There’s one question that seems to get asked over and over – when do dogs stop growing? It’s a question that’s typically asked before considering a particular pup, it gets asked when a puppy’s growth spurt takes off, and it’s often asked again when older dogs seemingly won’t stop growing. So, what’s the answer? It depends on a variety of factors, including the breed of dog and what he gets in the way of nutrition. If this is a question you’ve asked before or are asking now, read on to find out when dogs generally stop growing.
How Fast Do Dogs Grow?
How fast dogs grow is generally based on how big the dog will be when he reaches adulthood. Different sized dogs grow at different rates. Believe it or not, it’s the small dogs that grow quicker, reaching maturity at a younger age than larger dogs. Small breeds, such as toys, often reach maturity before even reaching a year old, usually between nine and ten months old. On the other hand, the largest breeds may take up to two full years before growth is completed, achieving their mature weight mass.
Not only do smaller dogs mature quicker size-wise, but they also develop quicker mentally as well. Although dog breeds mature mentally at different times, generally speaking, small dogs mature quicker mentally as well. Just because a dog is large doesn’t mean he’s mature; a dog must meet both physical and mental maturity to be considered an adult dog.
How Do Puppies Develop?
Puppies also develop at different rates according to their breed and nutritional needs. However, their stages of growth are similar across all breeds. All puppies rely on their mothers and are extremely frail from the time they’re born until they’re about three weeks old. During this time, it’s typical for their eyes to remain shut until the pups reach about two weeks old.
Between the ages of three and eight weeks, puppies began to get much more mobile while engaging with their pup-mates as well as the world around them. When puppies are two to three months old, they began to encounter situations which may cause them anxiety. It is important to show positive reinforcement at this time to encourage a future without further mental anxiety.
Like children, puppies have a “terrible twos” stage as well, from three to six months old. During this time, puppies typically teeth, are much more active, and challenge authority. A puppy’s “awkward teen years” are next, coming from six to twelve months in age. Puppies during this time are awkward both physically and mentally. It is also during this time that pups become the most playful and active. Some breeds also began maturing sexually as well.
Factors Which Determine Growth
A variety of factors determine how fast a dog will grow as well as when he will stop growing. A big factor is obviously genetics, but there are actually many factors that can make a difference, such as their environment, getting proper nutrition, their health, exercise and training, and even other stimuli such as lighting may affect growth.
On this list of things that factor into a puppy’s growth, food is definitely high on the list. Not only how much a puppy eats is important, but also how nutritious it is as well. Puppies need good quality food made especially for puppies and their growing bodies. Care needs to be given not only to the quality of food given to them, but also the quantity. Even larger breeds don’t need to be fed too much. Obesity in puppies can result in poor health issues later.
Because there is the issue of possibly causing orthopedic problems, a puppy’s activity needs to be monitored as well. Even though puppies have a ton of energy, you still need to be careful about how much exercise they get. For example, a puppy’s immature joints can become stressed from too much jogging or hiking. These types of exercise shouldn’t be approached until your pup is full grown. However, some low impact exercise is needed on a daily basis. This is something that should be specifically tailored to your dog’s size, age, and breed. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re not sure what’s safe.
How Large Will My Dog Get?
Again, this mostly depends on the breed, but there is a way to tell when your pup is through growing. Check his ribs to see if you can still feel the knobs. If you can still feel them, he’s not done growing. If you can’t feel them, however, he’s stopped growing. Consulting with either the breeder or your veterinarian can give you an idea of when this should happen. Remember, each puppy grows differently, even among their own breed.
If your pup is a mixed-breed the guesswork is even tougher since he’s a combination of breeds; it’s a “guestimate” which breed he will take after. In fact, he may not take after either, but instead carve out his own path to maturity. There’s never any guarantee about accurately predicting when a dog will stop growing and with mixed-breeds, it’s even harder to predict. What may look like a tiny Chihuahua when you bring it home may end up being a big sixty pound dog a year later. If you don’t know which breeds your pup is mixed with, a DNA test may help to anticipate what size he may end up being fully grown, but it’s still not a guarantee.
Either way, puppies are puppies; they need their mothers when they’re babies, they grow and develop just like babies do, including teething, hitting the “terrible twos” stage, then the “awkward teen” stage, and before you know it, they’re all grown up, just like children. Just be sure to talk to your veterinarian often and ask questions when you need to. After all, just like children, your puppy depends on you!