Table of Contents
How to tell if your dog is a healthy weight?
Average weight of dogs for common breeds – what to look for
Why dogs gain or lose weight
5 ways to help your dog lose weight
5 ways to help your dog gain weight
How to maintain your dog’s healthy weight
Healthy dogs are happy dogs
A weight off your mind
Ideal dog weights FAQ
To sum it all up…
As pet parents, keeping our dogs happy and healthy is a top priority. We want to make sure our dogs get all the nutrition they need, while maintaining the ideal dog weight for their breed and size. But how heavy should my dog be?
As simple as that question sounds, knowing whether you’re getting it right can be tricky. In this guide, we shed some light on common questions and give you tips on how to maintain your dog's healthy weight once you’ve achieved it.
Before you make any major changes to your dog’s diet or exercise levels, it’s worth checking whether your dog is under or overweight first. Sometimes, especially with certain breeds, it’s difficult to tell.
First off, you may want to consult a dog weight chart online. We recommend the Dog Size-O-Meter’ by UK Pet Food. It gives you a body shape and condition score to check whether your dog is a healthy size. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is that your dog’s shape should nip in at the waist, and their belly should be nicely tucked underneath (not hanging loose).
Of course, there are always scales! If you have some at home, you can try weighing your dog. The easiest way to do this is by weighing yourself carrying them, then by yourself, as they have a tendency to wriggle and not sit still. Alternatively, it’s the perfect excuse to visit the pet store as large ones usually have pet-friendly scales. Your vet will also have some, generally in their reception room.
Whatever the verdict – whether you have an underweight dog or one on the bigger side – the main thing is not to feel embarrassed. Healthy dog weights vary, and your dog will probably weigh different amounts at different points in their life. There’s lots you can do to get closer to your dog’s ideal weight. As always, if you’re worried, just check in with your vet. They’ll give you advice on the average weight of dogs and if needed, what the best next steps are for your pup.
Every dog is different. There are even variations within breeds, such as show standards and working standards. However, the following pointers can be useful as a guide.
E.g. Whippets, Corgis, Border Terriers, French Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels etc.
When it comes to weight, a small dog’s body type can be misleading. For example, Whippets have a tendency to look skinny even when they’re perfectly healthy, while Corgis can look a little chunky when they’re just right. You also need to consider their coat. You might think your Border Terrier has been eating a few too many treats? It could just be their wiry outer coat growing out. It’s easy for an underweight dog to look bigger than it is.
Another useful rule of thumb is to look at what your dog was originally bred for. Can they fulfil that job at their current weight? For example, Corgis were originally bred to nip at the feet of cattle – so ideally, yours should be nimble and quick. If in any doubt, the best thing, as always, is to ask your vet’s opinion during your regular catch ups. Their opinion is the one that matters, rather than anything shared by acquaintances or fellow dog walkers at the park.
E.g. Labradors, Huskies, Border Collies, Poodles, Foxhounds, Boxers, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs etc.
A quick and simple test you can do to check the weight of your medium-sized dog is to feel their ribs. According to body condition scores, you should be able to feel ribs without searching for them. Having said that, if your dog has a long, shaggy or dense coat, it’s important to factor that in.
The differences between the ideal dog weight according to working and show standards can also be pretty striking. For example,working line Labradors tend to have a slighter, leaner and more athletic build than show line Labradors, who can be stockier. Regardless of breed, though, it’s important to maintain a healthy dog weight. Otherwise, there might be consequences to their health, from putting additional pressure on their joints to an increased risk of heart disease.
E.g. Great Danes, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, English Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Dobermans, Irish Wolfhounds etc.
The rib test mentioned above can also be used to check the weight of large dogs, who may run the same risk as medium dogs if they are overweight. However, there is one extra thing to look out for. In all sizes of dog breeds, it’s important to make sure they can comfortably groom themselves and reach their bottom easily, rather than be hindered by their mass.
A dog’s weight can fluctuate naturally throughout the year for a number of reasons, just like ours can! For your peace of mind, it’s good to know what to be aware of (and when to take action). Here are the three main factors that influence your dog’s weight:
No surprises here! Diet is, of course, a huge factor in whether your dog is under or overweight. A poor diet high in unhealthy fats or lacking nutrition may cause a variety of unwanted health problems. Ideally, your dog’s diet should be nutritionally complete and packed with good quality meats, fruit and vegetables to satisfy their energy needs. Premium dog foods and particularly complete raw food for dogs are great for satisfying all nutritional requirements without too much unhealthy fat.
Your dog should maintain a fairly stable weight. If they are losing (or gaining) weight and you’re not sure why, it’s worth getting them checked out by your vet just in case they’re not well. For example, dogs that are skinny despite eating a lot might have an underlying condition And dogs that suddenly gain a lot of weight, even though the amount they’re eating hasn’t changed, could have a condition known as hypothyroidism which can be easily identified from a blood test.
The weather can also play a part in your dog’s weight. In colder months, a dog burns more energy to keep warm, especially if they spend a lot of time outside. And in hot weather, when dogs are not getting walked as much, but are often eating the same amount, they can start to put on a little weight. These seasonal fluctuations aren’t anything to worry about, so long as you keep your dog within a healthy weight range.
Essentially, all the things we know to be good for ourselves are also good for our dogs. That includes regular exercise and eating complete and well-balanced meals that are packed with quality ingredients. These things will all help keep your dog at a healthy weight. It’s also recommended to steer clear of foods with excessive carbohydrates, added sugars, artificial flavourings and colourings.
Once you know you’re on the right track, try to be as consistent as possible. Life will always get in the way at times – whether it’s illness, work or the weather – but if you keep to a routine that works most of the time, you should be able to maintain a healthy dog weight, with minor fluctuations.
You can also keep an eye on their weight, adjusting their food intake if needed, using a dog weight chart or the body condition score, as well as regular weigh-ins as a guide. Regular grooming, especially if your dog has a heavy coat, will help you spot any changes to your pup’s ideal dog weight.
The benefits of keeping your four-legged family member to a healthy dog weight are huge. It may avoid putting unnecessary pressure on their joints and organs, which is important from a young age to protect them when they’re older. It may also help protect them from disease and illnesses such as diabetes, and increase their lifespan. Many pet owners find they see these health benefits day-to-day too. A healthy dog at a healthy weight has all the energy it needs to enjoy life and be as active as you would expect for their breed.
Whatever your dog’s weight, the two of you are on a journey together. So ignore any opinions that don’t come from your vet and keep persevering. Change doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. You can even team up with your dog to get your steps in. Soon, you’ll see a big difference in your dog’s happiness and how they are around you.
Likewise, you should feel free to be proud of your dog and show off the difference a healthy weight makes. Just remember not to feed other people’s dogs or to pressure others to follow what’s worked for you. Everyone’s dog and situation is different.
The best thing to do if you’re worried about your dog’s weight is to ask your vet. In the meantime, you can monitor your dog by using tools like the Dog Size-O-Meter’ by UK Pet Food. This is a useful guide for checking your dog’s weight, and if you have checked this or a dog weight chart and know what a healthy range is for your dog’s breed, you can always pop them on some scales.
Feeding guides are exactly that – guides. Every dog is different. Factors like your dog’s exercise levels and the quality of the ingredients in their meals will all make a difference.
If your dog is overweight there’s lots you can do to help them. Diet and exercise are the two biggest areas to focus on. First, make sure your dog is eating meals that are high in lean protein and low in carbs, and support this new healthy diet with regular exercise that’s suitable for your dog’s ability level.
Although these tools can be helpful, they should only be used as a guide. Every dog is different and even within breeds there are variations e.g. from male to female or working line to show line.
Keeping your dog a healthy weight throughout their life is crucial for their health and overall wellbeing. That being said, many factors come into play that might affect your dog’s weight, causing gain or loss. The thing to remember is that you aren’t alone – this is a common issue for many pet parents. Luckily, there’s lots you can do to help maintain their ideal weight or get them back on track.
From switching up your dog’s diet and adjusting their exercise, to using body condition scores and popping into the pet store to use the scales – all these small things can add up to a big difference. Once you’ve found the right balance of diet and exercise, it’s all about keeping things consistent. That way, you and your dog can enjoy a full and active life together for many years to come.