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How Much Exercise Does a Great Dane Need? Breed Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

fawn great dane

The Great Dane is a unique dog breed, primarily for its size. They can grow to several feet tall at the shoulders, and, when standing on their feet, they typically tower over their human handlers. Despite this, they are known for being gentle and they make loving and affectionate loyal family dogs.

Their size does mean that they need regular exercise and while the exact amount depends on the dog itself, its age, and other factors, experts cite ideal daily exercise to last for a total of between 1–2 hours, including walking, time playing, and partaking in any agility or other active sports.

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About the Breed

Despite the name, the Great Dane originates from Germany, where it was bred to protect estates and hunt wild boar. They were built to be big, strong, and imposing, and if you take on a dog of this breed, you will need to meet its physical requirements.

The breed is loving and loyal. It can be very gentle, especially considering its size, but those long legs and that powerful muscular build need regular exercise to ensure the breed stays healthy and fit and to combat the Great Dane energy level.

great dane dog in the woods
Image By: Nikolas Otto, Shutterstock

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How Much Exercise Does One Need?

All dogs require some amount of exercise, but it does vary from breed to breed. A dog like the Shih Tzu, for example, requires minimal exercise per day, while others, like a Border Collie, will run for hours on end and still not be worn out. Generally, the bigger the dog, the more exercise it needs, but there are exceptions.

In the case of the Great Dane, you should expect to provide anywhere from 1–2 hours of total exercise per day. This includes leashed dog walks, but it can also include off-leash play, agility, canine sports, and even swimming.

Exercise Types

Offering a good variety of exercise can help keep your dog mentally stimulated, as well as physically fit. The following are considered healthy for a Great Dane:

  • Dog Walk – Walking your dog not only provides physical exercise but it lets them explore the environment, potentially meet other dogs and people, and perform their daily ablutions. Try to provide two walks a day, rather than one, and make each one last 30–60 minutes. Dog walks can make up half of your dog’s daily exercise.
  • Games – If you have a yard or garden, let your Great Dane off the leash and encourage them to play fetch or other games. Because they are untethered, it allows more freedom, and this type of exercise can wear dogs out quickly. While indoor play can also be effective, the size of the Great Dane means that playing in a confined space can lead to injury as well as damage to your property and even your body.
  • Dog Park – If you don’t have adequate space to let your Great Dane play outdoors, consider finding a local dog park where you can let them off the leash to play. The dog park is also a great opportunity for socialization because you will meet other dogs and their owners.
  • Swimming – Some Great Danes love the water, others dislike it. If yours enjoys the water, you can let them run and swim in the water. Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise, which means that the risk of physical injury is low, but it will still wear them out and keep them fit.
  • Dog Agility and Canine Sports – It can be a struggle to get a Great Dane through a tunnel or round the slalom poles, but they will have fun trying. Agility training keeps the mind sharp as well as the body as it really forces them to think and concentrate. Other canine sports, including events like sled pulling, are also good options for large breeds like yours.

Do Puppies Need More or Less Exercise?

Sometimes, their size means that it is easy to forget that a young Great Dane is still a puppy. When yours is under 18 months of age, you should provide less exercise and ensure that it is low-impact and low-strain exercise.

Aim to provide between 30–60 minutes of exercise a day until your Great Dane reaches 18 months. This time can include socialization and puppy classes, both of which should be considered vital to raising a well-adjusted and happy dog.

merle great dane
Image Credit: velora, Shutterstock

What Dog Requires the Least Amount of Exercise?

If you are looking for a dog that doesn’t require much exercise, there are plenty of breeds. Smaller breeds like the Shih Tzu and Chow Chow make good low-exercise pets. The English Bulldog is a real couch potato, too. If you want a large dog but without the same exercise requirements as a Great Dane, then a Bullmastiff can weigh 100 pounds or more but doesn’t require excessive levels of exercise to stay fit and healthy.

Should You Walk Your Dog Before Bed?

Ideally, you want to walk your dog a little before bedtime. It will give them time to unwind and relax, have a drink of water, and settle down before the lights go out. Walk your Great Dane a couple of hours before bedtime and it should really help wear them out so that they will sleep soundly all night and until the morning.

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Final Thoughts

Great Danes make great family pets. They are loyal and loving and tend to be gentle and understanding of their own size. However, their heft does mean that they have certain requirements that need to be filled.

As well as demanding sizeable meals, Great Danes also have moderate exercise requirements and you should expect to spend between 1–2 hours exercising per day. This can include dog walks and agility classes, and you can even take your pup hiking with you. Get out in the garden or a dog park for some untethered fun, too.


Featured Image Credit: Dmussman, Shutterstock

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