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If you’re interested in running with your Great Dane, we’ve got the Ultimate Guide for you.

Do you love spending time outdoors running but don’t want to leave your Great Dane behind? Or maybe you’re just getting started training for a marathon and want to make sure your pup can keep up.

Alternatively, it’s possible you have heard of the dangers of Great Dane puppies growth plates. If that’s the case, you want to make sure the exercise and running you are doing with them is safe and within limits. Either way, this blog post is for you!

Age Matters When Running with Your Great Dane:

Great Danes are large and giant breed dogs who experience joint pain with excessive exercise. So, running with your Great Dane can be risky. But, physical activity is SO important for your Great Dane with a million times the pent up energy that you have!

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Photo Credit to Chelsea & Harleigh at @mixedwithout

Do you want to go running with your Great Dane? If so, lets talk about considering age with over running, exercising, health issues, and Great Dane exercise:

Running with Your Great Dane and Age Consideration:

If you’d like to eventually go running with your Great Dane, consider extremely early training and socialization. Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds and can grow to be over 100 pounds. You can eventually go running with your Great Dane, but you will need excellent socialization and leash skills.

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Great Danes are a very active breed and need to be exercised regularly to stay healthy. Going running with your Great Dane is fun, but there are many factors to consider. When they are puppies, exercise is important. However, the type, frequency and duration of running with your Great Dane is dependent on your Great Danes age.

How Much Exercise Should a Great Dane Puppy Get?

Big dog breeds require enough exercise to maintain muscle mass, joint health and prevent obesity. Controversially, Great Dane owners recognize that in order to raise a healthy adult Great Dane, they must limit their puppies daily exercise. Going running with your Great Dane while they are growing puppies is NOT a good idea. However, there are many ways to eventually accomplish the task of going running with your Great Dane.

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Free Play is Very Different than Going Running with Your Great Dane

Your Great Dane puppy should be allowed to free play as much as they want! This is natural exercise and is extremely benefit in helping avoid destructive behavior. Puppy Great Danes should get an abundance of mental exercise, socialization with other dogs, and ‘free play’ running off leash in a safe area. When Great Dane puppies are off leash and THEY control their daily exercise, there is truly no concern with them getting ‘too much exercise’. Spend time being couch potatoes and spend time exploring with your Great Dane. Always base their physical exercise on your Great Dane being in control- NOT you. How much exercise do THEY need and want? Going running with your Great Dane is your ultimate goal, but first help their joints grow healthy and strong.

Going Running with your great dane

Should You Avoid Going Running with your Great Dane who is growing?

You should avoid going running with your Great Dane who is still growing. Additionally, they should not be allowed to stair climb or jump off of furniture, as this can damage their joints. Giant dogs who are growing fast have growth plates. Growth plates do not close until they are 24 months, and damage to this portion of the dog’s joints can cause major issues with your dog breed. Going running with your Great Dane who is still growing could cause permanent damage.

AVOID: Stair Climbing as a Form of Great Dane Exercise

Climbing stairs frequently and quickly in young, growing puppies can cause irreparable joint damage. This is because as the puppies grow, their bones, growth plates, and ligaments are still developing. Repeated high impact activities such as stair climbing before your Great Dane’s growth plates have closed can cause these joints to be permanently damaged. While your Great Dane may seem like they are able to handle this type of strenuous activity, senior Great Danes will show the impact of these joint-heavy activities. Activities like climbing or jumping off of stairs, strenuous work-outs or going running with your Great Dane are to be avoided until they are fully grown.

Great Dane Puppy Treats
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DO NOT: Playing Fetch is Not Appropriate for Many Dogs

Fetch is one of the hardest games for your dog to play in regards to its joints. Throwing a ball for your dog to fetch puts unnecessary stress on their ligaments, joints and spine. This is because when dogs retrieve balls, they tend to jump up and down which can damage the discs in their spine.

Additionally, fetch causes your dog to stop and start their movements and body weight VERY quickly, which may be okay for hunting dogs or other breeds. But, for dogs predisposed to joint health issues, this game is a major red flag. Over exercising Great Danes in a game of fetch is unnecessary and damaging.

SAY NO: Tug of War Games are Unhealthy to Big Dog Breeds

Dog owners of large dogs know that Great Danes can be predisposed to ‘large breed’ diseases that an other dog breed may not be. Some of these diseases include Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia, and Wobblers. When you play tug of war with your dog, the added stress and pressure placed on their spine and neck is unnecessary. Tug of war is a game that should be limited.

Alternative Options to Tug

Replace this with dog safe strengthening exercises such as swimming, free play / running and allowing your Great Dane to explore a variety of surfaces (gravel, mud, dirt, grass). Avoid any type of tug toy or other that will impact the spine during play time. If you’re planning on one day going running with your Great Dane, avoid joint-heavy activities such as tug.

Great Dane puppy socialization

UNNECCESSARY: Baby Gentle Giants Do Not Need Leashed Long Walks

Many Great Dane owners feel the need to walk their dog for miles each day. This is unnecessary as your puppy will get plenty of exercise from running and playing on their own accord. A long, leashed walk will only serve to strain their joints, putting them at risk for hip dysplasia when they become a full-grown Great Dane.

What Is a Positive and Healthy Exercise Routine for your Great Dane Puppy?

Your Great Dane puppy does not need to walk long distances, rather needs a gentle giant friend to run around with, puzzle toys / mental stimulation, and a simple regular exercise routine. Great Danes LOVE mental stimulation. Mental stimulation also serves as a substitution for long walks.

Dog owners are more than happy to take their puppy to get physical exercise, short daily walks, and even visit a safe dog park.

Should I Take My Great Dane to the Dog Park?

Great Dane owners often visit a safe dog park with their puppies as a form of socialization. Many dog owners believe dog parks provide an opportunity for your puppy to meet and play with other dogs.

However, some (many) dog parks are actually not the best place to work with your Great Dane on their socialization skills.


5 Common mistakes you may be making when Training Your Great Dane

Why are Dog Parks Dangerous?

Not all dog parks are dangerous. Many dog parks have an abundance of open space, allowing dogs to run and play without feeling confined. Alternatively, some dog parks are in close space and make Great Danes feel confined and stressed.

Make sure the park is fully fenced in with separate areas for small and large dogs, has plenty of shade, water, and poop bags available. Look for a park that does not allow aggressive behavior or dogs without responsible owners.

Alternative Options to Dog Parks

If you are not comfortable taking your Great Dane to dog parks, be sure to check-out our puppy socialization guide. In this guide, we provide many alternative and better suitable options for socializing your puppy.

It is important to remember that all dog owners are responsible for their own dog’s behavior, so always be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your Great Dane.

Other ideas may include:

  1. Expose your dog to multiple textures. Your puppies feet are PACKED with muscles that do require physical activity to remain strong. Sand, mud, gravel, water, grass, and other various textures are INCREDIBLE resources to helping your dog’s fitness. Let your puppy dig, run, play and walk in these textures. Your puppies feet will be thankful!
  2. Go swimming! Swimming is an excellent, low-impact exercise program for both your Great Dane puppy and your adult Great Dane.
  3. Work on training. For every 20 minutes spent training, it is worth 2+ miles of run walk cadence! Imagine how tired and fulfilled your puppy dog will be if you focus on your dog’s intelligence with important skills like socialization, separation anxiety, and basic commands.

Does Distance Matter?

Not only does how much exercise you give your Great Dane matter, but also the distance in which you run or walk with your Great Dane makes a difference as well. Your Great Dane might find it enough exercise to go on long walks (self-paced). But, once your Great Dane is full grown it could be appropriate to take them for a short jog.

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Arthritis in Great Danes? Read here.

Every Dog Is Different

Keep in mind that not all dog breeds can tolerate the same distance of runs. It is important to seek out a licensed veterinarian and find their advice and opinion on if your Great Dane should be your jogging buddy.

Speak With Your Local Veterinarian

If your local veterinarian agrees, begin with a very short jog to see how your dog handles it. Then, work your way up to a bit more exercise. If you notice excessive panting or lethargy, discontinue running with your dog immediately, as these behaviors could constitute pet medical advice.

Frequency when Exercising and Running with Great Danes

You do not want to begin running with your Great Dane excessively. Your are going to need to work your way up to being able to go running with your Great Dane. Remember- a Great Dane CAN be given too much exercise, but only when the exercise is in your control and not in the control of the Great Dane.

Begin to go on long walks once or twice a week to examine if your Great Dane seems to tolerate the duration and frequency. Then, you increase in duration and frequency.

Surface of Terrain

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that your Great Dane has an entirely different preferences with regards to the surface of terrain than you do.

Mud, Dirt, and Other Soft Terrains for Your Great Dane

Sand, gravel, and dirt are ideal surfaces for your dog to run or walk on – no matter their size. These materials are soft and help ease joint pressure from walks and runs.

Similarly, mud is one of the best surfaces to take your Great Dane running or walking on. Mud is beneficial for your Great Dane because it helps keep their joints cool and lubricated, as well as easing the impact on their feet while they run.

Short distance walks and runs are best for your Great Dane. A long, leashed walk is only going to serve to wear down their joints and increase the risk of hip dysplasia or other large breed diseases when they become an adult.

Avoid Concrete and Pavement with Your Great Dane

Other surfaces, like cement or concrete cause your Great Dane joint pain or other problems.

So, avoid hard surfaces like concrete and pavement. Instead, look for soft terrain like grass or well-groomed dirt and mud trails. These surfaces are much easier on your dog’s joints, feet and muscles, and they provide a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

However, even the best surfaces can’t completely protect your dog from injury. So, make sure to watch them closely and be prepared to adjust your route if necessary.

Check the Weather Before Your Jog

As any dog owner knows, different breeds of dogs have different tolerance levels for different weather conditions. For example, Great Danes are not known for being a relatively tolerant breed when it comes to hot weather. So, this means that they can tolerate hot surfaces such as pavement or sand. Products like Mushers which can be applied to the paw in order to protect them from the hot ground.

In fact, adult Great Danes joints are relatively fragile, which means that they also struggle on cold or slippery surfaces. As a result, they may need extra support in snowy or wet climates. Consider a weather jacket, such as an XL Rain Jacket or this Carhartt Winter Jacket for XL Dogs.

Nevertheless, Great Danes are generally a breed that can tolerate a wide range of weather conditions for short periods of times.

Does Dog Food Impact a Dog’s Fitness?

There is a lot of debate on the internet about whether or not dog food impacts how active a dog is. Some people believe that if you feed your dog a high-quality diet, they will be less likely to become overweight and lazy. Others think that feeding a dog commercial kibble or processed foods will make them gain weight and become inactive.

The truth is that there is no definitive answer to this question. Every dog is different, and will respond differently to different types of food.

What we can say for sure, however, is that a diet built for a Great Dane and their unique body type, health issues and breed will keep them healthy and fit. So, ensure that you feed them a quality diet that is appropriate for Great Danes size, health, joints, dental health, and growing rate.

Can Danes Go On Long Walks and Runs?

In conclusion, full grown Great Danes can go on short walks and runs, but should avoid long leashed walks. Free play, off leash play in a safe area, and activity allows your Great Dane to have their exercise within their own control, which keeps their daily exercise within THEIR control and not the owners demands.

At times, some Danes go on long walks or runs

Yes, it is okay to take your healthy, adult Great Dane on occasional jogs. However, if you are looking for a marathon training partner, a Great Dane is not your best choice in breed.

Other times, the Great Dane is just not the best work-out partner

Too much of the wrong types of exercise will lead to an increase in joint issues and possible arthritis and hip pain. Not to mention, your Great Dane just simply will prefer daily walks to too much exercise on vigorous leashed runs.

In Conclusion

Great Danes are a breed that tolerates a wide range of weather conditions, but should be watched closely while running. Allow as much of their physical activity to be through free play and independent exercise. Strengthening exercises like varying terrains will help many dogs feet and general conformation develop! Feed your Great Dane a quality diet that is appropriate for their size, health, joints, dental health, and growing rate.


Hope this helped you and your Great Dane develop an exercise program that works for your family. Have fun with your doggy squats. Oh, and human squats too!

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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