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When you first bring home your puppy, they’re so small and adorable, it can be easy to forget that they won’t stay that size forever.
But they won’t. Whether your puppy is a Chihuahua, a Great Dane, or something in between, they’re going to grow. But the question is how much—and for how long?
Clearly, you can expect some major changes in your puppy’s size over those first few weeks and months. But when will your puppy settle into his full size? Or, in other words, when do dogs stop growing?
Think breed size
When it comes to the question “when do dogs stop growing?” there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all solution (pun intended). When your dog stops growing is going to depend on the breed and the expected adult size of your pet.
As a rule of thumb, the smaller the dog, the faster they reach their full size—so a toy Yorkie is going to stop growing much sooner than a Newfoundland.
If you’re wondering why the explanation is pretty simple—small dogs just have less growing to do.
Think about it from a size perspective; a Chihuahua generally weighs about five ounces when born and will reach a maximum of six pounds once they’re fully grown. So in order for a Chihuahua to go from birth to full-size, they only need to gain a little more than five lbs.
Now, the Bernese mountain dog typically weighs about one pound at birth—but fully grown, they can clock in at well over 100 lbs. That’s a lot more growing to do than the six pound Chihuahua—which is why it takes them longer to stop growing.
So, in a nutshell, small dogs tend to stop growing quickly while larger dogs take a longer time to reach their full growth potential. But how long, exactly, is that?
Let’s Do Some Breed Math
Let’s take a look at when you can expect your dog to stop growing based on her breed/size:
- Small dog breeds: Small dog breeds typically reach their full height and weight somewhere between eight and 12 months.
- Medium dog breeds: Medium-sized dogs typically reach full height between 12 and 15 months—but it can take longer (typically between 18 and 24 months) for them to reach their full weight.
- Large dog breeds: Large dog breeds have a lot of growth to do, so it takes them about 18 months to “grow into their paws” and reach their full height—and up to 3 years to hit their full weight potential.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee when it comes to how long it will take your dog to stop growing; some dogs may grow slower or faster regardless of their size or breed.
But this should give you a rough timeline of what to expect from your dog—and when you can expect him to stop growing and reach his full height and weight.
What about lovable mutts?
For pet parents of mixed breed dogs, the same basic idea holds. The bigger the breeds you can identify in your dog, the longer it will take her to reach full growth.
If your pup is a mix between a large and medium breed or a small and medium breed, take the average between the two. For example, a mixed Rottweiler and miniature schnauzer may take anywhere from 8-15 months to reach their full growth.
It’s not an exact science but gives a basic idea on how long it could take for your pup to get over their growing pains.
(If you’re really curious about what breeds make up your new puppy, there’s always dog DNA tests.)
Factors that may affect your dog’s growth
The average time it takes each breed to reach its full size can definitely give you a benchmark on when you can expect your dog to stop growing. But there are a number of factors that may affect your dog’s growth that you’ll want to keep in mind:
You want your dog to grow to their full potential—no matter how long it takes. But one thing that can impact their ability to grow? Nutrition.
If your puppy lacks the proper diet, they won’t get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to support their growth. This can cause delays in their growth—or permanently prevent them from reaching their full height and/or weight.
To make sure your puppy gets the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy, make sure to feed them high-quality food specifically formulated for puppies.
The size of your dog’s breed can give you an idea of what to expect with their growth trajectory—but it certainly can’t give you the entire story. Your dog’s genetics play a huge part in how quickly they grow (not to mention how large).
If you can, get information about your puppy’s parents. For example, if your dog’s parents are larger than a typical dog in their breed, it might take longer for your dog to reach full growth. Or on the flip side, if they grew faster than most dogs, you can probably expect the same from your puppy.
Understanding the average time it takes each breed to grow to full size is helpful, but remember—every dog is a unique combination of genetic material, and as a result, every dog will have its own unique growth trajectory.
Spaying or neutering your dog affects their hormones, which can (in theory) affect their growth trajectory.
However, studies show the effect is minimal—and while you might think spaying or neutering your dog could stunt their growth, in fact, dogs neutered before 37 weeks actually showed a slight upward trend in growth trajectory.
Your dog will stop growing soon enough—so enjoy it
When it feels like your dog is growing so fast he needs a new collar every five minutes, you probably look forward to when he’s good and grown.
But his puppy days will go by quickly—and before you know it, you’ll have a full-grown dog on your hands. So enjoy those first few months (or, in some cases, years) of puppy growth—your dog will stop growing soon enough!