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How Big Will Your Puppy be by His Paws? Determine Puppy's Estimate Size

Border Collie and Chocolate Lab laying together posing for the picture

Determining your puppy’s adult size can be one fun guessing game!

While a good guess can be made by considering the breed norms or size of the dog's parents, sometimes disproportionately sized feet can be a tempting indicator of the puppy's future size. Among several indicating factors that come into play when determining your puppy's adult, paw size tends to serve as a helpful tool. However, it may or may not work for every puppy. Here are some facts about doggy growth spurts and other fun things to know about your puppy's growth.

Puppy paws as an indicator of adult weight

A puppy's paws can be a good indicator of his adult size, especially if they are unusually large or unusually small. Typically, larger feet correlate with higher height and weight as an adult dog. It makes sense why a larger breed like labrador retrievers needs bigger feet to support a heavier build and taller height. After all, tiny feet cannot hold up a 100-pound dog like a mastiff! Similarly, long, heavy feet will only look a bit too oversized on a small dog breed like a teacup Yorkie, even if he is fully-grown.

The majority of growing for dogs is done in the first year or two. Medium breed sizes generally reach maturity around the 18-month mark, with giant breeds taking almost three years. Telling anything about your dog's future growth at less than a few weeks of age is probably going to be inaccurate, giant paws, or no!

So, are paws a reliable indicator of adult size?

Although you can tell if you will have a large or tiny furry friend in the future by looking at your puppy paws, it is NOT a foolproof indicator.

To begin with, some large dogs, such as collies, tend to have smaller feet as compared to other dogs their size. Similarly, some small breed dogs, such as bulldogs or terriers, have larger feet than other dogs their size. A lot depends upon the breed. Giant breed dogs like Great Danes will vary significantly in growth curves, while small breeds like chihuahuas may be relatively consistent.

The bottom line is that predicting adult size by puppy paws is far more accurate for smaller breed purebred dogs than for larger breed mixed breeds.

Labrador and Chocolate lab in the couch together sitting and sleeping on their paws

Mixed breeds produce varied size

It can be relatively easy to guess how big a purebred puppy will grow up to be. However, it can be difficult to guess a puppy's adult size if his parents are unknown or the mixed breeds of his parents are unknown, or the mixed breeds of his parents are unknown. This is likely to happen if you adopt a mixed puppy from a local shelter. If you breed puppies, then you will have a much better idea of future growth, as they will likely follow their parents.

In this case, the canine DNA testing services available online may prove helpful to answer if, when, and do dogs stop growing. These tests do not cost too much and can help you determine the breed and most of your dog's physical traits that can be tied to that breed (you can go to the American Kennel Club website to find out more information on each breed). They can also help you determine the breeds belonging to your dog's bloodline with features that are unlikely to show if they are not dominant.

Mix Breed facing the camera with two little roped balls lying in between his paws

Once you find out where most of your puppy's bloodline comes from, you can predict his adult size by considering the average weight and height range for the specific breed.

If the puppy paws are large and the breed he belongs to is a big dog breed, it is needless to say that he will grow into a large adult.

The 16 weeks mark

While puppy paws are usually proportionate with the overall size, it might not seem so at first. When it comes to newborn puppies, it is not uncommon that they have disproportionately large or small-looking feet. It is when they reach the 14-16 weeks mark that their general proportions are primarily set, including the paws. This is true of most breeds, but smaller dogs known as the toy breeds who are under a year old may still look disproportionate until they graduate from puppyhood!

A simple way to predict your puppy's size is by doubling his size once he is 16 weeks old. The 16 weeks times two formula should be a reasonable estimate of the fully grown size of your puppy. Although there is no science behind this rule of thumb, it seems to work most, if not all the times. Full growth depends upon all the factors we've talked about, but generally, puppies stop growing around 18 months old.

Puppy Labrador laying on the green grass and looking at the camera

Other reliable indicators

With a purebred, it is usually easy to know what you are getting into. However, predicting the adult size of a mixed bred puppy can be tricky, especially if you do not know the size of the parents. It is a reliable fact that most dogs do not grow bigger than the larger parent.

Big parents, big puppies

Perhaps the best and easiest way to determine the future size of your puppy is by looking at both parents. The parents' breed, size, and weight can give a good idea of how big a puppy will get in the future. Large and medium dogs generally breed large offspring, but sometimes, their puppies may have small paws. Puppy paws do not always accurately tell if he is going to grow into a large dog or the runt of the litter.

To get the best estimate of how big your puppy will get, you should consider looking at his mother. For most breeds, from schnauzers to retrievers to german shepherds, male dogs will be larger than females. Additionally, some owners and breeders think that spaying or neutering a dog can affect their growth.

As far as the adopted and rescue pups are concerned, the following indicators may prove helpful in predicting their adult size.

Loose skin as a determinant of size potential

In addition to paw size, excess skin can also help predict the adult size of a puppy. Typically, the more loose skin a puppy has, the more room he has for growth.

The long bone growth plates generally close between 8 to 11 months of age. So, if you are looking at an older puppy of about six months, he has probably reached 75% of his adult height by then. After these bones close, the puppy's height and length stop growing. However, they may continue to get heavier because most large breed dogs who weigh more than 55 pounds do not fully develop into an adult until they are 12 months old.

French bulldog posing for a picture with Double Tennis ball Rope toy lying in front of his paws

The best indicator of a puppy's adult size has to be the parents' size. Since dogs' paws grow far more slowly than the rest of their bodies, they are naturally big to start with. If your pooch has large paws, he will probably grow into them as he ages. However, you would also need to consider the size of his ancestors to judge how big he will get with passing time.

With purebred dogs, the puppy growth rate is relatively predictable based on the bred norms. But with mixed breeds, finding out about the pup's parents is a prerequisite to guessing his adult size. Full size larger dogs can get big, even when they're mutts! As always, there will be outliers, and your puppy might be one! They can't be held to the same standard as the rest, and sometimes there is NO way to predict their size.

Make sure you take proper care of your puppy, try to keep diseases at bay, and meet all his nutritional needs so that he may grow into the best possible version of himself. Puppy food is a must, and being sure to exercise new puppies will ensure they grow up big and strong!

Shop all pet doors to find the perfect pet door for your puppy. Want to learn more about your puppy's behavior and health? Read about Your Dog's Sleeping Positions and what they say about your dog!

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  • My 12 week old German Shepard puppy is 35 lbs. and walks on his ankles. Breeder says his weight gain and size can not support him yet but it will not straighten up in a few weeks. Is that true?

    Patricia Rhea
  • My puppy is 12 weeks she weighs 2.12lbs!! I hope she gets bigger! shes just soooo tiny I worry about her with other medium size dogs. She is very playful and friendly, but my sisters dog can basically stomp on her with one paw if he wanted to & he is 19lbs, but he loves her dearly. It’s just the non-playful/friendly dogs I’m worried about. He even steps on her by accident sometimes, but she bounces back quickly. She is a mixed breed Shih Tzu & Pomeranian. I hope the 16-week x’s two does not work.

    Angelina Munoz
  • I have a puppy that was born on newyears if this year…so hes about 5 months old he went in this past Saturday the 16th for his vet checkup his weifht was 32.9 pounds. Vet says he looks like hes got aussie and blue heeler in him for aure with a few other breeds possibly been curious how big he will get?

    Proud mommy of a mutt
  • Seems like everyone around here thinks they will have a big dog if the puppy has big feet.

    Jeremy Stockstill
  • So we have a “hound mix”…super vague since hounds come in lots of sizes from small to large. Our pup is 6 months now and 30lbs. Paws are definitely quite a bit larger than, let’s say, a standard beagle. He’s got some beagle for sure but is already larger than most we know that are fully grown. I simply don’t remember how much he weighed at 4 months so I can’t even try that formula anyway. From his physical traits, I think there’s some Foxhound but how much is a mystery. Legs look long…We are completely stumped and very anxious for the next couple of months to see how much more he’ll grow…

    Carol-Ann Kurdziel

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