If you’ve recently gotten a puppy, you might be wondering when it might finally stop growing! After purchasing an array of puppy equipment like crates and puppy pads, you might be worried that they’ll outgrow them way too soon.
Some days our puppies seem like they’re growing so fast, while other days, they look like they might never stop growing. Here is a complete guide to everything you need to know about your new puppy’s growth rate.
A puppy’s growth rate depends on their dog breed and how big they’ll be as adults. Larger dogs are going to grow faster than smaller dogs. Chihuahuas only need to gain a few pounds before they hit their adult size, while Great Danes have to gain dozens.
Some smaller dogs will be pretty much full grown at one-year-old, while giant breeds will take nearly two years. Medium breeds will grow for some amount of time in the middle.
If you have a pure breed puppy, you can find out when they’ll likely reach full size from their breeder or a quality online source, like the AKC. Often, you can even find a puppy growth chart online for individual purebred dogs. Vets will often have these charts available as well.
For mixed breeds, things are a little bit more complicated. You can’t tell when a mixed breed will stop growing, especially if you don’t know exactly what breeds they are a mix of. Sometimes, veterinarians will be able to give you a range based on your puppy’s current size and age. However, there is no way to know for sure.
There are a few different factors that can affect your dog’s growth. While smaller breeds are always going to be small and bigger breeds are always going to be big, their exact size can differ based on things like nutrition and genetics.
Without proper nutrition, our puppies aren’t going to grow appropriately. Young dogs have unique nutritional needs until their skeleton stops growing. Of course, when this exactly happens depends on the breed. It will take large breed dogs much longer to grow than a dog belonging to one of the small breeds.
Everything your puppy eats affects their growth. However, getting enough food, protein intake, and absorbing enough calcium are three of the most critical factors. Dogs should also not be fed too much food, as this can cause them to grow more rapidly and potentially lead to problems like obesity and skeletal abnormalities.
Over-nutrition can be a severe problem for some canines, especially in large dogs and those that are already prone to hip dysplasia and similar disorders. Many puppies appear insatiable, which can encourage their owners to feed them too much.
Of course, genetics plays a significant role in growth. Certain breeds are going to grow to specific sizes because of their genetics. You are never going to find a Mastiff-sized Shih Tzu – it just isn’t possible.
With that said, though, genetics can differ even within breeds. Some Collies and Retrievers are larger than others because of genetics, for example. If your puppy’s parents were larger than average, your puppy probably will be too.
Where you will see the most significant genetical difference within dog breed is between “show” strains and “working” strains. In other words, some dogs were bred for the show ring and to hit specific set breed standards. Others were bred to work in the field. Typically speaking, working strain dogs tend to be more average in size. A working strain German Shepherd will likely be smaller than a show strain Mastiff, for example.
In general, we recommend owners get a working strain dog, as these dogs tend to have less growth and health problems than other canines, especially in larger breeds.
Spaying or neutering your dog before they are done growing can affect their overall growth. This is particularly evident in male dogs.
When you neuter a male canine, you reduce the amount of testosterone his body creates. This will often affect their behavior, making them less likely to mark around the house and try to exert their dominance on other dogs.
However, this can also affect how their growth plates function. Dogs who have less testosterone usually grow for longer than those with more testosterone. This results in a dog that is a little taller.
Neutering your dog is a complex decision, but you should consider growth as a factor when considering when to have the surgery done.
Growing dogs need the best high-quality foods to grow correctly. Their foods should be full of protein and fats, with few carbohydrates. Protein should be around 35% on a dry-matter basis, with carbs as little as possible.
Their food should be void of dangerous ingredients like peas. Preferably, the first few ingredients should be from a quality meat source, like chicken or beef. Things like buffalo and kangaroo should be avoided because they do not necessarily contain the amino acids dogs need to remain healthy.
Once your dog stops growing, switch to a quality adult dog food.
There is only one way to tell if your pooch is done growing or not. If your dog hasn’t gained weight in the last month or so but is still a healthy size, he has likely stopped growing. You can also take into account how old your dog is and how many months of age old his breed typically is before they stop growing.
You can also compare their current weight to the adult weight of their breed.
You should be able to fill your dog’s ribs but not see them. If you can see your dog’s ribs, it means he is underweight. In these cases, he might still be growing but isn’t gaining enough weight to make it apparent.
When a dog stops growing, they will maintain a healthy body composition but stop gaining weight.
It isn’t uncommon to want to know how big your dog is going to get. However, no one can tell you for sure when your dog will stop growing.
By providing proper nutrition for your puppy, you can ensure that they grow at the rate they are genetically designed to.