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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

When Does Your Dog Stop Growing?

By Bridget Reed /

13
Jan

When you’re watching your new puppy turn into a dog, it sometimes feels like they’re growing before your very eyes. The days fly by until your little bundle of joy is a lean, coordinated adult. In your mind, they might always be in clumsy puppyhood, but they can’t stay there forever.

At some point, your dog will stop growing, but you might not know how to tell when they’re done. Even within the same breed, there is a range of possible sizes, and some dogs take longer to develop than you might expect. 

You’ll want to wait for them to finish growing before you switch them to adult dog food, and you may want to hold off on spaying or neutering them until they’ve reached their final size. For these reasons, knowing when your dog will be fully grown is important.

If you’re unsure how to figure it out, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll help you discover what your dog’s natural growth process should look like, how to tell if anything is stunting their growth, and when your pup will reach their full size.

How Fast Will My Dog Grow?

Your dog’s growth depends on a range of different factors. Because every pup is different, any number you’ll receive is only an estimate depending on your dog’s breed. Different breeds tend to mature at different rates. 

Your veterinarian is an excellent resource if you want a more precise answer. They’ll be able to examine your dog, take specific measurements, and sometimes even use an x-ray to determine if your dog’s growth plates have closed.

If you have a mixed breed dog, this can be especially helpful since there won’t be any exact growth charts available for your pup. However, even if you have a purebred dog, you can’t guarantee that your pup will follow the same pattern as other dogs of the same breed.

The rate of your dog’s development can be affected by several other variables. Genetics is one major component. Giant breed dogs may birth litters that take a long time to reach their adult weight and stand a little taller than average. 

If you’re familiar with your dog’s parents, you can already guess how your dog might turn out. If your dog is purebred, you can ask their breeder for a reference on their final size. However, none of these are guaranteed to give you a solid answer on your dog’s growth since your dog may simply fall outside the norm.

For large breed puppies, neutering or spaying may have a small outcome on their final size. Dogs neutered before one year of age usually experience a little more growth, ranging from millimeters on smaller breeds to centimeters on larger breeds.

What Causes Stunted Growth in Puppies?

Unfortunately, your dog can experience stunted growth in the first few months of life. Stunted growth can slow your dog’s development, stretching their development or even delaying it entirely. Many factors can contribute to stunted growth, including genetics and severe malnutrition.

However, most dogs will not experience significantly delayed growth unless they have a parasite infection. The most common cause of stunted growth in puppies is worms, like roundworm or hookworm

In the United States, many puppies contract these parasites from their environment or mother. They’re especially vulnerable due to their young age.

When dealing with a heavy worm infestation, puppies may lose too many calories to grow properly. These issues can stunt their growth, causing general discomfort and malnutrition. 

If your puppy has a worm infestation, you may notice their growth has slowed down or stopped. They may also experience stomach issues and appear extremely skinny with a large belly.

Intestinal worms will often remain in your puppy’s body unless you treat the condition, so it’s important to respond quickly and get your puppy to the vet.

Treating worms isn’t too difficult, and your vet will give you the information and medication you need to deworm your puppy. Once the worms are gone, your puppy will be able to heal and grow into a healthy adult dog.

You may have heard that over-exercising your puppy can cause growth issues and stunt their development. While this isn’t the case, there are other health impacts to over-exercising your pup, especially while they’re still growing.

If you take your puppy running or jogging frequently, the repetitive impact of their feet on the ground may eventually cause damage to their growth plates. In turn, those bones might develop abnormally and create other issues down the line.

This problem mostly affects larger puppies due to their increased weight and the strain it places on their skeletal system. If you’d like to go jogging with a larger dog, we recommend waiting until they’re 15 months old before you take them with you. Waiting will allow their bones enough time to develop fully.

When Will My Dog Finish Growing?

If your dog gets the nutrition and exercise they need, you’ll watch them grow rapidly until they reach adulthood. Many dogs will double their weight between the first eight and 12 weeks of their lives.

While it takes humans many years to reach maturity, most dogs will mature within a year or two. However, there are some exceptions, depending on their breed and genetics. 

We’ll cover the most common growth expectations for each size of dog breed below. However, if your dog is a mixed breed, they may fall between two categories. When in doubt, you should ask your vet for a better estimate of your dog’s development.

Giant Breeds

Giant breeds are enormous canines, often towering over small children and other animals. They include breeds such as the Mastiff, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, and Newfoundland. These majestic dogs take a while to grow up, so you should expect to buy a lot of puppy food in the meantime.

These dogs can reach maturity when they’re anywhere between 18 and 24 months old, but they might not reach their full weight until three years of age. However, you can rest assured knowing they won’t be getting any taller after the first two years. Instead, their frame will gradually fill out as they become less lanky.

Large Breeds

Plenty of big dogs fall into the large breed category. Large breed dogs are breeds that reach 50 pounds or more by adulthood. These include popular breeds such as the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Border Collie. 

They’re often friendly, playful, and energetic, and their large size means they can take a while to grow up. If you have a large breed dog, expect their development to take a while. 

Those on the smaller side may finish growing by 12 months, but others will take up to 18 months to reach their full size.

Medium Breeds

Medium breed dogs include familiar dogs such as the American Foxhound, Beagle, and Bulldog. Medium breeds probably have the greatest variation in their growth rates. 

Those slightly larger might take 12 to 15 months to develop into adult dogs, while those on the small end may finish growing in less than a year.

Small Breeds

Small breeds are adorable, easy to transport, and often prefer a more laid-back lifestyle to constant activity. The small breeds include iconic dogs such as the Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, Cairn Terrier, and Dachshund. They make great apartment dogs and are always excited to spend a day by your side.

These dogs can grow up extremely fast when compared to their larger counterparts. Some especially tiny dogs may reach full size within eight months, though most will finish growing between 10 months and one year of age. 

When Should I Switch From Puppy Food to Adult Dog Food?

As your dog grows, it’s important to switch their nutrition to match their changing needs. Picking an age-appropriate food is critical at every point in your pup’s life, but it’s especially vital during their first year.

You should always feed your puppy healthy, nutritionally balanced puppy food. We recommend our Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe, which has the high-quality protein, calcium, and phosphorus required for muscle and bone growth. With salmon oil to support brain development and vitamins for immune support, you can be sure your pup is getting all the ingredients they need to flourish.

Using the guidelines above, you can keep track of your puppy’s growth and note when they finish developing. As your young dog transitions into adulthood, you can meet them halfway with delicious maintenance food to keep them healthy.

Finding the right dog food isn’t always easy, so we’ve designed a full line of dog food recipes for every age and breed. Our foods are free of GMO ingredients, artificial preservatives, and chicken by-product meals, so you can confidently pick any of our delicious recipes. Use our handy store locator to find a store carrying Optimeal® near you, or order your dog food online for maximum convenience.

By supporting your dog with healthy, tasty food, you’ll be giving them the resources they need as they finish growing and start their life as an adult dog by your side.

Watching Your Dog Grow Up

As new pet parents, you may be both happy and sad to see your pup grow bigger and stronger. 

They may not return to the sweet, roly-poly puppy they once were, but you’ll be rewarded with a loyal and smart companion who will gladly accompany you on every adventure. In our opinion, raising a great dog is the best treat of all.

 

Sources:

At What Age Do Dogs Stop Growing? | PetMD

Puppy Growth Chart: When Does My Puppy Finish Growing? | American Kennel Club

What Causes a Puppy to Stop Growing? | PetMD

Dog Nutrition Tips | ASPCA

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