What’s a healthy weight for dogs?

Lucky for them dogs aren’t inundated with unrealistic images of dog models and slender celebrities that give them body-image complexes.

But that doesn’t mean a healthy weight isn’t important for your pup. If your dog could wear a bikini she’d surely appreciate it if you made her weight and health a priority.

Dogs have very little control over their weight, meaning those extra pounds around their mid-section are your fault. What is a healthy weight for dogs? We’ll give you the scoop.

There are hundreds of breeds of dogs and countless mixed breeds so there is no way to determine an ideal weight for dogs in general. There are some steps you can take to ensure your dog is at a healthy weight for their breed. If you have further concerns, talk with your vet.

Seeing is believing

One of the best ways to assess whether your dog is over- or underweight is simply by looking at them. In most cases their ribs should not be visible but there should be clear definition from where their ribs end to their hips. They shouldn’t have belly rolls or a lot of additional skin or fat around their faces. If there isn’t any or very little definition from the front of your dog to the back end, he or she is likely overweight.

After making a visual assessment you can also make a tangible assessment by palpating your dog. While you shouldn’t see ribs sticking out, you should easily be able to feel them with a gentle touch. You can feel other areas of their frame as well, and you should be able to identify most of the skeletal structure.

Know your breed

Another way to assess if your dog is a healthy weight is to become familiar with their breed. If your dog is a mixed breed or you have no idea what their breed is, ask your vet to give you his best guess so you can learn the common characteristics of that breed. Some dogs are bred to be slender and almost bony looking such as Greyhounds or Whippets. Even at a normal weight their ribs may show and extra weight can be more detrimental for their delicate frames. Conversely breeds like Shar peis will have excess skin and thus rolls all over their body which isn’t indicative of being overweight. Other dogs are more muscular so the scale may yield a higher number though they aren’t necessarily overweight. All breeds have an average weight range and while your dog may vary in either direction, they should be somewhere near that range in most cases.

Couch potato

Most dogs should be active for at least some part of the day and should be able to easily go for brisk walks of moderate length. Otherwise healthy dogs that aren’t in their senior years that spend a lot of time laying around and show little interest in activity or those that breathe heavily on walks may not be at their ideal weight. Based on visual observation if you think that your dog’s fatigued disposition may be because of their weight, you may want to take steps to help them lose weight.

Use feeding schedules as a guide

Just about every dog food brand has a recommended amount of food you should feed your dog based generally only on one factor — their weight. Those guidelines should serve as a guide not as an absolute. You need to factor in the many other elements of your dog’s life and make adjustments. Consider their age, activity level, breed, any other treats they get throughout the day and if they are at a healthy weight to begin with. The higher the quality of dog food you buy, the less you will typically have to feed your dog. If you switch brands, don’t assume the feeding guidelines will be the same.

Healthy dogs are happy dogs

Excess weight in your pet can cause serious health issues over time and may even shorten the length of their life. Joint problems, diabetes and heart conditions can cost you big bucks down the road and are a likely possibility if your dog is overweight. Take the necessary steps to reduce the food they eat and increase their activity, and you’ll both be glad you did.


Use your dog’s health as motivation to get in shape too! Eat healthier and commit to daily walks with your pup.

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Raw diet for dogs: What you need to know