When Do Dogs Reach Adulthood?



How long is a dog considered a puppy? For longer than you might think according to a new report from Nestlé Purina PetCare.

While most pet parents would say puppyhood lasts for the first year, it actually depends on a dog’s breed and weight. Which also means they might need to be fed puppy-specific food for longer, too.

“Puppies have specific nutritional requirements to help support their rapid growth and development,” said Callie Harris, DVM, at Purina. “Similar to babies, puppies’ bodies are fast-growing, but unlike babies, puppies pack all their growth into one to two short years. It’s important to feed a high-quality puppy food formula for at least the first 12 months and up to 24 months for large breeds.”

For reference, here’s a quick guide to when dogs reach adulthood:

• Toy and small breed weighing less than 30 pounds usually reach adulthood between nine and 12 months.

• Dogs weighing between 30 and 80 pounds take 12 to 16 months to fully mature.

• Large and giant breeds can take up to 24 months to mature.

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the 2020 Puppy Owner Survey, 47% of small breed owners didn’t know that their dogs could eat puppy food for up to one year. And a whopping 92% of large breed owners didn’t realize their pups could need puppy chow for up to two years.

Other key findings from the survey include:

• 46% of puppy owners consider their dog’s current size when choosing food, but not their breed.

• Among puppy owners who graduated their dog from puppy food to adult food, the main reason cited was the belief that the pet had reached adult size (36%).

• When not eating, 77% of owners said their puppy is always chewing on something.

• 74% of puppy owners reported that their pup will try to eat anything that gets close to their mouths.

• Three-quarters of puppy owners agreed that their dog is always on the hunt for food scraps.

“Puppies like to chew,” said Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior feeding behavior professional at Purina. “A few ways puppy owners can do this is by establishing a quiet feeding area away from distractions and temptations, like food prep areas and dining tables, and setting up a feeding routine or schedule by feeding him the same amount of food at the same times each day.”


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