The Great Dane is a huge, elegant, and powerful dog breed, but these friendly giants love nothing more than their owner’s attention and affection. Sometimes Great Danes forget just how large they are, and just want to plonk their giant selves down on your lap, failing to realize that they are much bigger than your average lapdog!
They have the potential to reach 32 inches tall, and can weigh up to 120 pounds! You’re probably wondering just how much food these massive dogs are going to need. Fear not; you’re in the right place.
How Much Should You Feed a Great Dane Puppy?
Due to the extreme growth ahead of a Great Dane puppy in their first year of life, having a proper nutrition is vital to their long-term health and development. Rapid weight gain as a result of overfeeding a Great Dane puppy can put extra pressure on their joints, and this can lead to health issues, such as orthopedic problems, later on in their lives. Additionally, overfeeding can lead to bloat, which is also a major problem for giant dog breeds like Danes in the first place, knuckling over, bowed legs, HOD, and more.
So, how much should you feed them? A Great Dane puppy needs around 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day. An adult only needs around 2,500, but when growing, puppies need more than this to ensure they have enough energy to continue to grow and develop into a healthy adult. They should be fed around three times a day, and these meals should be divided into equal portions. One way to keep on top of their feeding is to set a feeding schedule for your furball. This way you don’t have to worry about missing a meal and you’ll make sure they stay as healthy as possible.
A Great Dane puppy between the ages of 3-6 months will need 4-8 cups of puppy food per day, and this should be divided into 3-4 meals at regular intervals. Males will typically eat a bit more than females. From 8 months to 12 months, you can expect your Dane to require around 6-10 cups of food per day. Their appetites don’t slow down until they are around 18 months old – so you’re in for the long haul!
Feeding Your Great Dane, Week by Week
Since the first couple of months are crucial for healthy puppy development, below we’ll cover the first three months in detail:
For the first 3-4 weeks, a Great Dane puppy is completely reliant on their mother’s milk, and will be fed at her discretion and as much as she allows. If you’re caring for newborn Great Dane puppies, you must be quick to notice if any puppies are not getting the same amount of milk as the others, especially in large litters. Pups that are struggling to gain weight during these stages should be given formula to supplement their growth.
You can introduce food to your puppy’s diet when they reach four weeks. A mixture of 1/4 puppy food and 3/4 water should be made and then offered to a puppy to see if they are interested. Don’t worry if they are not interested at first. They may just need a little more time. Even when interested, it is likely that a puppy will only take a bite or two, as their stomachs are still small.
At this age, you should try to feed your puppy more of the food and water mixture, but keep in mind they may still not be interested. At this point, it’s not a cause for concern as their mother will still be producing plenty of milk. You should keep your eye on any littermates who are still struggling to gain weight. If they are not receiving enough milk and are not interested in food, you may need to try the puppy on formula supplements, as mentioned above.
Puppies should be showing much more interest in the food mixture. If they’re excited about the food mixture and are digesting it without any issues such as diarrhea, you can begin gradually decreasing the amount of water in the mixture and increasing the amount of food. While their mother will still be breastfeeding them too, you can switch puppies that are doing well to just puppy food.
At this point, you may notice the puppies’ mother has become more restless and less willing to lie down and nurse her puppies who are now much bigger than when they first arrived. Therefore, she won’t be providing them with enough food on her own anymore, so you should try to ensure that each puppy is almost fully weaned off of her milk and is eating dog food. If this isn’t the case, you may want to try a different food brand or revisit the water and dog food mixtures.
Congratulations! You’ve either started to rehome your litter of puppies, or you may have just brought home the newest addition to your family and they’ve begun to settle in. You should aim to feed your puppy around 3-4 cups of food per day to aid their growth at this age. Also, always make sure to take away any uneaten food so you can keep track of how much your furry friend has eaten.
By nine weeks, your puppy should be adjusting well to their new home. This will mean that they’ll be eating pretty confidently and steadily too. It’s important to remember that these sweet puppies are going to be gigantic dogs, so they’re going to have gigantic appetites as well! You should aim to feed your puppy around four cups of food at nine weeks, and this should still be divided into 3-4 meals at regular intervals throughout the day. You’ll hopefully notice them growing and gaining weight quickly.
By ten weeks, your pup will have bundles of energy, so they will need a lot of calories to keep this up along with their continuous growth. Your Great Dane will need around 4-5 cups of food per day, dependent on their appetite. If you notice that your dog appears overly thin, you could consider increasing this amount further.
When your Great Dane puppy reaches 11 weeks old, they should be on a strict feeding schedule. You should put the food out for them for 10-15 minutes and then remove any uneaten food afterward. This will help your pet to stick to the feeding schedule, and having set meal times can help to prevent bloat. Having divided meal times ensures that your dog’s previous meal has been digested before they have their next meal, and all of this is good practice.
At 12 weeks, your Great Dane pup will be eating voraciously and will be a bundle of pure energy and fun. You should continue to offer your puppy food three times a day to keep their digestion flowing smoothly. This should equate to around six cups of food in total. Although they’ll be fairly large by now, Great Dane puppies will still need a lot of food to continue to maintain healthy growth.
What to Feed a Great Dane Puppy
Your veterinarian is the best source of advice about what you should feed your Great Dane puppy, along with your breeder. You should ask your breeder about the type of diet/brand of food they were feeding the puppies and continue to use this yourself. It would also be wise to choose a vet who has a strong knowledge of the breed and their requirements.
It’s important to keep in mind that Great Danes cannot eat conventional puppy food as it will not meet their daily requirements. They do not need growth formula included in their puppy food, as most conventional brands include. Great Dane puppies grow quick enough on their own without any extra help!
You can feed a Great Dane raw, wet, or kibble food, but it’s important to bear in mind that each of these will have disadvantages. For example, most veterinarians will advise against a raw food diet as your pet doesn’t receive enough fiber from primarily eating meat and bones with some vegetable scraps tossed in. Therefore this can lead to nutritional imbalance. Some dogs simply aren’t active enough to process all of the nutrients in raw meat, either. However, experts believe a raw food diet is better for your dog’s digestive system, but it does come with its risk of bacterial infections.
Wet food for pups usually comes in pouches and in a variety of flavors. It’s important to keep in mind, you shouldn’t feed your dog solely wet food as alone it is not enough to meet their nutritional requirements, especially if you have a Great Dane.
Kibble is one of the most versatile ways to feed your dog, and many brands, such as ones linked below, offer kibble, which is specifically designed to meet the requirements for a large breed dog like a Great Dane. Scientific studies have shown that feeding your dog kibble reduces the risk of bloat, which Great Danes are prone to.
If you want to approach a homemade diet, make sure to speak to your veterinarian so you can be sure that your Dane is getting the right nutrients. Homemade diets involve creating your puppy a dish from ingredients in your own home, so it can be time-consuming, but it’s very useful if your dog has allergies as you can eliminate ingredients that do not agree with him.
There are dog foods available that are large breed-specific and will promote a normal growth rate, allowing the bones and muscles of your puppy to develop at the right speed. You should choose a type of food that contains up to 25% protein and between 12 and 20% fat for optimal health, as it ensures that your puppy receives the correct caloric balance. Additionally, in terms of micronutrients, puppy food brands containing less than 1.5% calcium, ideally closer to 1%, are also acceptable and safe for your Great Dane puppy. The ideal ratio of phosphorus to calcium balance in your puppy’s food should be a minimum of 1:1 but no more than 1.5:1 in favor of calcium.
If you are considering adopting a Great Dane puppy, make sure to do thorough research on the breed before you start to look for available puppies. Great Danes have a short lifespan compared to other dog breeds, and live, on average, for only 6-8 years due to their size and associated health problems. On average, Great Dane puppies cost in the range of $600-$3000, so you will be splashing out when purchasing one from the very beginning, never mind the food costs!
Great Danes, however, are moderately playful and good with children, so with the right care and training, they will make an excellent pet for you and your family.