A chubby dog is undeniably cute, but the fact is that it's not healthy for a dog to carry around excess weight. Obesity affects millions of pets, and it can cause serious health problems. Of course, a dog that's too thin isn't healthy, either. So, you might be asking yourself: How heavy should my dog be, exactly?
There's a lot of conflicting information out there, and since every dog is different, an ideal weight can often be hard to pin down. Luckily, the experts have laid out a few ways for dog owners to determine their pets' ideal weight. Let's take a closer look at how obesity affects dogs, as well as the ideal weight for your dog and how to tell when they've reached it.
How Does Obesity Affect My Dog?
We all know that obesity is bad for pets, just like it is for humans. But how exactly does obesity affect your dog's health? Some of the negative effects include:
- Cardiovascular issues. Extra weight puts more stress on your dog's cardiovascular system, which means they're at a higher risk for issues like congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.
- Back problems. Your dog's excess weight puts more pressure on the spinal cord. Obese dogs are at a higher risk for slipped spinal disks.
- Inflammation. An overweight dog is likely to have more inflammation around the body, which can lead to health problems like arthritis. (Try Native Pet's Hip and Joint Chicken Chews to combat inflammation before it even begins.)
- Endocrine disorders. Endocrine disorders mean the thyroid or adrenal glands aren't functioning properly, which can lead to health symptoms like loss of skin and coat quality, increased or decreased appetite, and behavioral changes.
- Shorter lifespan. On average, overweight dogs live about two years less than dogs who remain at a healthy weight.
Clearly, the risks associated with obesity in dogs are serious. That's why it's important to pay attention to your dog's weight and continually ask yourself: How heavy should my dog be?
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Overweight?
If you have an extremely overweight dog, it's pretty obvious. But what about the dogs that aren't morbidly obese, but might have a few extra pounds around their waistline? Since "chubby" or "heavy" are subjective terms, we need a concrete way to tell if our dogs are too large.
Something called the body condition score can help dog owners determine whether or not their dogs are carrying around too much extra weight. This scoring method involves examining particular features on your dog, and it runs from one to five — with one being underweight and five being overweight.
- You can see and feel your dog's ribs and they have almost no body fat. This means your dog is underweight.
- You can see and feel your dog's ribs, but only when you're up close. Looking at your dog from above, you can see a clearly defined waist. This means your dog may be slightly underweight.
- You can feel your dog's ribs but you can't see them. You can see a defined waist from above. This means your dog is a healthy weight.
- You can only feel your dog's ribs under an obvious layer of fat, and there is extra fat near the base of your dog's tail. This means your dog may be slightly overweight.
- You cannot see a waist when looking at your dog from above, the abdomen is hanging down, and there is obvious extra fat on the neck, limbs, and back. This means your dog is obese.
If you're wondering how heavy your dog should be, try feeling your dog's ribs and examining them visually as described in the body condition score test. If you suspect your dog might be carrying extra weight, it's time to call your vet's office. At the end of the day, the best way to know whether or not your dog is overweight is to check with your veterinarian.
What Is My Dog's Ideal Weight?
Different dog breeds have different standards for weight and size. The American Kennel Club has a convenient dog weight chart for reference.
There are more established standards for purebred dogs (although there can still be variation among individual dogs), but ideal weights for mixed-breed dogs are a bit harder to define. If you have a mixed breed, you'll want to ask your veterinarian for an exact body weight range that they would consider normal for your pet.
If you have a purebred dog, normal adult weight ranges might look something like this:
- Australian Cattle dog: 30-50 pounds (male and female)
- Border Collie: 30-55 pounds (male and female)
- Bulldog: 50 pounds (male), 40 pounds (female)
- Bull Terrier: 50-70 pounds (male and female)
- Chihuahua: less than 6 pounds (male and female)
- Cocker Spaniel: 28-34 pounds (male), 26-32 pounds (female)
- Dachshund: 16-32 pounds (male and female)
- Doberman Pinscher: 75-100 pounds (male), 60-90 pounds (female)
- English Springer Spaniel: 50 pounds (male), 40 pounds (female)
- French Bulldog: less than 28 pounds (male and female)
- German Shepherd: 65-90 pounds (male), 50-70 pounds (female)
- Great Dane: 140-175 pounds (male), 110-140 pounds (female)
- Labrador Retriever: 65-80 pounds (male), 55-70 pounds (female)
- Mastiff: 160-230 pounds (male), 120-170 pounds (female)
- Old English Sheepdog: 60-100 pounds (male and female)
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi: up to 30 pounds (male), up to 28 pounds (female)
- Pomeranian: 3-7 pounds (male and female)
- Pug: 14-18 pounds (male and female)
- Toy Poodle: 4-6 pounds (male and female)
- Whippet: 25-40 pounds (male and female)
Of course, every dog is different. The above weight ranges are only guidelines. And remember: Mixed-breed dogs don't fall neatly into these categories, so it's always best to get your veterinarian's opinion.
How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
If you've discovered that your dog is indeed overweight, you'll need to work with your veterinarian to come up with a weight-loss plan. It's the best way to help your dog lose weight in a safe and effective manner. While the specifics of a dog's weight-loss plan will vary depending on the individual dog, most involve a few basic steps.
First, your dog will need to go on a diet. This might involve adjusting Fido's portion size, or your pet might need to start eating a new dog food with a higher nutritional value. Your vet will be able to calculate the precise number of calories your pet needs per day to reverse their weight gain.
The other main part of a weight-loss program will involve your dog getting more exercise. Daily walks, perhaps longer or faster-paced than you typically give, might be necessary. Intense playtime with fun toys is also a good way for your dog to burn extra calories.
Your vet might also recommend changing the kind of treats you give your dog. Rather than fatty dog treats from the store, low-calorie veggies or fruits might fit the bill. A dietary supplement like Native Pet's Omega Oil food topper can also be useful for giving your dog something tasty and nutritious while providing higher quality calories from healthy fat.
The Bottom Line: How Heavy Should My Dog Be?
There's a lot of information out there about your dog's body weight and their ideal figure. If you're still asking yourself, "How heavy should my dog be?" You're not alone.
You can use tools like body weight charts and the AKC's body condition score to get a general idea of your dog's ideal weight. But the best course of action is even simpler: Call your veterinarian and ask what the ideal weight range for your particular dog would be. Getting a professional opinion is always a better option than playing a guessing game.
If your dog is carrying around excess weight and needs to shed some pounds, work closely with your vet to create a tailored diet and exercise plan. That way, your pooch can lose weight effectively and safely.
Want to learn more about your dog's health and wellness needs? Check out the Native Pet blog.