You already know how big a Great Dane is — have you seen their paws?! — so you most likely already know that they eat quite a bit in the run of a day. But, how much do you need to feed them? Take a look.
You can expect your Great Dane to eat between 8-10 cups (1.89-2.3L) of dog food daily. This is most common when he is in his growth spurt phase. He may even eat more than that in some instances! Once he matures, your Great Dane will eat closer to 6-10 cups (1.41-2.36L) of food per day. Below, you’ll learn how much to feed your Great Dane through his various life stages, how to make sure he’s eating the right food, and general tips for your dog’s eating habits!
How much to feed a Great Dane daily
So, we’ve mentioned already that you should be looking at 6-10 cups (1.41-2.3L) of dog food daily, depending on weight, exercise, and other factors like that (more on that in a little bit). That means that, monthly, you’re looking at around 200 cups (47.3L) of food if you do the rough math! That’s a lot, right? That’s because Great Danes are huge! Their size means that they burn calories quickly and need to be fed a lot to keep their bodies strong and healthy.
There’s no question that it seems like a lot of food, and it certainly is. You’ll need to be ready for that financially speaking, and also make sure that you feed your Great Dane at proper times in the day. Since these gentle giants are basically the teenagers of the dog world, they’re constantly hungry and you’ll need to be careful to resist their puppy dog pout unless it’s mealtime! More on that in a bit.
How much to feed a Great Dane puppy as he ages
You’ll be relieved to know that your Great Dane doesn’t just come home looking for his 8 cups of food in the run of a day! Just like any baby and eventual adolescent, your Great Dane’s food needs will vary depending on his size (often due to age), his activity level, and the gender of your furry friend. Let’s take a look at the main splits in his first year to expect for feeding:
- 1-6 weeks
- 2-6 months
- 6-12 months
Feeding instructions for 1-6 weeks
Ladies first! When your little lady Great Dane puppy is between 1-6 weeks, you can expect her to eat 2-4 cups (0.47-0.95L) in a day. If you’ve got a little manly Great Dane, you’ll want to feed him about 3-5 cups (0.71-1.18L) because he’ll be built a little heavier.
Feeding instructions for 2-6 months
As your Great Dane starts to really grow, you can expect your little lady to eat 5-8 cups (1.18-1.89L) a day. This is the start of her serious growth where her nutrition needs to be carefully managed. Your male Great Dane will eat anywhere from 6-9 cups (1.41-2.1L) of food per day.
Feeding instructions for 6-12 months
These months often give you especially long legs and huge ears! As far as diet goes, your not-so-little girl will eat 6-9 cups (1.41-2.1L) a day and your strapping young man, who will look a little bigger than his sister, should be eating between 10-12 cups (2.37-2.83L) per day.
Feeding instructions for Great Dane puppies
Because these sweet puppies are growing, you may want to split their meals up to 3 per day, though you will want to make sure that you don’t overfeed or underfeed them as far as your cup (liter) amount in the run of a day. The 3 meals will help their tummies stay full and happy throughout the day.
How much to feed your adult Great Dane
So, that’s your first 12 months figured out, but what about when your Great Dane turns 1 year old, officially? The main change here would be that you may want to split their meal into 2 feedings rather than 3! This is because most of their actual growing is done (their bones, brain, etc) and they will be okay to switch to two meals.
If you do decide to do it this way, though, make sure you do this slowly, as a sharp change in diet can make your Great Dane struggle! Do it gradually and always take the advice of your vet on how best to do that for your dog, in particular.
As far as feeding amounts are concerned, you’ll be relieved at the reminder that their amounts will actually go down as they reach their full size and start to regulate themselves a bit. It’s great for the pocketbook, too!
Your female adult Great Dane will eat between 6-9 cups (1.41-2.1L) and your male will eat around 8-10 cups (1.89-2.37L). Sure, that’s going to be a lot of food, but that amount is going to fluctuate based on three main factors:
- Activity level
Ready for some math? Here we go.
The size and weight, both, are going to determine how much your Great Dane needs. You know how there’s that chart on the back of some of the dog food brands out there? It’s like that. This is just a guideline of course, and a vet can help you get a more detailed idea of how much is too much if you’re worried.
The more active your Great Dane is, the more calories he’s going to burn. This means you’ll need to make sure that they’re properly replaced so that he isn’t starving himself. Since Great Danes are naturally active and burn calories quickly, this accounts for why they need so much food.
Most Great Danes eat, as mentioned, up to 10 cups (2.37L) per day as adults. However, if you have an especially active dog (if you’re professional training him, for instance) he’ll need a specialized diet to help accommodate that. It refers to food (more on that in a bit), but also the amount.
The amount of water that your dog drinks is also going to factor into the amount that he eats. Your Great Dane should always have full access to fresh, clean water. The more he drinks, the less likely he’ll eat you out of the house or home. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should put him on a water diet! It just means that he won’t need to eat quite as much since water will help him feel strong and sustained.
Great Dane Feeding Chart
So, how do you possibly understand the difference between the amounts, the activity level, and hydration? This is where the math comes in. The chart below is going to help you understand how it all factors together and how that can guide you in portioning out your Great Dane’s food needs:
|Normal Activity||Higher Activity|
|110lbs / 50kg||634g||7||765g||8+3/8|
|121lbs / 55kg||681g||7+4/8||822g||9|
|132lbs / 60kg||727g||8||877g||9+5/8|
|143lbs / 65kg||772g||8+4/8||931g||10+2/8|
|154lbs / 70kg||816g||9||985g||10+6/8|
|165lbs / 75kg||859g||9+3/8||1037g||11+3/8|
|176lbs / 80kg||902||9+7/8||1088g||11+7/8|
If you’re still feeling a little uncertain, the best thing to do is to check with your vet. Since they’ll have a personal understanding of your dog, in particular, they’ll also be able to give you the best advice and can help you keep an eye on your dog and make sure that everything is as it should be long-term.
How much to feed an older Great Dane
As your Great Dane ages, their nutritional needs are going to change, too. Their metabolisms will slow down and they won’t be nearly as active or energetic. In this case, you’ll find that their food amounts can decrease. The amount is going to vary greatly and this one is definitely best talked over with your vet.
Some may find that their dog’s food needs are going to decrease once they reach the tender age of 7, and others find that they are fine with their normal adult amounts until they are 9 or even 10. This varies depending on the dog’s general health, genetics, and way of life.
Types of food for your Great Dane
As many pet parents are learning these days, not all dog foods are made equal. Since we all want to give our dogs the best quality food, you’re going to want to take some time to figure out just what it is. Since Great Danes have specific dietary concerns when it comes to their nutrition, this is especially important with this extra large dog breed.
Generally, you’ll want to find a specific kind of food (wet and/or dry) for big dog breeds. From puppyhood to senior life, getting a dog breed-specific for Great Danes and/or large dogs, is going to be the healthier choice.
The main reason is that general puppy food is filled full of calories and fat to help them grow and develop at a healthy rate. However, this can actually be too many calories for a Great Dane puppy and can cause health concerns before they even reach their first birthday. The same goes for adult and senior food, though these foods are often loaded with extra protein and less calcium than big dog breed foods. Different sized dogs have different types of nutritional needs.
When searching for the right food, both dry and wet food designed for big dog breeds is going to have a different ratio for calcium and protein. Since Great Danes are muscular and have large, dense bones, having enough of both is going to be very important to make sure that they stay strong and healthy throughout their life. Ideally, your food should have about 23% protein and fat content of about 14%.
You’ll also want to make sure that the food you choose has a higher amount of probiotics, which are also crucial to get right in larger dogs. The calorie count in your dog’s food should be moderate, but not exceptionally high (this is where you’ll notice the biggest difference).
There are quite a few brands that you can consider for meeting these parameters, all of which are going to meet those needs for amounts and ratios, and also be well-made with quality ingredients to provide better, high-end nutrition for your Great Dane. Some of the ones to look up are going to be:
- Orijen Puppy Large Dry Food Recipe;
- Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken Dry Food;
- Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Natural Dry Food;
- Royal Canin Giant Adult Dry Dog Food.
How often should I feed my Great Dane?
As mentioned, puppies should get about 3 meals a day and adults should get 2 meals a day. This is just standard advice with your Great Dane, but the actual feeding times are totally up to you! Fully grown adults can be fed 2 times a day and still feel full throughout the day itself. This will still give them the required cups to eat, of course.
That being said, you can also look at splitting up their meals into 3 if you prefer. Some find that smaller portions at 3 times per day is easier for their dog’s diet, and also their rumbling bellies. It’s whatever feels best.
With both approaches, it’s important to make sure that you are consistent in feeding amount and in feeding time.
Should I free feed my Great Dane?
While some dogs can be free-fed, a Great Dane is not going to be one of them! These guys love to eat and will eat every single morsel that you put down for them, even if it’s an entire bag’s worth of food. You’ll need to be a responsible pet parent in making sure that he or she gets their pre-planned and portioned meals and nothing more.
You can give your Great Dane treats, of course, but you’ll want to pick healthy, high-quality ones that are low in calories. This means he won’t be overfed or stuffed full of extra calories that he shouldn’t have. You’ll also want to make sure that he doesn’t get too many — we know, it’s hard!
How to slow down a Great Dane when eating
Many Great Dane parents find that these gentle giants horrible for simply scarfing down their food and then immediately throwing it back up again. It’s gross and wasteful, financially speaking. So, slowing down your Great Dane’s eating is going to be a great way to help him keep it down and also digest it better, too!
The best tool to help you out with that is a puzzle bowl. These are ridged and grooved shallow bowls that disperse the kibble around and make your dog physically slow down as he eats.
Another way to help is to spread his meals out over a few servings. For example, 3 meals instead of 2. Or, small two-part meals where he gets half at a certain time and half at another time. This can be tricky to keep straight, but it’s great for making sure that his food stays in his stomach.
Common Great Dane food problems
There are quite a few concerns when it comes to Great Danes and food. This is because food is a huge issue for Great Danes, in particular! Here are some of the biggest issues that may arise with your gentle giant!
- He isn’t eating all of his food
- He seems constantly hungry
- He’s lacking in energy or distressed
- The trick to balancing finances with food buying
He isn’t eating all of his food
While Great Danes are notorious food hogs, some will actually leave kibble or wet food behind after they’ve had their fill. This might be because they get distracted, but odds are that it’s because he’s full and doesn’t need any more (this is where hydration and exercise factor in). This isn’t cause for concern, and if you want to see what’s going on, try decreasing his food amounts by half a cup (0.11L) for one meal a day. You can split that decrease over the two meals, or just pick one.
Not all Great Danes are going to need the full 10 cups (2.3L) per day, after all. Some might be perfectly okay with less and aren’t going to be nutritionally deprived.
He seems constantly hungry
If, on the other hand, he’s always searching for food, you may need to go the other way. Add a half-cup (0.11L) to one meal a day and go from there. If he seems to be looking for something strange like 15 cups (1.5L) of food per day, you’re going to want to check with your vet.
It can be very challenging to know when he’s just trying to mooch treats and food off of you, and when he’s actually hungry. A vet will help you make sure he’s healthy and safe, but not eating you out of the house and home!
He’s lacking in energy or distressed
If he seems to be lethargic or distressed, he may not be on the right diet. For instance, he’s not getting enough protein. Or, he’s getting too many calories, so this puts him in a food coma. While a proper giant dog diet can help, as mentioned, making sure he’s happy and secure is important. When in doubt, check with your vet!
The trick to balancing finances with food buying
Let’s be honest, specialized food is expensive and Great Danes need a lot of it. This is something to seriously think about before bringing your puppy home and if you know this is going to be an issue, you’ll want to plan for it to make sure your dog’s diet is taken care-of. This is just part of being a responsible pet parent, after all, so compromising their food amounts or quality is not a reasonable option to make it more cost-effective!
Great Danes have a complicated relationship with food, but this guide will help you keep on top of it from puppyhood to senior citizen life for this one-of-a-kind, gentle giant!