Your precious pup will be a lovely little ball of fur for only a brief part of his or her life. In fact, many breeds of dogs fly out of their puppy stage by around the six-month mark, while their bigger cousins will hit full size in about a year and a half. If you’re curious about your own dog, though, you might need to think about a few factors that aren’t going to show up in your dog’s DNA test if you want to know when he or she will hit his or her maximum size.
The Basics: Looking at Breed and Diet
So, when do dogs stop growing? If you’re looking for a quick and easy answer, the truth is that most dogs stop growing at around the same time as other dogs of their breed. This means that the bigger breed dogs will grow for over a year, small breed dogs are going to grow for around six months, and the rest will stop somewhere in the middle.
No, this doesn’t make for the kind of answer you’ll want when you’re trying to figure out how big of a dog bed or crate you should get your dog, but it’s the best place to start. From there, though, you’re going to have to start looking at the factors that influence dog growth in general.
How Puppies Grow
When we talk about when a dog will reach their full size, we’re not usually talking about muscle size or weight. After all, those are factors that are going to vary based on your dog’s diet, activity level, and a variety of other activity levels. No, when we talk about a dog’s growth we’re really talking about bones.
Your dog’s bones are going to grow over the course of his or her puppyhood. It’s the bones in your dog’s legs that are going to see the biggest amount of easy-to-clock growth, as they are home to the regions known as your dog’s growth plates.
Growth plates are part of your dog’s bones from which new tissue is grown. They’re fairly flexible compared to the rest of his or her bone, and they’re largely spongy. As your dog gets older, this area will end up ‘closing’ and reaching its final size. It’s only when this area stops growing that your dog can be said to reach his or her final size.
Looking at Breeds and Growth
As we’ve already established, little dogs stop growing far sooner than larger dogs do. What’s interesting to note, though, is that bigger dogs grow more by percentile than their smaller relations do. In short, a big dog is going to gain more relative size every month than it grows than small dogs will during their growth period.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a small dog will not grow significantly; a miniature breed could easily grow to fifteen or twenty times its birth size by the time it is done growing. Large breeds, however, greatly outpace their brethren here, as they can end up several hundred times larger at adult size than at birth.
So, why does it really take so long for some puppies to finish growing? For many, it’s because they have to create so much new mass in order to hit their adult size. Simply put, big dogs need longer to grow because they have more of their bodies to grow.
Food, Genetics, and Other Important Factors
While we know that the breed of your dog is going to play a huge role in determining how fast he or she grows and when that growth stops, there are some other factors that can actually play a role in when he or she hits adult size. Each of these factors is important in and of itself, but when taken together they can provide for some startling variations.
The first one – and, to many breeders, the big one – is definitely your dog’s inherited genes. Just as no two people grow at an identical rate, no two dogs grow at an identical rate. What you can guess, though, is how fast your dog is likely to grow based on his or her lineage.
It’s important to remember, though, that you’re not necessarily looking at any given here. If your dog has bigger parents, there’s a very good chance that he or she will take longer to grow and that he or she might reach bigger adult size. With that said, there can always be recessive genes that can cause a dog from two big parents to resemble smaller ancestors in terms of growth.
The other big factor is nutrition. This is another way in which dogs are very similar to humans, as dogs who don’t get the right kind of diet are going to end up seeing their growth stunted. In some cases, this means that the dog just won’t get as big as he or she should get; in others, though, it means that your dog will take longer to reach full size.
A Word on Spaying and Neutering
There are dozens of urban legends about spaying and neutering dogs. One of the most pervasive is the idea that a dog that gets spayed or neutered early will somehow stay smaller as if this operation can somehow keep the dog puppy-sized forever.
Can spaying or neutering change how quickly your dog grows? Maybe, but you’re probably not going to see much of a noticeable difference. In fact, while the data does show that there might be some minor changes, you’re actually not going to see your dog get any smaller from the process. Most data agree that puppies who get neutered early are going to take every so slightly longer to reach full size and that they’ll be a little bit bigger than their companions.
Even with that said, don’t spay or neuter your dog expecting him or her to get bigger. The average dog might gain a few ounces here or there and might get a little taller, but it’s not going to make a difference. If you’re really concerned about your dog’s size, try to look at any of the other factors we’ve discussed.
Growth Doesn’t Mean Maturity
It’s important to note that a dog who has reached full size may not mentally be an adult quite yet. This is quite prevalent within large breeds, and it’s actually a little harder to figure out why this might be than you might think.
Most people have seen these full-grown puppies playing around. They’re big to be sure, but they still act like puppies even well into adulthood. Even experts aren’t sure why this might be, but there are some thoughts that the neoteny – that is, the maintenance of infant-like features – of these adult animals actually helps them to make up for social deficits.
What’s important here is not why these dogs tend to look like they look, but how it should impact your role as an owner. It’s very easy to expect a dog who looks fully grown to act like he or she is fully grown but do try to have some patience with these dogs. They haven’t hit their developmental milestones quite yet and they really are mentally more like puppies than most dogs their own age.
Puppies, Growth, and Ownership
Figuring out when your puppy is going to stop growing can be very important to some. After all, it helps you better plan for how much space you need, when you need to buy new things for your dog, and what you should expect from your dog as an adult. While you can get a rough idea of when your puppy will hit full size, don’t fret if things take a little longer than expected. Sometimes the only way to know how big your puppy is going to get is to wait and see.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what month does a dog stop growing
Figuring out at what point your dog is going to stop growing mostly depends on his or her breed. If you have a toy or small breed, you should expect your dog to reach his or her full size by six to eight months. If it’s a standard breed, growth is going to stop somewhere closer to the end of the first year. If your dog is a big breed, though, he or she could easily keep growing up until month eighteen.
At what age is a dog full grown?
This is something that’s mostly going to differ by the dog. If you have a very small breed, you can generally tell that your dog is fully grown by about six months. If you have a very large breed, though, he or she will be between one and one-and-a-half years old before he or she reaches full height. Technically speaking, your dog isn’t going to reach his or her full size until his or her growth plates have calcified, which can take a slightly longer amount of time depending on the individual dog and a number of other factors.
Do dogs grow bigger after 6 months?
It depends on the breed, but the answer is usually a qualified yes here. Most dog breeds can theoretically keep growing past that six-month mark, even if the smallest breeds really do tend to stop growing before they hit that point. If your dog is larger than a toy breed, though, you really should not expect him or her to stop growing until at least his or her eighth month. Larger dogs can take even longer to grow, with the biggest breeds not finishing up their growth process until they are nearly a year and a half old.
How can I estimate my dog’s size?
Estimating your dog’s size is actually a lot trickier than you might expect. The first place to start is, of course, with your dog’s breed. This will tell you the upper and lower bounds for your dog’s size. From here, the easiest way to make an estimate is by looking at your dog’s parents – he or she will usually, but not always, be somewhere in the same general size range as his or her direct relations. If you can’t do that or if you want to be more precise, you’ll need to record your dog’s growth rate for a few months and then plug it into a simple calculator to estimate his or her size.