I recently asked a friend if she thought my Great Dane was too skinny. 

This was me asking, as somebody who knows that growing Great Danes can be perfectly healthy and still look like walking skeletons! It’s normal to worry, we love our dogs! 

I thought it would be helpful to share some photos of dogs that are emaciated, thin and overweight so that you can make some real-life comparisons about whether or not your Great Dane is too skinny or not.

Always, always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure either way. Dogs can gain and lose weight quickly and may have underlying health problems, including parasites and diabetes.  


Great Danes are a lean breed.

Overweight dogs have shorter lives and are more likely to suffer from heart problems, cancer, arthritis and diabetes. They are at higher risk during surgical procedures and are also more prone to issues involving kidney and liver function.

Even dogs labeled as ‘Euro’ should not be heavy.

Most of the time, people are concerned that their dog is underweight. Unfortunately, being overweight is a much, much more serious health concern.

Lean is best for Great Danes,.

Growing puppies can look positively gangly at times. This is normal and healthy, so long as the dog is showing signs of robust health: shiny coat, bright eyes, muscles, energy, tight feet, properly growing bones, and free of parasites, skin conditions and gut health issues (vomiting, loose stools, etc.).

Don’t mistake ‘filling out’ with getting fat. Filling out involves developing breadth of chest and hips, in addition to muscle mass. A dog that gets fat following spay/neuter around age 2 is not filling out, it’s just becoming heavy and overweight. 


The following images are of Great Danes, including ‘Euro’ Danes that are at a healthy weight. Click on any image to view larger and in full.

Notice the defined waist, tuck in the abdomen, muscle, and even the presence of a rib or two. These dogs all appear to be offered plenty of free exploration time on varied terrain (which helps develop strength in feet, hips and abs!). They enjoy running, playing and being active. 

You may feel that some of these dogs are underweight! Unfortunately, overweight dogs skew our perception of what is healthy in Great Danes.

Chances are, if you think your dog is too skinny, you may find that your dog actually belongs in this group! 


An underweight Great Dane is malnourished. These are dogs that are either neglected or have underlying health problems (cancer, megaesophagus, parasites, etc.) that require veterinary care. 

A dog that is underweight may show the following signs: spine and/or hip bones jutting out, temples sunken in, prominent ‘knowledge bump’ on top of the head, low energy, no muscle tone, muscle wasting.

An otherwise energetic and bright Great Dane puppy that is a little ‘ribby’ during a growth spurt is NOT an underweight or malnourished Great Dane.  If you see early signs of hips and spine showing, chat with your veterinarian. 


Overweight Great Danes carry excess and unnecessary weight that will affect their quality of life. 

Many people believe that because a dog is ‘Euro’ it should look and be heavy. This is not true. Even a ‘Euro’ dog should have a defined waist. 

Others, in pursuit of having the ‘biggest’ dog focus on the number on the scale. There is nothing to be proud of if your Great Dane is tipping the scales. 

Extra pressure on the joints, heart and lungs are a problem for dogs that are allowed to become heavy like this. As above, do not mistake ‘filling out’ with getting fat! 

We’ve seen even worse than the dogs presented in the gallery below. Some dogs suffer from thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders that lead to excess weight; chat with your veterinarian for help. 

These dogs do not have a waist or a defined tuck, though they absolutely could. Notice how many of them look uncomfortable and are panting, compared to the healthy weight dogs in the previous gallery.


Many veterinarians use body condition scores to assess whether a dog is at a healthy weight or not. 

Your veterinarian might never really tell you that your dog is overweight! Keep in mind that your Veterinarian is first operating a business, and that includes not upsetting clients by saying things about their dog that may be perceived as judgemental.

People become very defensive and are often in disbelief. It’s a losing battle for Veterinarians.

We encourage you to bring the subject up to your veterinarian, mention your concerns and show that you are an educated owner willing to learn! 

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. We do our best to present the most up-to-date research, however it is up to the reader to make decisions regarding the health and well-being of their dog. We make no claims here to prevent or treat bloat or any other condition related to Great Danes. Find a veterinarian with GIANT breed experience, and chat with them. 

Some of the products we list on our website contain affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase, we may receive a small commission for referring you. We only recommend products that we truly believe in. This commission does not affect the price of the product and is used to fund our content and expenses related to operating this website. 

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