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Puppy Size, And Your Growing Puppy

Updated on January 27, 2012

One of the first questions that most new dog owners have is how big will my little bundle of joy end up being? While there are no hard and fast rules to determine the exact height and weight of an adult dog from what size he or she is as a puppy there are some cues and clues that owners can tap into.

Size Of The Puppy's Parents

Perhaps the single biggest factor in determining the size of the puppies at maturity is the size of the parents. If you are considering a hybrid, which is a cross between two distinct breeds of dogs, it is much less exact as to how big or small your dog will be. If you can see both parent dogs you have a good visual idea, especially if they are the same breed. Most purebred puppies will mature within the weight ranges for that specific breed of dog.

A good general option with cross bred or hybrid dogs is to take the maximum size of the breed of the two dogs as well as the minimum and get the average, then average the two. For example, if your puppy is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Toy Poodle, you can expect a mature weight that is between 15-30 pounds for the Cocker and 6-9 pounds for the Toy Poodle. The average weight of the Cocker is approximately 22 pounds and the average weight of the Toy Poodle is approximately 7.5 pounds. The average of 22 and 7.5 is just about 14.5 pounds, so you can expect your dog to be around 14.5 pounds. Of course this is just very general – no guarantees!

Big Dog? Small Dog?

Puppy Food and Nutrition

Puppies, just like any growing young living organism, need to have the best possible nutrition and food to ensure they will grow to be healthy and well developed adults. Often puppies are not fed a high quality puppy food or fed a natural diet such as a raw foods diet, which leads to decreased growth.

When puppies don't have proper nutrition they simply won't grow to their full potential or they may even have serious skeletal and muscular complications as they grow and mature. In giant breeds feeding too high a protein type of food can result in massive growth spurts that can actually weaken the muscles and joints, resulting in developmental problems from too rich of a diet. Talking with your vet and breeder as well as research different types of diets as well as feeding options is part of being a responsible owner, regardless of the size of your puppy.

the looser the skin the more the puppy will "grow into" it! (not applicable to Shar Pei's)

Exercise For Puppies

As with food and nutrition, exercise can either promote growth or it can limit growth. Puppies that are exercised too strenuously, especially the large breeds, can develop skeletal malformations and muscle and joint problems at a very early age.

Puppies that are under-exercised may be prone to obesity and lower growth rates since their bodies are not adequately developed through movement and exercise. Like with food, talking to your vet and your breeder is important to determine how much and what types of exercise are best for your growing puppy.

Making Puppy Size Predictions

There are several different old wives tales, myths and folk wisdom about how to tell how big a puppy will grow. Depending on the breed some or all of these may be very accurate, or they may simply be a fun exercise in predicting the future. Some of the common predictors include:

  • Loose skin on the back – the looser the skin the more the puppy will "grow into" it. This is not applicable to Shar Pei's, hound breeds or most of the Mastiff breeds, since they will have masses of loose skin all their lives.
  • Big Paws = Big Dogs – generally the larger the dog the wider and broader the paws will be, even from a young age. This has to do with weight disbursement through the legs and is really rather accurate. The paws contain the bones that mature the fastest, meaning that they typically stop growing by about 5 months on most breeds.
  • 8 weeks weight times 3 – this seems to work for small breeds but doesn't always run true to form with the larger breeds that often are slow to grow over the first few months.
  • Growth charts – by far the most scientific, most breeders have a set of growth charts that are developed over time with regards to puppy weights and mature dog weights. These only work if your puppy is of a single breed, it typically is inaccurate with hybrids or mixed breed dogs.

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    • profile image

      Melissa Valle 6 years ago


    • profile image

      BobBarker 7 years ago

      @nikki your a freaking fool for thinking the length of nails has anything to do with the dog growing, you realize you were just being lazy and not cutting your dogs nails. Please people keep your dogs nails short, they are not wild and do not require claws to hunt, if you don't your dogs has a lot more risks that your dog will injure it's self. Anything from walking to scratching is that much harder and painful for the dog.

    • profile image

      Nikki  7 years ago

      what about puppies nails if they have small nails they usually say that it will be a small dog and if they are big then they grow up as big dogs because i want to get a puppie that doesn't grow because i have a big female one ( suzzy ) and i remember that when she was a puppy she had very long nails and she was only about 3 weeks old ! and also the dog that i want is mixed with to breeds but the owner of the shop told me because it has small nails and it looks like a small one that it wont grow please answer i don't know want to do ????really wont a puppy that doesn't grow !

    • profile image

      Claire 7 years ago

      Ive Got A Little Golden Retriver Puppy Love Him To Bits My Little Bundle Of Joy! :) He Only 3 Months And Already Getting Big!

    • DogRemedy profile image

      DogRemedy 8 years ago from CA

      Very interesting article. Both my dogs are rescued and they were adults when we got them. My Maltese is not the average size and while he looks purebred, I always wonder if he is mixed with another breed.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      Cats vary an awful lot less, I think.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Oooh - not sure about cats sorry!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Interesting hub. I have friends who have 2 chorkies...don't think they will get that big :) Is there any way to predict how big cats will get?

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      Good one - my parents' border collie puppy is about 7 months old, massive already, and still growing. His Dad is huge, too (-:

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Big paws doesn't always mean big dogs, neither does loose skin, especially in dogs that have extra skin. Like you said those are just predictors that aren't always accurate. Even looking at the parents isn't an accurate estimation of how big a pup will be as an adult.