Why Is My Great Dane Puppy So Skinny? Facts You Should Know

As a Great Dane puppy owner, one concern you may have is the appearance of your puppy looking skinny. It is a concern for any dog owner. You may have also been tempted to add more of their food portions to help them out with the weight gain. 

A Great Dane puppy may be skinny because of a poor diet, ineffective feeding method, underlying diseases, teething period, and competition for food with other puppies making them feed too poorly. Also, different puppies grow at different rates and some will have a weight that can be below the average estimates for their age. For a large breed puppy such as a Great Dane, it is normal to look slightly skinny but with a healthy weight. A vet check-up can determine if your puppy is developing properly or there is a problem.

In this article, we aim to show you whether being skinny is normal for a puppy, the weight range of a Great Dane puppy, causes of slow weight gain in puppies, what to avoid doing as well as what to feed a Great Dane puppy for healthy weight gain.

Is it normal for puppies to look skinny?

great dane puppy so skinny

It is normal for puppies to look skinny if there are no underlying medical causes and the puppy is feeding well. Puppies grow at different rates and may fall below or above their weight estimates for their age.

Regular health checkups by the vet should be done to rule out any health problem and recommendations provided towards healthy weight gain and development based on their age.

What should a Great Dane puppy weigh?

The weight of a Great Dane depends on their age and the development stage they are at which can range from 5 to 8 lbs at month one to 95 to 140 lbs at 12 months of age.

A growth chart for a Great Dane provides the average weight they should be at a certain age which gives an overall picture of what is to be expected. All puppies grow at different rates therefore it is also quite normal to weigh below or above the average range.

The most important aspect is to have regular weight checks with your vet to monitor and ensure your puppy is growing well.

The below is the average weight estimate of a Great Dane puppy up to one year of age.

Age (Months)

Weight (lbs)

Height (Inches)































Causes of slowed growth of a puppy

Slow growth can be described as being below the average weight as per a certain age. Factors that cause a puppy’s slow growth include:

Poor diet

The slow growth of a Great Dane puppy can be a result of their diet which is not providing them the required nutritional balance for proper growth.

A poor diet with insufficient calories and nutrients that does not support a Great Dane puppy’s nutritional and energy level requirements leads to underdevelopment.

As a large breed puppy, a Great Dane needs the appropriate diet specifically formulated for large or giant dog breed puppies to provide the essential nutrition.

Underlying diseases

The presence of underlying diseases in a puppy can cause slow growth.

The diseases cause loss of weight and slow weight gain limiting healthy growth. Diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, digestive issues, hyperglycemia or intestinal parasites especially hookworms and roundworms have this effect on a puppy’s growth.

The vet can examine and determine if a puppy has any underlying health problem and provide treatment.

Puppy teething

Teething is a very uncomfortable phase for a puppy. This is the period where a puppy’s baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth emerge from the gums.

It is a painful time where you will see puppies chewing on anything to ease the discomfort.

Teething also results in a lack of appetite which makes a puppy not eat as much food which also affects their weight gain. 

Ineffective feeding methods

Ineffective feeding methods can also contribute to the slow growth of a puppy.

Great Dane puppies require smaller meals scheduled throughout the day instead of two large meals in a day.

This helps in healthy weight gain. Great Dane puppies also have a growth spurt between months 4 and 6.

They require an appropriate diet for large breed puppies in correct portions to support proper development.

Competition for food with other puppies

Competition for food that is served together with other puppies or dogs in a home can also limit the weight gain of a Great Dane puppy.

The puppy could be eating small portions because of sharing and struggling to eat together with the other dogs.

The puppy ends up not having enough and may not gain weight as expected because of not feeding well.

The solution to this is to feed a Great Dane puppy separately to enable them to eat their daily required portions.

This will reduce the stress of having to struggle to get enough food during meal times. Eating appropriate serving portions helps with healthy weight gain for a puppy. 

What To Avoid


It can be tempting for a Great Dane puppy owner to add more cups of food to each serving for their puppy to encourage weight gain.

This is detrimental to a Great Danes puppy growth and should be avoided.

Overfeeding a Great Dane puppy over the recommended portions will make them overweight which causes a strain to their skeleton and joints.

This leads to abnormal orthopedic development. Always feed the right recommended portions to a puppy based on their age and instructions as per their puppy food instructions or as directed by your vet.

Even if your puppy seems hungry after a meal, don’t be tempted to add more instead have them on a meal schedule distributed throughout the day.

Adding excess nutritional supplements

Another temptation would be to add extra nutritional supplements to encourage weight gain and growth.

This is also not recommended because it can be harmful to a puppy.

For example, excess vitamin D intake leads to toxicity while excess calcium leads to the development of orthopedic diseases in large breed puppies.

Always consult with a vet on the appropriate quantities for your puppy.

What should I feed my Great Dane puppy to gain weight?

Large or giant dog breed puppy food should have key features that must be present to provide balanced nutrition for proper growth.

Balanced food for large breed dogs does not encourage rapid growth or weight gain which can be detrimental to their health.

Remember not all puppies are alike and they will grow at different rates.

For a Great Dane puppy, it is perfectly normal to be a little skinnier than the average weight of a puppy their age.

Unless there is an underlying health problem, being skinny is healthier than being overweight for a large breed puppy.

If your puppy is a little below the average weight of a Great Dane puppy at their age, talk to your vet first.

The vet will examine your puppy and be able to rule out any medical problems and recommend best feeding practices for your puppy.

Continuous monitoring of the health and weight throughout their puppy stage whose period is 15 months should be done to ensure proper growth.

Recommended Reading: Can Great Danes eat strawberries?

Important puppy food factors to consider

The below should be considered when selecting a Great Dane puppy food.

Quality protein source

Growing Great Dane puppies require protein in their diet for muscle development. At this life stage, they are rapidly growing and require the protein to support this development.

The protein best recommended is protein from animal sources, that is from meat, poultry, or fish.

The protein content however should be between 25% to 30% of the food formulation. Avoid puppy food that does not contain quality animal protein as the main ingredient.

Essential vitamins and minerals

As a large dog breed, the Great Dane puppy requires some essential food elements that support their health.

Chondroitin and glucosamine are essential supplements that promote bone and joint health.

The supplements are important in a Great Danes diet for this purpose.

They are found in meat and poultry sources.

Essential vitamins and minerals that are also important for the proper skeletal development of a Great Dane puppy include vitamin A, vitamin D, copper, zinc, and manganese.

A risk of abnormal orthopedic development occurs without these in the diet.

Puppy food made from whole foods provides these together with antioxidants which reduce inflammation in the body.

Allergen-free food

Food-related allergies can occur in Great Dane puppies.

Food formulations with limited ingredients or those that exclude allergens such as grain corn soil or wheat are recommended to prevent allergic reactions.

Depending on your vet’s guidance and your puppy-specific requirements, allergen-free food is a good choice for a puppy that is susceptible to allergic reactions.

Carbohydrates and fats

Healthy fats include Omega 3 and 6 which can be found in sources such as almond oil, canola oil, or flaxseed.

Carbohydrates and fats are important in providing calories that are used as energy.

Great Dane puppies are energetic and burn a lot of calories during their playful activities therefore they require energy from food to supply them.

Large breed puppy food formulations are also made in balanced proportions of the required fat and calories not to cause rapid weight gain.

Rapid weight gain in Great Dane puppies can lead to joint and bone problems because of the excess weight that their bones would not be able to support.


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are usually formulated with some puppy food or sold separately. Probiotics are beneficial because they promote the good digestive health of Great Dane puppies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my Great Dane is too skinny?

An adult Great Dane is too skinny when there is prominent protruding of bone such as ribs, hips, and spine as well as the appearance of a sunken abdomen within the rib cage. These signs indicate that a dog is too skinny and determination from a vet can confirm this. Great Danes like all dogs grow at different rates and their weights vary from the average weight estimates at different ages. The average weight of an adult Great Dane ranges between 140 to 175 pounds and being 30 to 32 inches tall for male dogs while females are usually 110 to 140 pounds and are 28 to 30 inches tall. 


A skinny Great Dane puppy can be a cause of alarm especially for a breed that is expected to grow massively.

Some reasons can lead to this in a Great Dane puppy but usually, this is normal because puppies grow at different rates and can fall below the average weight estimates for the age.

Regular vet examinations and checkups are important to monitor growth and healthy weight gain as well as know if any health problems are causing the lack of weight gain.

With this determination from a vet, as a puppy owner, you can be well assured that your puppy is doing well even if they are slightly skinny.

I hope this article helped you know why a Great Dane puppy can look so skinny if being skinny is normal for a puppy, what is considered too skinny for an adult Great Dane, causes of slow weight gain in puppies, and what to avoid doing as well as what to feed a Great Dane puppy for healthy weight gain.

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