A common concern and question amongst dog owners are when do dogs stop growing? This is so for many reasons. Dogs in their puppyhood are usually small and adorable, and you wish they would stay that size forever.
The bitter truth remains that they won’t. Dogs, like any living thing, are designed to grow. But, how big they will grow is a different thing entirely, and is the focus of this article.
Before we get into knowing the factors that will influence the growth and development of dogs, let us take a brief look at how dogs grow.
When Is A Dog Full Grown? A Brief Look At How Puppies Grow
There are four stages to the life cycle of dogs. They are – puppyhood, adolescence, adulthood and senior years. To this article, our focus will be on the first three.
Having prior knowledge of the different stages of their life and the related general behavioral patterns would go a long way in understanding them, their needs and growth rate better. Thereby having an idea when they’ll stop growing.
Puppies are generally born after a gestation period of 63 days. And depending on the breed, the dog stays a pup till about 6 to 18 months of age. A puppy’s first weeks are very critical and should be spent lovingly and playfully with mother and siblings. This is to help provide the puppy with important nutrients to grow as well as the right company to learn.
This is generally a learning stage wherein the puppy gets to know the right way to interact with humans, other dogs, and other pets. This is also the phase in which house training should be imparted to the little canine. It is also the time to get the dog its complete set of vaccinations.
Adolescence, like in humans – the same applies to dogs. It is a period the hormones come into play. This usually starts from 6 to 18 months of age. This phase also is likely to highlight a disobedient side of your dog – though short-lived.
There’s a high tendency to show less interest in learning or training. It might also pretend to have forgotten the previous training instructions. As a dog owner or trainer, this is a stage you want to want to be patient with them.
Generally, dogs meet their adulthood between 1 to 3 years of age. But, smaller dogs are likely to reach earlier than the larger ones. One way to catch the visible signs of adulthood in your male dog is during urination, where it lifts its leg while urinating.
Adulthood is a stage that marks the end of their growth. It is believed that this phase signals that a dog has reached a height and size that’s typical for an adult of his or her breed and sex. Still, there are possibilities of occurrence of slight changes in size and shape after this stage begins.
How To Tell How Big A Dog Will Get? Factors that Influence the Growth Rate of Dogs
Dogs like humans have a unique genetic code which is a significant influence on the duration of their growth period, build, and adult size. Some genetic traits are passed down from parent to puppy, which is why parents tend to produce offspring with a similar growth rate.
But, there are some that are the result of the random variation occurring during DNA recombination. The implication of this is that puppies from large parents may not exhibit exact traits from parents.
Offspring of a large parent is likely to be small, and/or those of small parents can likely be large. In the same vein, offspring of parents with high growth rate may themselves possess a low growth rate.
It is common sense to realize that if you want your dog to grow at a normal rate, giving them the right food for their breed and size is very important. If they lack the proper diet, that means they won’t get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to support their growth. Causing delays and stunts in their growth.
The key ingredient here is proteins for building any body tissue. Another ingredient to consider is calcium and phosphorus for the health of the bones and the cartilage. But, it is important to not overdo it as giving your puppy too much protein and minerals can also speed up their growth, which will produce undesirable effects and damages.
3. Spaying and Neutering
Spaying or neutering is one of the most responsible ways dog owners can care for their pet. But, this routine triggers subtle changes in the growth rate trajectory of puppies and can influence the adult size of a dog very slightly.
Dogs that go through this routine early tend to weigh more as an adult. That’s because the process changes chemical signals in the body. In particular, neutering has been known to stop the chemicals that signal the bones to stop growing. Thus implies that dogs neutered relatively early in their lives are very likely to grow a bit taller than average.
But, studies reveal that the effect of this routine on the growth rate of dogs is minimal. As a result, spaying or neutering your pet will likely not change his adult size in many ways.
4. Breed Type
Most of the time, how quickly or slow a dog grows depends on the dog breed. One thing is for sure; all dog breeds do not grow at the same rate. The rate at which they grow will determine when they will stop.
Generally, small breeds grow to their full height and length faster, about 8 – 12 months. And then bulk up to their adult weight in another 4-6 months.
When it comes to medium-sized breeds, the growth rate is slower. About to 12-15 months to reach their full height and length, and their full weight about 6 months later.
Lastly, large breed dogs have the slowest rate with the longest growth process. They take almost 18 months and even more to reach their full size and 6 months to fill out to their full-grown weight.
What about Mixed Breeds?
When it comes to mixed breed, determining when a puppy will reach its full size, and how big it will be then is quite complicated. In fact, there is no real way to be certain of this. The best that can be done is a vet giving an intelligent guess based on certain factors.
For dogs that have been a product of generations of mixed breeds, determining is even more inaccurate. Thus, in the case of mixed breeds, the only way to be certain how big a dog will grow is to either have a DNA test done or have an x-ray done to know when the dog has reached its adulthood marked by size.
Final Words On When do Dogs Stop Growing
We can now see that knowing how to tell how big your dog will get is more of guesswork. If you have a purebred, the guess is more likely to be accurate. It only gets trickier when they are mixed breeds.
Generally, breeds of dogs have different rates of growth. And this is usually dependent on factors such as its genes, the kind of nutrition provided and the breed characteristics. While you won’t be able to do anything with its genetic coding and breed characteristics, you can about its nutrition. This makes nutrition a primary influence on the rate of growth of a dog.
As much as possible, you want to ensure your dog is provided the right food for its breed characteristics. Don’t hesitate to consult your vet whenever in doubt about your dog’s nutrition.
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