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Article: 10 Best Dog Foods for Great Danes: Top Choices for Giant Breeds

 The Best Dog Food for Great Danes: Top Choices for Giant Breeds

10 Best Dog Foods for Great Danes: Top Choices for Giant Breeds

Best Dog Food for Great Danes

Great danes are an awesome dog breed, but they also come with a unique set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is finding the right food to keep them healthy and active.

There are so many different types of dog food on the market, it can be hard to know which one is best for your furry friend. This guide will help you understand what to look for in a dog food and outlines the best dog food for great danes.

I cover everything you need to know about finding the best food. I'll discuss health conditions, activity level, vitamins and supplements and my specific recommendations, for puppies, active dogs, seniors and ones suffering from digestive issues.

First a quick note: this website is reader-supported. I spend a lot of time personally evaluating, testing and reviewing each product on this list, along with the help of my two dogs (Atlas and Nitotem).

When you buy through links on our site, I may earn an affiliate commission. This helps keeps my dogs happy and healthy!

The Best Dog Foods for Great Danes


1. Best Overall: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient

The Natural Balance has the perfect balance of micronutrient and macronutrients for great danes or any large breed. These goodies contribute significantly to your pet's health with a good portion of its protein coming from lamb.

It is also full of essential amino acids (with 22% protein) which boost your pet's muscle development and overall metabolism.

I like the whole grain rice in the mixture, which provides natural fibers enhancing digestion and helps slow the absorption of food, keeping them full and helping to control their weight.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient

There's supplemental taurine, which is needed for heart health and to support cardiovascular functions.

Key Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, brown rice, brewers rice

Speaking from a personal point of view, the lamb content not only satisfies my dog's taste buds but has also did wonders for his coat, making it glossy and healthy. It is reassuring to see him enjoying these large kibbles, as seem to slow down feeding and help clean his teeth.

I'll note that this formula is not completely grain free, but it is gluten free. Some dogs do better with grains and some do not, so it is up to you which you choose. I see it as the best overall option!

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2. Best Meal Topper: Bluebird Provisions Grass Fed Beef Bone Broth

If you want a meal topper for extra protein that builds strong joints and helps with digestion, look no further than bone broth. This one from Bluebird Provisions is grass fed beef, which is low in allergens and has no extra ingredients other than beef bones.

Bluebird Provisions Grass Fed Beef Bone Broth

My two dogs both took to this new addition to their meals without a hitch, eagerly lapping up the broth every single time. Other than providing a delicious meal enhancer, knowing that this broth also contributes to their overall wellness gave me additional peace of mind.

The broth is simmered over a prolonged period, allowing all the nutrients locked within the bones to be gently released into the broth. This process ensures that the broth is rich in collagen, glucosamine, amino acids and minerals, all essential for a dog's health.

I highly recommend it if you have a picky eater or looking for a nutritious and tasty addition to your pet's meals.

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3. Best Grain Free: Taste Of The Wild Sierra Mountain

Taste of The Wild is an impressive grain free option that caters to the unique needs of large breeds. Its 25% protein content comes straight from lamb, which helps support muscle growth and overall strength.

Theres 15% fat, which is solid and 5% fiber. It is lower in carbs than many other brands, which works great for this breed.

Taste Of The Wild Sierra Mountain

There's added taurine, fish oil and probiotics -- three things that are crucial for large breeds. Read below for more details on what to look for.

Key Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, lentils

After a few weeks of use, I noticed a significant increase in my dog's energy levels and overall joyfulness. Despite my dog’s sensitive stomach, he's had no digestion issues, which is likely due to the prebiotic fiber and natural probiotics in the recipe.

For a grain free option, you won't find a better one than Taste of Wild.

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4. Best for Puppies: Purina Pro Plan High Protein Large Breed Puppy

Purina Pro is a nutrient-dense formula that is rich in protein at 28% and fat at 13% to help your puppy with their rapid growth. It uses real chicken as the primary protein source and first ingredient which ensures your growing pup has the muscle-building components and amino acids it needs.

The recipe also includes a blend of whole grains and fiber, like rice and oats, which aid in the digestive process while providing sustained energy for all that puppy play and fun.

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Large Breed Puppy

I'm a big fan of supporting American made products, and Purina, despite being the biggest brands on the list, still uses USA facilities.

A friend of mine started their great dane pup as soon as they transitioned from her mother's milk and the results have been outstanding.

She has grown amazingly and maintains a healthy, thick coat which I attribute to the Omega-3s and Omega-6s in the recipe. She can't get enough of her food, which tells you that this food isn't just nutritious but highly palatable.

Packed with vitamins, minerals and several other nutrients, I am confident she is getting a balanced diet that promotes her overall health.

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5. Best Cost Effective Option: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

The Blue Buffalo large breed adult food is a fantastic and cost effective option that suits the needs of most great danes. This recipe really ticks all of the boxes from an added vitamin and mineral standpoint.

Why do I say this? They add in Taurine, L-carnitine, glucosamine and chondroitin to the formula. Most of the other options on the list add some of these but few have all of them.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Key Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal

Apart the joint building nutrients, it also offers a balanced blend of 22% protein derived from quality deboned chicken, ideal for maintaining lean muscle mass. Coupled with its sufficient carbohydrate content, this formula ensures your active pooch gets a good source of energy to navigate their day.

I also love the inclusion of antioxidants and vitamins, which are integral in offering protection against the effects of aging.

If you are concerned about joint health then I would recommend Blue Buffalo! At over 5000 reviews with a 4.7 average, you really can't go wrong.

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6. Best Wet Food: Purina Pro Plan Beef and Rice

I've always been on the lookout for nutrient-dense, wet food options that cater specifically to the unique needs of large breeds. Luckily, I stumbled upon Purina Pro beef and rice chunks in gravy.

While most wet food options are full of junk, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about its balanced nutrient profile, with 9% protein (this is very high for wet foods), 2% fat. The hearty dose of protein is excellent for muscle development and the number of calories per serving adequately caters to my large breed dog's energy requirements.

Purina Pro Plan Beef and Rice

I'm also a huge fan of the added glucosamine and fish oil (EPA), which is great for joint health and mobility of large breeds.

Finally, there's natural prebiotics to facilitate gut health and digestion. Purina uses USA facilities to make their products, so you can trust it does not come from overseas.

If you want a wet food option, you won't find a better combination of quality and availability than Purina.

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7. Best for Gut Health: Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin

Hill's is the gold standard for sensitive stomachs for good reason. Anytime either of my two dogs have stomach issues we aim for simple, animal protein and rice based diets.

Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin

Key Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brown Rice

When Nitotem had surgery, we used this to get his digestive system back on track since he could not tolerate most foods.

Why does it work? A few things:

  1. Omega 3 fats which help reduce inflammation in the gut
  2. Simple animal protein (chicken) and easily digestible cabs from rice.
  3. Antioxidants to support a strong immune system for efficient digestion.
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8. Best for Seniors: Orijen Senior Dry Dog food (Grain Free)

Orijen makes a fantastic senior dog food for giant breeds because of the animal rich crude protein at 38%. It is specially crafted with the dietary needs of senior dogs to aid in giving them a healthy and fulfilling final life stage.

The protein comes from a balance of different sources from cage-free chicken and wild-caught fish to whole herring and eggs. This high-protein content helps maintain lean muscle mass and supports a strength that our elder dogs need.

Orijen Senior Dry Dog food (Grain Free)

Key Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, salmon, whole herring, chicken liver, dehydrated chicken

The grain-free recipe is also free from meals, soy and corn, making it great for older dogs who might have a bit more inflammation related joint or digestive issues.

Finally, I love that Orijen makes their products in the USA so you can trust the quality and sourcing.

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9. Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Meals Grain Free Beef

Instinct makes an awesome freeze dried, grain-free dog food with real beef as its primary ingredient, ensuring dogs get all the required protein levels they need for healthy development and maintenance of lean muscles.

The brilliance of this product lies in its freeze-drying technique, as it retains more valuable nutrients than regular dry dog food and still offers the same convenience. If you need a high protein and high fat option, this is the best.

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Meals Grain Free Beef

These components contribute to strengthening the immune system, enhancing skin and coat health and overall well-being of your furry friend. Oh and there's also nutrient rich organ meats like beef liver, kidney and spleen.

Key Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Apples, Carrots

These are among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Dogs absolutely love them too!

I am delighted by the positive changes I've seen in both of my dogs when we tried Instinct. They had no gut issues and really enjoyed the taste. If your dog reacts to grains and you want to try something dehydrated, this is the best option.

Even though it's a bit pricier than some other brands, it's worth every penny considering the benefits and high-quality ingredients in the mix.

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10. NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed Chicken and Rice (NON-GMO)

It's rare to see a pet food make non-gmo claims, so I am thrilled to see this formula from NUTRO made with 100% non-gmo ingredients! NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice is a go-to choice for many large breed dog owners - and for good reason.

Here are a few other things I love about NUTRO:

  1. There's added glucosamine an chondroitin sulfate to support joint health.
  2. Omega 3's from fish oil to help with brain development and reducing inflammation
  3. No by-products, meals, corn or soy

NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed Chicken and Rice (NON-GMO)

In my experience, dogs absolutely love the taste of the chicken and rice flavor, making meal times hassle-free. You and your pup will be satisfied with the absence of any artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

The one downside is the price is on the higher end, but considering the marked improvements in my four-legged friend's wellbeing and that it's non-gmo, it's definitely an investment worth making.

Overall, considering the impressive formulation of this product and the positive effects on dog's health, I would highly recommend NUTRO to other big dog owners.

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What to Consider When Choosing Dog Food for a Great Dane

Some important things you need to look for in great dane dog food are avoiding common allergies, probiotics, gut friendly ingredients, taurine and L-carnitine, joint support, limited ingredients, omega 3s, antioxidants and lower fat.

I'll go through each of these below.

1. Avoid Allergens

Great danes often develop food allergies or intolerances to things like corn, wheat, chicken (poultry) and soy. While these ingredients are standard in many dog foods, they are known to frequently cause allergies or intolerances in giant breeds, leading to issues like dry and itchy skin, sensitive stomachs and other irritations.

Always check for these foods in their diet if you have a pup that shows these symptoms.

I had to switch to many different dog foods before finally figuring out my two dogs are allergic to all poultry and lamb.

How did we figure it out? I used the 5Strands at home pet tolerance test. It was super convenient to get everything mailed to our home and not have to spend lots of money at the vet.

2. Probiotics

Great danes need probiotics due to their well-documented susceptibility to stomach issues including bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition (see below). To make matters worse, as they age they are more likely to get exposed to hormones and antibiotics (if they get sick or in food) which further messes with gut health.

Probiotics help restore and maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, prevent digestive problems help them digest food properly. Many top pet food brands are now adding probiotics to their ingredient list. Lots of the options on the list above have them.

3. Gut Friendly Ingredients

In addition to probiotics, you also want to look for other gut friendly ingredients like collagen rich bone broth, glutamine, taurine and L-carnitine. This, combined with a moderate kibble size sets them up for fantastic digestion.

4. Taurine and L-carnitine

Great danes need taurine and L-carnitine primarily for cardiovascular (aka heart) health. Taurine is an amino acid that helps reduce heart disease and L-carnitine helps with fat burning and increases calorie burning which helps their heart as well.

5. Joint Support Supplements

You want to add extra glucosamine and chondroitin, which help build up healthy cartilage around joints. These are added to many foods or you can get them in supplement form. You want to start early as a preventative measure, but if you have a dog suffering already, it is never too late to start.

For supplements I like the the Nutramax Glucosamine Chondroitin joint supplement. Bone broth is another great joint building food, I like the grass fed beef from Bluebird Provisions.

6. Limited ingredients

Great danes require limited ingredient dog food due because this is less likely to cause inflammation in their bodies and lead to issues down the line (gut, bone or joint). Since this gigantic breed needs a careful balance of nutrients to grow steadily, without deformity, generic dog food often falls short as it may not cater to their specific nutritional needs.

7. Omega 3 Fats

You want lots of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to maintain joint health and reduce inflammation. Omega 3s (EPA and DHA) are most commonly found fish oil. Many pet food brand add it to their ingredients, but you need to check the percentage to make sure you are getting enough.

I like to see at least 0.5% omega 3s, but if you want to go extra, then look for 1%. Some brands put this in the 'guaranteed analysis' section on the back of the bag or on the website. I did my best to include this in the buyer's guide section above.

Omega 3s reduce inflammation and alleviates allergies as well as help with brain health and of course, the joint health issues. You want to pair omega 3s with vitamin D and phosphorous to help build strong bones to support their heavy frame.

You can get a huge head start by feeding them a salmon based food, which usually has more naturally occurring omega 3s than other proteins.

8. Antioxidants and immune-boosting ingredients

Great danes need antioxidants because these fight free radical damage which can lead to inflammation and increased risk of heart issues or cancer. Since this breed is already susecptible to those health issues, they need all the help they can get.

9. Lower in Fat

Great Danes need a lower fat diet to prevent excessive weight gain, which could put additional stress on their large bones and increase their susceptibility to joint issues. Moreover, they have short coats and do not require much fat for maintaining skin and coat health.

Quality Tips for Great Dane Dog Food

How to Switch to Great Dane Dog Food

It is important that you avoid sudden switches in dog food because great dane's have delicate digestive systems. Your goal is to make sure that the new food is well tolerated from the get-go and doesn't cause diarrhea or other issues.


New Food

Old Food













It is essential to monitor these changes to ensure the new food is supporting their health. If you notice anything unusual or concerning, consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Great Dane Health Concerns to Keep in Mind

Because of their massive nature, great danes and other large breeds have unique health concerns such as joint and bone diseases, bloat, cardiomyopathy, tricuspid valve disease, cancer and skin issues.

I'll go through each of these below for you.

  • Joint and bone diseases: Great danes are massive and thus prone to joint and bone issues. Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and osteoarthritis are common things to look out for. This is because of the strain from carrying around all of that weight.
  • Food allergies: Some great danes are more prone to allergies from ingredients in their food. Always be on the look out for things like dry, itchy skin around their ears or paws. Food intolerances are a bit different than allergies and can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. If you're in doubt, you can try an at-home allergy test can help identify potential triggers. My neighbour just did this with her rescue (Milly) and found that Milly was allergic to all poultry and corn. She switched her food and now Milly's skin issues on her paws cleared right up.
  • Bloat (gastric torsion): Great danes are at a higher risk of bloat, which is a scary condition where the stomach twists, cutting off blood supply. Symptoms of bloat include restlessness, pacing and unproductive vomiting.
  • Cardiomyopathy: Great danes, because of their big hearts, are more likely to get dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that enlarges the heart, potentially leading to heart failure. Symptoms to look out for include weakness, coughing and difficulty in breathing. Cardiomyopathy can be managed with medication and adjustments to the dog's lifestyle.
  • Tricuspid valve disease: This heart disease results from the failure of the valve between the right atrium and ventricle to close properly. It can lead to heart failure or sudden death.
  • Cancer: Great danes are more prone to osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and lymphoma. Regular veterinary visits can help with the early detection and treatment of these conditions, which can otherwise be challenging to treat.
  • Skin diseases: Certain skin problems like allergies, pyoderma and demodectic mange are common among great danes. These conditions can result in itching, redness and hair loss. Regular grooming and skin care can keep these issues in check.

Three Life Stages of Great Danes

Life Stages of Great Danes

Age Range



0 - 1 year

Your Great Dane is experiencing rapid growth. They require specially formulated puppy food which has a balance of nutrients crucial for their growth and development. Their diet must contain enough calories that can sustain their fast-paced growth.


1 - 3 years

Your Great Dane continues its growth but at a slower pace. Diet should still remain nutrient-dense but calorie content may be slightly less than that of the puppy stage. The specific nutrient ratio is crucial to ensure the continued development of muscles and bones.


3 years and above

Your Great Dane is fully matured and its growth has stabilized. The diet should emphasize joint health, as Great Danes can be prone to health issues around this age. Aim for a balanced diet, with low-fat and enough fiber for digestive health.


Are there any potential risks associated with feeding Great Danes certain foods?

Yes, there are risks associated with feeding great danes certain foods. You must feed them a specific diet since they are prone to several serious health conditions and allergies that are influenced by diet.

Because of their large size, their joints, organs and bones are under more stress than most other breeds, as such, you risk health issues by feeding them the wrong foods.

What are the differences between puppy and adult Great Dane foods?

The primary difference between puppy and adult great dane foods lies in the nutritional content. Puppy food, which is used from birth until 1 to 1.5 years old, has more protein, fat and calories to sustain their explosive growth.

Puppy food also has DHA, which is an omega 3 fat found in mother's milk that helps with brain development, builds strong joints and assists in eye development. Adult great dane food is slightly lower calorie to maintain their weight without gaining more and is lower in fat and calories.

Finally, senior great danes usually need food fortified with joint support (glucosamine, bone broth, chondroitin, omega 3s) and often a bit lower in protein.

Are there any foods to avoid when feeding Great Danes?

Avoid the food on the list below.

  • Avocados: These are toxic to many dogs.
  • Table Scraps: Just don't do it. Fatty ones can lead to big health issues.
  • Onions and Garlic: Both are harmful to dogs as they can damage your pet’s red blood cells and potentially lead to anemia.
  • Stimulants: This includes chocolate, coffee and other foods that contain caffeine, which are a big no-no because of their heart issues. My dog Nitotem got into a bag of 6 massive dark chocolate cookies and we had to take him to the vet hospital.
  • Dairy: This can cause digestive problems in dogs as many are lactose intolerant.
  • Raisins and Grapes: Even small amounts of these fruits can lead to kidney failure.
  • High Carb Foods: As per the research, a lower carb dog food is recommended for large breed dogs to avoid inflammation and weight gain. The list above are all on the lower carb end of things.
  • Grains: Some grains, especially soy, corn and wheat are common allergens for dogs. They are also cheap fillers used in dog food that offer little nutritional value. Again, check your labels or just read the list above.
  • Fillers: Avoid dog foods that include corn, 'natural flavors,' yeast and soy as these mess with gut health and don't add any value.
  • Artificial Preservatives: This includes BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin which are commonly used artificial preservatives and are bad for them.
  • By-Products: These lower quality parts of the animal are generally not recommended to be on the safe side.

If you avid these foods, your can ensure that your pup lives a long and happy life.

How much should Great Danes be fed per day?

Life Stage

Caloric Requirement Per Day

Est. Daily Portion Size

Key Nutrition


Varies according to weight and activity level. 2500 to 3500 calories

8-12 cups

High protein, low-carbohydrate diet to prevent excess growth


2500 - 3000 calories

8-10 cups

Balanced diet with enough protein, low in fat to limit risks of weight gain


About 2000 calories

6-8 cups

Lower protein, supplementation for joint support

Highly Active

More than 3000 calories

10-12 cups

High-calorie diet to support energy needs

Closing Thoughts

Natural Balance dog food is our top pick for great danes. It is specifically tailored to meet the needs of giant breeds, and it contains all of the key vitamins, minerals and nutrients that great danes need to stay healthy and active.

That being said, if you want a meal topper them go for Bluebird Provisions dog bone broth and if you are looking for a specific use case, then browse the list above and I've listed options for just about everything from puppies to gut health.

If you have any questions about these brands or any other dog food product, leave a comment and I'll do my best to get back to you asap.

Bluebird Provisions is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to treat or supplement any pet's diet. Consult your veterinarian or animal health specialist if you have questions about anything related to their food, consumption or health. The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, USDA or CFIA.

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