Puppy Growth: What You Need to Know
How big will my dog get? How much should I feed my puppy? And, how fast should my puppy grow?
These are some of the most common questions veterinarians receive about puppies and weight. And, they’re all great questions because puppy growth rate greatly affects your pet’s health and wellbeing now and later on in life.
How big will my puppy get?
If you adopted a puppy and you know their breed, you can estimate their adult size by looking up standard weights for that breed. Keep in mind that weight may vary between genders, and even within the same gender, but still breed standards are a good place to start.
If you got your puppy from a breeder, you can go one step further: Ask how much your puppy’s parents weigh. This will give you a good idea of how big your puppy will be when they’re full-grown.
If, however, you’re not sure which breed your pup is or if they’re a mix of different sized breeds, there are some other methods to estimate your furbaby’s adult weight.
- Calculate adult weight using the formula: (Current weight / Age in weeks) x 52.
For example, if your pup is 20 pounds at 16 weeks of age, the formula would look like this:
(20/16) = 1.25
1.25 x 52 = 65
So, your puppy’s estimated adult weight would be 65 pounds.
Of course, there are individual variations, especially considering that small and large breed dogs grow at different rates, but this puppy weight estimator serves as a good starting point for what to expect.
This formula works best for pups between 12 weeks (for small breeds) to 20 weeks (for large breeds) of age.
- Skip the math and use a puppy growth chart or puppy weight predictor where you input your pup’s information and a number pops out for expected adult weight. You can find these puppy weight estimators online. Use this number as a starting point, as it’s not accurate for every dog.
- Ask your vet for an estimate. Your vet can give you an estimate based on your pup’s current age (which is determined by looking at their teeth) and size/appearance. Vets see a lot of puppies from an early age through adulthood, so they can give you their best approximation as to not only what size your dog will be, but also their breed heritage.
- What about paw size? Paw size is generally not a good indicator of adult weight, since different breeds have different paw sizes in proportion to their bodies, and since many puppies will “grow into” their large paws. However, there’s no harm in using this method just for fun!
No matter which method you use to estimate your puppy’s adult weight, remember — it’s just an estimate.
Surprises happen and some puppies end up much bigger or smaller than anyone expected them to be. The most important thing is to monitor your puppy’s growth and appearance and talk to your vet to adjust your pooch’s feeding as needed.
Why does predicted adult weight matter anyway?
Besides being fun to predict, expected adult weight may also help determine how much to feed your puppy, since some puppy foods use expected adult weight and current age as feeding guidelines.
Knowing how big your puppy will get can also help you plan ahead when purchasing things like collars, crates, or food dishes. It may even help you determine which breed is the best fit for your living space.
Puppy weight gain: How fast should my puppy grow?
In their first few weeks of life (when they’re still nursing, before you adopt them) puppies gain weight every single day, and typically double their weight in the first 1-2 weeks!
After that, growth rates depend on a lot of different factors. One important factor is breed. Small breed dogs reach their adult size sooner than medium or large breed dogs, since they have less growing to do. Small breeds usually reach adulthood size within 12 months or less, whereas giant breed dogs may grow for up to 2 years.
Nutrition, parasites, illnesses, surgeries, and other variables may also affect growth.
So, how do you ensure your puppy is growing at a healthy rate? Try these tips:
- Feed you pup puppy food, not adult food, since puppies and adult dogs have different nutritional needs. And if you have a large breed puppy, use a food specifically formulated for their unique growth needs (the food should be labeled for “large breed puppies”).
- Use the feeding guidelines on your puppy food as a starting point for how much to feed, and adjust over time as your buddy grows.
- Feed several small meals per day, rather than one big meal.
- Don’t add supplements or vitamins unless specifically instructed to do so by your vet. It’s possible to have “too much of a good thing,” and excesses of certain nutrients can lead to bone development problems.
- Monitor your pup. Their weight and body condition will be checked at each puppy visit, and you can always call your vet’s office with any questions between appointments.
SEE ALSO: When Does a Puppy Become a Dog?
Is an underweight puppy a cause for concern?
Some puppies may have growth spurts where they may look lanky and lean, and that’s okay, but it’s important to know what’s a normal weight and body shape for your puppy. Ask your vet if you have concerns or any notice changes — especially if an underweight appearance is accompanied by symptoms of illness.
Since puppies’s immune systems aren’t fully developed, they’re much more susceptible to parasites, viruses, and other infections than adult dogs are. And, they can become very ill quickly.
This is why it’s essential to visit your vet for puppy checkups and vaccines. They’ll be able to diagnose any underlying medical conditions that may cause your puppy to be underweight.
Can puppies be overweight?
Yes, this is possible. Common causes include overfeeding, overindulgence in treats or table scraps, a sedentary lifestyle, or changes in weight after a spay or neuter surgery. Being overweight as a youngster often translates to obesity in adulthood, and all of the associated health risks like arthritis, diabetes, or heart and lung conditions.
If you feel your puppy may be overweight, don’t restrict their puppy food right away, since they are still growing. Instead, talk to your vet about the best weight management plan for your pooch, and schedule frequent weight check-ins.