An estimated 56 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.* How do you identify a healthy weight goal for your dog if he’s overweight (or underweight)?
Most people turn to resources on the internet with an average dog weight or a range. Because all dogs are different, though, it’s not that simple.
Problems with Identifying an “Average” Dog Weight
Since dogs come in so many different breeds and sizes, it’s impossible to identify an average weight for all dogs. Weight may also depend on the dog’s sex and whether they’ve been spayed or neutered.
Although many resources provide an average weight range for different breeds, it’s usually significant. These ranges often don’t take the dog’s sex and other factors into consideration.
For example, a typical weight range you might see for a Labrador Retriever is 55 to 80 pounds. That’s a big range, and most female Labs shouldn’t weigh 80 pounds. They should fall on the lower end of the range.
Weight ranges also don’t account for the many mixed breed dogs out there. Just because the typical range for a Lab is 55 to 80 pounds doesn’t mean your Lab mix will or should fall within that range. It will depend on the other breeds he’s mixed with.
Plus, what if you don’t know the breed make-up of your mixed-breed dog? What then? Most resources say to use the dominant breed, but even then, you’re guessing what that is. An average dog weight or range definitely doesn’t work for mixed breeds.
A Better Solution for Determining Healthy Dog Weight
Rather than going off an average, which can be grossly inaccurate, we recommend using Body Condition Scoring (BCS). This system uses physical and visual observations of your dog to assess his current body condition and whether he’s over or underweight.
Your dog’s veterinarian uses this same system to determine whether your dog is over or underweight or healthy. See how to use BCS here.
What if My Dog is Overweight?
If you’ve used the BCS system or your veterinarian has said your dog is overweight, it’s time to make some changes. Your veterinarian may recommend switching to a weight management dog food to help your dog achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
For more tips on dog weight loss, like exercises for your dog, see our article How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
What if My Dog is Underweight?
Many people spend so much time worrying about whether their dog is overweight that they fail to consider their dog might be underweight.
If your veterinarian says your dog is too thin, they may recommend a high-calorie dog food to help him gain weight. Once he’s at a healthy weight, a weight management formula can help him maintain it long-term.
Although it’s tempting to give your dog lots of treats and even people food during this time, it’s important not to overdo it. Even if your dog is underweight, treats should make up no more than 10% of his daily caloric intake. Otherwise he might put on too much fat and not enough muscle.
You should also not overlook exercise during this time, as it’s important for building muscle. Learn more in our How to Help Your Dog Gain Weight article.
Average Dog Weight is a Myth
There’s no “average’ because there are no average dogs. Each dog is unique and their ideal weight will vary based on several factors.
To learn more about dog weight and overall health, explore all our dog health articles. Browse all our weight management foods to find the right formula for your dog.