Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Blackwatch Puppy Nutritional Guidelines

With All Due Respect....


I have the utmost respect for my veterinarians, Kent Wisecup DVM, Rob Rich DVM and Nathan Rich DVM of Country Acre Animal Clinic, in NewCastle, Indiana. Without their efforts and knowledge I could not have been a successful dog breeder for 40 years.

Over the years, I have come to understand that many vets, like physicians, are not trained in nutrition, other than the mandatory few credits of general nutrition, that they are required to take in school. This is not enough knowledge to know how to judge a good commercial food from a poor one, how to decipher a label, balance an unbalanced diet, or how to feed a large or giant breed of dog.

Unfortunately, vets rely on nutritional information give to them by dog food company sales representatives from Hills Science Diet or Iams. The sales reps, are the ones who are responsible for teaching our vets about nutrition (rather, how to sell their products), which is not nutritional education at all, it is simply marketing.

I have been a university professor for 34 years and know that taking only one or two classes in a subject (especially small animal nutrition) is not enough knowledge to be making recommendations that effect the life long wellness of my animals. And then to think the nutritional information given to your vet is actually given by a dog food sales person makes this even more scary and very deceiving to the public, because the pet's owners put their complete faith in the veterinarians.

No, this is not good enough. It is because of this fact that this website and Feed Programs have become so valuable to owners and breeders of the large and giant breeds. This is a place for them to go get practical, common sense nutritional information, based in 40 years of experience raising giant breeds, doing feed trials and scientific research on how to raise a large breed dog. We know this works....champion after champion, litter after litter, with no growth problems, no reproduction problems and greater longevity tells us, these programs work.

Click Here for: DAY TO DAY CARE -ears, eyes, teeth, skin, healthy treats, fleas etc.

WARNING: When storing your pet's food, store it in the bag itself, then slip the bag down into a plastic or metal container with a lid. DO NOT DUMP THE FOOD INTO THE CONTAINER DIRECTLY. The fats in the food can cause cancer causing chemicals out of the metal or plastic into the food itself. It is safe if left in the bag it came in.


A Lean Machine ~ Do not let your puppy get too heavy during the growth stages. They should be well covered, but lean until their bones set at 2 years. The last rib should be slightly visible from 3 - 6 months in particular and NO forced exercise, jogging or road-work, until the dogs are 2 year old and the bones are set. Puppies are just that until at least 18 months of age, when dealing with the giant breeds. They are fragile and need supervised free exercise in a fenced in area or daily walks with you. The key is moderation and common sense in raising these "exotic" animals. The amount of food calories is directly related to the amount of exercise the animal gets per day. See the Amount to Feed Chart

NO FREE CHOICE FEEDING. (leaving food down all the time) or I will take your first born child! Some dogs over consume, some pick all day long and don't ever get hungry enough to consume the proper amount of nutrition necessary.

Raised Dishes ~Elevate your dog's food and water as they grow it is just more comfortable for them and no, it does NOT cause bloat . Stress is the trigger for bloat, and an unbalance in the pH of the gut, due to stress and/or overuse of antibiotics without replenishing the gut with beneficial bacteria (Probiotics) can be one of the primary causes of bloat and systemic yeast over growth in the gut is a major factor in bloat. (Bloat.)

NO CALCIUM (MINERALS) OR VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS or I will break your fingers. The only exception to this rule are the things I suggest in the Puppy Feed Program

Heartworm/Flea Preventative. ~

I use a combination Heartworm/flea preventative for my Great Danes, Pugs, Collie and Sheltie, it is called Trefexis. Great Danes a cross between a sighthound and a Mastiff (hundreds of years ago) and I have found they are just as sensitive to drugs as my Collies & Shelties.

Interceptor is what we used to use, then the company folded, so now the same substance is used in Comfortis (fleas/tick only) and in Trefexis (Heartworm and flea/tick combo). I feel of this better for Danes and Collie/Sheltie types than Heartguard or Ivermectin, and it takes care of other worms except tapes. I never use a chemical flea spray on my dogs, because some the have very bad reactions to the pyrethrums in the spray, causing neurological damage. I do have two natural flea products I LOVE.

"Vets Best" is the name and all the products from the shampoo to the Home Spray Flea and Tick Shampoo, Spray and Hotspot foam, they are the same ingredients.

I buy the large 32 oz HOME SPAY and use it on bedding and on the dogs as well. The pump handle is much easier to use for the large dog rather than the 16 ounce little squirt bottle. This is an all natural product and it smells like peppermint and cloves and it takes care of ticks and mosquitos too, plus it is safe to be around.

Another product I like is by NaturVet - No Flea Carpet Crystals which is basically boric acid - it is safe and I have not found it to stain, clump or ruin even expensive oriential rugs. I have the gal the cleans on Monday sprinkle it in my dog office, family room and dog crate room and let it set about an hour while she is doing other things, then sweep it up. Here is the great t hing..if you have fleas, leave this stuff in your sweeper bag or canister because any fleas that would get swept up will die. No need to empty it until it is full, because it it will kill any bug sucked up into the sweeper, yet is safe for you to walk on, lay on. It is not a powder so it does not gum up your carpet, it's a very fine, but heavy crystal so it does not float around the air and cause breathing issues.

Treats ~ Watch the amount of "treats" you give your puppy, the calories add up. treat into several pieces instead of feeding 5 a day. Use carrots, a slice of apple, or a couple of berries as treats. This will not disrupt the balance of the diet nor add too many calories to the diet, which is important for growing dogs and geriatric animals. The treats my dogs love are Krunchity Munchity Salmon/blueberry & cranberry Puffs, which also add some good Omegas to their diet. I designed these for a company and they have just been the biggest hit.

If you want to make you own, here are some healthy treat suggestions at the website.

Feeding Time ~ Allow your puppy a safe, non stressful environment to eat in. I feed in a crate. Allow 10 minutes, if they do not eat in that time remove the food and throw it out. They will not starve, do not try to beg them to eat. You are developing a bad habit if you entice them into eating. Do not let them linger or be distracted. My dogs eat in less than 10 minutes. If they don't I know something is wrong, (in season, false pregnancy, pyometria, tummy ache). Monitoring their food this way is an excellent way of telling when they are not feeling well. Young females will often go off their feed during hormonal changes and likewise young. Males from 12 - 22 months. They are often lean, this is because their body has not fully developed yet they have long legs. They are the equivalent to a teenager so be patient. They do not reach their full growth until 3 years and for some dogs they will be 4.
Force feeding is extremely stressful on the animal, and does not allow for hydrochloric acid/digestive juices to kick in and digest food properly. Remember "stress" is the trigger for bloat and force feeding a dog means you are stressing this animal OR the animal is already stressed and therefore it does not want to eat. No matter what is the situation, this is the right conditions for bloat. Next time you force feed a dog, think how it would feel if you were not hungry, and someone stood there and shoved food down your throat.
NEVER SOAK or microwave dog food, soaking a food does not prevent bloat, that is a myth and not based in any science. Soaking/cooking this destroys the nutrients and probiotics sprayed on the outside of the kibble and destroying these can cause a nutritional imbalance, suppressed immune systems and actually serious deficiencies in a diet.
Feed and Relax ~ Do not allow lots of running and exercise for 1-2 hours after a meal. This will aid in digestion. This has nothing to do with bloat. It is just common sense, you would not eat a big meal then go out and jog......ugh!! That would feel awful. Well the same for your dog. Also, young growing puppies should not be running up and down a full flight of steps several times a day. This is very hard on their shoulder joints and can cause serious injury.
Water ~Always keep lots of fresh water available outside and inside so the animal knows there is water around, and is less apt to over-consume being worried it won't be there at some point. Some breeders withhold water to house break a dog. This is cruel and ignorant. It sets up bad drinking habits (gorging) and bladder infections, potential dehydration which can cause muscle cramping. (and what is the largest muscle in the body?- the heart). I know of a whole litter of 5 week old puppies who died because the breeder was trying to keep their area clean and presentable for buyers, so she kept withholding their water. How would you like to not be able to get a drink when you wanted one?
Again use common sense. If they are playing hard and start drinking, monitor them; tell them "hey, take it easy," just a little and when they have calmed down they can have a little more.......just like a horse, you don't water a horse until it has cooled down. I don't leave water in a crate with a puppy during the nighttime when they are sleeping, they always spill it. But during the day they have it available all the time, clean fresh non-slobber water.
Amount to feed: This will be discussed per individual puppy or I have a chart in the Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program at this website. This is a guide for moderate protein/fat/calorie foods. A high protein/fat/calorie food does not mean a bigger animal. It may mean your puppy will develop nutritionally caused bone diseases (HOD, OCD or Pano).
NO PUPPY or PERFORMANCE FOODS, use Precise Holistic Complete Large Breed Puppy food or Precise Plus Large Breed Adult (yes you can use it for puppies) or Precise foundation. It is important these dogs grow slow and even, so the bone develops at the same rate as the muscle. If not they may have growth deformities and early arthritis. By the same token NO LOW PROTEIN FOODS, they are not high enough in calories.


NOTE: puppies 7-9 weeks of age may be able to get their heads through the bars of a Collossal crate do I do not recommend in using one until they are 10 weeks or older. I do not leave collars on the dogs while in the house or outside in case they are "breakway collars". Especially if they are apt to play with other dogs. They can get strangled in an instant.

Crates ~Your puppy should not be crated more than 6 hours at time during the course of a daytime, and less is better. They should have a very large crate, one that an adult male can stand up and turn around in. I prefer the Midwest Co. "colossal" crate over the "Dane crate" size. This is their den, and never punish and then put them in a crate; it should be their safe place. Their crate should be in a place where there is family activity so they don't feel they are being punished. If your puppy is crated during bedtime, and in the day time, 12 hours of his day is spent in a crate. If you purchase a puppy from me you will be required to have a colossal crate.You must keep that in mind when feeding. The amount of calories consumed and the amount burned off in the course of a day is directly related to the amount you need to feed (see chart below). For strong bones they need normal moderate exercise in order to develop the proper muscle to support the bone.

As for bedding..never use carpet in a crate, in fact do not have any throw rugs made from continuos loop carpeting because they are interested in the glue in rugs and if they start chewing a continuos loop carpeting strings of fiber entangle in their intestines. Likewise NO STRING TOYS!! Fleece pads work best for crates, if they urinate on them it goes to the bottom and the dogs stay dry. I use single layer fleece for puppies, fold or layer it and it's easy to wash and dry.


Kuranda beds are greatest and most Great Dane breeders use them. I highly recommend starting the puppies when they are young, cover them with a fleece bed in the winter, danes like fluff - and in the summer when hot you do not need anything on them. They make a great outside porch bed too or take it to the boarding kennel you use, so they are up off the concrete. Kuranda Bed are the best! Make the investment, it not only last a lifetime, it will save you so much money from having to purchase new dog beds all of the time. Here are the reasons you should get one. They are a"Chewproof" designs for kennels, shelters and chewing puppies. Soft, off the floor comfort that lasts for years. Easy to clean and deodorize and replacement parts, if needed are available.

For Fleece beds, I like the ones Kuranda makes and they also make some to go into the dane crate. So you can get one to go on top of the industrial strength bed as well as for their crate.
They are substantial enough the dogs are very comfortable. Be sure to never use carpet for bedding or crates, they are attracted to the glue and a continuous loop carpet, if the eat it, it can cause their bowls to strangle. No cedar, pine bedding it causes skin irratations.. Some of my fleecy beds are 10 years old, and they wash up great in the washer.

Use no detergent, Carpet Fresh, Lysol, fabric softener or anything that is a pine derivative when cleaning your bedding . You are asking for contact allergies and respiratory problems. Wash bedding in a mild solution of bleach, it will dissipate when dry, leaving no residue.

Use a 2% solution of OxE-Drops for cleaning crates (1 teaspoon + 1 cup water)
Use only dog shampoo due to the pH of the dogs coat, nothing else for a bath.

PLAYTIME - do not play tug of war games, no chasing games or wrestling on the floor games with your dog.

These are all dominance games that will only encourage the dog to challenge you at some point in their development. Use common sense, do not act like a dog when playing with your dog, act like the human who is the leader of the pack. No rowdy behavior is allowed in the house, that is for outside with games of chasing after a stick or a ball.

DO NOT LET YOUR DANE JUMP UP AND PUT THEIR FEET ON YOUR SHOULDERS! Some people think this is cute, experienced Dane owners realize this is terribly damaging to the fragile joints of a dog and can cause permanent orthopedic damage. The surgery costs for repair are enough that you will have to get a second mortgage on your home.

if you allow them to jump, then the next person they try this with could be an elderly person or a child, and that could result in someone getting hurt. Plan on an additional million dollar insurance rider on your policy, if you do not train your puppy to be a good citizen. I always require puppy obedience classes for my puppy buyers.


No pig ears, cow hooves, raw hide of any kind, string toys, booda bones or cooked bones or Greenies -and absolutely no tennis balls. These are all things that can kill you dog.

Why No Rawhide?
First, the majority are processed with lye, something your dog does not need in his/her stomach. Also, they are not digestible and can lay in the stomach or intestines and not pass through, causing an obstruction or causing pathogenic bacteria to grow which equals BLOAT. We do not need to encourage bad bacteria in animals that are prone to bloat and gastric torsion. They are also a very serious choking hazard. So to be on the safe side, for nutritional and safety reasons, I will suggest something other than rawhide chewies.
Why No pig ears/snouts/cow snouts and cow hooves?

There are two reasons for not using these, Salmonella (bad bacteria) and the fact that the ears/snouts will splinter and can puncture an intestine and the same is for the cow hooves. Frequently, vets are removing them because they cause an obstruction.

NO - and I mean NO Greenies!! These things have killed dogs due to choking and they are full of gluten which causes dogs to have major skin problems and allergies.


Nothing in life is a guarantee and these are only suggestions of toys we have used with no problem. Use common sense and always keep an eye out for potential problems, kids and dogs will do the darnest things....

Keep safe toys around so they are not eating furniture and your best shoes. The pet toy industry is not regulated so there are many things out there available to pets, which are a serious health hazard. My toy preference is the Busy Buddy Line of toys which comes from the same place as the Fleecy Beds.

Fleece toys, Gumma Bones (the largest ones) Kongs are all suitable make sure the size matches the dog so they can't swollow them. I have found my dogs like nothing better than fleece toys, especially those that hang and have long legs, tails or appendages because it feels to them like they are carrying around something that is dead, the closest thing to dead prey.

Again the Busy Buddy Line of toys is a good choice. They also have a great line of fleecy toys, the kind that dangle (like road kill) are the kind my dogs love best to carry around the house. They are so proud of their dead, dangling fleecy toy!!


Collars and Leads

My personal preference is a leather latigo lead that is 6 ' long - these are less apt to cause rope burns like nylon leads, which I have, but there is more control with a leather latigo lead - I'ts fun to have pretty matching collars and leads, as long as your dog is well mannered and in a familiar situation. If they get spooked, give me a leather latigo lead any day. Always walk your dog with the loop over your whole hand so they can not get away if they bolt. I get my collars and leads from West Coast Pet Supply.

I do not recommend keeping any collars on the dog while at home because they can catch them on somehting and strangle themselves. All to often two dogs playing together will get caught on the other dogs colla
r and can pull teeth out or strangle the other dog --this happens all to often. Fortunately there is a great line of collars called Break- Away collars. Please use only these collars for saftey reasons. NO choke chains please!

I will NEVER recommend a Flexi-lead for my dogs again, after having one snap and a dear friend almost had her fingers cut off with one of these leads, when her Great Dane got spooked and bolted. She ended up with a terrible rope burn and laserations from the cord on the flexi-lead. It does not get my vote!!!


Two drugs you should avoid with Great Danes (this can apply to other breeds) are the Sulfonamide Antibiotics (Ditrim, Primor, Bactrim,TMZ, Tribrissin, TMP/SDZ etc.) and Keflex Antibiotic (Cefa-Tabs, Cephalexin). The two are not related but
can be a problem for this breed so it is important to know what the adverse reactions are just in case.

I will not use any Sulfonamide drugs. If I have to use Keflex, which is a good broad spectrum antibiotic, I watch very carefully for any kind of reaction. The symptoms from antibiotic reactions are like HOD (fever, achy joints (polyarthritis) swelling of joints, animals in pain, lack of mobility, depression and anorexia.) If this occurs, it can happen from 24 hours up to 2 weeks. Depends on the animal. It is treated with Dexamethsone, and stop the antibiotic.


This is a controversial issue and for us, we use the Dr. Jean Dodd's vaccine recommendations and back up the system with 4 in 1 Probiotics (with Vitamin C in it) and the Nzymes product (chewable or granular) which the combination of these two can help prevent vaccine reactions.

We do not give Corona, Lyme or Giardia vaccines. If you are in an area of the country with a big Lyme disease problem, do NOT to combine the Lyme vaccine with any other shot.

Likewise your rabies. Later is better, because the immune system is starting to build and can handle these vaccines better, especially if one at a time.

Personally, I would never allow a Rabies at the same time as the other shots, and this will often mean a battle with the vet. In many states the law states it must be done at 12 weeks, so the decision is between you and your vet.

All multivalent vaccines, when given together are compromising the immune system on your dog, so you and your vet have to determine what is best to do. Here is an option I provide for my puppy buyers.

I have several articles about vaccine recommendations at this website, print out and take these recommendations - Dr. Jean Dodds vaccine schedule, the AAHA Guidelines and the Prevention Magazine Vaccine Guideline. All creditable sources.

Read my article on How to Prevent Vaccine Reactions in your dogs, a vaccine reaction can kill your dog so this is not to be taken lightly.



These are things you need to know about and are common in puppies:

Giardia is a protozoa, and it is an enormous problem that goes unnoticed by owners and vets. Giardia is a waterborne protozoa (parasite, but not a worm) which is very difficult to detect. Anytime you have a dog that will not gain weight, is on/off their feed or with intermittent loose stools or diarrhea, you should automatically treat for Giardia first, before you start looking for other health problems such as IBD.

Puppy Acne, Vaginitis, Bladder Infections and Demodectic Mange

All three of these health problems are generally seen in young puppies and are really a "red flag" that something greater is going with the immune system. These opportunistic conditions are due to your puppy having a weak or underdeveloped immune system, which is very natural from 3 - 7 months of age, particularly in the large and giant breeds. These are not genetic conditions, but are based in diet and environmental factors. So in this article, rather than treating the symptoms, we look deeper at the cause and how to treat and feed for repair and prevention of these conditions.

Puppy Hiccups

Elbow Busra

How to Tape Ears

Ear Taping Illustrations

Shedding Coats

Spay/Neuter - When?

Websites of Interest:
Great Dane Club Of America
Great Dane Gazette
Alternative Health Care for Pets (Directory)


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