Most days on the Labrador site we receive a comment or email from someone who tells us exactly how old their dog is, and wants to know how many pounds, or kilos, he should weigh.
However, Labradors come in a wide variety of sizes.
In this article we will take a look at the right size for a fit and healthy dog, and how to spot when he’s piling on the pounds.
Some of our chunkier, show bred Labs can be a good twenty pounds or more heavier than their field bred cousins, without necessarily being overweight.
A naturally big (not fat) Labrador may have a larger overall ‘frame’ with bigger bones. But they should still look ‘slim’.
The Labrador in the photo below is obese and needs to lose weight urgently.
Muscle is heavier than fat
It is worth bearing in mind, that a very fit dog will have more muscle and may weigh more than a fat, unfit dog of similar dimensions.
For these reasons, it simply is not possible to give a ‘rule of thumb’ on adult Labrador weights.
Unless a dog is grossly obese, or desperately thin, the scales may not be an accurate reflection of the dog’s state of health.
So how do I know if my dog is too fat?
You should not be able to see ribs, but if you press firmly along his sides you should just be able to feel your fingers bumping along them.
You can read about this in more detail in our article on Fat Labradors where you can also find a picture of a Labrador at a healthy weight.
What about puppies?
To an extent, this information applies to puppies as well as adults. People often worry a lot about their puppy’s weight.
But in most cases it really is not necessary to weigh your puppy every day, or even every week!
Any more than you would weigh your three year old child on a daily or even weekly basis.
There are however, some exceptions.
Very thin puppies
Occasionally we have people post up about puppies that are desperately underweight and clearly failing to thrive.
Most of these comments come from people that have purchased puppies that are not ready to leave their mothers, and should not have been sold by the breeder.
Some of these puppies are as young as three weeks old.
If you have inadvertently been sucked into this horrible trade in underage puppies, please check out our article: Too Young to Leave Mum, and do contact a vet for help with feeding your puppy, as a matter of urgency.
If you are concerned that your puppy might be seriously underweight, again, your vet is the first port of call.
As a very rough guide, many Labrador puppies will weigh around a kilo for every week of their lives. So you would expect a ten week puppy to weigh something in the region of ten kilos or around twenty-two pounds.
A twenty percent variation around this would be fairly normal. If your puppy falls outside this variation he may still be perfectly healthy, but if you are inexperienced, a check with the vet is a good way to put your mind at rest.
Check out this article on Puppy Growth for more information: Puppy Growth FAQ
So do I never need to weigh my dog?
If you are trying to put weight on a very thin puppy, you may want to check your progress with regular weigh-ins for a while.
You may also need to weigh your dog if he needs medical treatment.
Determining the appropriate dose of some drugs requires that we know the exact weight of the patient.
How to weigh a dog
If you need to weigh a dog in order to ‘dose’ him, and he is small enough to hold in your arms, just weigh yourself on the bathroom scales without him, then weigh yourself again whilst holding the dog, and subtract the first weight from the second.
This is accurate enough for most purposes.
Larger dogs will need to be weighed on purpose built scales, most vet surgeries have one in the waiting room.
Really tiny dogs can be weighed accurately on a good sized set of kitchen scales, or by using fishing scales to weigh a puppy placed carefully in a shoulder bag (don’t forget to weigh the bag first and subtract its weight from your total)
For once, this is a situation where appearances really do count. Try to get into the habit of looking at your dog objectively and of avoiding comparing with other dogs, many of whom will be overweight.
You may find that some other dog owners will tell you your nice slim Labrador is actually too thin. This happens a lot, largely because people are simply getting used to so many dogs being fat, including some of those receiving the highest accolades in our show rings.
Again, if you are worried, check with your vet, but the chances are, your dog is healthy and their dog is overweight
If you enjoy Pippa’s puppy articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.