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What is a healthy weight for a Golden Retriever? According to the American breed standards, males should weigh between 65-75LBS, and females should weigh 55-65LBS.
If your Golden Retriever doesn’t fall into the suggested weight range above, that doesn’t mean that your Golden is not at a healthy weight.
There are many things that influence a Golden Retriever’s weight including, genetics, gender, lifestyle and spay or neuter status.
Different types of Golden Retrievers will have slightly different weight ranges as well, such as the English Golden Retriever and Canadian Golden Retriever.
In this article, we’ll look at the different weight standards among English, American and Canadian Golden Retrievers, plus how to determine if your Golden Retriever is at a healthy weight, and how you can maintain it.
Is Your Golden Retriever At A Healthy Weight?
Every Golden Retriever is different, therefore the ideal healthy weight can vary quite a bit so it is best not to get hung up on an exact number that your dog should weigh. Instead, the best way to determine if your Golden is at a healthy weight is by sight and feel.
When looking at your Golden Retriever from above, you should notice an hourglass figure, your dog’s waist and hips should be defined.
There should be a noticeable tummy tuck between the ribs and hind legs when looking at your dog from the side. The tummy tuck will not be as extreme as it is in dogs such as whippets or greyhounds, but it should be visible.
When placing your hand on either side of your dog’s chest, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs when you apply soft pressure.
If your Golden Retriever’s ribs are showing, they are underweight, and if your Golden’s tummy bulges outward instead of tucks in, and you can’t feel their ribs they are overweight.
Keep in mind that this applies only to adult Golden Retrievers, we’ll discuss puppies next.
Is My Golden Retriever Puppy On Track For A Healthy Weight?
A good indication of how big your Golden Retriever puppy will get is to look at the pup’s parents. Genetics play a role in your dog’s size, however, pups will vary in size even in the same litter.
Weight gain and fluctuation in puppies is normal, and each puppy is unique and individual, but they all go through the same growth stages and should be hitting similar weight targets.
At 8 weeks a Golden Retriever puppy will weigh around 10LBS.
At 4 months, they will weigh 30LBS, and at 8 months your Golden puppy who is now an adolescent could weigh 50LBS or more.
Golden Retriever puppies grow 5-10% larger each week and will reach their full height at 9-12 months, and their full adult size at 18 months.
Encouraging healthy growth in your Golden Retriever puppy through proper nutrition and exercise will help ensure their overall health later on.
It is important to not overfeed or overexercise your puppy during their developmental stages, in order to prevent joint problems.
What Influences A Golden Retriever’s Weight?
There are many things that can influence your Golden Retriever’s weight, the obvious ones being overfeeding, and not providing enough exercise, but here are some other factors:
Genetics play a role in determining your dog’s size when fully grown. Did you know there are slight size differences between the 3 different types of Golden Retrievers?
English Golden Retrievers are stockier and more muscular than their taller and lankier American and Canadian counterparts.
The UK Kennel Club does not set a specified weight range for English Golden Retrievers, but American Golden Retrievers should weigh 65-75LBS(males) and 55-65LBS(females).
Canadian Golden Retrievers stand slightly taller than the American Golden Retrievers, and the weight standard for males is the same as the American, but females weigh 60-70LBS.
Sex will have an effect on the size of your Golden Retriever. Males are on average 1-2 inches taller than females and weigh 10 pounds more.
When it comes to puppies, females grow faster during the first few months, and males catch up and reach a higher overall weight.
Golden Retrievers have a high energy level and a very playful nature, this breed requires plenty of exercise, not only to stay healthy but to keep them out of trouble.
The amount of physical activity your Golden gets can affect his weight, an inactive Golden will burn fewer calories.
Spay or Neuter Status
Spaying or neutering your Golden Retriever has certain advantages and disadvantages, which I discuss in my previous article when to spay a Golden Retriever.
One of the disadvantages of spaying or neutering your Golden is an increased risk for obesity.
According to a study based on data collected over a 6 year period from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, which includes over 3,000 Golden Retrievers, approximately half had undergone spay or neuter surgery.
The dogs that were spayed or neutered were 50-100% more likely to become overweight or obese when compared to dogs that were left intact. The age at which the dog was spayed or neutered did not have an effect on the weight gain, it remained pretty consistent.
Does this mean that spaying or neutering your dog makes them fat? No, it means that owners need to be aware of the potential risk of weight gain and adjust the calorie intake and exercise requirement.
Generally speaking, spayed or neutered dogs require fewer calories and or more physical exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
Risks Associated With An Unhealthy Weight In Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers who are at an unhealthy weight, whether they are underweight or overweight are at risk for certain health issues. Let’s look at the possible risks:
The reasons for a Golden Retriever to be underweight can be due to poor nutrition, underlying illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer, age, and parasites such as worms and Giardia.
In puppies, stunted growth that is caused by either underfeeding or illness will affect their development and can prevent them from reaching their full potential.
A Golden Retriever that is underweight for a long period of time is at risk of the following:
- Weak immune system.
- Increased susceptibility to illnesses.
- Skin & coat problems, such as hair loss.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Slow wound healing.
- Shorter life expectancy.
- Reduction in bone density.
- Muscle loss.
Obesity in dogs is a huge health threat, and unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are at high risk of becoming obese.
According to a 2018 study done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it is estimated that 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese.
A study in 2012 showed that almost 63% of Golden Retrievers in the US were overweight or obese, this was more than the US National average of 52.6% of overweight or obese dogs. Sadly, not much has improved since.
Obesity can be caused by your dog consuming more calories than they are burning, as well as medical conditions such as Cushing’s Disease, Hypothyroidism, and a slower metabolism due to age.
Carrying around excess weight can put your Golden Retriever at risk for the following:
- Hip & Elbow Dysplasia: Golden Retrievers have an increased risk of developing hip or elbow dysplasia because it is an inherited condition. However, rapid growth, excess weight and vigorous exercise can all contribute to this condition.
- Osteoarthritis (joint problems).
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Respiratory problems (difficulty breathing).
- Liver disease.
- Compromised immune function.
- Increased risk of certain cancers.
- Shortened lifespan.
- Decreased stamina.
- Digestive disorders.
- Increased surgical and anesthetic risk.
How To Maintain A Healthy Weight For Your Golden Retriever
Having a healthy Golden Retriever is certainly what every owner strives for, and one of the ways to ensure your dog is living their best life is by keeping them at a healthy weight.
According to studies, dogs who are at a healthy weight live on average 2 years longer than dogs who are obese. If there’s anything you can do to prolong your Golden’s lifespan, it is certainly worth doing!
Here are some ways to maintain your Golden Retriever’s healthy weight:
Feed Healthy Food
Always make sure to feed your Golden Retriever a high-quality healthy diet. Be sure to read the ingredient labels, and avoid anything that you cannot pronounce.
Avoid Over-Treating & Unhealthy Treats
Don’t let those big brown eyes fool you! Golden Retrievers are notorious for begging for food. The truth is they will eat anything and everything given the chance, and always appear hungry. Limit the number of treats, and avoid unhealthy treats and table scraps.
Dog treats should only account for 10% of your dog’s total daily calories.
Control Portion Sizes & Feed Smaller Meals
Many dog owners free feed their dogs, which might work well for certain dogs, but not all. If your dog is overweight, you will want to be mindful of portion size. Most dog foods have a recommended amount based on the weight of your dog.
If you only feed once a day, your dog will likely feel hungry throughout the day. To combat this and to keep your dog satisfied, you can divide your dog’s food into smaller meals throughout the day, feeding 2 or 3 times a day instead of just once.
Golden Retrievers love spending time outdoors, especially with their favourite humans. Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight in your Golden Retriever.
Walking, jogging, swimming, games of fetch, are all enjoyable ways to keep your Golden healthy. Make sure to keep active every day.
Monitor Your Dog’s Weight
Keep an eye on your Golden Retriever’s weight by performing the sight and feel test weekly or bi-weekly.
Make Gradual Changes
By being aware of what your Golden’s healthy weight should be, you can make gradual changes in diet and exercise.
For overweight Golden Retrievers, decreasing the number of calories your dog consumes and increasing activity level should be done gradually. Losing weight takes time, and should be approached as a lifestyle change, not a rapid weight loss.
Always Consult Your Vet
Your vet will be able to tell you if your Golden Retriever is at a healthy weight. He or she will weigh your dog as well as examine your dog’s body using the sight and feel method and compare it to a body condition score chart.
This short video helps you to understand how to determine if your dog is at a healthy weight and explains the body condition score.
If your Golden Retriever has suddenly gained or lost weight for no apparent reason, it is important to consult your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
As we have learned in this article, a healthy weight for a Golden Retriever can vary based on gender, and genetics, and should not be solely based on a specific number on the scales.
Healthy Golden Retrievers should weigh between 65-75 pounds, however, using the sight and feel method and comparing your dog’s body to a body condition score chart will be your best bet.
Once you have found your dog’s ideal healthy weight, it is important to maintain it through proper nutrition and exercise. Keeping your Golden at a healthy weight will undoubtedly improve your dog’s overall health and even prolong your dog’s life.
Is your Golden Retriever at a healthy weight? Could your Golden Retriever stand to lose a few pounds?
Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you.