Great Danes, as a giant breed grow very quickly, but do not fully mature until they are about two years of age or older. Some breeders do not feel that they are fully mature until 3 or 4 years of age.

In this growing process they do pass through some very awkward stages. Growth plates are changing, bones are moving and cartilage is forming steadily. It is very important to feed a dane puppy with appropriate diet to ensure moderate growth rate and to avoid any orthopedic disease or cancer related problems in the later stage. The "moderate growth" provides the muscle development to support the bone mass of the dane making them more sound and agile. It is considered very important to keep Danes weight low. Any excess weight, especially on growing dogs, may cause developmental problems such as growing pains and joint problems. Puppies should be on the lean side. Too much exercise at an early age is detrimental to good development. Forced exercise is not recommended for this breed - puppies should be allowed to play until they are tired. Refer to the Growth Chart to get an idea of your dane's growth rate.    

How to measure your dane? Dane's height is measured from the highest point of shoulder blade to the ground (refer to the diagram line A). Length is measured from the point of shoulder to point of buttock (refer to the diagram line B). Place your dane next to a wall up right and mark with a pencil at its shoulder. Then measure the marking with a tape. Take 3 readings and the average should be the correct height of your dane.

The chart provides an overview of the growth pattern of Great Danes.

Age Weight Height
week 1
2-3 lbs
4 weeks
5-8 lbs
2 months
18-27 lbs
3 months
30-45 lbs
4 months
50-65 lbs
6 months
70-95 lbs
9 months
85-120 lbs
1 year
90-135 lbs
Full grown
110-170 lbs

A Harlequin Great Dane "Gilson" from California is the world's tallest dog named by Guinness Book of World Records. It stands on his hind legs more than 7 feet tall, and has a shoulder height of 42.2 inches.

Prior to "Gilson", another Great Dane named "Harvey" was the tallest dog with a shoulder height of 41.5 inches.

Ask ten different breeders about what to feed your Dane and you will get ten different answers! Feeding Danes, especially puppies, seems to be a highly individual matter. What works for one breeder may not work for another. However, you will find that breeders and vets familiar with the breed will agree on certain items.

Great Danes should be fed with a good quality food, that is no more than 23% protein and no less than 12% fat to Danes of ALL ages. The amount your Dane will eat will vary greatly, depending on age, life style, activity level and health. A Dane should never be rib-skinny. The back, ribs, and hip bones should be covered. They should be fed 3-4 times daily as pups, decreasing to 2-3 times a day at around age 6 months. Dogs (males) will often eat more than bitches. Also, be sure that the dog has not exercised for at least 30 minutes before eating and do not exercise it for one and one-half to two hours after eating. This will make sure it's stomach is settled during the critical time around the meal during which it is very susceptible to bloat. Danes should be fed in stainless steel dishes raised off of the floor, adjusted at their chin or chest level.    

Supplementation of Danes' food is discouraged, although there are exceptions. The two exceptions I know about are vitamins C and E. Calcium supplementation is to be avoided, along with most other minerals. Some vets tend to believe that just because these dogs get so big, their body needs extra calcium to build bones. But modern foods are balanced to provide the necessary level of calcium, and additional calcium could contribute to bone problems and bloat. Other minerals, such as phosperous may contribute to growing disorders such as Wobblers, if supplemented. Some breeders believe that high doses of Vitamin C may prevent the incidence of growing disorders, such as hip displaysia. The dosage is 1000 mg - 2000 mg per day of a Vitamin C salt. As excess Vitamin C is excreted in the urine, it is unlikely that this supplementation can do any harm. Vitamin E is often used as a preservative now, and is considered safer than other chemical preservatives, such as Ethoxyquin. Vitamin E is though to lead to a healthier coat. Foods that do not include Vitamin E may be supplemented.

The addition of wheat germ oil or a vegetable oil to the food will also help to maintain a nice hair coat. Dry dog food does not contain enough fat for the coat and usually supplementation is needed.


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