Here’s some food for thought.
When do dogs stop growing? How much do they age in human years?
A study published in bioRxiv offers an interesting revelation.
After analyzing the genome of 100+ labrador retrievers, the researchers found that the one-year-old dogs’ genetic structure resembles that of a 30-year-old person.
Turns out dogs are older than we thought they were. Previously, the widely accepted ratio was 1 dog year = 7 human years.
And there’s science behind the pattern of growth in dogs. It answers the question, at what age is a puppy fully grown?
Let us find out.
Dogs Stop Growing At What Age?
So when is a dog not a puppy anymore?
On average, dogs can grow from 6 up to 18 months of age. The difference is largely due to their breed.
Small breeds can attain their full size by the time they turn six to eight months old. The medium-sized ones take longer, around 12 months.
This points to the pattern that the larger the breed, the more time it takes to reach maturity.
By that rule, you can already deduce that large dog breeds take the longest to achieve their adult size. They can continue growing until 24 months of age.
So when do female dogs stop growing? What about the males?
Gender is another consideration. Males tend to be larger and taller than females and grow for a little longer period.
But as Louca Hill, a dog trainer from New England explains, different dogs can experience growth spurts at different times.
“He may not have hit his yet, or his full size may be small, and thus he has to grow less. It’s harder to see growth in smaller dogs, too. He could be growing at a normal rate, but it’s hard to see because he’s going from small to slightly less small”, he adds.
So you can consider a buffer of 2-4 months in each breed’s growth cycle as far as attaining its full size is concerned.
All that’s great. However, how exactly do you know when dogs stop growing?
Dr. Jerry Klein, DVM, explains: “The long bones in a puppy’s legs grow from two distinct places called growth plates.” As your pooch grows, the new tissue developed hardens into bone.
“When the growth plates have stopped producing new tissue and become completely calcified, they are said to have ‘closed,’ which means that they’ve stopped growing and the bone has reached its final size”, he adds.
But before reaching that point, a puppy experiences various physical changes.
The Stages of Puppy Development
A 2004 study done by The American Society for Nutritional Sciences found that breed-specific growth patterns will always vary due to other contributing factors. However, all pups go through the same stages of development, as illustrated below.
When Do Small Dogs Stop Growing?
Small dogs stop growing sooner than large dogs do.
LB Martin, an experienced veterinarian assistant and self-professed “lifelong pet owner” says:
“Generally, small breed dogs can reach their adult size around 10 months. Medium and large breeds mature at a slower rate, as much as 2 years for the largest.”
To give you an idea, below is a list of the most popular small dog breeds and their corresponding vitals.
When Do Medium Dogs Stop Growing?
Medium-sized dog breeds are fully grown by the time they hit the one-year mark. But every dog is unique and some may get their growth spurt earlier or later than others. Circumstantial factors, including diet, nutrition, and care also impact their growth.
Take a look at the development of the most sought after medium-sized dogs:
When Do Large Dogs Stop Growing?
By now, you know the rule. So it should come as no surprise that most large dog breeds can take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to attain their full height and weight. However, it’s the physical appearance that I’m talking about.
As scientist Amrita Mohan from New York City points out, some breeds, like golden retrievers, may take much longer to become adult dogs in terms of mental development.
She adds, “Physically most goldens reach maturity (size, fur, etc.) around 18–24 months. Mentally it will be a while :)!!”
If you’re considering getting a large dogs, here’s a guide on their stats to help you make that decision:
When Do Giant Dogs Stop Growing?
What about giant dog breeds whose body weight exceeds 99 lbs? Of course, these dogs take the longest to reach their full height and weight. On average, it can be anywhere between 15 to 24 months.
Much like large dog breeds, some giant dogs continue ‘filling out’ until 3 years of age.
Take a look:
Factors that Affect Puppy Growth Rate
As mentioned above, your puppy’s growth depends on various circumstances, both by nature and by nurture.
Generally speaking, however, these are the major influences:
Dr. Meghan Walker, a practicing veterinarian at the Weddington Animal Hospital in North Carolina, considers heredity to be the most important aspect in any dog’s growth.
“We have an idea, based on breed, but there are a lot of factors that determine it (growth rate), such as the size of the parents. It’s really guesswork, and the idea that a puppy’s paws will determine their size really is just a myth”, she adds.
And she’s right.
It’s because of genetics that some dogs may continue gaining muscles or putting on weight even beyond the growth limit specific to their breed.
Dogs, as we know them today, are also much less genetically diverse than their ancestors. This makes them more susceptible to certain diseases and affects their overall lifespan.
Thus, unless it’s bred carefully from good parents, your dog’s genetic composition can negatively affect its health and growth rate.
While your dog’s growth rate, full height, and weight are all dependent on its breed, one other important question still needs to be addressed: When do mixed breeds stop growing?
It’s best to know the American Kennel Club-approved breed standards so that you can make an educated estimate and ensure your pup is growing according to expectations.
That said, the nature-with-nurture influence will always come into play. That is, dogs bred under bad conditions, or from ill parents, may show stunted growth.
Congenital illnesses, too, can affect your pup’s growth cycle.
Which brings us to the next major factor.
Every living thing, including your puppy, needs a nutritious diet to grow. Consult your vet to understand its exact dietary requirements and make sure you meet all of them.
As a rule, puppies need to eat much more frequently than adult dogs. That’s because canines experience “rapid growth” at that age, as this journal published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) explains.
But at the same time, you need to exercise caution to ensure you don’t overfeed your puppy.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns that obesity can reduce your pet’s lifespan by two years or more.
You cannot overlook the other obvious health risks either. Obesity affects dogs in much the same way it affects us. An overweight puppy is highly susceptible to “diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer”, AAHA adds.
Watch what you feed your dog at all times. Steer clear of table scraps.
And if you ever find yourself wondering, when do puppies start eating food and drinking water, dial the vet. Remember, no experimental diets for your pup.
If your pet is malnourished or suffering from underlying health conditions, it will show stunted growth.
I’ve experienced it firsthand.
A few years ago, I rescued a pup from the streets. At first glance, I guessed it to be 3-4 months old. One trip to the vet revealed it was actually 7-8 months old but was suffering from a bad case of ecto and endo parasites.
Obviously, it had no access to food either.
After that vet visit, deworming, and a patch, the puppy started gaining weight very fast. Its temperament improved, it became active, and over the next few months, turned into a completely different dog.
This incident is proof that sound health can go a long way in allowing your pup to grow at the supposed rate.
Get your dogs vaxxed and dewormed at the correct age (approx 3 months) to ensure they’re in the pink of their health.
Know what your dog needs for a healthy life!
The Embark dog DNA kit helps ascertain everything about your pet, so you can provide them with the right mix of nutrition, environment and lifestyle, and help them live a long and healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Neutering Affect Growth in Dogs?
This one’s tricky territory. While spaying and neutering are essential to a dog’s health and well-being, performing these procedures before your dog turns one can stunt its growth.
This study found that early neutering and spaying may halt your dog’s height gain. In the case of small breeds, it’s only a matter of a few millimeters and may be unnoticeable. However, large dog breeds can witness a few centimeters worth of difference.
Consult your vet before neutering or spaying your dog.
Do Dogs Get Taller After 9 Months of Age?
That depends entirely on two factors: the genetics and the breed of your dog. Refer to the growth charts above for more information.
Why Is My Puppy Not Growing?
The charts I’ve included above answer the all-important question, when do dogs stop growing. It’s a good idea to consult it before concluding that your puppy is indeed not growing.
And if you believe your pup should be taller than its actual current height, look into underlying health conditions. It might also be getting an improper diet that is deficient in nutrition. Consult your vet to get to the root of the problem. Refrain from trying out experimental medicines or diets.
What Age Do Dogs Have Health Problems?
Age-related health issues will manifest externally once your dog becomes a senior. However, if your dog is not healthy or has congenital conditions, you’ll be able to witness the effects while it is growing up.
How To Care For Older Dogs?
Regular vet visits, ample TLC, and awareness all play crucial roles in caring for your senior pet. You should also make a few changes to its living environment to provide it with the best quality of life.
Think of planks to climb on beds and the sofa. Invest in a good orthopedic bed for your pet to sleep in at night.
Accommodate your pet’s special needs at this stage of its life and shower it with lots of love and attention.
How to Encourage Puppy Growth?
Pay keen attention to its food and nutrition. Puppies need a diet rich in protein that helps them to continue growing. Do not experiment with food, rather, continue with your vet’s recommendations.
If your pup is a picky eater, consider adding drops of bacon grease to its food to make it more palatable.
Always supplement food with ample fresh water as well.