Can I Tell How Big My Puppy Will Get From Its Paws?

Everyone loves puppies, with their tiny little paws and over-sized eyes. Their clumsy, playful antics charm us to no end, even when we get frustrated with their chewing and potty-training accidents. But puppies don't stay puppies forever and eventually your baby dog will become a full-sized pooch. If you want to know how big your new best friend will be when she grows up, her paws may give you a clue, but you'll need other information to get a solid idea of her adult size.

Portrait Of Golden Retriever Puppies On Bench
You can get an idea of how big your puppy with be from the size of its paws.
credit: Taboino School / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Puppy growth stages

The first thing you should know when trying to figure out your puppy's future adult size are the different puppy growth stages. In fact, many people who ask "At what age do puppies stop growing?" or "At what age does a puppy reach its full height?" are surprised to discover that it can take pups anywhere from six months to two full years to mature into an adult according to Vet Babble. That makes the question of how to tell how big your puppy will get a bit more complicated. After all, it's a lot harder to estimate the eventual size of a puppy only a few days old than one who is nine months old.

According to Cesar Milan, experts say there are anywhere from five to seven stages of growth in puppies, although he believes in a simplified five-stage growth chart. The first stage of puppyhood lasts for the first two weeks and is known as the Neonatal Period. At this age, puppies cannot hear or see, but simply touch and taste, and as a result, they need to stay close to their mothers and eat every two hours. During the next two weeks of life, the Transitional Period, puppies become able to see, hear, stand, walk, bark, and wag their tail.

The Socialization Period, as the name implies, is when it is most important to socialize your pup with other dogs and people. This stage lasts from the time they are a month old until they are three months old and involves the puppies becoming increasingly playful, though they still need to spend plenty of time with their mom.

The Ranking Period lasts until the age of six months and is when puppies start teething and chewing and also learning about dominance and submission. Finally, between the age of six months and adulthood, puppies go through their adolescence, learning their place in the pack, and entering puberty if they are not already spayed or neutered.

Using feet to guess size

Can you tell how big your little puppy will get based on his feet? Not accurately, but it can be a fun way to guess, says Endura Flap. Essentially, if your pup has had a bit of a growth spurt and his feet are bigger than the rest of his body, you can estimate that your dog will grow into the size of his feet. So if your puppy has feet the size of a Saint Bernard, but he's still pretty small, he'll probably grow to be the size of a Saint Bernard eventually.

Of course, it's worth remembering that some breeds have particularly large or small paws for their size. Collies have notably dainty feet and bulldogs may be short, but they have pretty big paws to carry all that weight.

Guessing your pup's eventual size

If you know what breed your dog is, this can make accurately guessing her eventual size a lot easier. You can simply look up a breed guide like those listed on the American Kennel Club website and then see how much dogs of that breed usually weigh. Remember to keep in mind that male and female dogs have different average weights in many breeds. If you have a mixed-breed dog or a dog of unknown origin, this method is unreliable without a DNA test.

Even if you're dealing with a mixed-breed dog with two mixed-breed parents, the parents can give you some indication of the size. If they're both about the same size, your puppy will probably grow up to be about the same size as well. If they're different sizes, your pup will probably grow to somewhere between the two parent's sizes. Unfortunately, if they're drastically different sizes or if you haven't seen the parents, it can still be difficult to guess your dog's eventual size.

Size based on weight

One way to guess your dog's eventual weight is by using a puppy weight chart template online. To do this, you'll need to at least know what your pup's weight is at six weeks of age for a small or toy breed, or 14 weeks of age for a medium or large breed. This is because pups tend to gain weight at a predictable rate, but at different speeds depending on their size.

If you have a small- or toy-breed dog, multiply the six-week weight by four and you'll have his adult weight. For example, a small-breed dog that's one pound at six weeks should weigh around four pounds as an adult. For large- and medium-breed dogs, you'll need to multiply the dog's weight at 14 weeks old by 2.5. For example, a large-breed pup that weighs 20 pounds at 14 weeks will grow up to be around 50 pounds. A puppy weight chart calculator online can do the calculations for you if you're not great with math.

While it's a little more complicated, Daily Dog Stuff says that if you don't know your dog's weight at 6 or 14 weeks of age or if you really have no idea whether you have a small- or medium-sized breed, you can figure out the average rate of growth per week and use that to estimate your dog's weight at the end of a year. To do this, you need to divide your dog's current weight by his age in weeks to get his average weight by week, then multiply that by 52 for the number of weeks in a year. So if your dog is 10 weeks old and weighs 10 pounds, then you can estimate that he will weigh 52 pounds as an adult (10 pounds divided by 10 weeks multiplied by 52).

Why does it matter?

Some puppy parents wonder if it really matters if they know how big their little pups will be when they grow up and some even like to wait and see rather than do the legwork to estimate the dog's eventual size. The truth is that it will matter a lot more to some people than others. If you have a big home with a large yard and don't plan to crate-train your pooch, it won't matter as much. But if you want to plan for your pup so you can do things like crate-train without having to buy a dozen crates after upgrading every time your pooch grows again, you'll probably want to have at least some idea of how big your dog will be.