Dogs, even more than people, come in all different shapes and sizes: there are tiny chihuahuas and huge mastiffs, skinny greyhounds and stout bull dogs. With such a range, it can be difficult to judge if your fine, furred friend is at a healthy, optimal weight. It is, however, worth the trouble to educate yourself on the signs of dog obesity, and what you can do about it.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 54% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. That means if you’re not sure, your dog has a 1 in 2 chance of being outside it’s optimal weight range. According to recent studies, dogs which are kept at their ideal body weight live 1.8 years longer. And that’s good news.
Chances are you don’t specialize in pet nutrition, and you probably don’t have the time to become an expert. The good news is a simple inspection using touch, sight and a general awareness of how your dog acts should give you enough knowledge to make a good diagnosis on whether or not your little (or big) friend needs to lose a few pounds.
How to Tell if my Dog is Overweight
Dogs have a certain shape, and for the most part that isn’t reminiscent of a barrel. Take a look at your dog in profile – look for folds around the neck or obvious fat deposits at the base of the neck. Next, check from above. If your dog is getting a little extra mass, chances are it will settle between its hips and its rib cage, giving your dog that unwanted ‘barrel’ look. Instead, your dog should have a discernible waist between the end of her ribs and the beginning of her hips. Now, step back and make sure the tummy tucks upwards after the ribs. Puppies have a cute little tummy, but a full-grown dog should have a more svelte look.
Your dog loves to be touched, whether it’s a loving pet, a scratch behind her ears, or a simple pat on his head. And chances are, good pet owner that you are, you spend a portion of the day giving your dog the attention she desires. So, next time your pet your dog, pay attention to what you’re feeling. Give his side a bit of a scratch and see if you can feel some ribs there, or if there’s a layer of fat between your fingers and the ribcage. Give her a little belly rub and watch how much jiggle there is down there. Finally, end of with a good neck scratch – see if you can get that back leg going. Are there folds of flesh (of course, if your dog is a sharpei…) and fat hanging around the neck, or rolling over the collar?
A healthy dog should be able to move around with ease. This ease has a lot to do with your dog breed and goes from Bulldog to Collie. But, within reason, your dog should be able to keep up with you. If he’s always panting and out of breath, and doesn’t have the stamina you remember him having, it could be because he’s packing around more weight than he used to be. Check out his gait as well, if his legs are bowing out (and he’s not a bulldog or other bow-legged breed) it could be a sign of obesity.
The Ideal Weight For Your Dog
With all the different breeds, and all the different cross-breeds, it’s impossible to give a one-size fits all diagnosis, or a one-size fits all solution. But you know your dog best, so do it a favour and stop comparing it to the perfectly-groomed poodles in the dog shows (it’s so hard on their confidence). Instead, compare her to her past self, and see how she stacks up. And, if her waist is disappearing, or her stamina seems to be sinking, it’s time to rethink her diet or exercise – or both. We’ll explore both the exercise and nutritional needs of dogs in upcoming articles, so keep tuned for more information on how to keep your pets in the best shape of their lives.
With that said, for your reference, we have put together a chart of the top 50 dog breeds so that you have a general reference. Remember, every dog is different, so make sure you don't simply rely on the weights listed below, but you also perform the sight, touch, and stamina tests above.
Ideal Weights for Top 50 Dog Breeds
|Dog Breed||Ideal Weight for Males||Ideal Weight for Females|
|Labrador Retreiver||65-80 lbs||55-70 lbs|
|German Shepherd||75-95 lbs||75-95 lbs|
|Golden Retreiver||65-75 lbs||55-65 lbs|
|Bulldog||50 lbs||40 lbs|
|Beagle||22-24 lbs||20-22 lbs|
|French Bulldog||under 28lbs||under 28 lbs|
|Poodle (standard)||60-70 lbs||40-50 lbs|
|Poodle (miniature||10-15 lbs||10-15 lbs|
|Poodle (toy)||4-6 lbs||4-6 lbs|
|Rottweilers||110-130 lbs||77-110 lbs|
|Yorkshire Terrier||7 lbs||7 lbs|
|Boxer||65-80 lbs||50-65 lbs|
|German Shorthaired Pointer||55-70 lbs||45-60 lbs|
|Siberian Husky||44-60 lbs||35-51 lbs|
|Dachshund (standard)||16-32 lbs||16-32 lbs|
|Dachshund (miniature)||less than 11 lbs||less than 11 lbs|
|Great Dane||120-200 lbs||99-130 lbs|
|Doberman Pinscher||75-100 lbs||60-90 lbs|
|Australian Shepherd||55-70 lbs||35-55 lbs|
|Miniature Schnauzer||11-20 lbs||11-20lbs|
|Pembroke Welsh Corgi||27 lbs||25 lbs|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||13-18 lbs||13-18 lbs|
|Shih Tzu||9-16 lbs||9-16 lbs|
|Boston Terrier||10-25 lbs||10-25 lbs|
|Pomeranian||3-7 lbs||3-7 lbs|
|Havanese||7-13 lbs||7-13 lbs|
|Shetland Sheep Dog||20 lbs||20 lbs|
|Brittany||30-40 lbs||30-40 lbs|
|English Springer Spaniel||50 lbs||40 lbs|
|Berneses Mountain Dog||86-110 lbs||79-110 lbs|
|English Mastiff||160-230 lbs||120-170 lbs|
|Cocker Spaniel||25-30 lbs||20-25 lbs|
|Chihuahua||3-6 lbs||3-6 lbs|
|Vizla||55-60 lbs||45-55 lbs|
|Pug||14-18 lbs||14-18 lbs|
|Maltese||6-8 lbs||6-8 lbs|
|Weimeraner||70-90 lbs||55-75 lbs|
|Newfoundland||130-150 lbs||100-120 lbs|
|Miniature American Shepherd||20-40 lbs||20-40 lbs|
|Collie||60-70 lbs||50-65 lbs|
|Border Collie||30-45 lbs||27-42 lbs|
|Basset Hound||40-65 lbs||40-66 lbs|
|Cane Corso||99-110 lbs||88-99 lbs|
|West Highland White Terrier||85 lbs||70 lbs|
|Rhodesian Ridgeback||85 lbs||70 lbs|
|Chesapeake Bay Retriever||65-80 lbs||55-70 lbs|
|Shiba Inu||18-24 lbs||15-20 lbs|
|Bishon Frise||12-18 lbs||12-18 lbs|
|Akita||100-130 lbs||70-100 lbs|
|Belgian Malinois||60-80 lbs||40-60 lbs|
|Bullmastiff||110-130 lbs||100-120 lbs|
|St. Bernard||140-180 lbs||12-140 lbs|
|Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier||35-40 lbs||30-35 lbs|
|Source: American Kennel Club|