How to Determine Your Dog’s Healthy Weight and Body Condition


How to Determine Your Dog’s Healthy Weight and Body Condition

The number on the scale might not be the best indicator of your dog’s healthy size. brendan-howard-headshot
brendan-howard-headshot By Brendan Howard June 22, 2021 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print dachshund on leash; how to determine your dog's healthy weight
dachshund on leash; how to determine your dog's healthy weight Credit: SeventyFour / Getty

Wouldn't it be easy if you could just weigh your dog and know instantly that she was just the right weight, just the right size, and perfectly healthy? Bad news: It doesn't work that way.

If you own a purebred dog, the American Kennel Club does offer an extensive weight chart for male and female adult dogs by breed. You can use general numbers to estimate how big a new purebred puppy might get. But if you've got one of the country's millions of mixed breed dogs, dog weight calculators and charts are only so helpful.

"It's really difficult to know a healthy weight for a dog with just the scale," says Lori Prantil, MPS, DVM, who counsels pet owners on nutrition at VCA South Shore Weymouth. "There are so many different breeds, and so many mixed breeds."

Veterinarians don't judge a dog's healthy weight with one number. They also use body condition scoring and muscle condition scoring to figure out whether your beloved pooch is carrying too little or too much fat on her body, or whether her muscles are starting to lose mass and definition.

Assessing your dog's healthy weight starts with regular visits to the veterinarian (Prantil recommends twice a year). Your careful attention over time to how your dog's weight or body condition changes is also crucial.

RELATED: How Much Food Does Your Dog Really Need?

Dog Weight Chart: Where Is Your Pup on the Scale?

Your dog's weight and body shape can have a big impact on their overall health. Use this dog weight chart to see what your dog's body should look like at an ideal body condition and size.

Dog weight chart
Dog weight chart Credit: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Severely Underweight

  • Your dog looks bony from a distance. 
  • Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones can be seen under the skin.
  • Body fat isn't discernible under the skin.
  • Loss of muscle mass is obvious.


  • Your dog's ribs are easily felt and may be visible under the skin.
  • Body fat may not be felt under the skin.
  • Some other bony spots may be seen under the skin.
  • Waist and abdominal tuck are obvious.

Ideal Weight

  • Your dog's ribs are easily felt without excess fat covering them.
  • From above, the waist can be seen behind the ribs.
  • From the side, the abdomen is tucked up, rather than running straight back to the legs.


  • Your dog's ribs can be felt with difficulty with fat covering them.
  • Noticeable fat deposits over the base of the tail and lumbar area (between pelvic bone and ribs on back).
  • Your dog's waist is absent or barely visible.
  • Abdominal tuck may be present.

Severely Overweight

  • Your dog has massive fat deposits over the thorax (from the neck to the abdomen), the spine, and the base of the tail.
  • Waist and abdominal tuck are absent.
  • Fat deposits are visible or can be felt under the skin on your dog's neck and legs.
  • Your dog's abdomen is obviously distended and hanging.
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