How to Determine Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

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Finding and maintaining your dog’s ideal weight can significantly extend your pet’s life.

A 14-year landmark study by Purina found that…

Dogs fed to ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight litter mates.

That’s a bonus of nearly 2 extra years of life — just for keeping your dog close to his ideal body weight.

So, where do you go to find your dog’s ideal weight?

Where Not to Look
for a Dog’s Ideal Weight

To get an idea of what your dog should weigh, you could simply look it up in a table of ideal pet weights.

However, nearly every table provides this important information in a range of weights — and not a specific number.

For example, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention suggests a weight range for Labrador Retrievers of 65 to 80 pounds.

That’s a significant difference of nearly 23%.

And that figure can vary even more — depending on whether your pet is a male or a female.

What If your Dog
Isn’t a Pure Breed?

And what about mixed breeds? Where do you go to look up their ideal weights?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear reference for every individual dog. Because dogs come in so many builds, shapes and sizes.

The Ideal Dog Weight System
Used by Veterinarians

Here’s a solution that works for all dogs.

The very best way to determine your dog’s ideal weight is to use the same method used by vets.

The Purina Body Condition System1.

The following 1-minute video2 demonstrating how you can ensure your dog remains in ideal body condition.

The Purina Body Condition Score

The Purina Body Condition System uses two simple steps to rate the state of your dog’s body…

  1. Visual inspection
  2. Palpation (sense of touch)

Purina Body Condition System

By using your senses of sight and touch, you assign your dog to one of three categories

  • Too Thin (Body Condition Score = 1-3)
  • Ideal (Body Condition Score = 4-5)
  • Too Heavy (Body Condition Score = 6-9)

Your rating will be based upon comparing your dog’s appearance to this standardized diagram — and then palpating (feeling) his ribs and frame.

The Bottom Line

Determining an ideal weight goal can make a real difference in how long your dog lives.

And once you determine that ideal weight goal, it becomes important to serve the right amount each time you feed your pet

So be sure to estimate the right serving size for your dog. And be ready to change that amount whenever you switch to a different food.

Sure, it’s a little extra work. However, if you love your dog as much as we love Bailey and Molly, maintaining your pet’s ideal weight can be a very rewarding goal.

Footnotes

  1. Nestle Purina Pet Care Company, St. Louis, MO 63164
  2. Produced in association with Purina
  • Karen Coleman

    green bean diet unsalted 1 can per 15lbs of weight no other food/ treat buy a sweet potato slice thin and keep in fridge do the beans every other day

  • Karen Coleman

    if you a just see ribs lightly and looking down from top should hour glass shape stomach should not hang should curve up to flank area

  • Karen Coleman

    Get a Havanese great dogs

  • anon101

    As soon as you get your pup, find a vet that you trust and can work with.
    I currently have a 20 pound dog and a 10 pound dog. Guess what?
    They both eat about the same amount of food every day, both are in good health, get adequate exercise, they are slim and trim.
    Just like people, every animal is a unique individual.

  • heatherjasper

    I am doing research for my future dog, but I do know that I want a dog below 20 lbs.

  • sandy

    You don’t plug anything in to the Condition Chart. It doesn’t give the ideal weight. Your vet will probably have a weight range to give you. Also, other owners of the same kind of breed you own can probably give you the weight range of their dogs. Have you joined any dog breed forums?

  • Crazy4cats

    How much does your dog weigh now?

  • heatherjasper

    But how do you find out what he’s supposed to weigh? If apparently you don’t weigh him after the condition test.
    No one is answering my question on how to plug in the condition chart to get the ideal weight.

  • sandy

    Are you using this calculator?

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-feeding-tips/dog-food-calculator/

    Plug in what your dog “should” weigh, activity level, and calories. This will give you a guide on how much to feed. But all dogs are different so also keep an eye on Body Condition.

    I only use Body Condition for my dogs actually. I feed them to keep them at 4-5. None of my pugs are in the AKC Breed Standard range of 14-18 pounds. And if I plug in 18 lbs, typical and 462 cal/cup I would be feeding even more than I am now and my boys weigh 24 lbs. The calculator needs a “lap dog” activity level for mine.

  • heatherjasper

    So you rate your dog and then weigh him? “Oh, he’s a six at so-and-so lbs. Better get him on a diet and re-weigh him in a couple of weeks.”?

  • Susan

    The calculator is pretty accurate, I just did my dog weight he is now & it said what I’m feeding at the moment…

  • Susan

    H, when you look at your dog what number is he?? you should know the ideal weight your dog should be, my dogs ideal weight is 17kg = 37lbs & looks like picture 5, he is all muscle & I can see his first ribs, his vet & people say gee he’s looking really good but I think he could gain another kilo & looks too thin to me…..

  • heatherjasper

    I’m not getting this. Wouldn’t that just mean you plug in 4 or 5 into the food calculator? It doesn’t say “current condition” or anything; it says for you to plug in the “ideal weight”. I am confused about this.

  • LoisAnneMT

    The ideal weight for dogs is an individual thing. Just as it is with people, ideal weights can only be precise when applied to the individual since there are many variables involved. For example, I have a dog whose suggested weight is 10 pounds, however that is too light a weight for him. Paco is too skinny at that weight. He is a very active little guy and is quite muscularly developed. Paco’s ideal weight is actually 13 pounds yet his BC score is 5.

    I would weigh your dog right now if she is at a BC6. Keep a note of it. If you have been measuring her food then reduce the food by 1/3. Feed her 2x daily, 12 hours apart. Increase her activity level. Weigh her again in two weeks and assess her BC level. Keep doing this for a month. If she hasn’t lost weight, reduce the amount of food by half of the amount you started with today. Monitor her weight again for another month. You should see results.

    An otherwise healthy dog will shed the pounds pretty quickly. Once your dog is at her BC4 or 5 level, weigh her again. Now you have her ideal weight. To hazard a guess without seeing your dog, I would think she needs to be about 5 pounds lighter than what she is based on breed averages. Good luck.

  • Catahoula lover! ❤️

    By using the guide above my Catahoula is about a 6 but that doesn’t help determine her ideal body weight to use the calculator to determine how much she should be eating. Any suggestions???

  • Susan

    Hi Zack, what are you feeding her, wet or dry kibble, what are the Kcals per cup, what is the protein% & fat% ?? also it’s best to feed a dog twice a day, breakfast & dinner, when you just feed 1 big meal the poor dog has to digest a lot more food then when you feed in 2 smaller serving, when feed twice a day they’re eating a smaller amount so less work on the stomach pancreas & bowel … Canidae is a really good senior food the “Canidae” Pure Meadow Senior formula, I’d slowly introduce another food, if after feeding a different food twice a day & after 1 month she hasn’t gained any weight I would see a vet for blood test there may be under lying health problem? if you have the money make appointment to see a vet…

  • Kristopher Fisk

    Don’t use coconut oil it’s not healthy I was a vet nurse and now an ER nurse trust me on this.

  • Kristopher Fisk

    Good stuff. 6 to 8 weeks for ideal results.

  • Kristopher Fisk

    Should feed a little more then just dry food once a day she’s probably starving. She might not like the dry she’s given blue products are very good for your pups overall health and well being. Even beneful, try the beneful wet food it comes in a rectangular box in a couple different flavors at night and a bowl of dry in the morning. Or give just the beneful wet if she likes in the evening and treats in the morning if it’s too much money for you. As I don’t k ow your financial situation. Hope that helps I was a vet nurse before working in the ER the last few years and dealt with these questions a lot. Hope it helps!

  • Conuly

    That’s the point. Because breeds vary a lot, you can’t know the ideal weight, so instead you’re looking at the overall build.

  • Conuly

    If he’s happy and active, his weight is probably just fine. If he was underweight, he would not feel up to running around : )

  • Shirley Burt-Olevas

    Hello. I have the body condition score from above, but where does it tell me what my dogs ideal body weight is so I can determine how much to feed him to lose weight? Thank you

  • Chiquita Lita
  • InkedMarie

    What food are you feeding? I had luck with Wellness Core reduced fat but I’d also try Annamaet Lean.
    By the way, it’s Neapolitan Mastiff.

  • karen rowland

    Hi I have a neopolitin massive , I’ve had him on a special diet for 6 weeks , he keeps gaining weight . I even bought a treadmill, but he dosnt fit on it . He weights 228 pds now .

  • karen rowland

    Hi
    I have a neopolitin massive . I’ve had him on special diet dog food for 6 weeks . He keeps gaining weight. He’s up to 228 pds . What am I doing wrong . I even got him a treadmill , but dosnt fit on it . He looks like a bear .