Gaping Dragon is the boss encounter in Dark Souls you'll come up against once you complete exploring The Depths.
Gaping Dragon boss strategy
The Gaping Dragon is a pretty disgusting monster, and also a challenging boss to boot. Ensure you go into this fight with all of your items and armour fully repaired, or else you might encounter some trouble. Be sure to also have followed our guide to kill the Channeler hidden in the depths. If not, the boss will be buffed to be stronger, in addition to having magic arrows cast at you. If you do not kill the channeler, you will be in for a world of pain.
With that aside, the actual Gaping Dragon itself has two "stances" - These are easily recognisable. The upright form of the Gaping Dragon is pretty difficult to telegraph, and has a huge range of options available to it. The most notable of which is the acid attack, which will degrade your armour and weapons. Be sure to steer clear whenever it comes. Also be careful of staying around the Gaping Dragon's front, as it can grab you and deal massive unblockable damage.
What we recommend for this fight is to actually wait until the monster is in its "prone" form, and attack the head (a weak spot) for decent damage. Enchant your weapon with Gold Pine Resin from Domnhall of Zena just before this fight to really get those hits it, from there it is a matter of dodging and patience until the Gaping Dragon goes back down to its crawling form.
To deal some more damage to this beast, be sure to hang left of it, if it's in the upright stance - where it will attempt a tail sweep attack and miss. Additionally, since the monster's moves will break your poise, there is no real point of even using a shield in this fight. Instead, two-hand wield your weapon in order to deal some extra damage and make those windows really count.
The area is pretty open and large, so you might be tempted to hide near a pillar for protection, when you want to heal. However be warned, as these offer no protection, and is also a sure-fire way to leave yourself open to attacks. Instead, try to find a healing window after the Dragon uses one of it's larger attacks, meaning that you will be able to heal after it recovers from that.
If you're looking for more help, our Dark Souls walkthrough and guide can help with all other areas of the game, including the dreadedTaurus Demon, Capra Demon, Ornstein and Smough bosses. Meanwhile, we have explainers on how to access DLC Artorias of the Abyss, the best gift and best class in Dark Souls, Dark Souls' best weapons, Dark Souls Covenants, Dark Souls Estus Flasks locations, Dark Souls Titanite Slab locations and NPC quests including Lautrec of Carim.
Additionally, if you're feeling brave you can also try to go and cut the Gaping Dragon's Tail, which if done successfully will net you a Demon King Greataxe. Our strategy to get the tail cut would be to stay to the left of it while it recovers from the prone form. This will give you a window to attack the tail, and is a good little reward for your work.
When it charges up a flying attack, be sure to run to the tail or away, as this AoE hit can do a lot of damage. The same goes for the crawling, while the monster is prone- it is unblockable and will deal a load of damage. It's a tough fight, but just make sure to be patient and try to pattern its unpredictable tells which will then lead you to victory.
If you are going for a ranged approach, you may want to summon in an NPC or another player to help, this will be a very challenging fight to take on from a distance. Again, this fight will be made a whole lot easier if you have Gold Pine Resin to use on your weapon.
The key to this fight is patience, and using your items and waiting a whole lot. Follow these tips to take down the Gaping Dragon and push onwards to Blighttown.