Like people, dogs grow on their own schedules. Each dog’s schedule is determined by his genetics, health, and nutrition. A pup destined to be small might be done at 6 months, while a large dog might grow for two years. And some dog parts grow (or regrow) throughout a dog’s lifetime.
When Are Dogs Full Grown?
Dogs stop growing when their genetics tell them they are done, but the exact timing depends on the size of the dog. For instance, a Lab will stop growing between 18 and 24 months, while a Springer Spaniel will stop growing between 15 and 18 months. Plus, each individual dog may differ, so your dog may stop growing before or after those general ranges. A good estimate for when dogs will stop growing, based on different adult dog sizes measured by adult height, is as follows:
Puppy Growth by Breed Size
|Breed Size||Full-Grown Age (Height and Weight)|
|Toy and Small (Chihuahua, Papillon, terriers)||Between 8 and 12 months|
|Medium (Springer Spaniel, Border Collie)||Between 12 and 15 months|
|Large (Labrador Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer)||Between 18 and 24 months|
|Giant (Great Dane, Newfoundland)||Up to 3 years|
Growth Rate for Dogs
While its timing varies by a dog’s size, each dog’s growth passes through predictable stages.
As a puppy grows, his bones lengthen from the soft areas at the ends called growth plates. The bones gain length faster than the body as a whole gains mass. When those growth plates eventually harden and no longer grow, we say that they have closed, and the dog has reached his adult height. Then he fills out with more fat and muscle and finally reaches his adult build and weight.
You can’t really tell how big a pup will be as an adult by looking at his feet; his proportions will fluctuate. As he moves through different stages of growth—but especially through adolescence—a dog may look lanky, awkward, or like his parts don’t quite fit together. He’s gaining height faster than volume, his parts are changing in proportion to one another, and he is adjusting physically to his changing body: It’s basically that awkward stage, but for dogs.
Helping Your Dog Reach Their Healthy Size
For your dog to reach the maximum size allowed by his genetics, keep him healthy and free of parasites, and feed him a high-quality dog food in the proper amount. Don’t overfeed in hopes of encouraging growth—making him gain weight too fast as a puppy, or exercising him strenuously before his growth plates have closed, can hurt him in the long run, injuring his joints or shortening his life.
That’s it. There is no cartoon-dog scenario in which you give a tiny puppy lots of love until he magically reaches a height of 25 feet, and weighs perhaps 87 tons.
What you can do in raising a healthy dog resembles what you can do in raising a healthy human kid: Provide conditions that will allow him to reach his potential. Keep him healthy and feed him well, and your dog will get as big as he gets.
Dogs Ears Not Keeping Pace With Body?
The scientific studies on ear growth are focused on human ears, and not dog ears. But ear’s what we know.
What you’ve noticed at family reunions is true: Human ears do indeed get bigger over time. Older adults have bigger ears than young adults, and old men bigger ears than old women. But it’s not totally clear whether increasing ear size with age is due to continued cartilage growth over the human lifetime, or to cartilage breakdown and gravity.
Whatever the factors, they could just as easily apply to dog ears. Next time you’re at a dog family reunion, take a look: Do old man dogs have noticeably large ears? If you want to conduct research in this area, you may be among the first.
Just like people, dogs have baby teeth and adult teeth. The puppy set is notoriously sharp and doesn’t include molars for grinding. Usually, those pointy puppy teeth fall out and are replaced by a full set of adult teeth with little fanfare.
If an adult tooth is lost, it’s gone for good—it does not grow back.
Yes, dog nails grow back, but a torn nail can be incredibly painful. You know that phrase “it cut him to the quick?” A dog’s nail contains a quick, consisting of a nerve and blood supply. Cutting a nail to the quick is painful, potentially for quite some time. If the quick is exposed, then every bit of contact with it, however slight, is literally “touching a nerve.”
A nick while trimming the nails, while absolutely objectionable to your dog, should be no big deal from a medical perspective. (You’re being conservative and checking the cross-section as you trim those dark-colored nails, right?) But a more seriously torn nail may need veterinary attention to get the loose edges removed, make sure the quick is clean, prevent infection, control pain, and rule out problems like a tumor.
A dog’s whiskers naturally fall out and grow back. If they are accidentally singed off, or ill-advisedly cut, your dog will make new ones on his body’s own schedule.
Whiskers are important to dogs. They are thick, stiff, specialized hairs, each of which is said to be as sensitive as one of our fingertips. Your dog may sport whiskers on his muzzle, “eyebrows,” chin, and upper lip. Whiskers are so sensitive they can even respond to changing air currents as a dog nears an obstacle like a wall. They enable him to move with confidence through a darkened house, hunt prey at night, and squinch his eye shut to protect it from an incoming hazard.
Dog Hair Growth Timeline
If your dog has lost hair from his coat, you may be eager to get him looking his best again soon. First, consult with your vet to determine the cause of the hair loss. Possibilities include hormonal imbalances, infections, parasites, nutritional imbalances, allergies, genetics, and more.
Once the cause has been identified and treatment is underway, the question becomes how to help your dog regrow a healthy coat. Ask your vet about adding omega-3 or omega-6 supplements to your dog’s diet, any shampoo that might help and how often to bathe your dog, and whether daily brushing will benefit your dog’s coat.
Dogs that Grow the Least
All dogs grow to a size determined by genetics, nutrition, and health. Dogs regenerate whiskers, hair, and nails, but they’re not starfish—they can’t regrow limbs. And every dog will stop growing sometime. So if you’re looking for a dog that stays in the puppy stage of growth, your best bet is to look for a small dog breed. These dogs are usually under 20 pounds and therefore don’t grow much larger than their puppy size. Not sure which small dog breed is right for you? Our Dog Breed Selector is designed to help you find the perfect dog for you, whether you prefer a small or big dog, or one that likes long hikes or just hanging out at home. That’s about the size of it!