Every breed has a different ideal weight, and even that varies on your dog’s sex, level of activity, and age! It can be hard to keep them at a good weight, especially since that “ideal” seems to keep shifting. However, knowing how heavy your dog should be is essential for their health. Finding and maintaining your dog’s ideal weight can significantly extend your pet’s life.
A 14-year landmark study by Purina found that dogs who are fed to ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight litter mates! That’s a bonus of nearly 2 extra years of life — just for keeping your dog close to their ideal body weight.
So, where do you go to find your dog’s ideal weight?
Where Not to Look for a Dog’s Ideal Weight
Do not Google “how much should be <breed> dog weigh?” You’ll get an answer, but the weight varies by a significant amount. For example, The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention suggests a weight range for Labrador Retrievers of 65 to 80 pounds.
That’s a significant difference of nearly 23%! In other words, it means your dog could still be overweight, even if they weigh 80 pounds. There are so many things you need to consider, outside of their sex.
What If Your Dog Isn’t a Pure Breed?
Mixed breeds won’t weigh the same as their purebred counterparts. They could be healthy at a heavier or a lighter weight — it depends on your dog. Unfortunately, there’s no clear reference for every individual dog. Because dogs come in so many builds, shapes and sizes. It helps to do a doggy DNA test to know exactly what breed/breeds your dog is, but even that won’t give you a clear picture for their ideal weight.
Instead of looking at their genetics, look at their body.
How to ‘Weigh’ Your Dogs to Find their Ideal Weight
The very best way to determine your dog’s ideal weight is to use the same method as vets. While yes, they do weigh your dog using a scale, that’s not always how they determine if your pup is overweight. Most of the time, they will simply look at your dog and feel their ribs, stomach, and abdomen.
The ideal weight looks like this: you can find their ribs easily, without them sticking out too much. You can see their wasit from above and see a tuck in their abdomen. They shouldn’t look so skinny that you can see their bones, and they shouldn’t be too round either. It’s really that simple!
How Heavy Should My Puppy Be?
Puppies are a different story. They grow so quickly, so it can seem impossible to know if they’re a healthy pudge, or if they’re a chunky puppy. For example, a great dane puppy grows very quickly — they could be a chunky sausage one day and then a lanky “nothing but legs” pup the next. On the flip side, a yorkie puppy is going to look chunkier and need to have their food intake adjusted on a weekly basis until they’re an adult, simply because they’re a toy breed.
When you have a puppy, always check in with their vet about their weight and diet. It will change a lot as they’re growing, so it’s best to be on top of it so they don’t have to work off a few pounds in adulthood!
The added weight could also be detrimental to their growth, especially with larger breeds. St. Bernards, in particular, grow very quickly and they need to be at a healthy weight while their muscles are being strained.
Other factors that influence the adult’s size include:
- Gender: Male dogs tend to be bigger than females
- Age at desexing: Early neutering tends to make dogs taller
Guesstimating your Puppy’s Adult Size
There is less guesswork when you have a purebred pup because you have the parents as a guide. Hopefully, you saw the mother dog, and so have an idea of her size. But what if you rescued a pup and never saw his parents?
A lot of pet parents judge how big their puppy will be by the size of their paws. The larger the paws, the more growing they will do! This is a good rule of thumb, but it’s not uncommon for dogs to never grow into their paws, so trust your vet!
Predicting Their Ideal Adult Weight
Here are a couple rules to predict your puppy’s adult weight.
For small breeds, the first clue to what they’ll weigh as an adult comes at 6 weeks of age. Simply take their six-week weight, double it, and then double it again. For example, 1 lb. a puppy at six weeks old will weigh around 4 lbs. as an adult.
Medium and Large Breeds
Their weight at 14 weeks old is their predictor. To work it out you double the pup’s 14 week age and then add on half of the original 14-week weight. For example, a 20 lbs. puppy at 14 weeks is predicted to weigh 20 lbs + 20 lbs + 10 lbs, which adds up to 50 lbs.
If you got your dog when they were older, don’t worry! Their 6-month old weight is a good predictor too. It should be around 2/3s of their expected adult weight.
If you have a giant breed, all bets are off! Those pups can weigh well over 100 lbs, so it depends on their breed, gender, level of exercise, and age. For their ideal weight, ask your vet.
If you suspect your dog is underweight or overweight, we recommend talking with your vet to discuss a diet change first. They’ll know what is best for your pup!