While everyone can agree that puppies are the cutest things on earth, the answer to “when do dogs stop growing” is going to have a wide range of answers. Depending on the breed of your dog, how it’s growing, and the food its eating can all affect the puppy’s growth rate. Just like people, dogs come in all shapes and sizes so even within the typical scale for the breed you might find that there’s a lot of room for the puppy to, well, grow!
One of the major deciding factors on the rate at which a dog will grow has to do with the size of the dog breed in general. Typically you’ll find that a smaller dog will reach full size in much more quickly than a larger dog. So, for example, if you have a Chihuahua, it could stop growing at around 9-10 months of age. However, a Great Dane might take between 18-24 months to real its final size.
Again as a general rule, smaller dogs will mature more quickly than a larger breed. You’ll find that their awareness of their surroundings and their grown-up sense of themselves and the world around them will come in much quicker if you’re talking about a Yorkie. This can make big dogs seem like they are puppies for longer, with all the joys and tribulations that can bring!
Puppies do develop at different speeds, but there are a few landmarks that are typical for every puppy to go through. From when they’re born until around three weeks of age, puppies will be vulnerable and should be kept by their mothers. Their eyes won’t open until they’re around two weeks of age, and even then they will have limited sight and be quite defenseless.
At this point, you’ll find that puppies are developing quickly. Their personalities are coming in as they interact with their littermates and what they see around them. Between three to six months your puppy will be entering their toddler phase, where they may chew on many things as their teeth come in, and they become more active, independent, and may challenge authority. From six to 12 months, your pup is a teenager - they’re growing into themselves a little awkwardly, and are at their most active and playful.
Unsurprisingly, the food that your dog is on is going to go some way to dictating the size that your dog is going to end up. Obviously, no matter how much you feed a small dog, it’s not going to grow into a giant, but you have to be just as mindful with not overfeeding a larger breed dog. Some studies have shown that if a larger breed puppy puts on too much weight too quickly, it can lead to issues like hip dysplasia and orthopedic issues later in life.
Exercise is also a great contributor to the size and shape that your dog will grow into being. This means being careful that you are giving them the right amount of the right kind of exercise. For instance, puppies may be harmed by extensive, prolonged jogs that put too much stress on the joints, and these could create issues later in life.
A little bit like when you have a trainer at the gym, it’s important to tailor your growing puppy’s exercise so that they get enough, but also don’t go through too much impact. If you’re uncertain what’s good for your dog, check in with your veterinarian so that you can keep them on low-impact exercise while their bones and joints are still growing.
One of the secrets to working out if your dog is done growing is to feel their ribs. A dog which is still growing will have little ‘knobs’ on their ribs from where the bones have not fully fused. It’s also worth checking with the breeder, if you have a purebred puppy, or your veterinarian, to check on the developmental stages. You can do this when checking in with boosters and vaccinations, and your vet can advise you the best steps to keep your little one healthy and growing well.
There are a few pointers you can look at to find out how big your puppy will get. If you have a purebred pup, you’ll find that looking at the sire and the dam is a great way to get a rough idea of how large your dog might get. Also, check with the breeder to get a feel of what might be typical - remember that depending on the breed, there can be a huge variety in both size, weight, and shape of a dog, while it still fits the “breed standard.”
Unlike a purebred, it’s much harder to tell the size your mixed breed puppy will get, as it depends on a huge variety of factors. While you can guesstimate the size, it’s never a guarantee that you’ll be 100 percent right. One way around this is to do a DNA test on your puppy - it won’t be able to guarantee the size of your dog, but it will give you an indicator of what dog breeds your puppy is a mix of, which can help you know what size to anticipate!
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