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How big will my puppy get? This is one of the most frequent questions veterinarians get from new puppy parents or seasoned dog lovers who have adopted a new-to-them breed or mutt. Some ask out of pure curiosity. Others want to know so they can ensure they have enough space in their home before adopting. They also wonder about other logistical concerns, such as what size crate, dog bed or collar they should buy before bringing home their newest furry friend.
While your vet will be the best person to guide you through puppy growth and expected size, there are some well-known suggestions, such as looking at paw size or breed markers that may (or may not) guide you in the right direction. Here are some of the most common ways to estimate how big your dog will be.
Does Paw Size Prove Anything?
Some like to say that the bigger a dog's paws are as a puppy, the larger he'll be when he grows up. However, it's not always a good judge of what to expect. A hefty Bernese mountain dog will have bigger paws to hold him up than a corgi, but Cuteness points out that there are larger dogs with small paws for their size (like a dainty collie) and vice versa (like a bulldog). Just like any human kid, your puppy may have gangling, tubby, or disproportionate phases as he grows.
Purebred Versus Mixed Breed
Wondering "how big will my puppy get?" after adopting a lovable mutt? Well, unfortunately, you may have to wait until he grows up to be sure. If you don't know your pup's precise mix, it a can be challenging to how determine their genes will influence their size. More recently, advances in dog genetics and genotyping can allow fairly accurate predictions of adult body weight.
Still, the final size of a purebred pup is still surprisingly hard to predict. He could be the smallest or largest pup of his litter, or grow at a different rate than other dogs of the same breed due to an illness as a puppy. Reading up on the standards of an official breed club (like the Golden Retriever Club of America, for instance) can help you judge how big other dogs of his kind can be.
Your veterinarian should be able to give you guidelines for what you should expect from your pet's growth. If you're someone who likes to research for yourself, check out the American Kennel Club's dog breed database for the expected size range of each breed.
Check out the Parents
One of the best ways to determine an approximate expected height and weight for your dog would be to take a look at his mom and dad, if possible. Their grown height and weight will likely be a good determinant of what to expect from your own dog. In fact, this is often suggested for humans, as well. However, many adopters won't know much, if anything at all, about their new pet's parents.
Chart His Growth
Another method, that's a little more tedious, is to chart your dog's growth over time. Many dogs will become fully grown by 1 year old, but some breeds may take an extra six months to a year. Charting your dog's growth from puppy to 3 months old, to 6 months old, to 1 year will help you get a better sense of how big he'll end up once fully grown. However, this method requires you to estimate based on what other pet parents of similar breeds have experienced. Your dog is unique, and his individual traits are the biggest determining factor in his overall size.
While predictions for adult dog size still involve some guesswork, advances in science and your pets genetic history are the best predictor of adult body weight. It's best to do your research early, so you can spend the time with your new pet playing and enjoying each other's company. And when in doubt, buy the bigger crate.