As the excitement of bringing your new pup into their forever home settles, and they start to grow, you soon start to wonder - “just how big will my puppy get?” Welcoming a puppy is a joyful time but also one of learning and responsibility as you try to fathom out how best to care for your new house mate. Making sure they have a complete and balanced diet suitable for puppies and feeding the correct portion to allow for healthy growth rates, whilst guarding against obesity, is important in setting them up for a healthy start in life.
Statistical experts have analysed weight data from 50,000 young adult dogs that were in ideal body condition and free from any health complaints. Using this data they have created graphs that show the ideal pattern of growth for dogs from 12 weeks of life to adulthood at 2 years, these are known as “Growth Standards”. These charts can help vets and owners to track a dog’s weight from puppyhood, and intervene as necessary if there is deviation from the curve, as well as being useful in indicating a puppy’s ideal adult weight. The ideal young adult weight can then serve as a future reference to maintain ideal condition through life.
The curves created are not breed specific but given that dogs of similar expected adult weight will grow at similar rates, the data was used to create five curves which enables us to track healthy puppy growth and estimate the adult weight of dogs up to 40Kg. The charts can be used for mixed-bred dogs but will need to be used cautiously if the breed mix is unclear and therefore an accurate predicted adult weight estimation is challenging.
Male dogs grow more quickly than their female counterparts and therefore separate male and female growth curves have been created for each weight category- so giving a total of ten growth charts.
As with the WHO Child Growth Standards, the aim is to monitor that the puppy is following an expected pattern of growth relative to the large population of healthy puppies of the same sex, age and predicted final adult weight. One centile is not more desirable than another but it is the pattern of tracking a centile, or between centiles, that is desirable. If a puppy’s growth pattern crosses centiles in an upward direction, it could suggest that the puppy is becoming overweight or obese and if the centile crossing is downward, it could indicate a developmental disorder, a failure to thrive or underfeeding. In either case, adjustments to feeding with ongoing weight measurements and possibly health status investigation would be indicated. In this way, problems can be identified and managed more quickly. It is important for their long term health and joint health that puppies are not allowed to grow too fast and become overweight. Overweight puppies are more likely to become overweight adults, thus impacting their quality of life and expected longevity.
Waltham's easy to use, evidence based growth charts are fantastically useful in the fight against canine obesity and a major asset in preventative healthcare for our four legged friends.
Alison graduated from Cambridge University, in Veterinary medicine and surgery, in 1999. She initially worked in mixed practice before concentrating on domestic animals for the next 16 years. When Alison isn’t working as a vet, she is helping The Red Dog Company make the very best luxury dog beds and accessories available.