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Although most people consider their dogs to be pretty amazing companions, few breeds have "great" included in their name. Of course, the Great Dane's name refers primarily to his size — in his native Germany, he's known as the Deutsche Dogge — but there are plenty of other great things about this gentle giant.
The typical Great Dane is affectionate, calm, good with kids, and requires only moderate exercise. The worst thing about these dogs is their relatively short life span, which is just one reason you need to pay attention to Great Dane growth stages. Feeding them correctly from the start is crucial to good health throughout this breed's life.
Great Dane puppy food recommendations
There's an art and a science to feeding a Great Dane puppy. A Great Dane's skeleton keeps growing until she's about 18 months old, and a diet too high in calcium or protein could result in orthopedic problems.
Make sure that your pup is getting her dietary requirements met. Check with your vet during a wellness check for recommendations or choose veterinarian-recommended brands of puppy food designed for the needs of large breeds.
Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Smart Puppy Food contains 22 ingredients found in a dog mother's milk, making it a natural transition for your growing Dane. Real chicken is at the core of the recipe, and Omega-3 DHA assists brain development, helping your dog be more focused and easy to train.
Watch for Great Dane growth spurts from puppyhood and adjust feeding accordingly. Dogtime recommends feeding a male Great Dane puppy, aged 3 to 6 months, 4 to 8 cups of food daily, divided into at least three servings. Females of the same age should receive 3 to 6 cups of food daily. From 8 to 12 months, feed males 6 to 10 cups of food and females, 5 to 8 cups. Adolescent Danes, aged 1 to 2 years, eat more than at any other time of life: 8 cups of food daily for females and 9 to 15 cups for males.
Feeding the adult Great Dane
According to the Jerusalem Post, the average adult Great Dane requires approximately 2,500 calories daily. Older Great Danes may require somewhat fewer calories, while a younger adult with an active lifestyle may need roughly 3,000 calories per day. The dog's food should consist of a minimum of 23% protein and 12% fat. In terms of quantity, adult males should receive 8 to 10 cups daily and females, 6 to 8 cups.
Examine the contents of quality dog food carefully before buying it for your big dog. You may want to go with a premium dog food designed specifically for large breeds. Because large breeds often experience joint problems, these foods usually include ingredients offering joint support.
One great option is Royal Canin Great Dane Adult Dry Dog Food, specifically designed for Great Danes 24 months and older. Easily-digestible proteins and specific amounts of fiber help prevent gastric problems, and large kibble size encourages the dog to eat slowly. A precise mix of nutrients promotes optimal body weight, joint mobility, and healthy bones.
Although you don't need to feed your grown Great Dane as often as you did when he was a puppy, he'll still need to be fed more frequently than other dog breeds. Figure on a minimum twice-daily feeding, but three times daily is preferable. As Maryland's Sykesville Veterinary Clinic notes, avoid free feeding of a Great Dane. This means your dog should never have access to food all the time.
Minimize the risk of bloat
Formally known as gastric torsion, bloat occurs when the stomach becomes distended with gas and then twists. The dog goes into shock and will die quickly without immediate veterinary treatment, which generally consists of surgery. Great Danes are prone to bloat, and feeding them once daily or immediately before or after exercise increases the risk. For vulnerable breeds, preventive surgery is available to tack the stomach to the abdominal wall so it can't twist.
Keep treats to a minimum and avoid giving your Great Dane table scraps. Make sure your dog's food bowl is at shoulder height when feeding, which helps limit digestive issues. Always wait at least an hour before or after exercise to feed your dog to reduce the odds of bloat.