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Dogs have an uncanny ability to make our hearts warm, fuzzy, and full of all the feelings. With their cute little ears, soft fur, and sweet demeanor, dogs teach us how to stop and enjoy each moment. But even the smallest puppy will grow up into (possibly) a really big dog.

Dogs have an interesting growth process, and it’s partly dependent on breed. But overall, when do dogs stop growing, and how can you tell if your pup is finished?

How the Growth Process Works

First, it’s essential to understand how the growth process works in a dog. At birth, bone replaces the cartilage, such as the shoulder blade and the hipbone, with osteoblastic cells. The primary centers are long bones.

The osteoblasts lay down new bone towards bone ends, and the epiphyseal (growth plate) remains cartilage to enable bone to continue lengthening. When a dog stops growing, the cartilage is replaced by bone, creating a full bony skeleton.

Size of Breed

When do dogs stop growing? Not all dogs are created equal; therefore, the breed’s size doesn’t determine when the growth process ends. Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, such as toys, small, medium, large, and giant breeds. An overlap is apparent between grouping and sizes.

Scientific data reports larger dogs grow over a more extended period, while smaller dogs stop growing sooner. On average smaller dogs reach a maximum height of around 12 months. Larger dogs tend to stop growing anywhere from 18 to 24 months. When looking at a growth chart, the data can overlap, especially with size and breed categories.


Like any living being, nutrition plays a huge role when a dog stops growing. Underfeeding can cause a stunt in growth, whereas obesity causes an increased load in force on the joints impacting the long bone growth.

Healthy Diets

Energy plays a significant role in canine development. The kind and amount of food you feed your dog inevitably play a role in how well and how much it grows. It’s essential to pay attention to a suitable diet that is appropriate to the age and breed.

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Protein
  • Phosphorus

Calcium is absorbed through the intestines and is extremely important for the maintenance and development of bone. That is why it’s important for puppies to remain feeding from their mothers and not wean them too soon. Phosphorus’s job is to bind with calcium and help with the structure of the bone.

Vitamin D assists with bone growth but also with the absorption of calcium. Dogs cannot absorb sunlight through their skin, so they must obtain it within their diets.

Protein is essential during bone growth. Dogs require around 22% of protein within their diets. It’s necessary to understand that too little protein and too much protein can damage a growing body; therefore, a properly balanced diet is required based on age and breed. It’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian.

Spay and Neuter

It’s believed that fixing a dog can help avoid potential health issues and put a kibosh on behavioral problems. Neutering a dog typically happens between six to 18 months of age. Hormones regulate skeletal growth, which can, in fact, delay growth plate closures. That is why it’s wise not to neuter too early unless a previous health diagnosis occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the frequently asked questions amongst pet owners.

If My Dog has Stopped Growing, Why Does He Still Look like a Puppy?

Medium to large juvenile dogs tends to retain their “young” looking appearance even after reaching maturity. Their round face and soft coat, not to mention adolescent personality, don’t dictate whether a dog is growing. Typically they are done after the age of two. The juvenile appearance and energy can continue even after they have reached full maturity.

Does Exercise Play a Role in My Dog’s Growth? 

Regular exercise is essential for cardiovascular health as well as mental. It can be the difference between a dog that digs and one that doesn’t. However, there is no scientific evidence that exercise will damage growth plates. It’s encouraged to play with dogs of any age.

It’s a theoretical belief that strenuous exercise with larger breeds may increase the odds of hip dysplasia by the fear of damaging growth plates. No scientific evidence presented has backed this up.

Do Dogs Experience Growing Pains?

Puppies don’t experience growing pains; however, skeletal issues arise due to obesity or malnutrition, limping and gate problems, and inflammation.

Does the Care of Dogs Differ During the Early Growing Stages?

During puppyhood, frequent visits to the vet are essential to monitoring growth, weight, and health patterns. It’s important as a pet owner to monitor them closely to understand their everyday healthy habits.

Diet for a growing dog helps prevent overgrowth in large breeds, affecting muscle and skeletal health. How much and what kind of food is typically broken down by the size of species for this reason. Your vet can help you tailor your dog’s right diet to ensure proper nutrients and weight gain are within healthy limits.

How Big Will My Dog Get?

DNA plays a more significant role in how big your dog will get before looking at the type of breed. When looking at prior litters (siblings), it gives you an accurate indication of how big your dog will get. Generalizing on a paw or ear size is not an accurate gauge, no matter how cute they are.

What are Some of the Common Conditions in a Growing Dog?

Small dogs typically have hip or knee issues while larger breeds have hip, joints, elbows, and shoulder problems. Painful inflammation can happen called panosteitis, which often requires medication.

Larger dogs can experience swelling of the growth plates and can accompany a fever. Most times, this will resolve on its own.

Hip dysplasia is when the ball doesn’t align in the socket correctly and sometimes requires surgery to correct it. Osteochondrosis is an overgrowth of cartilage and often needs surgery to fix.

Final Thoughts

As you’ve learned in this article, when dogs stop growing varies from different species, genetics, and diet. So, when do dogs stop growing? The growing range of all dogs, small and large, is anywhere from six months to two years. Of course, no matter your canine’s size, they remain part of your family and have a special place in your heart.

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