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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

When Is a Puppy Considered an Adult Dog?

By Bridget Reed


Your puppy is an adorable bundle of fur, whether they’re tearing through the house or crashing on the floor for a long nap. While the puppy days might seem endless, eventually, your puppy will grow up. 

As they age, you’ll have the unique privilege of watching their personality and behavior evolve. It’s not always an easy journey, but it’s certainly rewarding.

Raising a growing dog comes with unique challenges, and it’s best to be prepared. However, you might have trouble figuring out when your pup is ready for adult food, crate training, or other important milestones. 

While the answers vary depending on your pup, we’re here to help. Continue reading to find out when your sweet puppy will grow up into an adult dog and how you can support them every step of the way.

When Will My Puppy Grow Up?

If you’re researching the growth and development of your puppy, you probably want to know when your pup will become an adult dog.

No answer applies to every dog, but in many situations, you can count on your dog being a fully-grown adult by the time they reach 12 months of age. At this point, dog insurance will consider your pup an official adult. Your dog will also usually be ready for the switch to adult dog food and can be spayed or neutered if you haven’t done so already.

However, this is only a general answer. Your dog might grow much faster or slower than anticipated. As they mature, you’ll see their breed characteristics shine through in their rate of growth, development, and energy levels. 

Depending on their breed, your dog may start teething earlier, need more daily meals, or receive important vaccinations at different times. Let’s take a look at how different breeds develop into adult dogs.

Smaller Breeds

Smaller and medium-breed dogs reach full adulthood much faster than their larger counterparts. After all, they have less growing to do.

If you have a small breed puppy, you can expect them to reach their adult size around six to eight months. Medium breed dogs can sometimes reach eight to 12 months before they finish growing.

While your toy breed might seem to grow up in the blink of an eye, those puppy months are critical to their health and development into an adult dog. For this reason, we recommend choosing nutritious and balanced puppy food to support their first few months of life.

At Optimeal®, we’ve created multiple puppy food recipes to encourage healthy growth, including our Lamb & Rice Recipe for Puppy Toy Breeds. Our Immunity Support recipes combine high levels of protein with berries, natural herbs, and prebiotic FOS to give your toy breed puppy what they need.By picking a food designed to fit your pup’s unique needs, you’ll give them everything they need for healthy brain and body development.

Larger Breeds

Larger breeds aren’t as swift to reach their adult size since they need plenty of time to grow strong bones and muscles to support their larger frames. They might need to continue eating puppy food until their growth plates seal and they stop growing.

Some large dogs will reach maturity around one year, while others will take even longer. Your giant breed puppy might need more than 18 months to finish growing. Depending on their final adult size, it could be nearly two years before your pup fully develops.

When Can I Start Training My Puppy?

We have some good news — you can start training your puppy today! It’s best to start training early so they can adapt quickly. If you wait, they might develop ingrained behaviors that will take much longer to address.

While there are some tricks your dog won’t be able to master until they’re fully grown, there’s no reason to delay basic training. House training is a great place to start, and you can introduce your puppy to the concept as soon as you bring them home. 

While young puppies might not be able to control their bladders very well, you can help by giving them outside time after every meal and the opportunity to use the bathroom after waking up. 

Make sure to reward them with a treat when they go outside. After a couple of weeks, your puppy will start to get the hang of the routine, and the number of accidents should decrease as they grow.

When your puppy is seven or eight weeks old, you can begin giving them basic verbal commands, such as “sit” or “come.” It’s important to use treats and plenty of positive reinforcement to provide them with the motivation to learn new commands.

Crate training can start around ten weeks, though you should first keep the crate intervals short. Make sure your pup’s crate is a safe, comforting place for them to sleep, and start by closing the door and leaving them alone for ten minutes. Reward them and slowly increase the time spent inside the crate as they get used to it.

You can start leash-training your puppy around this time. Associate the collar and leash with plenty of treats and affection, and your puppy will be much happier to wear them. 

It’s important to start your leash training indoors until your puppy is fully vaccinated. Once they have the necessary vaccines, they’ll be able to walk along public paths and meet other dogs safely.

What Kind of Food Does My Puppy Need?

Immediately after birth, your puppy needs their mother’s milk to keep them healthy and sustained. However, that won’t last long. Most puppies are weaned around three to four weeks old and can switch to a puppy food diet around eight weeks.

Your puppy should get a diet high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and other important minerals and vitamins. These key ingredients are vital in ensuring they grow and develop properly. If you have a large breed puppy (over 50 pounds in adulthood), finding a large-breed specific formula will ensure they grow at a healthy rate. 

Puppies have much higher energy needs than adults due to their time running, playing, and exploring. As a result, puppy food should be packed with nutrients. Feeding your puppy adult dog food might not give enough calories to sustain their energy and vitality.

You should always stick to puppy food until your dog is fully grown. Fortunately, there are plenty of good puppy foods available. The key is finding a recipe with meat protein as a first ingredient, plenty of fatty acids to support brain development, and a variety of vitamins and minerals that benefit your pup’s immune system.

We recommend our Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe for Puppies since it’s formulated to keep your puppy happy and healthy until they reach adulthood. Like all Optimeal® recipes, it contains no artificial preservatives. It’s also free of cheap fillers like corn, soy, and wheat, so you can be sure your puppy is getting the high-quality ingredients they need to thrive.

By picking a healthy recipe for your pup, you’ll give them the nutrients they need to support their wellness and growth. Your puppy’s first year is a crucial time that sets the stage for their adult life, so it’s essential to give them every advantage possible, from their food bowl to their daily routine.

When Can My Puppy Start Eating Adult Food?

You might find that taking care of your dog becomes much easier as they grow into an intelligent, loyal companion. Still, it’s impossible to remember their puppy days without a pang of nostalgia. Eventually, though, your little dog will be all grown up.

As they become a young adult, you’ll have to consider switching them to a new adult maintenance food. Adult food will fulfill their nutrition needs and give them the optimal ingredients to stay energized, happy, and well.

Once they reach adulthood, your dog doesn’t need the number of calories found in puppy food, and in some cases, the high quantities of vitamins and minerals can cause health problems. If you stick with puppy food for too long, your adult dog might become overweight, potentially leading to many other issues.

If you’re wondering when to switch to adult dog food, the answer depends on your dog’s breed. Generally, you should wait for their growth plates to seal, but that might be hard to know. Keep an eye on when your puppy reaches their estimated adult weight, and consult your vet if you have any questions about their growth.

Once your dog is a fully-grown young adult, you can slowly transfer their food to a breed-appropriate adult diet. We recommend checking our collection of dog food recipes, which includes a variety of wet and dry foods for every breed of dog. 

Our recipes contain no chicken or poultry by-product meals and no GMO ingredients — instead, we rely on high-quality animal proteins and vitamins to support your dog’s immune system and overall health.

Raising Your Puppy

The best way to raise a healthy, happy dog is to give them everything they need to succeed. That means feeding them an age-appropriate and nutritious diet, giving them plenty of daily exercise, and training them from an early age.

Taking care of your puppy can be difficult, but it’s also immensely satisfying. You can watch with pride as your uncoordinated fuzzball grows into a confident, well-behaved adult dog, but you’ll never forget the puppy they once were.



Puppy to Dog: Your Pet's Life Stages | Pet WebMD

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

Basic Puppy Training Timeline: How and When to Start | PetMD

Puppy Development From 8 to 12 Weeks | The Spruce Pets

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