It’s one of the most common questions that many veterinarians are asked related to a dog’s health: How much should my dog weigh? It’s a valid concern and one that dog owners are encouraged to take seriously! Your dog’s weight can reveal a lot about his health and well-being.
If you have been wondering how to assess your dog’s weight and when you should be concerned, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’re going to dig into the different factors that influence your dog’s weight, how to determine how much he should weigh, and how to use this information to monitor and improve your dog’s health.
How Much Does the Average Dog Weigh?
With the growing concerns about pet obesity, many dog owners find themselves wondering how much does the average dog weigh? As much as we would like to give a quick and easy answer to ease any concerns that you may have, it’s not a black and white subject. In fact, a healthy average dog weight is going to rely heavily on the breed. This can be even more complicated if you are caring for a mixed-breed dog.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standards, the average German Shepherd male should weigh approximately 65 to 90 pounds, which is already a pretty wide spectrum in terms of a healthy weight. However, when you incorporate another breed, your dog’s healthy weight could fall outside of that entirely. For example, our German Shepherd/Flat-Coated Retriever male weighs 52 pounds.
A dog’s breed isn’t the only factor to consider when calculating an average dog weight. A dog’s life stage can also have an impact on the average weight, with young adult dogs often boasting a different weight than the same dogs will during their mature or senior years.
As a dog gets older, there are two common changes to its weight. Some dogs will lose muscle mass, causing them to lose weight and drop below their average weight as an adult. Other senior dogs will gain weight from a decrease in physical activity. Unless this change of weight is dramatic, these changes are a natural progression.
Finally, whether a dog has been neutered or spayed can also have an impact on its weight. When a dog is fixed, the change in hormones can have an impact on its metabolism. This means that they are more likely to gain weight than a dog of the same breed and life stage that is intact. While this shouldn’t stop you from having your pet fixed, it should be considered when making decisions regarding your dog’s care including how much to feed and what level of physical activity is required.
Is My Dog a Healthy Weight?
If there is no average dog weight to consider, how can you determine if your dog is a healthy weight? The good news is that there are better ways to track and monitor your dog’s weight.
When assessing whether your dog is obese, veterinarians use a scale called the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) System designed by the American Animal Hospital Association. Rather than focusing on weighing your dog, this system looks at other characteristics that will help to determine if your dog is obese or underweight.
For a dog, the BCS rating includes how much visible excess fat or muscle mass is present, whether your dog has a defined waist and abdominal tuck, and how easily your dog’s ribs can be felt. This information is used to give your dog a rating that falls on either a 5-point or 9-point scale with 1 meaning that your dog is severely underweight and 5 or 9 meaning that your dog is seriously obese.
Another great way to monitor your dog’s weight, especially for those of us that are less familiar with BCS, is to track your dog’s weight over time. If your veterinarian has determined at your dog’s most recent checkup that he or she is at a healthy weight, use that weight as a baseline. Each time that you weigh your dog, refer to that baseline weight. If you notice that your dog’s weight is trending up, this is a sign that your dog may be at risk for obesity. On the other hand, if your dog’s weight is continually trending down, your dog may be at risk of being underweight.
How to Track My Dog’s Weight
Tracking your dog’s weight doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s an easy way to monitor your pup’s health. Weight change can also be a sign of illness, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart disease, or the presence of parasites. Often, these conditions are better treated or managed if discovered early, so don’t ignore the warning signs!
If you notice that your dog’s weight continues to change with no clear explanation, contact your veterinarian to rule out a medical cause.
The process of tracking your dog’s weight is surprisingly easy. You can use a digital tracking option like the 11pets phone app or a spreadsheet on your computer. If you prefer keeping hard copies of your dog’s health records, you can track your dog’s weight in a standard notebook. There is no wrong answer!
To begin, you will need your pup’s baseline weight. The best way to do this is to take note of your dog’s weight at your regular veterinary checkup. During this visit, your veterinarian will let you know whether his current weight is a healthy weight, or if there are concerns that should be addressed right from the beginning. This will determine whether your goal in tracking your dog’s weight is to maintain weight, gain weight, or lose weight and will help answer the question of “how much should my dog weigh?”
How often you will weigh your dog is going to be determined by their life stage and whether you have any ongoing concerns. For example, puppies grow quickly! Most veterinarians recommend weighing young puppies weekly to ensure that they are growing and thriving. Dogs in their senior years are more susceptible to health-related concerns. Weighing them more frequently during this stage may help you catch any medical problems early.
Adult dogs are generally more stable in their weight and often don’t need to be weighed as frequently. For an adult dog with a healthy weight, you may even want to stick with a schedule of every 6 months. However, if you are focused on helping your dog lose weight or gain weight, more frequent weigh-ins will help determine if your current methods are working or if additional changes are needed.
The most important thing to remember when tracking your dog’s weight is why you are doing it. Take a moment each time that you add a new weight to your spreadsheet or tracker to see if you notice any changes or trends. If you have concerns, bring this information with you to your veterinarian as it can help them to better diagnose any health concerns.
There is a lot of information to consider when asking ‘how much does a dog weigh’, but it’s an important question to ask. As dog parents, it is our responsibility to be familiar with our pups and any signs of concern. By monitoring your dog’s weight and keeping a regular weight log, you will be prepared to work with your veterinarian as a team, prioritizing your dog’s health throughout each stage of his life.
Do you prefer tracking your dog’s weight and medical records digitally or are you a paper and pen dog parent? We’d love to find out which method is most popular in the comments below!
Your dog’s weight is one of the five vital stats that we encourage you to monitor. Join us in our Pet Health 5 movement and together we can start tracking our pet’s health. It’s super easy! We’ll send you a reminder on the 5th of each month with a checklist of what to do and how to do it. All you need to do is take the time to check your dog’s health stats and log them.
Pet health and dog health is an important aspect of helping our dogs live long and happy lives. You can start today by weighing your dog and signing up for Pet Health 5.
About the Author: Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.