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Determining the Ideal Weight for Dogs: A Pet Owner's Guide

by Geoff Works |

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. As balls of energy, dogs need to maintain their proper body weight to live active, healthy lives. Determining the ideal weight for your dogs begins with understanding their body condition, breed, life stage, environment, and activity level. A healthy weight and regular exercise can significantly reduce the likelihood of a CCL injury or tear, hopefully preventing an expensive surgery for your pet. Add in regular visits to the vet, and you’ll have more insight and a plan for what your dog may need to maintain their ideal weight.  

At A Glance: How to Tell if Your Dog is a Healthy Weight

By observing your dog and knowing their breed’s body shape, you should be able to determine if they are at a healthy weight. Generally, your dog’s abdomen should be higher than its ribcage. From its front legs, its underside should gradually incline toward its rear. A steep incline may indicate that your pet is underweight, while a no incline or a decline would suggest they are overweight.

Here are the possible weight classifications for your dog:

Severely Underweight

Your dog would be considered severely underweight if you can easily see and feel the bones–such as their ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones–beneath the skin. They will also lack muscle mass and no discernible body fat. 

If you observe a dog that is severely underweight, it should be brought to a veterinarian r for a more accurate health diagnosis and to determine the cause.


You’ll be able to tell if your dog is underweight if their ribs can be seen and easily felt beneath its skin. You’ll also notice a lack of body fat and bony areas. Your dog will likewise display obvious waist and abdominal tuck.

If you observe that your dog has become underweight, it could require a change in diet and a visit with your veterinarian. A medical professional may be able to diagnose other causes, such as their shots that should be updated or vitamins and supplements your dog could benefit from.

Ideal Weight

If your dog is at their ideal weight, you should be able to see its waist behind its ribs from above. Your pet’s ribs should not be visible but still be easily felt, with no excess fat covering them. Your dog’s abdomen will likewise be tucked in rather than running straight back into its legs.


Your dog would be considered overweight if you can’t easily detect its ribs. Your pet could have noticeable fat deposits over the base of its tail and lumbar area. You also won’t be able to see their waist, and they may display almost no abdominal tuck.

Severely Overweight

A dog is considered severely overweight if you notice massive fat deposits over the thorax, spine, or at the base of its tail. The abdomen would be distended or hanging, and the waist and abdominal tuck would be absent.

If your dog is severely overweight, we recommend bringing them to your veterinarian as quickly as possible for a more accurate diagnosis and for suggestions on turning its health back in the right direction. They will likely need a new exercise regimen, a change in diet, and/or their weight may point to more serious health concerns (such as an undiagnosed leg injury).

The Ideal Weight for Dogs Categorized by Breed

A complete canine weight chart, according to breed and gender, can be found on the American Kennel Club’s official site. We have compiled a shorter list of ideal weight ranges based on height and Body Mass Index (BMI). 

Note that your dog should still be regularly assessed by a medical professional, and if your pet is a mixed breed, it may not follow the exact weight ranges below.

Ideal Weight Ranges for the Top 50 AKC Breeds:


Average Weight Range (in pounds/lbs)

Australian Cattle Dogs

30 to 35

Australian Shepherds

40 to 65

Basset Hounds

45 to 65


18 to 30

Belgian Malinois

55 to 75

Bernese Mountain Dogs

85 to 110

Bichons Frises

7 to 12


80 to 110

Border Collies

27 to 45

Boston Terriers

10 to 25


50 to 75


30 to 40


40 to 50

Cane Corso

Proportionate to Height

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

10 to 18


4 to 6


50 to 70


50 to 55


Mini: 8 to 10; Standard: 10 to 12

Doberman Pinschers

65 to 90

French Bulldogs

19 to 22 and 22 to 28

German Shepherd Dogs

75 to 95

Great Danes

110 to 180


7 to 12


4 to 6


150 to 160

Miniature American Shepherds

20 to 40

Miniature Schnauzers

11 to 20


100 to 150

Pembroke Welsh Corgis

23 to 27

Pointers (German Shorthaired)

45 to 70


4 to 7


Mini: 11 to 17; Standard: 45 to 65

Portuguese Water Dogs

35 to 55


13 to 18

Retrievers (Chesapeake Bay)

55 to 80

Retrievers (Golden) 

55 to 75

Retrievers (Labrador)

55 to 80

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

65 to 90


70 to 135

Shetland Sheepdogs

18 to 20

Shiba Inu

15 to 25

Shih Tzu

8 to 16

Siberian Huskies

35 to 60

Spaniels (English Cocker)

26 to 34

Spaniels (English Springer)

40 to 50


45 to 60


50 to 70

West Highland White Terriers

13 to 21

Yorkshire Terriers

7 or less

How to Maintain Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

Maintaining your dog at their ideal weight means a better quality of life for them and lowers the risk of serious health problems (and expensive vet bills) in the long run. Here are some ways to ensure your pet lives an active, healthy life. 

Simple Observation

Stay vigilant on changes in your dog’s behavior and eating habits. This can go a long way toward ensuring they are healthy and happy. If you’ve consulted with a veterinarian about your pet’s diet, you should know how much food they can regularly consume. 

You can take it a step further by noting environmental triggers that might affect their eating habits or whether specific food doesn’t agree with them.

A Customized Diet

Based on your dog’s specific needs and characteristics, you may need to switch up their diet or select their food more carefully. Some dog food brands are designed to provide pets with ample energy and can contain an assortment of vitamins and supplements to improve their overall form. You should also avoid giving them scraps from the table, as most processed foods for humans do not agree with a dog’s stomach.

Scheduled Exercise

Exercise is vital to keeping your dog healthy as increasing their activity can help burn excess energy or calories consumed. Maintaining an active lifestyle doesn’t mean consistently hiking or heavy-duty exercises. Regular walks and playtime are often more than enough to build a balanced life for your dog.

For more tips on keeping your dog healthy and other tips for pet owners, visit our blog here.

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