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What you need to know about feeding - Vigoroso Danes
What you need to know about feeding

What you need to know about feeding

This is a long blog that I will spread over several weeks, as it is just not possible to summarise everything you need to know in one post.  If you are the least interested in feeding your Dane to supreme health, I really encourage you to keep reading.  I will attempt to keep it lay and manageable 🙂

Is your Great Dane going to live it’s full life span in true and total health, or will it be cut off by disease in it’s early infanthood, or worse, live a miserable life of substandard health?

If you have one of our puppies, he or she has been weaned in accordance with the Natural Rearing recommendations in Juliette de Baïracli Levy’s Book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Cat and Dog.

If you do not own this book, I strongly recommend that you get one and pop it into your personal library as an invaluable resource for all dog and cat rearing.  At time of writing it is very sadly not available as an E Book.

We encourage you to continue to feed your Dane a raw and healthy diet.  We are always here to help you with what should be included and portion sizes, even if you wish to mix it up with some kibble to make life easier for you.  However if you are not committed to feeding your pup well, it is unlikely that you will have a Dane from us in the first place.

“This is the first and supreme law of healthful puppy and kitten rearing, a natural life and a diet of normal foods.” – Juliette de Baïracli Levy

Great Danes are naturally slow eaters, not gulping their food in haste although I do know of some raised with other breeds of dogs or raised in large litters where food supply was not in abundance who wolf their food down with such haste that it barely touches the sides of their mouth, much less their teeth.

Your puppy has been weaned  from his first man fed meal with his own separate and very clean dish, not fed from one trough, fighting its siblings for every morsel.

Competitive feeding results in wolfing of food, overeating and results long term in digestive ailments.  Seperate feeding has allowed us as breeders to ensure that each pup receives their allotted food portion.

I strongly encourage you to maintain the cleanliness of your dogs food and water bowls, and as mentioned elsewhere, feed them in stainless steel or ceramic bowls, never plastic.  When fed a raw diet, cleaning the bowls after a meal will be no more gross a task than cleaning your own dishes after cooking.

Dane’s are not gorgers like the poor friendly Labrador in which it is a well known fact that given the chance would literally eat himself to death, God love ’em!

When fed the correct foods, your young Dane will be satiated and full, and will happily retreat to digest his meal in peace.

Fasting also plays a very important role in the rearing of Danes, even in puppies, although the fasting in pups is not for the same length of time as in the adult Dane.  I will discuss this in more detail later.

I would encourage you to be as aware of what goes into your Dane’s mouth as you are of what goes into your own (although I am well aware in some instances this is not a concern for people either- if this is a concern for you I can refer to you places that can educate you on your own diet).

If you insist on feeding a processed food, don’t do so just because a friend has recommended it to you.  Educate yourself.  Do so in full knowledge of :

  • the complete ingredients list, including the bindings, if there are items listed that you have never heard of, find out what they are.
  • understanding of whether the vitamins in the food are are added synthetic ones or naturally occurring in the other ingredients, as synthetic vitamins are not readily absorbed by the body and often expelled in the waste
  • the oils added, are they firstly beneficial and secondly chemically extracted or cold pressed
  • the preservatives used so that the food stays fresh on the shelf for unnaturally long periods of time
  • Also make yourself aware of HOW the food is processed. If it is extruded and heated at high temperatures for any length of time it is likely that the majority of the goodness if any that was found in the food is now gone.  IF it is chemically processed at all, what chemicals have they used and have they tested the finished product for residual chemical content?

I encourage you to email the company who manufactures your food of choice and ask them all of these questions about their food.  Ask them if the Nutritional Profile of their food has been assessed on the complete processed food or is it assessed on the raw ingredients prior to processing and extrusion, as the nutritional values at the end of the process will be vastly different from one end to the other.  Get them to put their answer to you in WRITING, don’t just get answers from a phone call, and if they won’t find a new dog food, or feed raw.

Then finally monitor the food on a quarterly basis.  Always check for any changes in ingredients.  Often a wonderful new food will come onto the market, build up a solid customer base and then change their ingredients in order to save money on production costs and make more profit.

“Food has a threefold purpose for the consumer: to nourish, to induce growth and to give health protection” – Juliette de Baïracli Levy

There are many vets that will actively discourage raw feeding.  Remember that vets earn a very good living from ill animals.  The root of all illness is inflammation and the source of much inflammation is reactions to bad food.

My recommendations are given freely to you not as paid recommendations but from nearly 20 years of raising lusty healthy Great Danes with longevity well beyond, and in some cases double the accepted breed standard, and many many years of researching canine nutrition, and learning from those with much greater experience and knowledge than I! They are given to you founded in a passion for healthy Danes and all dogs!

If your vet is discouraging you from feeding raw, simply find a new vet, period.  It is unlikely that you will ever need one for anything other than injuries whilst you feed raw.

If your vet doesn’t advocate for raw feeding then it is proof that they are advocates of treatment rather than prevention, and drugs rather than natural healing.  You will always leave that vet with a large bill and a packet full of pills to throw down your dogs throat. (How much fun is that exercise?!?)

I cannot recommend highly enough The Natural Vets at Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast.  They have clients all over Australia and often will do phone, and email consultations.  With video conferencing being in every home now, this kind of consultation often manages most ailments. If required they will express post the necessary treatment items direct to your door.

I have no other opinion on this matter.  Vets are not trained by default in nutrition.  The standard Vet Science Degree course in Australia comprises of  the equivalent of 6 x 1 hour lessons during their studies from pet company sponsored “nutritionists”.  Marketing should never be confused as nutrition training.

There is SO MUCH evidence in favour of raw feeding over processed food.  You don’t have to spend too long Googling in order to discover this.


“A properly weaned puppy is a joy to see and possess.  It has come into the world with a set of ‘brand new’ organs: heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc.  All are new, clean, unspoiled. It is each puppy’s right that it be fed foods which will not damage or degenerate it’s new body, but improve and safeguard it’s health, so that it will never know pain and distress of worm infestation, rickets, scouring, skin eruptions”  – Juliette de Baïracli Levy

Weight Management

The perfect mature Dane is a lean and muscular beast, with a strong thick neck, broad well muscled chest, strong well muscled, yet lean back, 4-5 visible ribs, with others easily felt through a light covering of muscle and fur.  His hind quarters should be well defined and the different muscles easily identifiable.  The majority of weight in a Dane should come from muscle, not from fat, the former which weighs more than two times that of the latter.  You should never be able to readily identify his belly!

A lean Dane will always be healthier than an obese one.  They are not naturally an obese animal and do not overeat when fed appropriately.  A Dane that always seems hungry is one who is not getting adequate nutrition from their food.

A special note here.  People will sometimes comment on the leanness of my Danes, indicating that they could do with a good feed or two.  I firmly believe that this is as a result of the obese dog becoming a common fixture in our society.  People have become so used to seeing overweight dogs that they are unable to recognise healthy ones when they see them.  I can assure you that in no way are my Danes ever wanting for a good quality or quantities of food.  If people are commenting like this on your Dane, ignore them.

An underfed Dane is readily identifiable by his protruding hip bones, easily identifiable vertebrae and all of his ribs will be visible.  Eyes will be sunken and neck will be thin and weak.  A lean Dane as described above is a healthy one.

Also note that young Danes, like young human teens will progress through growth phases where they will all of a sudden seem thinner and taller.  This should be managed with a change in diet to suit the growth period, but it is not something to be concerned about.  The overweight teen Dane is of much greater concern.  2 ½ – 3 years is when these changes should settle down.

A poorly fed Dane can be overweight or obese and malnourished at the same time.

Overweight Danes are very prone to hip displaysia, arthritis and hormonal issues.  In intact dogs and bitches their sexual organs will not function properly and a male will produce weak sperm, whilst a female will have difficulty falling pregnant, carrying pups to full term and whelping with ease.

On the farm, when we kill a beast, it is a regular occurrence for the Danes to be gifted the head of the steer (If I can’t be bothered harvesting the cheeks and tongue), the feet from the hock down, the tail, the pizzle, the fat and much of the organ meat.  They are fed this all at once, and will break it up into manageable pieces on their own, bury what they want to save for later and enjoy what fills them immediately.


I will point out for those who favour feeding tripe and throat, that although offered every slaughter, I have never yet seen a Dane voluntarily eat tripe or throat (and if you have ever had the pleasure of smelling it you would probably understand why), nor do they bury it for later on.  It is eventually buried by me in a shallow pit at the base of a tree, and never dug up by the dogs.

Danes do not overeat of their own accord.  Even when they are fully given the opportunity to gorge themselves stupid, they eat what is appropriate, and save the rest for later.  My point being, that a fat Dane is not a fat one of it’s own doing.

A note on elevated feeding.

I do not elevate my Danes’ feed bowls.  Many a Dane breeder will advocate for this saying that it discourages bloat.  I have never had an instance of bloat in the 20 years I have owned Danes.  In feeding raw we observe our dogs will often eat some of what is in the bowl and then take a chunk such as a chicken carcass or a kangaroo neck and go and lay down on the grass to eat it in their own time.  I am left to deduce from my own observations that eating standing is an entirely unnatural action for the dog, as is eating from an elevated bowl.  I have searched for scientific research on this and so far all that I can tell is that people who feed large breed dogs seem to have greater instances of bloat whether or not they feed elevated, and one factor might give way to the other.  I believe that chance of bloat is eliminated by feeding a correct diet to begin with.

In the next few posts I will go into detail of what the Dane’s diet should consist of, the different components that make it up and eventually supplements that can be fed to deal with specific ailments or irritants.

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