Growing Puppies

  • Small breeds mature more quickly (6 months), larger breeds more slowly (24 months)
  • 1 months of growing for every 2.5cm/1in of adult height at shoulder – 18in = 18 months for bones to stop growing + 4 months for growth plates to close
  • Growth plates start to close at puberty
  • Neuter before grown plates closed – different shaped dog – longer bones, less muscle, greater risk of ligament/cruciate damage/hip dysplasia, weight gain, intelligence & spacial awareness affected
  • Small bones grow first, then larger bones, then skull bones
  • Dogs can grow in 1 year as much as a human does in 18 years
  • Maturity based on final expected size – 11kg 9 months, 11-45kg 14 months, 45kg+ 18-24 months

Diet & Growth

  • Move to adult food when growth plates close – 6-12 months small breeds, 12-24 month medium/lager breeds
  • Don’t want puppies to grow too quickly


  • Ground level free exploratory play is best
  • Don’t have stamina
  • Shouldn’t be woken when asleep
  • Fractures to tibia typical, caused by twisting motion
  • High impact/high intensity/repetition causes damage shown in later life – tried activity is best
  • Structured exercise – 5 mins per month of age, twice a day
  • Develop balance – build up to standing still for 10 seconds, shift balance, sit pretty (support front legs)
  • Varied surfaces – needs different muscles
  • Proprioception – walking over things
  • Develop flexibility – figure of 8/twist
  • Sit > stand, lie > sit


  • Toys recommended – different weights and textures
  • Non slip surfaces – early injuries become apparent later in life
  • Avoid steps and stairs, particularly downstairs, use harness to support weight
  • Lift onto furniture, car ramps
  • Crate training – safe space – large enough to stand, turn around and lie down stretched, soft bedding, need to be able to stretch out (issues with spine)
  • Don’t let children carry puppies for risk of dropping