Did you ever wonder when your dog stops growing? Well, like human beings, dogs have different growth periods. The growth period of dogs may vary according to what breed the dogs belong to, whether it is a pure breed or a mixed breed. Other factors can also be considered, such as the nutrients the dogs are getting through the food they eat. In this article, you will know things about the growth of dogs.
Growth Patterns of Dogs According to Their Sizes
Here are the growth patterns of dogs depending on their sizes:
Puppies of small breeds, such as Boston Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Dachshund, Maltese, French Bulldog, Pomeranian, and Shih Tzu, can reach their full-grown size between 6 and 8 months and usually gain their full weight in 12 months.
Expect that medium-size breed can reach its full-grown state between 12th and 15th month age. An Example of this type of breed is Airedale Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Border Collie, Standard Poodle, American Foxhound, Australian Shepherd, Basset Hound, Border Collie, Bulldog, and Dalmatian.
Large breeds are growing slowly, and most of its large puppies won’t reach their fully-grown figure until 15 to 18 months. Examples of large breed dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Weimaraners, Akita, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Greyhound, and Golden Retriever.
Giant breed dogs like Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, and Giant Schnauzer have the longest time to reach their full grown size. The basic framework in their growth is about 18 months, but it may take a year or two to reach their fully grown figure.
How Do Dogs Grow?
The growth plates are flexible and soft during the early days of puppyhood. The new tissue that ages will harden and calcify, becoming bone. When the growth plate stops creating new tissues and becomes completely calcified, it is considered ‘closed,’ which means it stopped growing and the bone has reached its limit to grow.
Growth plates are fragile and prone to be injured. This is why it is advisable to prevent puppies from doing a lot of exercises because it can damage the growth plates. It is important to watch and train your puppies well, avoid letting them jump into great heights, such as jumping from or to a couch.
Different Stages of Puppies Growth
- Neonatal (Newborn – 2 weeks)
- At this stage, puppies are always sleeping.
- Their weight will double within a week.
- Transitional (2 – 4 weeks)
- At this stage, the puppy will begin to open its eyes and will learn how to walk.
- Juvenile (4- 12 weeks)
- Juvenile stage comes first before the puberty and maturity stage.
- Puppies at this stage will play and run more; this will help to develop their muscles.
- Adolescence (6-12 months)
- At this stage, dogs will become interested in sex.
- At the end of this period, physical growth will slow down.
- Their adult coat will replace the puppies’ baby fur.
- Full Maturity (1-2 years)
- At this phase, your dog will stop growing bigger; though they can gain muscles, their bones will stop growing.
How to Estimate the Full-grown Size of a Mixed Breed?
Knowing the full-grown size of a mixed breed can be difficult. This is because two different breeds of dogs have so many characteristics, such as their height, skin, and behavior. It is a guessing game to which characteristics their offspring may inherit. Also, the sizes of full-grown mixed breeds will vary whether it is male or female.
These are ways how to estimate the size of a full-grown mixed breed:
- One way to estimate the size of a mixed breed is through the age of the puppy. Most dogs are at 60% of their full-grown height when they reach 4 months. Puppies experience their largest growth from birth to 6 months of their age.
- Another way of approximating the size of a mixed breed offspring is to use an online puppy size calculator. Keep in mind that it will only estimate your dog’s size; it is not 100% accurate.
- Use a puppy weight chart to determine the weight of a full-grown dog. Use information like age and the breed of the dog to estimate its weight using the chart.
- Compare the dog’s weight to another breed that has the same weight. Most especially to its parents’ breed. You must know its parents’ characteristics and growth period for you to estimate whether your dog has reached its full-grown size.
Every Dog Matures at Different Rates
The size of a dog is not the only measure to know the dog’s growth; you also need to consider their Maturity. Every dog matures in time differently. Some dogs mature at the end of their first year, while others need to mature longer than that.
An example of dogs that needed a longer time to mature is Border Collies, and dogs that are usually for herding. Most of the herding type doesn’t reach their Maturity in their second year. Another example of a dog that needs a longer time to mature is Catahoula. This type of dog may not almost be fully matured not until it reaches 3 years of age.
Signs Your Puppy is Maturing
Raising a puppy can be fun and interesting to do. While you are in the process of taking care of your puppies, you may have noticed some changes in their behavior and physical aspects. These changes might be the sign that they are maturing.
Here some signs that your puppy is maturing:
- A puppy usually likes to run towards its owner and jump, most often when the owner has just arrived. A mature dog will be happy to see its owner, but not usually in a way that it will jump on its owner.
- Puppies are usually curious and tend to bite anything they like, almost always. On the other hand, matured dogs rarely do this; it may have bitten anything they like, but not always.
- Puppies are full of energy and like to play with their owner. When dogs are starting to mature, they become calm and no longer seek attention from their owner. A mature dog loves to enjoy being with its owner, but sometimes it’s also fine spending its time on its own.
If your puppy is always chewing newspapers or other stuff in your house and is always digging holes in your backyard, these are signs that your dog is not yet matured. However, once these habits or behaviors subside, except that your puppy is maturing and is becoming a full-grown dog.
Can a DNA Test Determine the Full-grown Size of Your Puppy?
If you want to know the full-grown size of your pet dog, a DNA test can be a way to find out its size. Though genetics can be easily determined through DNA, you need to understand that it is sometimes difficult to know what traits that your dog may inherit from its parents, especially if it’s a mixed-breed. This is because various traits are possible to consider, considering that the offspring comes from two different breeds.
Factors that Affect the Growth of Dogs
Aside from your dogs’ breed, here are other factors that can affect your dog’s growth:
- Genetic Differences
Every single dog has a unique genetic code, which can influence the duration of its growth period and its adult size. Some genetic traits can be passed down from parents to their offspring.
Still, others are simply the result of the random variation during DNA recombination. This means that the offspring from large breeds may exhibit a slightly longer growth period, but this is not guaranteed. In some instances, large breeds may produce small puppies or vice versa.
Puppies that get little nutrients from what they eat may not be able to obtain the necessary minerals and proteins that are needed for them to grow healthy. Therefore, it is important to keep your puppies healthy by providing them with healthy foods that are specifically advised for puppies. Examples of healthy foods that can help to the growth of puppies are foods that are rich in protein
Other factors that can affect your puppies’ growth are when they have a certain type of disorder.
Here are some examples of bone disorders that can affect the growth of your dogs:
- Angular Limb Deformities – This is the abnormal development of radius and ulna bones in dogs’ forelegs. It is caused by damaged growth plates. It can also be inherited. Irregularities between the radius and ulna may result from short limbs, elbow joint displacement, and bowing of dogs’ bones.
- Craniomandibular Osteopathy – It is a disorder of the bone that affects the round bones in the ears and the lower jaw of growing Terrier breeds. This disorder’s signs are mouth discomfort, fever, weight loss, and pain in the lower part of a dog’s jaw due to enlargement.
- Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy – This is a disorder that affects the area where growth occurs in the bones. Giant breeds are the ones usually affected by this disorder. Signs of this disorder include pain in the bones of the ulna and radius, appetite loss, fever, and depression.
- Osteochondromatosis – It is a rare disorder of puppies, where multiple bone growth happens – that arise from the long bones, ribs, and vertebrae.
- Panosteitis – this disorder causes inflammation in the bones, usually long bones. The cause of this disorder is unknown. Even though the cause is unknown, other factors can be considered as the cause of this disorder, like stress and inherited genetic traits.
- Retained Ulnar Cartilage Cores – It is a type of bone disorder that affects the growth plate, usually in giant breeds. It is an abnormal formation of the bones that do not appropriately harden the bone. Signs of this disorder are limb deformities and lameness.
- Osteomyelitis – is a bone inflammation disorder. A bacterial infection often causes this; however, Osteomyelitis can also be the cause of fungal diseases. Some of the factors that contribute to the infection are not enough blood supply to the bone and infections that spread in the bloodstream.
- Bone Tumors – tumors can be considered benign or malignant. These can either start by spreading from other areas of the body or from the bone. Osteosarcoma of the radius, humerus, femur, or tibia is the most common bone tumor. Signs of these are bone swelling, lameness, and fractured bones that are not associated with injuries.
- Bone Fractures – Accidents are often the cause of bone fractures. Bone fractures can include single damage or multiple damages in the bones, and it can be open or close fractures. Open fractures have skin wounds near the bones, while close fractures are the damaged bones without having a wound from the skin. The damaged severity depends on the trauma type. Signs of fractures include lameness, swelling, and pain. Having an X-ray will help determine the type and extent of the fractures.
Incomplete fractures in young puppies can be treated with casts or external splints. Other injuries can be treated with devices like bone plates, screws, pins, and orthopedic wires.
Before raising a dog, you must do some research about it to know information that will help and guide you. Some owners are not considering this, making them unprepared, which leads them to experience difficult situations about their pet. Therefore, it is a huge help if you do some research about your dog.
Knowing the exact time when your dog will stop growing depends on many factors such as their breed, genetic traits, and nutrition. However, it is quite easy to make an estimate when you know the different factors to consider.
Regardless of when your dog will stop growing, it is important to do thorough research about them first before deciding to adopt or buy a dog. This is the first step to becoming a responsible dog parent.