Table of Contents
How to tell if your dog is a healthy weight?

  • Don’t beat yourself up

Average weight of dogs for common breeds – what to look for 

  • Small dogs
  • Medium-sized dogs
  • Large dogs

Why dogs gain or lose weight

  • Diet 
  • Health
  • Weather 

5 ways to help your dog lose weight
5 ways to help your dog gain weight
How to maintain your dog’s healthy weight

  • Consistency is key

Healthy dogs are happy dogs
A weight off your mind
Ideal dog weights FAQ

  • Is my dog a healthy weight?
  • Why is my dog overweight? I follow the feeding guides! 
  • How can I help my dog lose weight?
  • How accurate are breed weights and calculators? 

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.

How heavy should my dog be?

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. 

Don’t beat yourself up

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.

Average weight of dogs for common breeds – what to look for

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.

Small dogs

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.

Medium-sized dogs

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.

Large dogs

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.

Ideal dog weightWhy dogs gain or lose weight

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:

1. Diet

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.

2. Health

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. 

3. Weather

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.

5 ways to help your dog lose weight 

  1. Exercise and playtime! 
    Aim for around 1-3 hours a day depending on your dog’s needs, including off-lead exercise, walks, energetic play and time exploring the garden. Even sniffing and exploring on the lead all count!
  2. Try a high protein, low carb diet
    Just like us humans looking to shed a few pounds, feeding your dog a diet that’s rich  in high-quality, lean protein and low in carbs can help maintain an ideal dog weight. This diet may work by helping to maintain lean muscle while losing fat. 
  3. Treat smart
    All that good work at mealtime can get undone by snacks, but it’s an easy fix! Cutting down on the number of treats, or switching to more healthy alternatives like raw treats and making sure you limit them to the recommended daily allowance, can make a big difference. Alternatively, try breaking one of your usual packet treats into smaller pieces before rewarding so they go further. 
  4. Adapt their exercise and playtime
    Exercising your dog is still important for their overall wellbeing as well as being good for their joints. But you might want to switch from rigorous exercise to something more gentle until they reach a weight you’re happy with. And, if your dog is advancing in years, you may want to discuss the best joint supplement for senior dogs with your vet.
  5. Get the whole family involved
    It’s so important to make sure everyone in the household is aware of the dog’s diet so you can keep things on track. Discourage well-meaning neighbours and visitors from giving them things they aren’t allowed, especially if they’re high in fat.
  6. Switch to raw!
    Feeding your dog a healthy balanced diet made with quality ingredients is half the battle when it comes to maintaining a healthy dog weight.  And that’s easier when you can see what those ingredients are. That’s why at Natures Menu, we stay well away from anything artificial, chemical or unpronounceable. Instead, our premium raw dog food range is made with quality ingredients you’ll recognise – and that’s it. 

5 ways to help your dog gain weight

  1. Add some healthy carbohydrates to mealtime 
    For dogs that are skinny, a quick easy way to bulk up your dog’s meals and increase their calorie intake is with good quality carbs. Underweight dogs may benefit from our Superfood Mighty Mixer, which is a nutritious blend of rolled oats, fruits and vegetables.
  2. Look at more calorie-dense foods 
    Choose meals with quality ingredients that provide plenty of protein and healthy fats to up their calorie intake, whether that’s a single protein raw dog food with a healthy choice such as beef , or a blend. You might also want to explore whether puppy foods, which are high in calories, are a good option.
  3.  Increase the portions
    For underweight dogs, sometimes this is the most simple adjustment to make a big difference, especially if your dog loves his food. Just make sure the increased portions are still packed with nutritious, high quality ingredients, so they’re getting a complete and balanced meal.  If you need help with this, try our raw nuggets as a convenient way of slowly increasing meal sizes whilst keeping the right balance of select cuts of meat, offal, fruits and/or vegetables.
  4. Do a dog psychology check
    Your dog may be naturally slim or underweight, but it’s good to check that their lack of appetite isn’t driven by stress. Check for any abnormal dog behaviour or change in their mood. They should be playful, happy and walking and sleeping normally, but if you have any doubts, talk to your vet. 
  5. Try more healthy snacks 
    If your dog struggles to eat big meals in one go – or even if they’re highly food driven – healthy treats given throughout the day as part of their daily food allowance are a great way to sneak some extra calories into their diet. 

ideal dog weightHow to maintain your dog’s healthy weight

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.

Consistency is key

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

Healthy dogs are happy dogs

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. 

A weight off your mind

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.

Ideal dog weights FAQ

Is my dog a healthy weight?

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.

Why is my dog overweight? I follow the feeding guides!

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. 

How can I help my dog lose weight?

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.

How accurate are breed weights and calculators?

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. 

To sum it all up…

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.