Each dog breed grows at different rates, based mostly on the size of dog they will be when they reach adulthood. Small dogs grow much quicker than large dogs, and reach maturity at a younger age. Toy breed dogs may reach full growth as early as 9-10 months of age, while some of the giant breeds of dogs may take up to 18-24 months of age.
How puppies develop
While all puppies develop at different rates, there are a few consistent stages of growth for all puppies. From the day they are born until about three weeks old, puppies are extremely fragile and reliant upon their mothers.
From three weeks to eight weeks, puppies become much more mobile; engaging with their litter mates and the world around them. Between two and three months of age a puppy encounters different situations. From 3 to 6 months of age, puppies start their ‘terrible twos,’ as they are teething, active and challenging. Ages 6 to 12 months can be understood as a puppy’s ‘teenage’ years, awkward mentally and physically. They are at their most active and playful and, in some breeds, may start to develop sexual maturity.
Caring for a puppy’s growing joints
Puppies have a lot of energy, but be thoughtful about how much exercise they get, and how strenuous those activities are. Things like hiking, or more high-impact dog sports like agility or disc dog, should also be approached very cautiously with a growing dog. It’s important to only work on foundation skills that are low impact until your puppy is done growing.
Is my puppy done growing? How big will my puppy get?
Each breed, and each puppy, grows differently. As puppies grow, their growth plates close, and until that happens, you don’t want your puppy doing any strenuous activity. Many parents of large-breed puppies who intend to train/compete in sports like dog agility, will have x-rays taken of their young adult dogs to confirm if their growth plates have closed. This signifies that it’s safe for the dog to begin jumping and begin learning other more physically demanding skills.
Big or small, puppies are a lot of work. It’s key to remain patient and consistent in your training while they are growing. Raising a puppy is just like raising a child, so buckle in and go along for the ride of raising a pup, it will be tough but the most rewarding experience.