Many first-time puppy owners want to get a young puppy because they want to watch their “baby” grow. Watching and marking changes in your dog is one of the best parts of getting a puppy.
One thing a lot of people don’t consider is when do dogs stop growing? People think about how cute their little puppy is, but they might not think about how big their puppy might get. Today we’ll be taking a look at how puppies grow into adult dogs.
How Puppies Grow
It’s very easy to have your heart melt when you look at a mother and her pups. These tiny creatures will playfully run around with each other and make fun yipping sounds. But all puppies will grow into adult dogs. How do they get there?
Much the same way that humans do. It’s easy to see a dog growing in size or even to notice their muscles growing when we pet them. You wouldn’t be able to see their bones though. In a puppy’s longer bones there are regions called growth plates. These areas are on both ends of their bone and are where new, soft bone tissue is formed. As the soft tissue forms, it calcifies and becomes a new bone.
Eventually, as the bone grows the soft growth plate becomes hardened. Once the plate is completely hardened, the bone has reached its full size. The growth plate is said to be “closed” at this point. One the dog’s growth plate closes, the dog is at its full height.
A dog’s growth plates can become damaged as well. If this happens, it will affect how well your dog develops. Because of this, be sure to keep your puppy from jumping from very high up or playing too aggressively.
Factors that Affect Growth
Several factors will affect how large a dog grows. That’s not too strange of an idea though. After all, most everyone knows that a Great Dane is going to be larger than a Chihuahua. Take a look at what factors can affect a dog’s growth.
For the most part, a larger breed is going to take a longer time to grow. This is because a larger breed just has more growing to do than a smaller breed. Again, a Chihuahua is only going to have to grow inches to become full size. Compare this to a Great Dane that will likely grow by feet in its lifetime. It makes sense that the dog that has to grow multiple times larger will simply take a longer time to become full-sized.
Because the breed is a factor for when dogs stop growing, you can take a pretty good guess for how long your dog will grow just by knowing the breed. Most smaller dogs finish growing between six to twelve months. Large or giant breeds can continue growing for up to two years. This is something to think about when you consider buying a bed for your puppy. They might look silly lying in a huge bed, but if you have a large breed dog it will probably save you a few bucks to buy an oversized bed.
You can probably guess that genetics has a role in growth just by looking at people. Have you ever met a very tall person who came from two short parents? The same thing can happen with any animal. Just because the parents are one size doesn’t mean their offspring will be the same.
While genetic traits do get passed down from parent to offspring, there is also a randomness to genetics that has a somewhat unpredictable nature.
A dog’s nutrition also plays a big role in how much a dog will grow. If the dog has a poor diet, they are not going to be getting all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need to grow. This can delay their growth or in extreme cases, their growth can permanently falter.
This is why a young dog must get proper nutrition. If you have a puppy, be sure to feed them a high-quality puppy food. After about a year, you can talk to your vet about switching to high quality, adult dog food.
Does Spaying or Neutering Affect Growth?
Many people think that if they spay or neuter their pet then the animal won’t grow to be as large. While spaying or neutering can have a very small effect on your dog’s size, it goes in the opposite direction. Spaying or neutering can have your dog grow to be slightly larger if it is done before 16 weeks of age.
Remember, while spaying or neutering may have a tiny impact on your dog’s final size, the two biggest contributors to a dog’s size are genetics and nutrition.
As we said above, large breed dogs are going to take a longer time to finish growing. But you’ve certainly heard of “full-sized” dogs who are still rambunctious and silly pups. Even at full size, these dogs act like they’re still a puppy.
It’s not certain why this happens, but it’s thought to be social. An adult dog who still acts like a puppy may have learned this behavior, or they may be looking for forgiveness for mistakes they make along the way. Either way, after about two years, even the largest dog should have grown to full size. Maturity may be another issue entirely.
If you’ve been asking yourself when your dog will stop growing, hopefully you’ve got some good answers.