It’s the first thing any potential dog parent wants to know: How big will she be?
Does Size Matter?
Of course, there’s no surefire way to tell exactly how much your puppy will grow, but there are a few key indicators that help guide you. This is particularly important for those looking to rescue a shelter puppy who may be of indeterminate breed.
Knowing just how big your dog will be in the future is vital to determining your ultimate lifestyle. It’s important to know if that little 5 pound pup will grow to 75 pounds or more. Her final size could have an impact on your ability to care for her, the size car you need to buy, or even where you might live. Anyway, if you’ve already have adopted your puppy, playing “Guess how big she’ll get!” is a fun way to kill an afternoon.
Paws and Correlation to Size
It’s a bit of an old wives tale that you can tell exactly how big a dog will be by looking at her paws. Just like people, some puppies have much larger or smaller paws than their ultimate size would indicate. That said, paws actually are a decent approximation if you’re just looking for a general gauge.
Great Dane puppies, for example, have incredibly large paws. They’ll eventually grow into them, of course, but looking at paws early on gives you a sense that the dog will be much, much bigger than she is now.
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Paw size compared to final size is way more parallel for purebred dogs as opposed to mixed breeds. Most single-breed dogs already have a pretty set size range you can look to for guidance; when breeds mix, it’s often difficult to tell which breed’s size will be more dominant over time.
It’s important to note that most puppies’ paws become pretty proportionate to their overall size at around 3 months old. By this age, you can usually tell how much a puppy still has to grow. Once a puppy is around 6 months old, they are about 75% grown.
Other Ways to Determine Size
The general rule of thumb is that puppies have grown to be half their eventual size by about 14-16 weeks of age. Of course, it’s not a hard and fast rule and every puppy is different…remember your friend Dave who’s 6′ 6″ tall even though his parents are both under six feet? The smaller a dog is, the more likely this measuring stick is to work pretty well.
Another indicator of size is the amount of loose skin on your puppy. This likely means your puppy is going to eventually grow into this skin. That is, unless your pup is a particularly loose-skinned breed like a bulldog or Shar Pei. If you don’t know the breed(s) of your puppy, a simple home DNA test kit can help you find out, to varying degrees of accuracy.