In this expert guide to puppy development stages you can check your puppy’s weight against our puppy growth chart, learn about important puppy milestones and discover how your puppy will change and develop week by week.
This is a big guide! We’ve divided the information on puppy stages into three clear sections so that you can find what you need.
- Section 1: Puppy Milestones (ears, eyes, walking, barking, weaning, teething)
- Section 2: Puppy Growth Stages (growth rates & weight, puppy growth charts)
- Section 3: Puppy Development By Week
You can use the FAQ links in each section to get your questions answered quickly and watch adorable videos in our puppy stages by week section! We’ll help you discover what is normal, and what you can do to help your puppy develop into a happy, healthy dog. And we’ll answer your worries about whether your puppy is the right weight or getting enough to eat!
SECTION 1: PUPPY MILESTONES
Puppy milestones are puppy development stages that are marked by specific important events, such as the moment your puppy opens their eyes, or takes their first wobbly steps.
The first few weeks of your puppy’s life are busy ones, with several milestones reached in quick succession.
At birth puppies are only capable of crawling with their front feet and suckling. Eyes and ears are closed and they have no teeth. So a lot has to happen before you can take your puppy home! There are some important milestones soon after collecting your puppy too!
It’s fun to record our puppy’s progress through the various puppy milestones. As long as we remember that these milestones are not set in stone, and variations either side of average are normal.
When do puppies open their eyes?
Your puppy’s eyes will open during the second week of life. Puppies’ eyes don’t just pop open suddenly. A tiny gap appears between the eyelids in the corner of the eye and the puppy will peep out through it. Over the course of a day or two the eye will open fully. Sometimes one eye opens faster than the other. And some puppies will open their eyes a day or so earlier than the others.
When do puppies start walking?
The third week is all about getting puppies up on their legs. And most puppies are standing and taking their first wobbly steps by the end of the third week of life.
When do puppies start barking?
Newborn puppies make tiny squeaking noises when they are cold, but for the most part are fairly quiet. Proper dog sounds begin to appear during the second to third week. Recognizable barking is usually established by eight weeks old, and almost all pups will be able to make cute little puppy woofs by ten to twelve weeks.
When do puppies stop biting?
Puppies bite as part of their normal play, and also because biting helps relieve the discomfort of teething. With the right help, most puppies have learned not to bite hard enough to hurt you by about five months, and stopped biting altogether by six months. The word “help” is the key though, because “not biting” is something you need to actively teach your puppy not to do.
When does the socialization window close?
Puppy socialization is one of the most important of all puppy development stages. The process that all dogs need to go through in order to help them live comfortably in our human world.
It’s all about learning not to be scared of new experiences, and to welcome human beings as friends. All puppies need some help with this process and if they don’t get the help they need, by about three months old, puppies start to become nervous of unfamiliar people and events.
The important key phases for you to be aware of are
- The window for socialization in puppies
- The teenage dog fear period
The window for socialization closes at around three months old and is the time when your puppy will most readily accept and adapt to new experiences. This is the stage where you need to take him everywhere and ensure he meets as much of the world as he possibly can. The teenage fear period is a time between 6-12 months when young dogs that were fully socialized as puppies may again become fearful and need their socialization programme refreshing once again
SECTION 2: PUPPY GROWTH
There are actually three aspects to puppy development that all need to come together in order for him to be truly an adult dog.
- Physical maturity
- Sexual maturity
- Mental maturity
When will my puppy be a grown up?
Your puppy needs to reach all three aspects of maturity before he is a “grown up”. To confuse matters, these processes don’t happen at the same rate. And the point at which all three are complete varies from one dog breed to another. Let’s take physical maturity first and talk about puppy growth.
Puppy growth FAQs
- Puppy Growth Chart
- When do puppies grow the most?
- Can you tell how big a puppy will get?
- When Do Puppies Stop Growing?
- Neutering and Growth
- Feeding and Growth
- Is my Puppy Too Thin?
- What Should My Puppy Weigh?
- Healthy Puppy Weight Guide
How fast do puppies grow? – Differences in puppy growth rates
People often write to me and say “I have a 3 month old (or 4 or 5 months) Cocker Spaniel (or Labrador, or Springer), how much should he weigh?” They often tell me how much food in grams or ounces he is getting, and ask me if this is enough.
As you have probably guessed, there isn’t an exact answer to a question of this nature. However, we can and do give you some rough guides in the charts and graphs you’ll find in this article. The most important thing, is to give you the tools to recognize when your own individual puppy is growing and thriving, and when things are not right.
Growth rates in different breeds of dog
The reason we can’t be more precise, is that dogs vary in their growth rates, as well as in the final size that they are likely to reach. We can’t predict exact weights at any of the main puppy development stages. There are not just differences between breeds, there are differences between individuals of each breed, and even between litter-mates.
Development in dogs of different sizes
Different dogs pass through puppy development stages at different rates. The most significant differences in growth rates and patterns though, is between dogs of different sizes. In the puppy growth chart you can see just how much more intense the growth rate of larger dogs is, and how much longer they carry on growing.
We’ve divided the dogs into five groups and we’ll look at those more closely below.
When Do Puppies Grow The Most?
The most rapid growth occurs within the first few weeks. From birth to 8 weeks old your puppy will grow faster than at any other point during his or her life.
Do Puppies Have Growth Spurts?
Yes, puppy growth spurts are short periods where they grow more rapidly for a while, than they did before. These may occur at any time during the first year or so.
In general, it’s a good thing to avoid overly rapid growth so don’t go overboard with extra feeding even if you think your puppy is growing faster at the moment. And do consult your vet if you think your puppy is putting on weight too quickly.
When Do Puppies Stop Growing?
How old are dogs when they stop growing? It’s a common question. Physical maturity is reached at different ages, depending largely on the size of your dog. Little dogs stop growing much sooner than big dogs. So the answer to the question at what age do dogs stop growing, varies from dog to dog.
Puppy Growth Chart
The puppy growth chart below will give you an idea of what I mean. The squares that are left blank indicate that the dog has stopped growing by that point. At what age are dogs full grown? Check out the way that breed size has an influence.
The chart above will also give you an idea of what you might expect your puppy to weigh at different stages in his development. Again, this is closely linked to the size of the breed he belongs to. But if this is just a rough guide, how will you know for sure if your puppy is underweight or overweight, or just right? And what exactly do I mean by Toy, Small, Medium, Large and Giant. Let’s look at the size categories first. I’ve picked examples of a well known breed in each category to give you an idea.
The example given here is based on the growth rate of a Toy Poodle. Dogs of this kind of size and weight typically stop growing somewhere between 6 and 8 months of age, but the vast majority of their growth is complete by around six months of age.
Small and medium dogs
The example given of a small dog is based on a Miniature Schnauzer. The medium dog is an English Springer Spaniel. Bear in mind that Springers come in a wide range of sizes. From very small working bred dogs to the larger chunkier show type. We’ve picked a moderately sized Springer for the purposes of this illustration.
Small to medium sized dogs tend to have completed their growth by around the end of the first year. With close to their adult height reached by around nine months. Again, this is not set in stone. Just a rough guide.
In this example the growth rate of the large dog is based on the growth rate of a moderate sized German Shepherd Dog. Most larger breeds will finally complete their growth somewhere between 18 and 24 months, though they may be close to their adult height by their first birthday.
Our Giant Dog is a Great Dane. Some giant breeds reach even greater weights than this and grow for even longer. Some giant breeds will continue growing for up to three years. Again, these are general guidelines. For more information on your specific breed. But the general rule is this: the larger the dog, the longer he grows for.
How big will my puppy get?
Have you ever had a visitor look at your puppy’s giant paws and give you a knowing smile “He’s going to be a BIG dog” they say wisely. “You can tell by the size of his paws”. But is it really true? Is there any sure fire way of knowing how big a puppy will get – any signs that he is going to be a ‘monster’ of a dog!
Of course we need to take breed into account, but there are wide variations in size within a breed, and if you have a mix or a cross bred dog you may be hoping for a clue. Unfortunately there are no really reliable methods for how to tell how big a dog will get, apart from looking at where your puppy lies on general growth curve. Even paw size is not a great indicator.
Do big paws mean a big dog?
Many average size puppies go through a stage where their paws, or their ears seem too big for the rest of them. If your puppy is consistently large for his age, as each month passes, he may well turn out to be a larger than average adult. But that’s about as much as we can say. Breed size is not the only factor influencing growth. Gender has a role to play too.
Puppy development – Male Vs Female
Our graphs and charts show an average dog. Male dogs are usually a little heavier and larger than female dogs of the same age and breed. So females may be lighter than our chart suggests, and males may be heavier. These differences can be quite substantial in adult dogs from the larger breeds, but are less noticeable in smaller breeds and in very young puppies.
Piling on the pounds?
Remember also that some dogs will carry on growing for a little longer than the guidelines above. But if a dog is still piling on the pounds long past the point where other dogs of his size has stopped growing, you need to ask yourself some questions, such as “am I overfeeding my dog” and maybe get him a check up with your vet.
While gender may affect your dog’s final size, there is nothing you can do about it. There are quite a few factors though that can affect how fast your puppy will grow or long your puppy will grow for, which are at least partly within your control. They include:
- General health
How neutering affects a puppy’s growth
Neutering affects the final size of your dog because your dog’s sex hormones are involved in the puppy development stages. They tell your dog’s body to ‘stop growing’.
A dog neutered before he stops growing, may carry on growing for longer because he lacks the sex hormones to switch off that growth. So a neutered dog may end up taller than his entire brothers or sisters. This continuation of growth is not to the dog’s advantage and may predispose the dog to joint problems. Several quite large recent studies have shown that neutered dogs are more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament tears and from hip dysplasia.
Neutering and weight gain in puppies
Many experts believe that neutering may also impact on your dog’s appetite, though not everyone agrees on this. I found my own male dog required less food after neutering, but that my female dogs did not seem to be affected. But I have only neutered a few of my dogs so it isn’t a good sample. In any case neutering should not affect your dog’s body weight in any way provided that you adjust how much food you give him according to how he looks and feels. (More on that in a minute).
How feeding affects puppy development
Despite the fact that the impact of neutering is not relevant if you adjust your dog’s food intake accordingly, many people really struggle with this. Which brings us to the role of diet in your puppy’s growth and development.
Not many puppies are underfed these days, but it does happen. More often, puppies are malnourished because people are feeding them inappropriately, rather than simply not feeding them enough.
Sometimes this is a cultural thing. For example, in some societies people eating vegetarian diets for religious reasons are reluctant to feed their dogs any form of meat. This can lead to puppies being fed an inappropriate diet of vegetables and grains. Poor growth and other health problems are likely if puppies are not fed a balanced diet suitable for a carnivore. But by far the most common growth problem is overly rapid growth caused by over feeding.
Speeding up your puppy’s growth rate
Sometimes people ask me if it is possible to speed up their puppy’s growth rate or make him grow bigger. But can you really make the puppy development stages happen more rapidly?
The answer is yes, it is, but it is not necessarily a good thing. An underfed puppy may benefit from overfeeding for a while, though this needs to be done with care if you want to avoid digestive problems. But a healthy puppy that is fed more than he needs will simply get fat.
How to avoid overfeeding a puppy
Overfeeding of both puppies and adult dogs is very common, and obesity is a significant and growing problem in dogs all over the world. The end result of overfeeding a small puppy is not just one of obesity – overfeeding can actually speed up the puppy’s growth rate and this in turn can be harmful to his joints. This can cause problem during the early puppy development stages.
Ad libitum feeding for puppies
Many people think that if a puppy is allowed constant access to food, he will eat what he needs and no more. Based on this idea, for a time, it was popular for breeders to ‘hopper’ feed puppies. This is called Ad libitum feeding.
A study carried out on 48 Labrador Retrievers compared dogs fed ad libitum, with puppies that were fed on a more restricted diet. They found a significantly greater incidence of joint problems in the ad libitum fed puppies. It wasn’t a huge study, but it certainly does not offer any support for the free feeding of puppies in this way, and I personally would be cautious of buying a puppy that had been raised this way.
What should MY puppy weigh exactly?
We’ve looked at some charts which give you rough guides to weight at different ages, for dogs of different sizes. And we’ve noted that male dogs will be a bit heavier than average, and females will be a bit lighter.
But if these are rough guides, how are you supposed to know exactly what your puppy should weigh? Well, the truth is no-one can give you an exact weight for your puppy. Remember how even puppies from the same litter can vary? So what you need to do is decide whether or not your puppy is too thin or too fat, and stop worrying about what the scales say.
How to tell if your puppy is too thin or too fat
Because actual bodyweight is not a reliable guide to whether or not a puppy is too thin or too fat, you need another way of estimating whether or not your puppy is growing as he should. And the correct way to do this is with your hands and eyes. To help you, we’ve given you a handy puppy weight guide checklist. It’s very simple. Let’s take a look.
Healthy weight puppy guide
If your puppy is the right weight, you should be able to check the box for each of these sections
1 No visible ribs
When you look at a puppy under six months old, you should not be able to see his ribs. Some of the racing breeds may have visible ribs as they mature but this will normally be just the last two or three ribs, no more.
2 Ribs can be felt
When you run your hands down your puppy’s sides and press gently you should be able to feel his ribs. They should be covered with a thin layer of fat, but you should still be able to feel that they are there. If you cannot feel your puppy’s ribs at all, he may be too plump.
3 Puppy has a waist
Look down at your puppy from above. His sides should go in at his ‘waist’ just before his hips and rump.
4 Puppy has a tuck
Look at your puppy from the side. His tummy should slope gently up so that it it highest just before it disappears between his back legs.
If you can see ribs in a young puppy, feel the knobbles on his spin, or see his hips, he is too thin. If he is being fed a balance diet, you can increase his daily ration. Adding in an extra meal, rather than making his existing meals bigger, is always a good idea. If you are not sure what a balanced diet is, check out our feeding section. Very thin puppies should always see a vet, in case there is a physical problem.
Overweight puppies should have their daily ration reduced. Puppies that are getting fat need their food measured accurately, and a small amount deducted from the normal ration for a few days. Don’t forget your puppy is growing, so provided you don’t increase his rations until his weight is under control, he will soon slim down.
We’ve looked at some of the more obvious physical aspects of your puppy’s growth and development, but what is going on behind the scenes? Let’s take a look now at sexual maturity.
Sexual maturity – when will my puppy be able to breed
Most puppies reach sexual maturity before they are fully grown, especially with larger breeds. So it is quite possible for your puppy to breed while he or she is still very much a puppy. Obviously this is not a good thing.
A female puppy will come into season for the first time, any time in the second half of her first year. Somewhere between six and nine month is common, but it is not unusual for the first heat to appear after the first birthday.
What this means is that your female dog will be able to mate and have puppies at some point after she is six months old. Breeding at such a young age could harm your puppy so you need to make sure this cannot happen.
Many male dogs will also start showing an interest in females in the second half of that first year, and once they are interested, you can assume they can breed. And again, it is your responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen. There are various ways to achieve birth control in dogs, and we’ll look at this in more detail in our section on neutering.
Mental maturity- when will my puppy calm down!
While a puppy may be sexually mature at 8 or 9 months old, and physically mature a few months later, he will still be a puppy for a while longer. This is because his brain needs to grow up too!
Puppyish behavior, including ‘silliness’ and ‘excitability’ can persist well into the second year, and many dogs are not fully mentally mature before they are two. So the second birthday is a major milestone in this respect, and the point at which you can consider your puppy to be a fully grown up dog.
Be careful not to confuse puppyish behavior with lack of training though. Even quite young puppies can be trained to behave nicely. Let’s have a closer look at puppy development now, on a week-by-week basis.
SECTION 3: PUPPY DEVELOPMENT BY WEEK
Looking at how puppies grow and change week by week is a fascinating way to understand puppy development stages. This is your window into the world of puppy growth and development.
Your puppy spends approximately 9 weeks developing inside his Mom. The mother dog has a womb or uterus, that divides into two long tubes, and the puppies grow in a row along each tube rather like peas in a pod. Just like human babies, the puppies are joined to their mother by a placenta which provides all the nourishment they need for those few weeks.
To begin with, the puppies have plenty of room to move but they grow fast and as the time for birth draws near they are packed in quite tightly. If all goes well, when birth day arrives, the mother dog will welcome each puppy into the world, wash them carefully, eat the placenta and encourage them to start suckling. And with a little help from their human friends, over the next 8 months the tiny pup will change into what looks pretty much like an adult dog.
Puppy Development Week By Week
- Puppies at one week old
- Puppies at two weeks old
- Puppies at three weeks old
- Puppies at four weeks old
- Puppies at five weeks old
- Puppies at six weeks old
- Puppies at seven weeks old
- Puppies at eight weeks old
- Puppies at three months old
- Puppies at four months old
- Puppies at five months old
- Puppies at six months old
- Puppies at seven months old
- Puppies at eight months old
Your puppy is born fully furred but with his eyes and ears closed so he cannot hear or see. His front feet are strong and he can pull himself towards his mother with them. He can cry if he is uncomfortable and his mother will respond to his cries by moving him towards her and licking him.
The one week old puppy
During the first week your puppy spends most of his time sleeping or suckling. If orphaned he’ll need feeding by hand every two hours! He cannot regulate his own body temperature and needs his mother for heat, or an artificial heat source. If he is going to be docked, this procedure will take place in the first two to three days. In the first week to ten days of his life your puppy grows rapidly and will double his birth weight.
2 week old puppies
Puppies grow in independence gradually. During this week, your puppy’s eyes will start to open. He probably can’t see very much yet. His forelegs are getting much stronger. He’ll continue to grow rapidly, adding 5-10% of his body weight.
The puppies’ mother is constantly attentive, only leaving her babies to eat or for toilet purposes. She licks the puppies bottoms to stimulate a bowel or bladder movement and eats the result. There is no cleaning up for the breeder to do yet. The breeder will begin to handle the puppies more though, and get them used to human contact. She will worm the puppies for the first time at the end of this week.
3 week old puppy
During this week a lot happens. Puppies begin to get their personalities. Your puppy can stand and sit up by the end of the week. Tails can be wagged, ears will be completely open and puppies start play growling and interacting with their littermates.
Your puppy can regulate his body temperature more effectively and will start to cut his first teeth in preparation for weaning. The front teeth, canines and incisors are cut first. Toward the end of the week he may have his first tiny taste of puppy food.
4 week old puppy
In the 4th of these puppy development stages, puppies become really active and strong on their legs, and play actively with one another. They also start to move away from the sleeping area to empty their bowels and bladder. They may try to climb out of the whelping box.
The puppies’ mother will start to spend more time relaxing away from the puppies. She will gradually stop cleaning up after the pups, that is now the breeder’s problem! If she lives indoors, she may rejoin the family for more of each day.
Your puppy will cut his back teeth and the breeder will get weaning underway this week and by the end of it, your puppy will be getting quite a bit of his nourishment from puppy food. She will also worm the puppies a second time. If the mother is allowed near the puppies after she has been fed, she may regurgitate her dinner for them. This is completely natural and normal.
5 week old puppy
Your puppy can now really run and play. He is a proper little dog. Rolling around with his brothers and sisters and playing with toys. Teething toys, puppy Kongs, balls and rope toys are big favorites with puppies. He can bark too and some puppies can be quite noisy at this age! He chases after his mother whenever she appears and suckles hungrily, but she is starting to get fed up with it, and may be reluctant to feed her brood for very long.
His mother is teaching him not to bite too hard. And his breeder is introducing him to lots of new experiences so that he won’t be afraid of them later. If he lives in outdoor kennels he should spend part of each day indoors with the family.
6 week old puppy
Puppies require different feeding frequencies at different puppy development stages. By the end of the sixth week, most are fully weaned, and eating five or six little meals of puppy food each day. Your puppy may still suckle from his mother, but he doesn’t need to. From now on, a small breed puppy may gain around 5 ounces a week in weight, whereas a large breed puppy puts on a massive 21/2lbs.
7 week old puppy
Some puppies go to their new homes towards the end of this week – many puppies show the beginnings of fearfulness at this point and will startle or jump at strange sounds an sights. Socialization must begin in earnest. Your puppy’s mother continues to teach him bite inhibition when she visits him to play.
8 week old puppy
This is normally the week when your puppy leaves his first home and joins his forever family. He is now two months old and ready for his new life. From now on, we’ll be looking at your puppy’s development month by month, from three to eight months
3 month old puppy (12 weeks)
From eight to twelve weeks is a very important period for puppies. It is the time during which they become fearful of anything unfamiliar and need to be thoroughly socialized.
This is also the time during which most puppies get to grips with house-training, learning to wait before eliminating and start sleeping through the night without a potty break.
It is a busy time for new puppy owners. Your puppy will have his vaccinations during this month.
Biting can be a big problem during this stage and you need to be patient and consistent in order to teach the puppy not to hurt people when he plays.
Provided you use force free methods, this is a great time to get puppy training under way, and especially to teach a puppy recall, and to get your puppy used to working with food.
You’ll be feeding him four times a day, and/or using much of his food in training
Handle your puppy all over, every day. If he is a long coated breed he will need regular grooming and although he won’t have much coat yet, now is the time to begin.
4 month old puppy
Most puppies can drop down to three meals a day at twelve weeks old. This means slightly larger meals, so watch your puppy doesn’t get an upset tummy.
And at twelve weeks, if you take a small breed puppy’s weight in pounds, divide it by his age in weeks, and then multiply by the number of weeks in the year, you will have a rough idea what your puppy’s final weight as an adult will be.
So, for a 2.5lb puppy at twelve weeks the formula will be (2.5/12) X 52
Calculate the bit inside the brackets first. You can do the same calculation for medium pups at sixteen weeks and large breed pups at 20 weeks – just divide his weight by his age in weeks before you multiply by 52.
From twelve to sixteen weeks puppies start to lose that very young puppy ‘look’ and more closely resemble a miniature version of their adult selves. Medium to large pups will reach about half their adult height by the end of the month.
Puppies under four months don’t need formal walks, just lots of opportunity to play and run around in your garden or yard.
If the weather is warm you can get your puppy swimming now.
Most dogs swim instinctively, but don’t allow brachycephalic (flat-faced) puppies such as Bulldogs, to swim unsupervised – some are not able to swim at all.
You’ll enjoy training your puppy now as he is getting more attentive and can concentrate for longer. He should be able to come when he is called, in and around your home, provided there are not too many distractions.
He’ll probably understand sit, touch your hand on cue, and perhaps be able to sit in his basket for a few seconds when asked. It all depends on what you have taught him.
5 month old puppy
Your puppy will start losing his baby teeth from around four months of age. He’ll probably have a more adult coat by the end of this month.
He may still be chewing a lot and biting too. Use frozen Kongs to help him and give your furniture and fingers a break.
Puppies can go for short walks now. By the end of this month your puppy could have a twenty minute walk each day.
He may also enjoy fetching a ball and playing with other dogs, but take care to stop before he gets very tired.
And don’t walk brachycephalic puppies very far, or in warm weather.
This is the month during which some puppies start to become less dependent on their humans for security.
Keep your puppy close to you outdoors by changing direction frequently so that you puppy has to keep coming to find you. And engaging him in games.
Reward your puppy generously for ‘checking in’ with you on walks. The foundations of a great recall are often build or spoilt during this month.
If your puppy knows how to sit or lie down at home, start some simple proofing exercises with him in public places. And start teaching him to ‘stay’ for short periods of time
6 month old puppy
This is one of the most significant puppy development stages as it signals the end of your puppy’s babyhood and for some pups, the beginnings of sexual maturity.
A healthy puppy can usually manage on two meals a day from around six months. During this month a Retriever, Spaniel or GSD puppy will reach around two thirds of his adult weight.
A Great Dane and other large breeds will have reached about half their final weight and little dogs will have almost completed their growth.
Some female dogs will come on heat for the first time during this month, or the next, so keep an eye open now for swelling of her vulva and any discharge.
Your dog will become increasingly confident over the next few months so practice, practice and practice that recall! Make it a habit he cannot break. And be generous with your rewards.
7 month old puppy
By the end of this month, your puppy will have all 42 of his adult teeth and be looking quite grown up. Small breed pups may now be more or less mature.
Your puppy will enjoy half hour off lead walks now, and should be able to walk on a loose lead for short periods with plenty of encouragement and rewards.
Keep practicing that recall! Teach your dog to recall away from all kinds of interesting things such as ‘other people’, other dogs, frisbees, etc.
8 month old puppy
Unless you have had your puppy neutered he now has plenty of sex hormones zooming around his system.
These help to slow his growth further and to build his confidence.
Make sure you practice good outdoor management on walks to maintain the good recall you have built and work hard on thoroughly proofing all his obedience skills.
9 month old puppy and beyond
Many female dogs will be neutered once they have completed their first season. Read our information on neutering before you take this important step, for dogs of either sex.
Once your dog is a year old he can participate in more strenuous activities and sports.
Now is the time to think about the kinds of activities you would like to do with him – go jogging together for example – and if necessary, to start to get him fit.
Puppy development stages – Summary
There is huge variation in the way in which dogs develop and mature. The puppy stages and ages outlined above are a rough guide.
We hope you enjoyed them and found the information interesting.
When it comes to training, you get out what you put in. Your progress depends as much if not more on you rather than your puppy.
If you train your puppy five times a day, six days a week he will learn many, many times faster than a puppy that is trained once a day at the weekend.
Enjoy watching your puppy grow and develop. Puppyhood doesn’t last very long in the grand scheme of things, so make the most of it. And have fun!
- Get help with your biting puppy now. We look at why puppies bite, how to tell if your puppy is aggressive and how to stop your puppy biting.
- Our website is packed with information on every aspect of puppy care. Here are some articles which will help you to do your best when looking after your puppy.
You’ll also find links to guides that will help you with puppy problems such as biting and potty training
Did you enjoy Pippa’s guide to puppy development stages? If so, you’ll love The Happy Puppy Handbook. Packed with helpful information and advice. It contains everything you need to raise a happy, healthy puppy. The Happy Puppy Handbook is available in bookshops and online.
- Hip dysplasia
- Body-Weight Changes during Growth in Puppies of Different Breeds by Hawthorne et al
L e e says
Thank you so much for the information. Very helpful I’d like to get a puppy and like for her to stay small because I’m older. You sure gave me a lot of things to think about thanks again!
I have a jack russell (mother) & pitbull (father) mixed puppy. Mother gave birth to 3 stillborn puppies & 1 survived. Puppy is now 4 weeks old today yet her hind legs are weak & she is trying to use them however I’m worried as she constantly looking like she is battling with them. Please help
We recently put a despoit on two beautiful black labradors puppies and were told they were 6 weeks when we saw them and could pick them up when they were 8 weeks (which was apparently today).
The lady giving us the puppies has said she needs to wait a bit longer before we can get them. We’re just wondering if there’s any chance she could be lying about their age? Looking at photos we took on the day we met them two weeks ago and comparing them to photos of puppies at different ages they look like they might be younger than she has had.
When we met them they could walk but were still unsteady and eyes were open they just looked sleepy.
I have photos if that helps.
Is there anyway to tell the age? As we only had about 30 minutes with them we couldn’t really tell by their behavior.
LEE FADA says
Thank you for the artice. Our miniature Poodle will be 4 months old in January, we are coastal and would love him to enjoy playing in the sea..obvously January is super cold so we are considering taking him to a dog swimming pool from Jan until the warmer months. Do you think this is a good solution and if so will the chlorine/chemicals in the pool be okay for his coat?
We adopted a mixed breed dog at 14 weeks. At the shelter they said German Shepherd mix, but we’ve thought she might be part Belgian Malinois instead (either way, she’s definitely mixed, and while her parents were apparently fairly large, I realize “mixed” means it’s much harder to predict her adult size). That said, for the past few months she’s been hardly growing at all and I’m not sure if we should worry. At 4 months she was about 35lbs (proportionate to her expected growth in the first month we had her). She just turned six months old and… she still weighs 36lbs. I know growth slows, but this seems weird. She did have whipworms at one point (we did two rounds of treatment), but she doesn’t look otherwise malnourished. She’s very thin and gangly but her coat is healthy and you can’t see her ribs or spine. Other development like teething has been right on schedule, so there’s no reason to suspect she was a smaller dog who had been misaged. Does this lack of growth seem like cause for concern??
lucille smith says
i have 2 rescue pups both females from spca. both pups are 7 to 8 months old and weigh about 8 and 1/2 pounds. one stands 12 inches tall and is very leggy kind of a cross between a Italian greyhound and miniaiture pinscher. the other is about 10 inches tall and looks like a cairn terrier.. My question is I am going to get them new harness. Both of their chest measure 15 around. should I expect them to get heavier and broader in the chest.? What age do dogs spring their chest.? u would appreciate hearing from u.
I have a pitbull / rottweiler mix…when I weighed him last he was about 14 pounds at 10 weeks…and hes a veryyyyyyyyy picky eater so sometimes I can visibly see his ribs..but it isnt too alarming but I want him to eat more…and weight heavier..also one chart said he would be 70 pounds (the 52 weeks method) and another chart had said he will only be 40 pounds which I dont believe ..need some help with his weight estimate
The heck…69 pounds at 5 months?????? do you have an english mastiff??? how big is he now????
Ashutosh Jog says
I need a detailed feeding chart for a boerboel
The formula has my cavapoo puppy weighing over 19 lbs at adulthood, but all charts and the weights of her parents (10 lbs. min. poodle and 15 lbs. cavalier ks) indicate she will weigh no more than 13 lbs. She currently weighs 6 lbs. at 16 weeks. The formula seems to assume equal weight gain over a 52-week period rather than more rapid gain in the early months. What is your take?
I’m curious to know how much you Cavapoo weighs now. I just got one and am questioning the actual breed because he is 14 weeks and 10 pounds so he would be 35-37 pounds which is way too big for a Cavapoo.
Hello! Curious to know how big your Cavapoo got? My Cavapoo is over 9 lbs at 15 weeks and the vet thinks he will be around 30 lbs. I was told the poodle dad was only 9.5 lbs, and the mom Cavalier King Charles weighed 19 1/2 lbs. I was hoping he would stay 20 lbs or less.
How big did your cavapoo get? Mine is 13 weeks and weighs Almost 7 pounds. I was told both parents were around 15 pounds and he should weigh between. 15 to 20 pounds. Thanks.
It sounds so cute. You should breed him/her with a labradodle.
Leslie E says
I have a rescue puppy, about 4 months old, of unknown breed. She looks almost identical to the puppy picture under “4 Month Old Puppy” (except my puppies tail is curled). Ears, snout, coloring and wiry hair are all the same. Can anybody identify the breed?
Hi Leslie. Your puppy might be something like our 4 year old Jackachon? (half Jack russell/ half Bichon frise)
She looked like the pic you mention when she was a pup & had a curled tail. She is white with tan ears &
is very hairy now! She is almost identical to the little dog on Doc Martin. I’m sure you could look it up if you havent watched it. Hope that helps ?
Barbara slivinski says
My chihuahua is a apple head bought at a pet store always seems to be sick they said small dogs are like that he is he will be 5 months on September 17 he don’t even go a pound yet how big will he get
Janet Amighi says
PS Sorry, I realize you do give some behavioral info. Where can I find more?
Janet Amighi says
Re Exercise : 2 Questions:
1. What are the exercise guidelines based on. My 3 month old min. poodle can run for ten minutes chasing my adult – thats ok but a walk for 15min is not? Dog wolf pack puppies run with the group? (Not that it means its good for them) but it would seem to strengthen their bones.
2. I am looking for info on puppy behavior – and although there is a lot on puppy care, not finding anything on actual behavior- play types, how well puppies can recognize dog body language (mine not well), puppy body language itself, cognitive development etc. Suggestions? PS Just ordered your book
1. Forced exercise is under the “5 minutes per month of age” rule; free play (chasing your adult dog) is not. Your puppy can stop chasing at will but on a leash, you control when the puppy stops. The puppy controls its own stops and turns etc in free play.
2. Puppies recognize body language differently; some show reaction to “alpha” behavior like the human moving into their space; the puppy will automatically move over or will press back or even cuddle in. Both have reacted to “body language”.
All puppies have different play styles as well; some seem to have no “shut off switch” and require a great deal of obedience training and boundary setting (crate training/tethering the puppy to you with a leash) while others settle into a routine of two hours of the crate, two hours into the crate etc. upon simple commands “find your bed” or “nap time”. Because of these variances between puppies, it is very difficult to write words that can help new families understand what is best for their puppy in every instance. Much of puppy raising is trying several things to see what works and then doing it again at the next stage of growth until suddenly, it all comes together. Patience is the real key.
Sorry for the missing words in several sentences; not sure how it happened.
I have a 6 month working cocker spaniel, and I have been following the 5 minute per month rule for his walks so far – I was told by the time he reaches 6 months his bone structure will be mostly developed and that I can very slowly increases his walks from 30 minutes (which are mostly off the lead). But not necessarily stick to the 5 minute rule any longer? Also I was told I can very slowly introduce him to running with me – so just running for 5 minutes at first and then walking for the rest of the time. Would you advice this? I take him for two walks a day and he gets a lot of play in between and two very short (5 minute) training sessions a day, and then follows me around/sleeps for the rest of the day.
Each breed develops differently. Try to research your breed to determine the ages at which growth plates are completely closed. Usually this is a range of months and you should gradually increase the exercise during those months.
We adopted a 2mth old GSD mix (prob border collie). She is 4mths now and 22lbs. She is the best most well behaved puppy. Thanks so much for this great guide!!
Brian Hosfelt says
Wow, great information – thanks so much … I know nothing is set in stone but this is just the pure basics and now I have an ideal … great read and very understanding … I have a 4 breed mix dog ( American bulldog, boxer, bull mastiff, Rottweiler mix … at least that’s what I was told ) … she is 3 months at 22 lbs ( according to your chart she will be right around that ) im praying she stays under a 100lbs … thanks once again for the article … I guess dogs are really a lot like kids – there all different no blanket ownership here … no such thing as a bad dog just bad owners !!!
Thank you, very nice article! One question please: I have a 10 month old male samoyed, he is 40 pounds, and about 20 inches height, so rather small. When wet, I’d say rather skinny still. Should I expect any further height? And as for weight, how much more approx? Thank you!-
christine lancaster says
We have a four month cockerpoo. The mum was a cocker spaniel and the dad a miniature poodle, if the breeder is to be believed!!! She was the smallest of litter and we only got her at 12 weeks and her weight at 13weeks was 1.6kg. The last time weighed roughly about three/four weeks ago she was3.4kg. She leaves food at some meals so I guess is being fed enough. But as cockerpoos vary in adult size depending on poodle I am curiously to know how big she may get. I don’t see her any bigger than a spaniel? But then have seen some cockerpoos quite big even if poodle parent a miniature. But I suppose going be part of the fun and excitement of not knowing if going end up with small ???? lion especially as he coat is a golden color. Lol.
Our puppy weighs 69lbs at 20 weeks. The formula predicts him to be 184lbs! This can’t be right…LOL
What king did of puppy? How is his growth now?
How big is he now?? was e an english mastiff?
May not be a puppy. May be a horse.
what the heck……what kind of dog do you have??? is it an english mastiff??? what are you feeding him and how heavy is he now?
Without a height given, she could have easily had a SERIOUSLY OVERWEIGHT DOG! Or a Caucasian Ovcharka=Russian Bear 🐻 🐕 Dog. The males weight at adulthood range between 110-220lbs. Females between 80-160lbs. Height easily almost 3′ at the shoulder. These are MASSIVE dogs. NOT for the faint of heart. Perhaps we haven’t had an answer, because she’s had to Rehome the poor thing simply due to it’s being too large?
Raj kumar says
My puppy is 3 moths but puppy weight only 5 kg
C. Deering says
I have a bullmastiff anatolian shepherd mix puppy that is 25lbs at 13 weeks old. According to the formula she would be about 100lbs. We have been measuring her weekly ever since she was 8 weeks old and is growing an inch every week and gaining 2-3lbs per week. Has anyone had any luck with this formula on it’s reliability? I’ve asked my vet about her full grown size and they believe she would be between 100-130lbs.
She is gaining the same as my male Anatolian did up to 6&1/2 or 7 months then his growth slowed being he is unaltered having all his hormones as mention in the article. He is almost 8 months now and his head is growing larger, body little longer, paws & bone structure a little bigger from the huge size they already are now. Every thing is more mature. He is around 70lbs now. He was gaining 2.5 to 3lbs a week. This past month he has shifted weight more than gain. He had gotten a little bulky and now he is back very lean but his head is definitely bigger from the puppy head he had. It still has a ways to go to be the adult head of an large adult male Anatolian Shepherd. It’s the size of a fat headed adult pitbull now on thickness or width or a full grown large 100lb plus block head Lab. He is already a big/large dog as a 7 month old puppy and he is only half grown out of 4 years of growing for ASMDs. I myself was kind of worried because he is not gaining massive amounts of weight like before. I think he would be around 85 to 90lbs+ if he was still going at that rate. But I’ve seen a few 9 to 12 month ASMDs here and there and they have been under 100lbs. He is most likely on track to reach his traditional adult weight. He hasn’t really missed any real milestones yet. In vacation in Orlando at NASA a Turkish guy from Britain recognized him as a 3 month ASMD pup (he is my Mobility Service Dog in training) because he looked identical to his grandfather’s dogs in Turkey. I guess it’s a scary time waiting for them to first break a hundred pounds and then reach their intended adult size. It’s a barrow if mix feelings from your initial investment of getting a giant breed because you wanted exactly that and expect one, not a mix that is smaller to wanting the best for your giant breed as in it to be healthy. Then there is that point after you bring them home that it doesn’t matter what they become you have already fell in love with a puppy.
This is a great guide for those new to puppies. I like to refer to it while taking care of our most recent litter of foster puppies. They are going to be huge I think. We have no idea what the parents were because they were found in a dumpster.
Glad you like the guide – and good luck with your puppies! 🙂
I’ve been looking all over the answer as to why my puppy will not grow! Shes a pear head Chihuahua, she’s 3 1/2 months old, I’ve had her since she was 2 months old, and she’s the runt. She in no way seems sick or unhappy, she’s a typical pup other than the fact she has gotten no bigger whatsoever since I got her. If someone sees this comment and has any info please help!
I have a apple head, and I bought him pre loved at 17 weeks . He is tiny at six month. But I’ve read and noticed when out that the pear head and apple heads are much smaller than the deer head…
C. Deering says
I have a deer-leg chihuahua and he weighed 3 lbs at 12 weeks old. He now weighs 6.4 lbs at 10 months old
Bev Terregrosa says
Make sure the puppy doesn’t have worms stealing her nutrients
jackie Addenbrooke says
having a mixed breed rescue puppy exact age breeds unknown Iam finding quite difficult after always having pure bred dogs you have a good idea about growth and fina size and feeding requirements found your advice and info veryuseful6
The puppy size calculation does not make sense for medium/large dogs.
My dog is a medium/large breed and 28lbs at 16 weeks. According to the calculations above, she’d be 91lbs full grown! She’s now almost 8 months, just over 50lbs, and not likely to grow much more. She has not grown in height since she was 6 months old.
What’s more, none of her family members are anywhere near 90 lbs!
Not sure where that calculation comes from, but probably not applicable to medium or large breeds.
I have a Malinois that was 13.5lb at 12 wks, and looks like he will be slightly over 30lbs at 16. If I do the calculation at 12 weeks like the article suggests, I get an adult weight of ~58lbs which is about what you expect for this breed.
I would expect that you have similar results if you can find the weight at 12 weeks and calibrate accordingly.
Denise T says
Thank you for this article. Our 4 month old pup is a rescue dog that is Great Pyrenees, Lab and Basset-a science project. It’s nice to have a rough idea about size.
David Knight says
Springer spaniel even! 😉
David Knight says
A first class article!!!!
Very – very informative…
I am sure to refer to it often – as my eight week – six day old Spring spaniel develops! 🙂
David Knight & Lucy! 🙂
roger s says
very good information worth reading
Nige Gunn says
What a really good article!
This covers so much ground for the new puppy owner or for those thinking of becoming one.
So much better than the old “dog years = 7 human years” nonsense! Written in a very friendly style too.
Thanks Nige 🙂