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Why Is My Great Dane So Skinny? 5 Typical Reasons

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

brindle great dane standin on grass

Why Is My Great Dane So Skinny? 5 Typical Reasons

Great Danes are prized for their large and imposing size. Many people get a Great Dane hoping to get a bulky dog with that signature size. That can leave some people wondering if their Great Danes are too skinny if they do not look a certain way. A skinny appearance is usually nothing to worry about, but it does not stop some dog owners from worrying. What causes a Great Dane to look skinny? There are numerous reasons your Great Dane might appear skinny to you and most of them are nothing to worry about.


The 5 Reasons Your Great Dane Looks Skinny

1. They’re Young

Great Danes do not reach full maturity until they are 3 years old. Before that, Great Danes might look skinny, but they are still filling out. Young Great Danes are often very lean and lack that full bulky look that many people desire in their dogs. If your Great Dane is younger than 3 years old and is not experiencing any adverse health symptoms, it is likely perfectly fine. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog is an appropriate weight for its age and its height. If its weight is good and it is young and looks skinny, there is nothing to worry about.

Great Dane puppy at the beach
Image By: Guy J. Sagi, Shutterstock

2. They’re Old

Similarly, when dogs age, they tend to lose some muscle mass. Old dogs start to thin out, especially if they are reaching advanced years. If your Great Dane is old and is still eating properly, it likely is just starting to lose mass due to the natural aging process. Check with your vet to make sure that your aging dog is still maintaining a healthy weight. If your Great Dane is older and looks skinny but is maintaining weight and is experiencing no further issues, then it is nothing to worry about.

3. They’re Actually at a Healthy Weight

Many people think their dogs look skinny when they are actually a perfectly healthy weight. Adult Great Danes can range in weight from 110 lbs. to 170 lbs. Like humans, each individual Great Dane will have a different frame and healthy weight. You might have a leaner Great Dane than your neighbor, but that doesn’t mean that your dog is too skinny. In a healthy Great Dane, you should be able to see the last rib in the rib cage protruding when it is standing erect. This is perfectly natural and shows that the dog is maintaining a healthy adult weight.

Many dog owners think their dogs are too skinny when they are perfectly healthy because many people believe that the look of an overweight dog is normal. Again, check with your veterinarian. As long as your Great Dane is within the healthy range for its age, then it is likely not too skinny.

great dane
Image By: Earl Wilkerson, Shutterstock

4. They Aren’t Getting Enough Healthy Food

Great Danes need a lot of calories on a regular basis. Adult Great Danes require 2,500 calories per day on average. Great Dane puppies can eat 3,000 calories or more per day when they are growing. Even aging Great Danes can require as many as 2,000 calories to maintain a healthy weight. That is a lot of food. If you do not provide enough food for your Great Dane, then there is a chance it could be underweight.

You also need to make sure that your dog is getting healthy food. Not all dog food has all of the required nutrients for a large dog like a Great Dane. Even if they are getting enough calories, they might not be getting enough critical nutrients to maintain a healthy weight.

Consult your dog food bag to check for important nutritional information, including the number of calories per cup. Your Great Dane needs a minimum of 2,000 calories per day, likely closer to 2,500 per day. Make sure you are providing enough cups of food to maintain this caloric intake.

5. They Might Be Sick

The last reason your Great Dane might look skinny is that it is sick. Dogs tend to stop eating when they are in pain or suffering from a lingering or chronic illness. For most young dogs, this is not a problem, but it could be an issue for Great Danes that are older than 4 years old. If you are providing your dog with enough healthy food and your dog is not too young or too old and is not eating or maintaining weight, it could be sick. Consult your veterinarian for more information. You might want to order bloodwork to ensure that everything is good with your dog, even if you can’t see it.

With bloodwork and regular check-ups, your veterinarian will be able to get a good read on your dog and give you a more personalized verdict about your Great Dane’s health.

black great dane lying on the floor
Image Credit: Ute Studberg Wirth, Pixabay



Great Danes can present a naturally trim and fit figure. This can lead some people to think that their dogs are too skinny, but most of the time, it is nothing to worry about. Young and old dogs can especially look skinny due to the natural process of aging. Young dogs need time to fill out, while older dogs may start to thin out over time. Make sure your Great Dane is getting regular veterinary check-ups and is getting enough high-quality food for their age to prevent any weight-related issues.

Featured Image Credit: Whiteaster, Shutterstock

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