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Dog Physical Characteristics

Introduction

Puppy Growth Rates

Dogs stop growing at different times depending on their breed's body size. Giant breeds of dogs mature much later than small breed dogs. For large and giant breeds, growth may continue for another 6 to 12 months at a much slower pace than during the main growth phase between birth and 1 year of age.
Puppies of different ages grow at different rates within the breed. Early growth, between birth and sexual maturity, is much faster than after sexual maturity. Between birth and 4-5 months of age (5-6 months for giant breed dogs), about one half of the adult body mass is attained.

Though puppy growth is finished for most dogs by 1 year of age, they may continue to gain some weight in the next year or so, but their body size will change very little, if at all, except in the giant breed dogs.

Nutrition Guidelines for Growing Puppies

Dogs should be fed to maintain a lean body weight throughout their growth phase and for life since this has been shown to help reduce bone and joint problems, reduce the incidence of chronic disease, and increase longevity. Puppies should not be fed adult dog food since these diets are not balanced for proper growth. Cat food is not suitable for dogs and should not be fed to dogs at any life stage.

Exercising Your Growing Puppy

Moderate exercise is important for proper development, but extreme exercise should be avoided especially in larger breed puppies since the stress on developing bones and joints may lead to injury. If the breed is genetically predisposed to musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, high stress on immature joints may lead to weakened ligaments.

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