marketing terms with no true regulations or standards.

Foods that are not Recommended

  • Earthborn Holistics
  • Diamond Naturals
  • 4Health
  • Victor
  • Nutrisource
  • Fromm
  • Costco/Kirkland
  • Nulo
  • Nutro
  • Acana
  • Orijen
  • Solid Gold
  • Gentle Giants
  • Life’s Abundance
  • Open Farms
  • Blue Buffalo
  • The Farmer’s Dog (can be used as a topper)
  • Ollie (can be used as a topper)
  • Spot & Tango (can be used as a topper)
  • The Honest Kitchen (can be used as a topper)
  • Ziwi Peak (can be used for training treats)
  • Zignature
  • Blackwoods

Want more science-based nutrition research and information?

Here are some of our favorite resources!

WSAVA Nutrition Guidelines

The Tufts University Petfoodology Blog

Why You Shouldn’t Judge Pet Food by the Ingredients

The Pet Nutrition Alliance

Purina Institute

All Trades DVM (formerly Doc of All trades) Nutrition Category

AAFCO Talks Nutrition

Hello Danes

Dane lover and believer in ethical breeding, training and rescue practices. Positive + Balanced trainer, owner of rescue dogs and dogs from breeders. Love the dog in front of you.

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