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Docker Log collection


Datadog Agent 6+ collects logs from containers. Two types of installation are available:

  • On the host, where the Agent is external to the Docker environment
  • By deploying the containerized Agent in the Docker environment

Then, collect all the logs from your environment’s containers, or filter by container image, name, or container label to choose the logs collected.

This documentation discusses how to collect logs from all running containers, as well as how to leverage Autodiscovery to activate log integrations.


One-step install to collect all the container logs

The first step is to install the Agent (whether the containerized version or directly on the host) and to enable log collection for all the containers.

To run a Docker container that embeds the Datadog Agent to monitor your host, use the following command:

docker run -d --name datadog-agent \
           -e DD_API_KEY=<YOUR_API_KEY> \
           -e DD_LOGS_ENABLED=true \
           -e DD_AC_EXCLUDE="name:datadog-agent" \
           -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro \
           -v /proc/:/host/proc/:ro \
           -v /opt/datadog-agent/run:/opt/datadog-agent/run:rw \
           -v /sys/fs/cgroup/:/host/sys/fs/cgroup:ro \

It is recommended that you pick the latest version of the Datadog Agent. Consult the full list of available images for Agent v6 on Docker Hub.

The commands related to log collection are:

Command Description
-e DD_LOGS_ENABLED=true Enables log collection when set to true. The Agent looks for log instructions in configuration files.
-e DD_LOGS_CONFIG_CONTAINER_COLLECT_ALL=true Adds a log configuration that enables log collection for all containers.
-v /opt/datadog-agent/run:/opt/datadog-agent/run:rw To prevent loss of container logs during restarts or network issues, the last log line collected for each container in this directory is stored on the host.
-e DD_AC_EXCLUDE="name:datadog-agent" Prevents the Datadog Agent from collecting and sending its own logs. Remove this parameter if you want to collect the Datadog Agent logs.
-v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro Logs are collected from container stdout/stderr from the Docker socket.

Install the latest version of Agent 6 on your host. The Agent can collect logs from files on the host or from container stdout/stderr.

Collecting logs is disabled by default in the Datadog Agent. To enable it, add the following lines in your datadog.yaml configuration file:

logs_enabled: true
  - name: docker
  - name: docker
    polling: true

To collect logs from all your containers without any filtering, add the following at the end of docker.d/conf.yaml in your Agent’s conf.d directory:

    - type: docker
      service: docker
      source: docker

Restart the Agent to see all your container logs in Datadog.

Important notes:

  • source and service default to the short_image tag value in Datadog Agent 6.8+. The source and service values can be overridden with Autodiscovery as described below. Setting the source value to an integration name results in the installation of integration Pipelines that parse your logs and extract relevant information from them.

  • Logs coming from container Stderr have a default status of Error.

Activate Log Integrations

In Datadog Agent 6.8+, source and service default to the short_image tag value. This allows Datadog to identify the log source for each container and automatically install the corresponding integration.

The container short image name might not match the integration name for custom images, and can be overwritten to better reflect the name of your application. This can be done with Datadog Autodiscovery and pod annotations in Kubernetes or container labels.

Autodiscovery expects labels to follow this format, depending on the file type:

Add the following LABEL to your Dockerfile:


Add the following label in your docker-compose.yaml file:

labels: '[<LOGS_CONFIG>]'

Add the following label as a run command:



The following Dockerfile enables the NGINX log integration on the corresponding container (service value can be changed):

LABEL ""='[{"source": "nginx", "service": "webapp"}]'

To enable both the metric and logs NGINX integrations:

LABEL ""='["nginx"]'
LABEL ""='[{}]'
LABEL ""='[{"nginx_status_url": "http://%%host%%:%%port%%/nginx_status"}]'
LABEL ""='[{"source": "nginx", "service": "webapp"}]'

For multi-line logs like stack traces, the Agent has multi-line processing rules to aggregate lines into a single log.

Example log (Java stack traces):

2018-01-03T09:24:24.983Z UTC Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NullPointerException
        at com.example.myproject.Book.getTitle(
        at com.example.myproject.Author.getBookTitles(
        at com.example.myproject.Bootstrap.main(

Use the label as below on your containers to make sure that the above log is properly collected:

  labels: '[{"source": "java", "service": "myapp", "log_processing_rules": [{"type": "multi_line", "name": "log_start_with_date", "pattern" : "\\d{4}-(0?[1-9]|1[012])-(0?[1-9]|[12][0-9]|3[01])"}]}]'

See the multi-line processing rule documentation to get more pattern examples.

If you are running Kubernetes, pod annotations can be used.

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: ReplicaSet
  name: nginx
      annotations: '[{"source":"nginx","service":"webapp"}]'
        app: webapp
      name: nginx
        - name: nginx
          image: nginx:latest

Refer to the Autodiscovery guide for setup, examples, and more information about Autodiscovery.

Note: Autodiscovery features can be used with or without the DD_LOGS_CONFIG_CONTAINER_COLLECT_ALL environment variable. Choose one of the following options:

  • Use container labels or pod annotations to choose the containers to collect logs from.
  • Use the environment variable to collect logs from all containers and then override the default source and service values.
  • Add processing rules for the wanted subset of containers.

Short lived containers

To ensure their logs are properly collected, Autodiscovery detects short lived containers as soon as they are started. If you are using the host installation of the Agent, add this in your datadog.yaml file (it is automatically added for the containerized version):

  - name: docker
  - name: docker
    polling: true

Filter containers

It is possible to filter logs, metrics, and Autodiscovery using the following methods. This can be useful to prevent the collection of the Datadog Agent logs.

Two environment variables are available to include or exclude a list of containers filtered by image or container name:

  • DD_AC_INCLUDE: whitelist of containers to always include
  • DD_AC_EXCLUDE: blacklist of containers to exclude

The format for these options is space-separated strings. For example, if you only want to monitor two images, and exclude the rest, specify:

DD_AC_EXCLUDE = "image:.*"
DD_AC_INCLUDE = "image:cp-kafka image:k8szk"

Or to exclude a specific container name:

DD_AC_EXCLUDE = "name:datadog-agent"

Two parameters are available in datadog.yaml to include or exclude a list of containers filtered by image or container name:

  • ac_exclude: whitelist of containers to always include
  • ac_include: blacklist of containers to exclude

For example, if you only want to monitor two images, and exclude the rest, specify:

ac_exclude: ["image:.*"]
ac_include: ["image:cp-kafka", "image:k8szk"]

Or to exclude the Datadog Agent:

ac_exclude = ["name:datadog-agent"]

Further Reading