Anybody who gets a puppy is going to wonder how big it will be when it finishes growing.
The answer depends on its breed, which will also affect both its growth rate. As with cats, big breeds continue growing longer than do small breeds. A puppy from a small or medium-sized breed has pretty much reached its adult size by the time it’s nine or ten months old. By contrast, a puppy from a giant breed like a Great Dane may not finish growing until they’re three years old.
In most cases, a puppy will reach half of its adult weight by the time it is four months old. If it belongs to a giant breed, it will take five months for that puppy to reach the half-way point. By the age of six months, most puppies will be between 2/3 and ¾ of their adult weight. Again, the really big dogs are exceptions.
Can You Calculate How Big a Pup Will Get?
Yes, within limits. Some veterinarians use the following group of formulas to guesstimate a pup’s adult weight:
Toy or Small Breed – weight at 6 weeks x 4 = adult weight
Medium to Large Breed – weight at 14 weeks x 2.5 = adult weight
Large to Giant Breed – weight at 16 weeks x 2 = adult weight
Veterinarians also keep dog growth charts that indicate how big a pup or young dog of a specific breed should be at a given age.
”I’m Getting My Pup from a Breeder.”
In that case, ask the breeder to show you the pup’s parents. You can then see what the pup will look like as an adult and how big it will probably get. Size, to an extent, is genetically determined. Big dogs have big pups, while small dogs have small pups.
Gender also affects size; male dogs are typically larger than females. Health is another factor; a puppy with health problems could suffer from stunted growth. Neutering and spaying, if done early, can cause a dog to get bigger than average.
As with humans, a dog’s growth rate slows down once it reaches sexual maturity. Its body produces chemicals that tell the bones to stop growing. Early neutering or spaying slows down the production of those chemicals, so the dog continues growing. In addition, the dog’s energy is diverted away from sexual development and back to growth.
You can also ask the breeder how much the pup weighed at birth. A healthy pup’s weight should double during its first week. After that, they should gain about five to ten percent of their weight every day until they’re around six weeks old.
After a pup has reached six weeks, its breed will determine its growth rate. You could then use the veterinarians’ formulas mentioned earlier to estimate its adult size.
Size Categories for Dog Breeds
The American Kennel Club (AKC) maintains a website that contains information about the various dog breeds, including the average size of the adults. They group dogs by size into five different categories:
• Toy or extra-small: Two to nine pounds
• Small: Seven to 35 pounds
• Medium: 35 to 65 pounds
• Large: 55 to 85 pounds
• Giant or extra-large: 75 to 120+ pounds
The overlaps of some categories are likely due to the size differences between males and females. For example, the Akita, which is one of the giant breeds, shows a very marked size difference between males and females. The average female Akita weighs between 70 and 100 pounds, while the average male weighs between 100 and 130 pounds.
For the record, the AKC states that there are currently over 340 dog breeds in the world. The AKC recognizes 192 of them. By “recognize,” the AKC means that the owner of a dog belonging to such a breed can have their dog registered and compete for prizes in dog shows.
”I’m Getting a Labradoodle!”
A Labradoodle isn’t an actual breed, but a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle. According to the AKC, a Lab typically weighs between 55 and 75 pounds, while a standard poodle weighs between 45 and 70 pounds. In both breeds, the males are usually larger.
Labradoodles were bred in the first place because a breeder in Australia wanted a dog that combined the best features of both breeds: the friendliness and playfulness of the Labrador paired with the intelligence and hypoallergenic qualities of the poodle. In addition, while poodles don’t shed, Labradors can shed heavily.
A Labradoodle can grow to be anywhere from 45 to 75 pounds. It is thus a good idea to try to see the pup’s parents, for the pup will probably grow to be about the same size as the same-sex parent. Thus, a female pup will probably grow to be about the same size as her mother.
”My Puppy’s a Mutt.”
Mutts or mixed breeds are trickier –especially if the puppy was a stray, came from an animal shelter or had a similar background. There would have been no way to see the parents in any of those circumstances.
Again, male dogs typically grow larger than female dogs. In some cases, the mutt may have traits reminiscent of a specific breed. For example, it could have a coat that resembles that of a Labrador retriever. It could thus have Labrador ancestry and grow to be a similar size.
There are two physical features that can indicate that an adorable pup is a future giant: big paws and baggy skin. A pup’s paws grow faster than the rest of its body. If they seem disproportionately large, take warning, the pup has some serious growth in its future. Similarly, a pup with loose skin could become quite large as it grows into that skin.
There are a variety of methods to estimate a mutt puppy’s adult size. The simplest is simply weigh the pup when it is 14 weeks old and then double that amount. If the pup weighs 30 pounds, for example, it will grow into a 60-pound adult.
Some people plot growth curves. Pups have two growth spurts. They grow quickly during the first six months of their life. They have a second and slower growth phase between their eighth and fourteenth months.
A person plotting a growth curve can measure their dog’s weight and/or height at the withers, which is the area between the shoulder blades. The growth curve will form a noticeable bend when the animal has reached about 65 percent of its adult size and plateau or form a straight and horizontal line when it has finished growing.
When Should Somebody Get Their Dog Spayed or Neutered?
In the past, people used to get their dogs spayed or neutered when they were between six and nine months old. These days, vets will spay or neuter pups that are as young as eight weeks old, assuming they are large enough and healthy enough to undergo surgery.
Male dogs, depending on the breed, are now often neutered when they are around four months old. Veterinarians recommend having a female dog spayed before she has her first heat.
Neutering is a relatively straightforward procedure in which the vet removes the dog’s testicles. Spaying is somewhat more complicated, for the vet will have to make an incision in the dog’s abdomen to remove their ovaries and uterus.
Spaying and neutering provide multiple advantages for both the dogs and their owners. For example, altered dogs are generally less aggressive and better-behaved than are intact dogs. Intact male dogs will often run away from home if they smell a female in heat. They will also fight other males in order to mate with her.
Intact dogs of both sexes are vulnerable to cancers affecting the reproductive organs. Those risks are reduced or eliminated altogether by getting the dog spayed or neutered.
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Why Do Dogs Come in so Many Sizes and Look so Different?
As already mentioned, the various dog breeds vary widely in size. Some English Mastiffs can weigh well over 300 pounds. At the other end of the spectrum, toy dogs like Chihuahuas weigh only a few pounds and are the size of small cats. The various dog breeds also vary widely in appearance, particularly compared to the different cat breeds.
Dogs have a much longer history with humans than do cats. Researchers believe that dogs may have been domesticated as far back as 19,000 years ago, while people began domesticating cats around 10,000 years ago. Cats have two main functions, pest control and companionship, and they are already well-designed for both jobs.
On the other hand, humans have had dogs help them with a variety of tasks: hunting, herding, guarding, search and rescue, and transportation. Dachshunds, whose name means “badger hound,” were bred to pursue badgers underground, for example, while Great Danes were used in boar or bear hunts. German shepherds, which were originally bred to herd sheep, are often used in military and police operations.
Over the centuries, people bred dogs to have traits that would enable them to perform given tasks. By 4500 BC, about five different types of dogs had been developed: mastiffs, shepherds, pointers, greyhounds, and spitz-type dogs. The last type resembled wolves and was used in very cold climates to pull sleds or help hunters. They became the ancestors of dogs like huskies and malamutes. Greyhounds and pointers were used in hunting, while mastiffs served as guard dogs. Some cultures developed a sixth type of dog; they were generally small and were the pets of nobles or royalty.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret