Labrador retrievers make wonderful pets. People with new puppies, however, can be surprised by how quickly—and how big—their dogs grow. Making sure your new family member is growing according to schedule is an important part of responsible dog ownership.
First, are you sure that you have a Labrador retriever on your hands? Is it a full-blooded Lab or a mixed breed? Knowing what breed your dog is mixed with will help you determine how big he’s supposed to be. Also, English Labs tend to weigh less than American Labs, which can weigh as much as 120 lbs.
Larger breeds, such as Labradors, have longer growing periods than say, Daschunds. Adult weight is generally reached at around 11-15 months of age. For most Labs, this will be 70-80 lbs. Male dogs will usually be heavier. In 15 months, the Labrador retriever puppy (born around one lb) multiplies his birth weight by 70 or more!
Most Lab puppies are around 10 lbs at eight weeks of age and reach 50 lbs at around seven months of age. As a rule of thumb, they will gain 2 lbs a week until they are about 26 weeks old. Because they grow so quickly, your pup may appear clumsy and awkward for a while as he adapts to his bigger, stronger body.
The growth rate for labs slows down as the puppy approaches adulthood. Make sure you’re feeding your dog appropriately as he heads into a stable adult weight—Labs can get rather rotund if you overfeed them! And that’s not good for their health for a lot of reasons.
You can weigh your Lab with calibrated electronic scales for the most accurate results, but any household scale will work just fine.
Proper nutrition will keep your beloved pet’s growth going at the proper rate. Don’t skimp on the food—your dog needs the right fats, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Meat, poultry or fish should be the first ingredient. Remember, Lab puppies need twice the nutrition of older dogs. Look for food specially formulated for growing dogs.
A Lab with healthy weight will not have any ribs visible; however, you should be able to run your hands along his side and feel the individual ribs.
If a Lab puppy isn’t growing at the right rate, have your vet check him for worms or intestinal parasites.
Remember, hip dysplasia is a common problem with larger breeds; you can help minimize the condition by making sure your dog isn’t overweight. Your veterinarian will be the most qualified to help you make sure your Labrador puppy’s growth is on track, so take your pup in for an exam and don’t be shy about asking questions!
A healthy Lab that’s the right weight will be a happier dog and a faithful friend to you and your family for many years.