Healthy dog weight and the ideal body condition

You love your dog just the way they are, so you probably won’t worry too much if they seem to put on just a few extra pounds. But from a health point of view, size really does matter!
Dog laying down waiting to go for a walk
Dog laying down waiting to go for a walk
Dog laying down waiting to go for a walk

Many people are unsure exactly what a healthy weight for a dog is, so how can you know if your pet is the right size for their breed and type? To check your dog’s body condition score and ideal size, just follow these simple steps. You can even print off a copy and stick it to your fridge for permanent reference. Easy!

Using the slider below, select the image that most closely matches your dog, and we’ll tell you whether they may be underweight, overweight, or just right.

Created by experts in pet care, our Body Condition Tool is designed to help you determine if your pet is a healthy size. We try to avoid putting the emphasis on weight alone, which can be misleading. The dog body condition score tool encourages you to get hands on with your dog, feeling them to really judge their actual size underneath their lovely coat! It also recommends looking at your dog from every angle to get an all round view before deciding if they are a healthy shape and size. Be patient and gentle – your dog may not be accustomed to being handled in this way, but don’t worry, they’ll soon get used to it.

View a short video of Purina's resident vet Zara demonstrating how to check your dog's body condition

Why staying slim is so important

While there might be more of your dog to love if they are overweight, there are lots of potential health problems for a dog carrying excess weight. The knock-on effect of being overweight can even reduce your dog’s life by up to two years, and it means they’re less able to enjoy themselves through exercise and playing, due to joint problems. Some specific problems that can develop from excess weight include:

  • Arthritis, joint damage and joint pain
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Reduced exercise endurance and stamina
  • Increased anesthetic and surgical risks
  • Reduced liver function due to a fatty liver

Example of body condition scoring

Not sure if you’re judging your dog’s body condition correctly? Weight alone won’t tell you if your pet is in an ideal body condition - you have to get hands on!

The ideal dog body condition score is leaner than you might think. In fact, pet owners tend to dramatically underestimate the weight of their dogs. Each individual animal will require different food, a different feeding quantity and varying levels of exercise. Depending on body shape, size and breed, two dogs could actually weigh the same but one could be overweight and one underweight. Here are some examples of pets that have been scored against the Body Condition Tool. You can see the variety here and that it’s not just about weight, but that it’s about the size and shape, too.

Dog outside
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If you’d like more information on our dog body condition tool or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM