The Importance of Ideal Dog Weight – P.L.A.Y.

Wouldn’t it be easy if you could just weigh your dog and instantly know that he/she is at the right weight, size, and perfectly healthy? Well, it doesn’t work quite that way. For purebred dogs, the American Kennel Club does offer a weight chart you can follow. There, you can see the ideal dog weight for male and female dogs by breed.

But what happens if you have a mixed-breed dog? You cannot judge a dog’s healthy weight just by one number. Besides, the size chart offers a range. Is your dog healthier if it is in the middle of the range? What about if it sits right at the bottom limit? Or at the upper limit?

For some dogs, even a pound or two can look different and significantly impact health. For example, a purebred Chihuahua can look and live differently with just a single extra pound.

Why is it hard to know whether your dog is the ideal weight?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular dog breeds, and see their proposed range. For example, the German Shepherd. The AKC breed standard sets the weight range between 65 and 90 pounds for a male adult dog. That is a huge difference, right?

Or the Labrador Retriever, for example. The AKC suggests a range between 65 and 80 pounds. That is a difference of nearly 23 percent. And it can vary depending on whether you have a male dog or a female dog.

Simply put, looking at breed size and growth chart is not your best way of judging dog health.

What about mutts?

In the past several years, we have seen the rise of mixed breed dogs that have the genetics of two different breeds. Sometimes, they might have the genetics of three different breeds.

The Poodle is a popular choice for mixing breeds because of its hypoallergenic coat. Other popular choices include the Chihuahua, Yorkshire terrier, Labrador Retriever, American Pit Bull terrier, and more.

So, how do you know what is the ideal dog weight of your Goldendoodle, Puggle, Cockapoo, Maltipoo, Bernedoodle, and so on?

Sadly, there is no clear reference for every individual dog. And mixed breeds can have an even bigger range. For example, when you mix a small dog breed with a large dog breed.

Understanding the Dog Weight Chart

The good news is that you can visually check your dog’s weight, and see whether your puppy is at average weight, healthy weight, or underweight.

Severely Underweight

– You notice your dog looks bony when looking at it from a distance

– The loss of muscle mass is obvious

– Body fat isn’t discernible under the skin

– You can see ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones under the skin 


– You can easily feel your dog’s ribs

– Your dog’s ribs can be visible beneath the skin

– There is no noticeable body fat when you touch the skin

– You can see other bony areas beneath the skin

– When looking from above, the waist is clearly visible

– When looking from the side, the abdomen is noticeably tucked up

Ideal Weight

– You can feel your dog’s ribs without excess fat covering them

– Your dog’s ribs may or may not be visible

– Looking at your dog from above, you can see the waist behind the ribs

– Looking from the side, the abdomen is tucked up and doesn’t run straight back to the legs



– You cannot feel your dog’s ribs due to fat covering them

– You can notice fat deposits over the base of the tail and in the lumbar area

– Your dog’s waist is either absent or barely visible

– You notice some abdominal tuck

Severely overweight

– There are massive fat deposits over the thorax, from your dog’s neck to the abdomen and base of the tail

– The waist and abdominal tuck are absent

– You can feel fat deposits when touching your dog’s neck and legs

– Your dog’s abdomen is visibly distended and hanging


What to do?

If your dog falls into the severely underweight or severely overweight category, you should take drastic measures. If your dog falls into the underweight or overweight category, small changes can make a difference. For starters, you should consult a veterinarian.

– For underweight dogs, explore reasons why your dog is not at average weight, and follow up with increasing calorie intake in a healthy way. For example, increasing portion sizes and adjusting meal frequency. Or switch to a higher-calorie food

– For overweight dogs, slowly increase exercise and play in your pup’s daily routine, reduce the amount of treats, snacks, and human food, and restrict your dog’s diet

Can you calculate the ideal dog weight of your puppy?

In the last several years, there have been many tries to find another way to calculate the ideal dog weight of your puppy. Why? Well, because Staffordshire Terriers and Border Collies might have close range, but they look completely different. For example, the Staffordshire terrier should weigh between 28 and 38 pounds per AKC’s standard. And the Border Collie between 30 and 55 pounds.

But you look at the Staffordshire terrier, and you notice a muscular, powerful body. The Collie looks way more athletic. So, instead of comparing your dog’s weight to a generic chart, veterinarians have come up with a better way.

That is the body condition score, a popular tool for estimating the amount of fat on the body. Evaluated on a 9-point scale, dogs should score between 4 and 5.

A dog scoring 1 to 3 on the Body Condition Score is underweight, while a score between 6 and 7 implies an overweight dog.

You can evaluate the BCS by examining the ribs, abdomen, and waistline by sight, and then by touch. The four criteria are:

– How easily felt the ribs are

– How obvious is the waist and abdominal tuck

– How much excess fat is beneath the skin

– How much muscle mass is present

You can find online calculators, and easily calculate your dog’s weight. These calculators take into consideration the breed standard, your dog’s actual weight, and your dog’s actual height. 

For example, a 24-inches German Shepherd, weighing 70 inches, will have a score of 3. That is generally a healthy weight, but a bit underweight.

Why should you pay attention to your dog’s weight?

There have been several studies examining the role of obesity in the lifespan of dogs. And according to most of them, overweight dogs live two, or two and a half years less than dogs with healthy weight.

So, if you want your dog to have a long and prosperous life, it is important that you pay attention to its weight and size.

How to Help Your Dog Maintain Ideal Weight?

Let’s wrap this up by talking about several tips on how you can help your puppy maintain an ideal dog weight.

– Pay attention to portion control and measure portions according to size, age, and activity level

– Provide a balanced diet, consisting of high-quality nutritious food

– Avoid excessive treats, table scraps, and high-calorie snacks

– Engage your dog in regular physical activity, and always stay within the upper limit of your dog’s breed exercise needs

– Avoid free feeding, never leave food out all-day

– Teach your dog to avoid begging for food

– Engage your dog in mental stimulation activities like puzzle toys that will reduce anxiety and prevent boredom

– Be consistent within the family. All the rules we mentioned, apply to all family members

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