When you first brought home your precious furry bundle of joy, you hoped that he’d stay that tiny and cute forever. But of course, puppies grow. It happens so imperceptibly that you barely even notice until one day your little boy has become a big boy, and you’re wondering where the time went.
For some owners of larger breeds, watching a puppy grow can be scary. You start to wonder just how big this dog is going to get. After all, a large breed dog equates to larger bills when it comes to everything from crates to dog beds and even food. The problem is even more confounding if you’ve adopted a mixed breed puppy. Shelter or rescue can staff can hazard a good guess as to the breeds behind your puppy, but it is just a guess at best. Short of doing a DNA test, you may never know your puppy’s heritage. As you watch him progress through different growth phases, it is easy to wonder when he’s actually going to be done growing!
Size does Matter
It is important to note that breed size does make a difference when it comes to growth. Different breeds mature at different rates. This means that there is no one set answer as to when your particular puppy may reach his adult conformation.
However, there are general guidelines observed for different breed sizes that we can use as a standard measurement for our puppies.
Here is a list of general growth expectancies for the various size breed groups:
Since small breeds, also known as toys, have far less growing to do than their larger counterparts, they often complete their growing cycle as early as 10 months of age. However, it is most common for small or toy breeds to reach complete maturity by 1 year. Among the breeds falling into this category would be Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pugs.
Small to medium breeds
Small to medium sized breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Jack Russell Terriers, and even Beagles, generally reach full maturity as early as 12 months or as late as 15 months. However, though a dog in this classification may reach their full height this young, it generally takes until 18 months for their weight to be a suitable complement for their overall size.
Medium to large breeds
The medium to large breed grouping is represented by breeds such as the Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, and Boxers. While this selection of breeds generally achieves their full height by age 18 months, their weight lags behind a little longer with the dog looking his best at a full 2 years of age.
Giant breeds stand in a class all of their own. Among the best known giant breeds are the Great Dane and the various types of Mastiffs. These dogs have the most growing to do in order to reach full maturity. Many of them require a full three years for them to reach their growth potential with it taking even longer for their weight to properly reflect their height.
Some variables to size of the dog
When trying to ascertain when a dog breed has reached its full growth potential, there are some things that we must bear in mind. First of all, all dogs are individuals. Because of this, they will grow at their own pace with some dogs in a litter maturing far earlier than others.
It is also important to note that simply because a puppy experiences rapid growth at a younger age does not necessarily mean that that dog will end up being oversized as an adult. Conversely, a slow grower in the early years may later catch up and even supersede his more predictable growing siblings. While patterns can be observed and reflect the norm, dogs are living, breathing beings, and sometimes they chart their own course entirely.
Also, within some litters there are dogs that grow to be oversized and some who never reach their full potential. Recognized breeds have breed standards which epitomize the “ideal.” Since most dogs were bred to perform jobs which assisted their owners, breed standards relate the ideal height, weight, and breed characteristic that specific breed would need to effectively do his job. So while you may end up with an overgrown Rhodesian Ridgeback here or there or an undersized Standard Poodle, this does not mean that your dog is any less healthy than his more average-sized littermates. A standard presents the perfect picture of the ideal dog for the job he was bred to do. There will be variations within every litter. Size does not necessarily equate to future health problems. However, in order to maintain the proper size for each breed and to prevent future genetic problems, oversize and undersize dogs should never be bred.
Estimating How Big your Puppy will be Fully Grown
To get a good idea of the approximate size your puppy will be when he reaches maturity, there are a few simple measures which can assist you with this.
Here is a list of guidelines:
Take a look at your puppy’s parents.
Your puppy is the perfect genetic by-product of the combining of two bloodlines. To best determine how large your puppy will grow to be, it is wise to take a look at the two dogs that produced him. Always bear in mind that a female dog will grow to be smaller than a male. Also, stud dogs typically produce male dogs that are slightly larger than themselves. If you happen to have a boy dog, look to this father and imagine a slightly larger version than him (though this is not always the case). For a female dog, her mother’s size is about the average that you can expect.
Consider your puppy’s paws.
The size of your puppy’s paws are an excellent indicator of his future size. Large paws generally indicate a dog on the larger end of the standard for the breed.
Double his size at 4 months (5 months for giant breeds).
This is not a hard and fast rule, and there is no scientific evidence to prove it; however, many dog experts claim that the size your dog is at 4 months then doubled is what you can expect in your adult dog. For giant breeds, the marker is moved to 5 months since their growth rate is much longer.
Realize that most puppies achieve their adult height by 6 months of age.
Though many puppies achieve their full height by 6 months of age, they are by no means finished growing. Growth plates are not fully closed at this young age and will not be for some time, particularly in large and giant breed dogs. But dogs still have much growing and “filling out” to do in the remaining puppy months and even years. Your dog’s height may well be established this young, but his girth, weight, and musculature will still need time to fully develop.
When is your puppy done growing? Look to the standard for your breed or ask your breeder to help you better understand what your dog will look like when fully grown. If you are the proud owner of a mixed breed, it is best to try to ascertain what breeds make up your dog’s genetic composition then research both breeds thoroughly to better understand what you can expect. No matter what; the puppy years are lots of fun, and you will enjoy every minute of them!