Owners of puppies and young dogs are often unsure about what and how to feed their young dogs, especially if it is their first dog. Often the question comes up how fast a dog grows and how fast it is still “healthy”. How much weight should he have at the time?
You can find out more about the growth curve here.
The growth curve for dogs
With the growth curve, you can keep an eye on your puppy’s weight development and check it.
In the first six months of life, the curve usually goes relatively steeply upwards, as 60-80% of the final weight is reached during this time. It then rises more slowly up to the 1st-2nd year of life until it flattens out at the end. The calculation is based on the probable final weight of the dog. In purebred dogs, the parents can be used as a guide, in mixed breeds there are usually no clues. Nutritionists can help you estimate and draw up the growth curve. In the course of the months, it may be necessary to adjust the growth curve.
When is a dog fully grown?
Generally speaking, small breeds reach their final weight around the end of the first year of life. Larger breeds can even continue to grow until they are 2 years old.
Most growth in length takes place between the 3rd and 7th month. During this time it is especially important to pay attention to correct husbandry and feeding, as the growth plates are not yet closed. These growth plates are initially made of cartilage and only ossify later (usually up to about 9 months of age, depending on size). During this time, the bones are particularly sensitive and must not be overloaded.
The cartilage growth and ossification of a dog ends approximately between the 2nd and 3rd year of life. The only way to really tell if a dog is fully grown is to take an x-ray to see if the growth plates are completely closed. In the first six months, large breeds have reached about 60%, small breeds even 80% of their final weight. When monitoring the growth rate, the growth curve helps us.
Can the size of the dog be influenced by food?
No. The final size of the dog is genetically predetermined. One myth is very persistent in puppy nutrition, namely that the final size of the dog can be influenced by food. This assumption is demonstrably false. The size that the respective dog reaches is genetically predetermined. Basically, you can also say that the smaller the dog, the faster it reaches its final weight.
The only thing that can be influenced is the speed of growth. Especially with (later) large dog breeds, the mistake is often made that dogs are fed too much energy and grow too fast. That is why it is important to pay attention to the growth curve.
What problems arise when the dog grows too fast?
This “growing up to fast” is unfortunately a great strain on the joints. The increasing number of dogs developing osteoarthritis, arthritis, hip dysplasia, ED, panostitis, osteochondrosis dissecans or other joint problems at a young age is quite worrying for this reason. Large dog breeds in particular suffer from too rapid growth.
Puppies first gain muscle mass and the joints and skeleton are then still very sensitive. To protect them, proper exercise (carrying the dog up and down stairs and avoiding too long walks) is extremely important. A quality, balanced and, above all, species-appropriate diet appropriate to the dog’s age is also essential for this.
It is also important to ensure a balanced phosphorus and especially calcium intake. An over- or under-supply will lead to problems later on. The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 1.3:1.
Unfortunately, consequential damage is usually irreversible. A qualified nutritionist can help you with any questions or uncertainties you may have. A conversation with a vet can also be useful.
Weight control in puppies is important
Visually, feeding too much energy or being overweight is difficult to see, as young dogs do not tend to go wide because they “shoot up”. In general, the ribs of the dog should be easily palpable but hardly visible.
The most important tool to correctly assess the puppy’s weight is a scale. Each week the puppy and developing young dog should be weighed and then the weight recorded in the weight tracker. Recording is important to maintain a growth curve.
If the dog is significantly below or above the curve, the particular food and rations should be reconsidered.
When puppies and young dogs grow too fast, it can lead to physical problems. Too fast growth is usually caused by food that is too high in energy. To counteract this, proper nutrition is essential, as well as regular weight monitoring. “Good things take time” is therefore the motto in the growth phase. To control the slow growth, a growth curve is helpful.