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Are Great Danes supposed to be skinny?

As you probably already know, Great Danes are very large dogs! With that large size means that they also can eat a lot of food compared to smaller breeds. Because Great Danes are a naturally lean breed, many owners worry about their dog’s weight and if they’re getting enough nutrition.

All of this begs the question – are Great Danes supposed to be skinny? Like humans, every Great Dane’s body composition will be slightly different. However, in general, most Great Danes have a lean but muscular build. For long-term health, it is very important that they are not overweight to help prevent orthopedic issues.

Of course, some Great Danes will naturally carry more muscle mass than others, but even these Danes should remain relatively lean. Overfeeding, lack of exercise, and health issues could result in an overweight animal.

However, these should be avoided if at all possible as they will increase the likelihood of health concerns that I’ll cover next.

Health Benefits of Maintaining a Proper Weight

The average full-grown Great Dane can range in weight anywhere from 110-170 pounds. That’s a big dog! However, this large size also leads to an increase in health problems compared to small dogs.

For this reason, it’s important to help maintain a healthy weight for your Great Dane. One of the biggest issues Great Danes face is hip dysplasia and other skeletal problems.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the femur bone does not fit correctly into the hip socket. While genetics determines much of this fit, keeping your dog at an appropriate weight can help to limit unnecessary wear and tear in the event that they were not blessed with good hips.

When it is present, hip dysplasia can cause crippling pain and arthritis that severely limits your dog’s ability to move. Certain breeds like the Great Dane are more prone to hip dysplasia than others, but keeping him at a healthy weight can help to mitigate this problem.

Hip dysplasia can cause your dog to move slowly, have trouble getting up and down and become reluctant to play. If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, it’s even more critical to ensure that your dog remains at a healthy weight.

In addition to hip dysplasia, Great Danes are also susceptible to joint diseases that can occur when they grow too quickly. Common growth-related problems include knuckling over and Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD).

To avoid these types of issues, owners should follow proper feeding guidelines to ensure that they are not overfeeding their Great Dane. For more details on this topic, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article on feeding Great Dane puppies.

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise is another key component for maintaining proper weight. All dogs need some form of exercise so they don’t gain excess weight and Great Danes are no exceptions. However, maintaining the right amount of exercise with Great Danes is a fine line.

They need just enough to stay limber and keep off excess weight. But owners definitely should not overdo it, especially with puppies. Excessive exercise during their fast-paced growing stages could have a negative effect on their hips and joints.

So while your pet may love to sprawl out on the couch all day, it’s essential to at least take him for a daily walk.

Is my Great Dane too Skinny?

Just how skinny is too skinny? As mentioned above, Great Danes grow quickly but it’s important not to let them grow too quickly.

It takes a lot of growth for a Great Dane to go from ~2 pounds at birth to 110-170 pounds as a full-grown adult! For this reason, it takes most Great Danes three years to reach full physical maturity.

During the first two years especially, their bodies will inevitably appear skinny and lack the muscularity of an adult Great Dane.

This is completely normal, and you can rest assured that they will fill out in due time. Once their bodies (or bones rather) stop growing, their muscles will have a chance to catch up and “fill in” their gangly puppy appearance.

As with all Great Dane growth, taking the long and slow approach will produce the healthiest dog in the long run.

Are You Supposed to See Great Dane’s Ribs?

The best rule of thumb to go by is that you should always be able to see the last rib bone on your dog when they’re standing. If you’re not able to see the last rib, try slightly lowering their food intake until their body leans out a little bit.

The Rib Test

A Great Dane is at the perfect weight when You can see the outline of their last rib bone when they’re standing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your dog is so skinny that you’re able to count every single rib then that’s a sign that they’re probably too thin. Try increasing their food intake, or consult with your veterinarian to ensure that there are no other health issues present.

Once they rule out the possibility of any health issues, they’ll be able to tell you if your dog is on track weight-wise. He may just be going through an awkward phase.

Remember, it’s always better to gain weight slowly and surely in the Great Dane world. The vet will also be sure to stress the importance of closely monitoring your dog’s weight.

If the vet determines your dog is underweight they may recommend more food at each feeding or adding additional supplements to his diet. They may also question his exercise routine – maybe he’s been getting too much exercise?

Whatever the case, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with an appropriate vet whenever you have questions about your dog’s health. They’ll be able to accurately guide you in the right direction and answer all your questions.

How Many Calories do Great Danes Need?

Feeding your Great Dane requires a lot of food; any pet owner will certainly vouch for that. Not only is it important to feed your pet a high quality, large breed dog food, but splitting their total food intake across several meals is essential for their health.

So now that you know how often to feed him, let’s figure out how many calories your gentle giant needs! You may be surprised how much it is.

It’s recommended that an adult Great Dane get approximately 2,500 calories a day. Older dogs may require slightly less and puppies will need more, up to 3,000 calories daily.

Because every dog’s activity level an metabolism will vary, you will need to use the rib test that was previously mentioned to gauge whether their food should be increased or decreased.

In addition to feeding your dog the right amount of food, it’s also important to feed them decent quality food. The old saying “you are what you eat” is most certainly relevant!

In all seriousness, high-quality food can make a massive difference in your pet’s long term health. While it may be more expensive in the short term, I can assure you that it will save money in the long term by saving on medical bills.

You’ll want to purchase high-quality food for your Great Dane and read the label allowing for the perfect portion for your pooch. The food you give your dog should be around (but not over) 25% protein and between 12-20% fat.

This seems to be the optimal balance to keep your dog at their healthiest.

Be sure to read the labels of any dog food purchased as some commercial brands have much higher protein and fat ratios. Check with your vet for their recommended brand and do your own research, there are plenty of high-quality dog food brands out there that would be perfect for your Great Dane!

As with any breed, it’s best to avoid table scraps and to keep any kind of treats to a minimum. Not only will this excess food cause weight gain but it can also cause digestive issues.

Calories from treats can add up quickly, so be wary of how much you’re sharing. In particular, make sure to select a low-calorie treat if you intend to leverage them for training.

Great Danes can be terrific pets but owners need to be aware of several issues to keep their pup at optimum health. Feeding your dog the best pet food will keep him at a healthy weight and limit many of the issues that can plague this breed.

Be sure to do your research so your pup is with you for years to come.

3 thoughts on “Are Great Danes supposed to be skinny?”

  1. Hello thank you
    Our male Great Dane is Aprox. 150 lb?
    He is under 2 years old
    He gets great execise all the dry food he wants always available
    My concern is he seems at times to have a hour glass figure and his back bones show
    We just gave him worm medicine??
    (Mabe need more ?)
    Back bone not attractive. Please can you advise ?
    Thank you
    Best regards
    Robert Mears

  2. my girl is 2.5 years and having the same problem. Dry food available but not being scoffed. Back yard for everyday exercise but realistically 3×5 minutes spasms of manic energy and couch time mostly. 2 x 45 minute streetwalks and 1 x Park off leash run per week. Have been feeding lower protein grade dry food s*♡♡◇coat during covid.

  3. If your Dane is showing points of hip bones, then you are under feeding. This may not be a poor reflection upon you; your pup may just metabolize food faster, you may have to switch to a denser calorie food, you may have to add in a topper like some fatty meat and eggs, you may have to deworm, or you may have to simply switch from free feeding to feeding twice per day. I find it best to give an early morning meal at 4-6am and an afternoon meal at 3-5pm, increasing the amount by half a cup at a time per meal until body form matches a fit appearance. Younger Danes are happy and healthy to carry less weight until most joints fuse, so I don’t mind seeing more than one rib on a growing youngster under age 2. After 6 months old, I deworm generally once or twice a year with two rounds 10 days apart, more often if I see worms.


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