When most people adopt their furry best friend, they do so when they are just puppies. Over time, you may look at your grown pup and think, where did the time go? Just as a child grows up gradually, so does a puppy. However, this project doesn’t always feel gradual. Not all dogs mark the passing of time in the same manner. So how can we tell if our pet is growing up in a way that conveys the fact that they are healthy and on target?
The fact that so many breeds are mixed together can result in a plethora of answers when it comes to searching for answers about your dog’s health. As a general rule of thumb, most dogs are fully grown at the age of one year old. This is when they relinquish their title of being a puppy and enter into adulthood. This is a short, easy answer to an otherwise complicated question.
Next, we’ll take a deeper look at the specific details concerning the growth of different types of dogs. This will help you to discern whether or not your dog is on the right track as far as being healthy and growing at an appropriate rate.
What can affect your dog’s rate of growth?
- The type of breed of your dog
- Their genetic makeup
- Your dog’s diet
- The age that they become spayed or neutered
- The gender of your dog
The Difference Between Smaller Breeds and Larger Breeds
It may come as no surprise to you that smaller breeds usually finish growing before their larger counterparts. In fact, smaller breeds typically stop growing at anywhere from six to eight months while their larger friends continue to grow until approximately twelve to eighteen months.
How exactly can we distinguish between a smaller breed and a larger breed? A small breed is considered to be less than twenty pounds while a large breed rests between sixty-five and one hundred and twenty pounds.
Any type of dog in between these measurements is considered a medium-sized dog. An example of a small-sized dog is a beagle while an example of a medium to large-sized dog the famous Labrador. Of course, your dog may fall into an even larger category. This class of dogs involves the well-known Great Dane.
If a dog is a purebred, it is simple to figure out their rate of growth. Each breed of dog has their own measurements that will determine whether or not they are on track as far as growing properly goes. By having only one breed of dog to look at, the measurements are fairly cut and dry.
How Can You Track the Growth Rate of Mixed Breeds?
The problem with tracking the growth rate of mixed breeds is that it can be difficult to tell how much percentage of each breed that dog consists of. Because of this factor, it is important to try to establish which breed is the majority of makeup of the dog’s genetic file.
This can sometimes be done by looking at the fur coat of your dog.
From this action, you may be able to determine which breed is predominate in your mixed puppy. If this tip proves to be unhelpful, you can always take them into your vet and have them try to decipher how much of each breed is within your puppy’s genes. This can even be a difficult task for your vet. However, you will want to use as many resources as you can to determine the breeds involved in your mixed puppy. This will give you at least some sort of indication as to what the measurements of your dog should look like.
Another way to determine the approximate size that your puppy will grow is by looking at the general structure of their bones. Are they finer in appearance than most other dogs? Then chances are that your dog will grow up to be a smaller sized dog. Consequently, your dog has a higher probability to take a shorter amount of time growing to be an adult.
On the other hand, if you notice that your dog has bones that are thicker in size, then there is a greater possibility that your puppy will grow to be a large dog. Also, they will most likely take longer to mature than dogs that have smaller bone structures. This is due, in part, to the wider expanse between their growth plates, which will take more time to close than dogs that have bones that contain smaller growth plates.
It’s a Girl!
Does the gender of your pup make a difference in their rate of growth? It can! In general, females tend to grow up to be smaller than males of the same breed. They are typically smaller in both length and in how much they weigh. The differences between the sizes of females and males are more apparent in the larger breeds than they are in the smaller breeds.
When it comes to mixed breeds, the equation becomes even trickier to delve into. Because genetics play a huge part in determining the size of each puppy in the litter, it is possible that each puppy could grow to be a different size. This is when it may be useful to look at your puppy’s fur coat in order to determine which parent your pup is more likely to resemble. Thank goodness there are multiple ways to determine the probable size of your dog.
What if My Dog Has been Spayed or Neutered?
Most dog owners do end up taking their dog in to eventually become spayed or neutered. What, if anything, does this have to do with their rate of growth? While this may not produce a noticeable difference, there is a possibility for effects in growth to take place because of this. Getting this procedure done at too early of an age can potentially slow down the growth rate for your puppy. While it may slow down the rate, it will take longer overall for your puppy to finish growing.
The reason behind this is that when puppies are spayed or neutered too early on, they will not completely have the sex hormones that are connected to growth. Therefore, the hormones that are left will not adequately signal to the body that growth is supposed to end. They may stop growing at a later age than usual because of this. While this may look okay on a surface level, because at least your dog is still growing, it could cause problems for them in the future.
Be sure to talk with your vet about the best age to get your dog fixed. There may not be a way to completely prevent complications in growth from occurring, but you will want to take any opportunity to improve their growth rate if you can. Waiting until your pup is at least nine months or older to get this procedure done can take away the possibility of their rate of growth being affected.
If you do choose to spay or neuter your dog, make sure that you monitor their weight. This is a factor that should not change based on this process. If you do notice that there is a significant shift in their weight after this procedure, take them to your vet. This is an indication of a deeper issue taking place.
Look at the Footprint they Leave
Every small pup is sure to leave footprints behind them. While this may cause uncleanliness and frustration during the moment, they could serve as a clue. Some puppies have huge paws that may look like they are fit for a bigger dog. This could possibly be because they are waiting to grow into the adult size that they are meant to be. Other puppies may have small paws that seem to fit them just perfectly at the moment.
Their paws could be smaller, indicating that they will stay that way, even when they enter into adulthood. This method, however, is not always entirely accurate. This just provides a quick way to enable you to estimate the general size that your puppy will be when they become an adult.
How Do Dogs Grow?
Dogs grow in size by not one, but two places located within their bones. These spaces that allow growth are on either side of the bone. These gaps that allow the bones to stretch outward are called growth plates. Each dog has a certain amount of space that the bone is allowed to cover. As soon as these growth plates run out of room for the bone to expand, or as soon as the growth plate closes, the bone has finished growing. The differences in growth plates between dogs can account for the differences in growth rates.
Is it Important to Monitor your Dog’s Growth?
We have been discussing the various ways to determine how to discover what your puppy’s measurements should be when they approach adulthood. But why is this important? Is this topic even important?
Learning about the topic of how your puppy is supposed to grow will calm more than just your curiosity. This topic is important to learn about because you can use this information to partially determine how healthy your dog is. If you discover or even suspect that your dog is lagging behind when it comes to his growth, take him into the vet immediately.
It might turn out that your dog is just growing at a slower rate than most, and there is nothing to be concerned about. However, you may also prevent further problems from occurring, simply because you took them to the vet and realized that something was “off” about their rate of growth.
What may seem like a surface level complication could turn into something bigger if not treated properly. Through the process of learning what your dog’s growth rate should look like, you can have a greater capability for keeping their health in check. On a similar note, puppies can exhibit problems when they appear to be growing at too quickly of a pace.
This may cause them distress on their bones in the future. It may be wise to take your puppy into the vet for regular checkups. Even when you feel as though your dog is growing properly, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion.
Is My Dog Hitting Their Milestones?
While we have gone over some information pertaining to the age and growth of your pup, it is also important to be aware of certain milestones that they should be achieving. While every dog is slightly different from one another in this aspect, there is a general consensus on when your dog should be hitting certain growth marks.
One of the very first milestones that you should see in your pup if you’ve had him since birth is the opening of his eyes. This process can be both awkward and cute, as both eyes may open up at slightly separate times. This adorable awakening of their eyes occurs at just two weeks old. Their eyes should open up gradually, beginning from the corners and finally opening completely to reveal their beautiful begging eyes.
Only one week after puppies hit their first major milestone, it is time for their second milestone to enter in. During their third week of life, they are able to start standing on their somewhat unstable legs. By the end of this week, they will be able to not only stand up, but they will also be able to walk to some extent.
Whenever we think of a dog making noise, we either imagine them getting into something they shouldn’t be involved in, or we picture them barking. While barking appears second nature to all dogs, they do not come out of the womb making these noises.
In fact, puppies that have just been born are silent for the most part. It isn’t until the second or third week of the puppies life that you will begin to hear actual dog sounds escalating from their tiny mouths. After that, you won’t hear a full bark until they are about eight to ten weeks old.
Their Diet Matters
In the same way that the diet of a child can challenge their rate of growth, what we allow to enter a dog’s mouth can affect the way that he grows as well. Balance is part of the key to enabling a dog to maintain their health. If you feed a dog less than what they need to thrive, then they will be malnourished. If you over feed them, this can allow for complications in health as well. However, feeding dog’s a healthy diet consists of more than just portioning out their food and giving them the proper amount of it. Exactly what they eat is as important as how much they eat. Meat, for instance, is an essential part of a dog’s diet.
How You Feed Your Puppy Matters
Studies have been done that indicate that even how you feed your puppy can have a serious impact on them. While the results may have been more correlational rather than causative, they are still very telling. One scientific study compared two different groups of dogs. Each group of dogs was given food in a different manner.
One group of dogs was allowed to eat constantly. In other words, there were no restrictions on their food intake and they had access to their food all of the time throughout the day. The other group of dogs had their food monitored. Therefore, this latter group of dogs had been taught to be disciplined when it came to their food intake.
As you might have inferred, the first group of dogs showed more problems in their joints as they got older than the second group of dogs. This is not to say that this was directly and solely related to how the dogs were fed. However, this does indicate that how you feed you dog does have a part to play in their overall health.
Is My Puppy an Adult Yet?
As alluded to earlier in this article, there are multiple ways to determine when your puppy is no longer a puppy and has finally reached adulthood. The physical manner in which your puppy grows is a big determining factor in this equation. In order for a puppy to be considered a mature adult, they must be grown up physically.
Better yet, they must exhibit signs of being physically healthy in order to be a fully mature adult. Their ribs should not be seen but can be felt. This will serve as a sign that your pup is healthy, physically. Either extreme is not a good sign. In other words, if you cannot feel the ribs at all, there is a chance that your puppy is being overfed.
If your puppy has ribs that are all too visible, your puppy may not be getting the proper nutrients that they need in order reach full maturation. Having a healthy balance is a good sign that your dog is well on its way to reaching a mature state of maturation.
Another aspect of maturation that dogs have the capability of achieving is that of sexual maturation. Amazingly, a puppy can be considered sexual mature at the young age of six months old. For female dogs, this means that they have entered into their first heat, although this can certainly happen at a later age as well.
For male dogs, this means that they become interested in the process of breeding with females. However, just because both male and female dogs can be considered sexually mature at such a young age, this does not mean that breeding should be encouraged during this time.
More often, both genders become sexually mature closer to their first year of life. This can still be considered a young age for them to breed. If you have in mind to breed your dog, wait until they are well past the age when they are considered to be sexually mature. This can possibly prevent any harm that may come to the dogs from breeding too early on.
One more characteristic of maturation that all dogs need to reach is that of mental maturation. Even after one full year of growth, your dog can still act like a little puppy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is very common to see puppy-like qualities being exhibited from a dog that has reached maturation in almost every other area.
While part of their actions may be due to your puppy’s personality, part of their actions may be due to the fact that they still have time to grow into a full sense of mental maturity. In fact, most dogs are not completely mentally mature until they are at least two years old.
Can You Increase Their Rate of Growth?
There may be some instances that will cause you to want to increase your puppy’s rate of growth rapidly. Just because it is possible, is it a recommended thing to do? If your puppy is already growing at a typical rate, then there is no need to attempt to increase their rate of growth.
This is especially true if you are trying to make them grow faster by feeding them more food. This method may be counterproductive, as it can cause them to become overweight, which may cause other problems as well. However, it may be beneficial to feed them more food if they are underweight for their age. This may be able to help them to catch up to the weight that they are supposed to be at that age.
After they reach the typical weight for their breed and age, make sure to adjust the amount of food they eat yet again, so that they will end up being overfed. In general, it is best to allow your dog to grow at their normal rate of growth. Attempting to speed up their growth when it is unnecessary can cause them to have problems in their joints and in other similar areas.
Is Biting a Normal Developmental Stage?
Just as young toddlers can go through a biting phase, puppies also have a tendency to bite during their younger years. Puppies typically will do this when they are less than six months old. They go through this phase in order to relieve some of the pain that is involved from their teeth coming in. Be sure to train them to bite softly if they do need to enter this phase in order to relieve some pain. When they are six months old, they typically stop biting.
How to Socialize Your Pup
At only three months old, puppies form their version of “stranger danger.” They become aware of and sometimes fearful of the new experiences that they have the opportunity to encounter. This is a critical time in your young dog’s life as this can be an opening for them to continue to be fearful of new events, or it can be a time for them to learn how to act in newer situations.
With proper training, you will be able to easily take your puppy through the process of socialization. As long as you are regularly taking your puppy out, they should be able to successfully socialize in a healthy manner, and thereby become used to new experiences.
During a dog’s teenage years, which is around six to twelve months, they may go through another “stranger danger” period, during which experiences may once again feel new to them. During this time, it is important to take them out often, just as you did when they were a pup. This will give them the chance to get re-acclimated to the new experiences that may have entered into their life.
We have gone over some basic guidelines for determining whether or not your puppy is on the right growth track. It is important to monitor your dog’s physical attributes as well as their personal habits, as these facts serve as an indicator for how well your dog is achieving their growth goals. Sometimes adjustments need to be made in order to ensure that your puppy is getting the proper support they need in order to grow in the way that they should.
As long as you are properly taking care of your pup and making sure that they are getting all that they need to maintain their health, be sure to enjoy being with them. They will only be able to hit their milestones once and you will want to make sure that you can do what you can to see them happen.
Always take time when you can to slow down the time you have with your puppy by appreciating and taking advantage of the time that you have to spend with them. They will grow up before you know it, and then you can have a wonderful time appreciating their adult dog years as well.