Puppy weight gain: what you need to know
February 22, 2024

Puppy weight gain: what you need to know

Whether you're a novice breeder or considering bringing a puppy home, numerous factors can affect the pace at which your puppy is putting on weight. Here is our guide on what to observe to ensure that your puppy or litter is gaining weight in a healthy manner.

Puppy weight gain: what you need to know

Throughout each week, from birth to one year.

There’s no exact amount of weight that puppies should gain each week, but it’s on average around 10-15% of their weight each day, translating to 0.5 ounces per week for smaller breeds and 2.5 pounds a week for large dog breeds. Huge milestones are hit during the first 8 weeks of a pup’s life, such as being able to hear, see, crawl, walk, and wag their tail and of course, their needle-sharp puppy teeth will grow through. This consistent growth is aided by the rich nutrients the pups receive from mum’s milk until they are fully weaned at around 7-8 weeks of age.

Do puppies have growth spurts?

Puppies go through growth spurts at different stages; this is typically around 3-5 months of age for most breeds. At this stage, puppies tend to need double the amount of food compared to when they’re an adult! This is due to them being at a crucial stage of their development and needing enough nutrition to fuel this. Smaller breeds grow to their full size at a faster pace than large and giant breeds, some of which can take up to 2 years to reach their full size!

How can I tell if my puppy is overweight or underweight?

Taking your pup for regular check-ups at your local vet will help gauge if they’re gaining weight at a steady pace based on their breed. Your vet can also give you advice for your pup’s specific needs and how to aid them with healthy weight gain into adulthood. There are signs you can look out for to see if your pup is over or underweight. If your pup is overweight…

  • You can’t see or feel their ribs
  • You can’t see a natural curve where their waistline sits behind their ribs

If your pup is underweight…

  • Their ribs, spine and pelvic bones are clearly visible and easily palpable
  • Signs of a lack of fat or muscle loss around the shoulders and thighs

Dense fur can be misleading, emphasising the need to consistently check your puppy's body as they develop. This practice also familiarises them with being touched on various body parts, preparing them for vet appointments or visits to the groomers.

When does my puppy complete its growth?

Generally, it takes the largest dog breeds approximately 12-18 months to attain their full size, while smaller breeds typically achieve their optimal size within 6-8 months. Various factors can impact their growth, so it's crucial to be mindful of these elements and seek advice from your vet if you ever have concerns about your puppy's development.

What factors might hinder a puppy's growth and development?

Checking the feeding guidelines as your puppy grows is crucial to ensure they receive adequate nutrition for healthy development. Besides malnutrition, other factors, such as intestinal worm infections, can hinder a puppy's growth. Worms have the potential to siphon calories from puppies, resulting in symptoms like an upset stomach, an unhealthy coat, a distended abdomen, and a robust appetite despite appearing thin.

While spaying and neutering are not typically associated with stunting a puppy's growth, they can affect joint development in larger dogs. Hence, it is advisable to wait until larger dogs are fully grown before proceeding with neutering during their early development stages. Smaller dogs are usually neutered or spayed around 6-8 months on average. Given the individual differences among dogs, consulting with your veterinarian is always recommended if you are contemplating having your dog neutered or spayed.

Vigorous physical activity can also impact the development of your dog's growth plates. It is recommended to adhere to the suggested exercise duration, which is 5 minutes for every month of age, twice a day. For instance, if your dog is 3 months old, they can engage in two 15-minute exercise sessions or one 30-minute session daily. Additionally, it's crucial to discourage your puppy from jumping up and down from elevated surfaces like beds and sofas while their bones are still developing. Although it may be challenging, make an effort to lift them instead of allowing them to jump. Refrain from taking your pup on extended runs until they have reached full maturity, especially considering that larger dogs require more time for their bones to develop.

Register as a breeder partner with us

Ensuring the mental development of puppies is as vital as their physical growth. If you have a litter of pups that you wish to socialise at our puppy therapy events, get in touch with us today to learn more about becoming a breeder partner; they will encounter various new scents, sights, and sounds while making friends with numerous humans in a secure environment.

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