Ask The Vet: When Do Dogs Stop Growing?

Pug Puppy

When it comes to puppies it seems like everyone has an opinion to share! Rumors regarding how and when to tell whether your dog has ceased growing are plentiful. This week we dived into the reader mailbag to bring you a vet’s perspective on the maturity process.

Size as a Rule of Thumb

A rule of thumb refers to advice that prioritizes simplicity over accuracy. That is to say, your local vet or kennel club will often give you a general guideline based on the size of your dog.

Small breeds will generally reach their full adult size in the shortest time. Keep in mind that a dog’s “frame” often reaches maturity before your puppy “fills out” to a typical adult weight.

You can usually expect a small breed to reach full size in approximately 6-9 months and their full adult weight within a year.

Medium breeds mature a little slower, reaching a typical adult frame in 12-15 months, and full weight in closer to 18 months.

Large breeds are the slowest to reach adulthood, typically achieving adult size by 18 months and full adult weight by two years.

Breed Matters Too!

Size is a useful albeit crude indicator of when a puppy will reach adulthood. Specific breeds within a size category can mature at different rates to one another.

Herding dogs like collies generally don’t reach physical and emotional maturity until approximately 24 months.

The Catahoula Leopard is a wonderful companion dog but, despite being medium-large in size, can take up to three whole years to mature completely.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Shih Tzu may reach full physical and emotional maturity in just a year.

Here are some guidelines for other popular breeds:

  • Labrador Retrievers usually reach full adult size in 12-18 months.
  • German Shepherds may take 24-30 months to reach adult size and up to 36 months to reach full mental maturity.
  • Like Labradors, Golden Retrievers will typically reach full size in 12-18 months.
  • French Bulldogs can reach full size in as little as 9 months but may continue to “fill out” for a further 6 months thereafter.
  • Bulldogs can take 12-18 months to mature physically and several more months to reach mental maturity.

Note that “maturity” is a broad brush term and their are many different aspects of a dog’s growth. For instance, reproductive development and physical development (in terms of size and weight) are independent processes. Emotional and behavioral maturity may also take longer than physical development.

Assissting Your Dog’s Progress

Responsible dog owners understand the pivotal role they play in a puppy’s development. Good nutrition and regular exercise help optimize your pet’s early development.

Nurturing mental maturity in a puppy requires more deftness and experience. Stimulation, socialization, and training all play an important role in this process.

If your puppy’s relentless energy and impulsive behaviors are wearing you out then there is some good news: mature dogs tend to be calmer and have an easier time moderating their own behavior.

Remember, if in doubt, always visit your vet for advice!

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