How Heavy Should My Dog Be? Why Is It Important?

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how heavy should my dog be

Making sure your dog is at its ideal weight can be difficult to pinpoint. Depending on the breed, medical history, age, and more can all factor into how heavy your dog should be

Did you know that keeping your dog at a healthy weight can significantly extend your pup’s lifespan?

And that’s only one reason why you should be mindful about your dog’s weight. 

So how heavy should my dog be and why is it important?

One study found that keeping your dog at an ideal weight could add more than a year and a half to your dog’s life.[1]

How heavy should My dog be? 

With all the different breeds and mixed-breeds out there, it can be hard to figure out the ideal body weight for your dog.

Even within standards, there can be some big differences. 

First, an easy way to get an idea about how heavy your dog should be is to look at tables that show ideal weights for dogs[2].

Charts like this usually go by the AKC, CKC, or UKC standards for your dog’s breed. 

The first thing you should notice is that these numbers give a range of weight. That is because there is no specific number for every dog.

For example, a Labrador can be anywhere between sixty-five and eighty pounds.

That may seem like a significant difference, but a short lab that does dock diving may be perfectly healthy at sixty-five pounds.

In comparison, a taller lab used for a seeing-eye dog could be healthy at eighty. 

Males and females often have a weight difference as well. Males tend to be heavier

How Heavy Should Mixed Breeds Be?

Because none of these charts show mixed breeds, and they can’t account for all of the different mixes out there.

However, because they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, there are a few ways to figure out how heavy your dog should be. 

The best way is to talk to your veterinarian about how heavy your mixed breed should be.

The other option is to look at the breeds that are related to your pup and average out the weight. 

For example, if you have a husky and german shepherd mix, you can look at both breeds and find an average of the two. 

The Ideal Weight System Used by Vets

While the best way to find out how heavy your dog should be is to talk with your vet, here is the same system that they often use to gauge your dog’s weight. 

They will often rate a dog on a scale of one to nine.

By looking at and touching these few key points on your dog, you can determine your dog’s body weight ratio. 

You’ll want to look at:

  • Ribs
  • Wasteline
  • Belly

Your dog will fit into one of these categories. 

Severely Underweight Ribs, spine, and hip bones are clearly visible, and your dog’s belly will be thin. 
Athletic You won’t be able to see the spine or hip bones, but the ribs may be visible. You will be able to feel the ribs, and their stomach will be tight. You will see muscles. Some people consider this to be too thin. However, for working dogs, this is perfect. 
Ideal This is what pet owners’ dog’s weight. Pelvic bones, spine, and ribs will not be visible, but you can still feel the ribs. 
Overweight You will not be able to see or feel any of the pelvic bones, spine, or ribs. There will be no visible waist. This is the warning that you should find a way to help your dog lose weight before becoming obese. 
Obese When a dog becomes obese, you will notice fat buildup around its chest, spine, and tail base. Your dog may even have a round belly.

Note: These standards are for adult dogs and are not the same for puppies.

You can find more details on proper puppy weight below. Or talk to your vet.  

Determining how much your dog should weigh can help you understand how much food you should be feeding your dog.

How You Can Tell if Your Dog Has a Good Weight

While it’s always fun to spoil your dog with a delicious snack, there can be consequences to giving your dog too many treats.

Even natural treats can cause your dog to be overweight. 

However, if your dog is active, this might not be a problem.

So how exactly can you tell if your dog is the right weight for their unique body type? 

Ideal weight varies by breed

Because some dogs are just built differently, there can be many differences when it comes to how heavy your dog should be.

For example, a husky that pulls sleds all day will have more muscle than your average pet that chills in a New York apartment. 

Just because the breed standard says one thing, it doesn’t mean that your dog is overweight.

However, keeping these guidelines in mind can help you determine how heavy your dog should be. 

Ignore the scale

Furthermore, just like their human best friends, dogs shouldn’t be judged only by the number that appears on the scale.

Getting your dog weighed regularly is the perfect way to track your dog’s healthy weight, but it shouldn’t be the only factor when it comes to keeping your dog healthy. 

Using the Body Condition Score chart above, the same ones that vets use can help you narrow down if your dog is at its ideal weight. 

This system measures how much weight is on your dog in proportion to their body type.

For example, that husky we talked about earlier that’s pulling sleds all day would be athletic yet would most likely weigh more than the breed standard because of their excess muscles. 

The scales range from one, which represents undernourished dogs, upwards to nine for morbidly obese pets.

You should aim to keep your dog somewhere in the middle around a four or five. 

Because you should be able to feel but not see your dog’s ribs, it may seem like your pet is overweight.

However, remember that this healthy weight can lead to a longer life. 

Fluffy Hair Might Hide The Obesity

Vets hear it all the time. Your dog has long hair, and you think most of it is fluff until you take them to the groomer.

The trim happens, and you swear they brought out a different dog. 

It’s hard to see how heavy your pup is under all of their furs.

However, it’s not quite an excuse as to why your dog is overweight. 

Having a fluffy coat can also hide any health problems or weight loss in your dog.

However, even if your dog has a thick coat, you can still feel their body to gauge how heavy they are. 

4 Ways To Gauge How Heavy Your Dog Should Be 

While the above method is a great way to gauge if your dog is overweight, but as we saw with our fluffy example above, sometimes these other tricks will be helpful. 

Check the ribs

Simply take both hands and run them down either side of your dog.

If you can feel the ribs without any effort, your dog could use an extra pound or two.

However, if you have to press firmly to even feel them, your dog is considered overweight. 

Check the legs

Fat can sometimes build up between your dog’s legs. You can often see these while your dog is walking.

Running your hands over your pup’s chest can expose these fat pads. 

Check the shape of your dog

Begin by standing above your dog. Take some time and look down.

Does it look like your dog has an oval? Or is their appearance more tapered? 

If your dog looks more round rather than a triangle, your pup may need to start losing weight

However, if you can see your pet’s waste taper inward, they are probably normal weight. 

Check your dog’s breed profile

Because each Kennel Club offers its own unique weight chart for its registered breeds, you may need to look at what your country considered to be average weight. 

For example, a Doberman Pincher in America should weigh between 60 and 100 pounds, whereas the UKC wants them more around only 70 or 80 pounds. 

This is important because of different breeding lines.

Here are just a few examples of some popular dogs and their ideal weight. 

  • Beagle – 20 to 24 pounds*

*There are three different standards of Beagle separated by height.

  • Boston Terrier – 12 to 25 pounds
  • Boxer – 55 to 70 pounds
  • Bulldog – 40 to 55 pounds
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – 13 to 18 pounds
  • German Shepherd – 50 to 88 pounds
  • Golden Retriever – 55 to 75 pounds
  • Great Dane – 140 to 175 pounds (males) – 110 to 140 pounds (females)
  • Labrador Retriever – 64 to 71 pounds
  • Pitbull – 35 to 65 pounds (American pit bull terrier) – 29 to 37 pounds (Staffordshire bull terrier)
  • Pomeranian – 3 to 7 pounds
  • Poodle – 45 to 70 pounds
  • Pug – 14 to 18 pounds
  • Rottweiler – 77 to 130 pounds
  • Siberian Husky – 35 to 60 pounds
  • Yorkshire Terrier – 4 to 6 pounds and no more than 7.

You can find more dogs at AKC, CKC, or UKC.

Factors That Affect Your Dog’s Weight

Many factors go into how heavy your dog should be. Things like breed, activity level, and age are just a few. 

Puppies are supposed to be a little rounder, but that doesn’t mean that it is okay for them to be overweight at such a young age.

That can easily cause health problems later on in their life. 

Keeping track of your dog’s weight is the best thing you can do to help keep them healthy.

Tracking how heavy your dog is can help you can help notice changes that can lead to health-related problems. 

Although it is essential to make sure you have a healthy weight for your dog, it’s also important to remember that all dogs are different and have individual health needs.

Some medications can also affect your dog’s weight.

However, let’s look more at some of the specifics that weigh in on your dog’s weight.

Obesity In Dogs: Health Risks

All breeds can suffer from obesity. It is not just how much they eat, but how quickly they are gaining weight.

Obesity in dogs is most frequently caused by overfeeding or lack of exercise.

As dogs age, they slow down how many calories they burn each day.

Other problems that obesity can cause:

Joint and Bone IssuesJoint problems are one of the results of obesity in dogs. As your dog gains weight, you can expect to see stiffness and soreness on his joints.

This is because extra fat around the joints increases the pressure on them. You will also notice how hard it is for him to move around or how he may lose interest in playing. 
Problematic Breathing  Dogs that are obese are more likely to have sleep apnea. This is because extra fat around the neck area can cause breathing problems while your dog sleeps.
Heart Problems When dogs are obese, they are at a higher risk for heart disease. Overweight dogs that suddenly decrease how much food they eat or exercise will add excess stress on their organs and joints.
Other Issues Caused By Obesity  Dogs that are overweight have other health problems such as reproductive complications, UTIs, and thyroid issues. 

What should you do if your dog is obese?

Puppies are a particular case when it comes to obesity.

Because puppies are supposed to be a little more rolly than adult dogs, it can be hard to tell when they are overweight.

This is why it’s essential to make sure you are monitoring how much your puppy eats.

If you feel like your puppy is overweight or obese, then take them to the vet for a check-up.

If they are over their healthy weight, the doctor will recommend how much food your dog should be eating based on how big they are, and you can easily adjust accordingly.

It’s also essential to make sure that your puppy is getting adequate exercise.

Young puppies don’t need much. However, as they grow, you may need to adjust their caloric intake.

How to Calculate Your Dog’s Healthy Weight

As we talked about earlier, dogs, even those of the same breed, can come in various sizes and shapes.

So how can you calculate your dog’s healthy weight?

Well, it isn’t as easy to do as calculating how much you should weigh. But here are some guidelines.

Use the guidelines above and compare your dog’s shape and build to the 9-point scale.

Your dog should be somewhere around a four or a five for a healthy body condition.

If your dog looks more like the lower numbers, like a two or three, your dog is considered to be underweight, and you should increase your dog’s food.

You also may want to take a trip to the vet to make sure there are no other health conditions that could be causing this, like parasites.

However, if your dog is closer to the seven or higher range, you should look for ways to help your dog lose weight, or you can also use an online calculator.

Once you know your dog’s body type, you will need to start with that number.

For example, your dog has a BCS of 8. First, subtract five from your dog’s BCS.


Next, multiply that by ten.


From there, add 100.


Next, divide 100 by the result to get a decimal and round it to three digits.

100/130= .769

Finally, multiply that decimal by your dog’s weight.

769×50 pounds =38.5

So with the above example, this dog should ideally weigh 38 and a half pounds.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

You need to know your dog’s target body weight can help you determine how much your pup should eat to maintain a healthy weight.

Your dog’s ideal weight also tells you how many calories you need to include in her diet so she can be as healthy as possible.

Finally, knowing your dog’s target body weight helps you to recognize when she is overweight, underweight, or just right.

Make Your Dog Lose Weight The Right Way

It can be a daunting task when you realize that your dog needs to lose weight.

The good news is that you need to do it gradually. So no need to rush.

Exercise, a healthy diet, and consistency are the keys to your dog losing weight the right way, so they feel better throughout the process.

What You Need: 

  • Food Scale 
  • A Measuring Cup or Spoon 
  • Dog Treats (optional) 
  • Healthy Dog Treats (optional)

You can also talk to your vet about creating a weight loss program for your dog. Or they can suggest what foods to feed your pup.

Underweight Dogs Must Avoid Bloating

If you notice that your dog is underweight, you will need to figure out a way to build up their body weight in a healthy way. Your vet can help you make a plan.

You should also make sure that the weight loss isn’t due to other underlying medical conditions.

Some conditions that cause weight loss are:

  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • GI Problems
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Insulin Resistance (Hyperinsulinemia)
  • Heartworm Disease
  • Parasites
  • Hemangiosarcoma or Lymphosarcoma

Once these complications have been ruled out, you can begin feeding your dog with an ideal target weight.

Satin balls[3] are a great way to help your dog gain weight.

However, if you are feeding them more than one meal a day, make sure that the meals aren’t too close together, or you could risk bloat.

Bloat can be very serious and is more common in large breed dogs.

However, all dogs can suffer from bloat. If your dog is the type that eats extremely fast or gulps their food, it can increase their chances of bloat. 

Symptoms of bloat include:

  • Vomiting
  • Having an elevated heart rate
  • Not being able to lay down comfortably
  • Showing signs of discomfort.

Expanding low-quality dry food could also lead to bloat.

The Bottom Line

Determining how heavy your dog should be might sound complex, but it is an important part of your dog’s life.

By knowing how heavy your dog should be, you can determine how healthy they are.

If you find that your dog is too heavy or too light, speak with a veterinarian about reaching their ideal weight. You can also read our review for the best dog food for weight gain.

Photo of author
Larissa Musangu
I'm a seasoned dog lover and companion. I've noticed that there are numerous misconceptions regarding dog nutrition, which is why I've taken it upon myself to share actionable, accurate and research-backed advice on best-practices for feeding our four-legged friends.

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