Border Collie and Chocolate Lab laying together with their paws spread forward while posing for the picture

Determining your puppy’s adult size can be one fun guessing game!

While a good guess can be made by considering the breed norms or size of the dog’s parents, sometimes disproportionately sized feet can be a tempting indicator of the puppy’s future size. Among several indicating factors that come into play when determining your puppy’s adult size, paw size tends to serve as a helpful tool. However, it may or may not always work.

Puppy paws as an indicator of adult size

A puppy’s paws can be a good indicator of his adult size, especially if they are unusually large or small. Typically, larger feet correlate with greater height and weight as an adult dog. It makes sense why a larger breed needs bigger feet to support a heavier build and tall height. After all, tiny feet cannot hold up a 100-pound dog like a mastiff! Similarly, long, heavy feet will only look a bit too oversized on a teacup Yorkie, even if he is fully-grown.

So, are paws a foolproof indicator of adult size?

Although you can tell if you will have a large or tiny furry friend in the future by looking at your puppy paws, it is NOT a foolproof indicator.

To begin with, some large dogs, such as collies tend to have smaller feet as compared to other dogs their size. Similarly, some small dogs, such as bulldogs have larger feet than other dogs their size.

The bottom line is that predicting adult size by puppy paws is far more accurate for purebred dogs than for mixed breeds.

Labrador and Chocolate lab in the couch together sitting and sleeping on their paws

Mixed breeds produce varied size

It can be difficult to guess a puppy’s adult size if his parents are unknown or the mixed breeds of his parents are unknown. This is likely to happen if you adopt a mixed puppy from a local shelter.

Mix Breed facing the camera with two little roped balls lying in between his paws

In this case, the canine DNA testing services available online may prove helpful. These tests do not cost too much and can help you determine the breed most of your dog’s physical traits are likely to develop from. They can also help you determine the breeds belonging to your dog’s bloodline with traits that are unlikely to show if they are not dominant.

Once you find out where most of your puppy’s bloodline comes from, you can predict his adult size by considering the average weight and height range for the specific breed.

If the puppy paws are large and the breed he belongs to is a large breed, it is needless to say that he will grow into a large adult.

The 16 weeks mark

While puppy paws are usually proportionate with the overall size, it might not seem so at first. When it comes to newborn puppies, it is not uncommon that they have disproportionately large or small-looking feet. It is when they reach the 14-16 weeks mark that their general proportions are largely set, including the paws.

A simple way to predict your puppy’s size is by doubling his size once he is 16 weeks old. The 16 weeks times 2 formula should be a good indicator of the fully grown size of your puppy. Although there is no science behind this rule of thumb, it seems to work most, if not all the times.

Other reliable indicators

With a purebred, it is usually easy to know what you are getting into. However, predicting the adult size of a mixed bred puppy can be tricky, especially if you do not know the size of the parents. It is a reliable fact that most dogs do not grow bigger than the larger parent.

Big parents, big puppies

Perhaps the best and the easiest way to determine the future size of your puppy is to look at both the parents. The parents’ breed, size, and weight can give a good idea of how big a puppy will get in the future. Large dogs generally breed large offspring but sometimes, their puppies may have small paws. So, the puppy paws do not always tell correctly if he is going to grow into a large dog or the runt of the litter.

Puppy Labrador laying on the green grass and looking at the camera

To get the best estimate of your how big your puppy will get, you should consider looking at his mother.

As far as the adopted and rescue pups are concerned, the following indicators may prove helpful in predicting their adult size.

Loose skin as a determinant of size potential

In addition to paw size, excess skin can also help predict the adult size of a puppy. Typically, the more loose skin a puppy has, the more room he has for growth.

The long bone growth plates generally close between 8 to 11 months of age. So, if you are looking at an older puppy of about 6 months, he has probably reached 75% of his adult height by then. After these bones close, the puppy’s height and length stop growing. However, they may continue to get heavier because most large breed dogs who weigh more than 55 pounds do not fully grow into an adult until they are 12 months old.

French bulldog posing for a picture with Double Tennis ball Rope toy lying in front of his paws

The best indicator of a puppy’s adult size has to be the parents’ size. Since dogs’ paws grow far more slowly than the rest of their bodies, they are naturally big to start with. If your puppy has large paws, he would probably grow into them as he ages. However, you would also need to consider the size of his ancestors to judge how big he will get with passing time.

With purebred dogs, the puppy growth rate is fairly predictable based on the bred norms. But with mixed breeds, finding out about the pup’s parents is a prerequisite to guessing his adult size. Make sure you take proper care of your puppy, try to keep diseases at bay, and meet all his nutritional needs so that he may grow into the best possible version of himself.