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What is a puppy?
How does a puppy develop?
And how large will a puppy become?
In today’s post, we’ll be diving into each of these questions, along with how much a puppy weighs, how much weight and puppy should gain, what to feed him or her, and other names commonly used for ‘puppy’.
According to Merriam-Webster, a puppy is “a young domestic dog”.
Specifically, a dog “less than a year old.”
So think of your favorite doggy friend. Prior to his or her first birthday, he was a puppy.
Or if you have more than one puppy, puppies is the plural for puppy.
A word stemming from puppy is puppyhood.
Puppyhood refers to the seasons in a puppies life from newborn to approx. six months of age.
During these months, a puppy grows rapidly from just being born to being able to see, hear, play, discover his place in the ranking system, and so much more.
Just like childhood refers to a person’s years as a child, likewise, the term ‘puppyhood’ encompasses the months that a puppy is simply that: a puppy.
Smaller dogs will begin as puppies ranging in weight from one to three pounds.
On the contrary, larger dogs will enter the world as puppies weighing anywhere between fifteen and twenty-three pounds.
To know how large a puppy will grow, simply take a look at her doggie parents. Unless your puppy is a mixed breed, your pup will most likely grow to be a similar size as her adult dog parents.
In addition, once a puppy reaches twenty-four weeks old, they are already 2/3 – 3/4 of their full adult weight. So by twenty-four weeks, you’ll have a pretty good idea just how much dog you really bargained for.
According to Fidosavvy, puppies experience their most rapid growth during the first weeks following birth.
Healthy puppies can be expected to double their birth weight in the first week alone, followed by a 5% – 10% daily increase.
Typically, regardless of the breed, tiny and toy breeds are known to develop faster than their larger canine cousins.
For example, teacup and toy puppy varieties enter their most rapid growth from birth to eleven weeks.
Small and medium puppies, in contrast, experience their most rapid growth from birth all the way to sixteen weeks.
Large and giant breeds have an even longer rapid growth period lasting from birth until five months old.
While puppies will gain in both weight and height during their rapid growth weeks, a puppy will often reach his full height prior to arriving at his mature adult weight.
For example, at four months of age, most puppies will have already reached 60% of their full-size height although they remain at only 30% of their adult weight.
Click here for a growth chart outlining a puppy’s growth in both height and weight.
In addition to a puppy’s breed, male dogs are generally larger and heavier than their female counterparts.
No matter what gender or breed your puppy is, never try to speed up healthy puppy growth.
Once a puppy reaches six weeks of age, you can expect small dog breeds to gain approx. five ounces per week while larger breeds will gain as much as 2.5 lbs every week.
This is perfectly healthy and 100% normal.
Should you try to increase weight gain beyond these numbers, your puppy can quickly become unhealthy.
Weight gained too quickly can soon lead to obesity and injured joints.
Of course, there are always exceptions from what is normal.
More important than the number on your doggy scale is that your puppy is healthy. Avoid becoming overly concerned about exactly how much weight your puppy is putting on each week.
Instead, keep a close eye on your puppy’s physique and behavior to see that she is feeling truly healthy throughout her puppyhood.
Mattinson from The Happy Puppy Site gives four guidelines to assess if your puppy is healthy or not. These guidelines are:
- Ribs cannot be seen. You should not be able to see your puppy’s ribs. If you can, then increase your puppy’s food because she is underweight.
- Ribs can be felt. While you should not be able to see your puppy’s ribs, when you run your hands across the sides of your puppy, you should be able to gently feel several ribs on either side.
- Puppy has a waist. That’s right. Standing above your puppy, look directly down on your puppy from above and check if her sides go in just before her hips and rump, forming a puppy waist.
- Puppy has a tuck. Looking this time from the side of your puppy, closely examine your puppy’s tummy. A healthy puppy will have a tummy that slopes gently up so it is highest just before disappearing between the back legs.
If each of these guidelines is met, you can rest assured your puppy is on a healthy weight-gain track.
From newborn to adulthood
Puppies enjoy a nine-week gestation before ever being birthed.
Once delivered, a newborn puppy arrives with fur, strong front feet to pull him towards his mother, a voice that can cry, and a strong sense of smell.
The eyes and ears are still closed, and newborn puppies will spend most of their time sleeping or eating.
A newborn puppy’s primary sense organ is its ability to smell. Using their nose, they will have no problem finding their mother and littermates.
During their first week, puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature. Instead, they are kept warm from their mother’s heat.
In addition, a puppy’s birthweight will double during the first seven days.
If you wish to dock your puppy’s tail, this should be done during the first two or three days following birth.
Transitional Stage (2 – 4 weeks)
During the transitional stage, a puppy’s eyes begin to open. At first, sight is only blurry. With time, a puppy will be able to see more clearly.
A pup begins putting on a new 5% – 10% of body weight each week, and the mother will lick her puppies anal and genital areas to stimulate bowel or bladder movement.
If a puppy is orphaned, you can alternatively stimulate a little pup’s bladder by swabbing her bottom with a warm, wet cotton ball or soft cloth.
Week three is full of action for a little puppy.
At three weeks, a puppy is ready to start standing, sitting, and taking her first puppy steps.
She’ll start wagging her tail, her ears will open, and she will thrive on playing and interacting with her littermates.
She will also begin regulating her own body temperature and her first baby teeth will make their debut.
Now is a good time to grab a shallow doggy dish and start weaning a puppy with soft pupper food.
In addition, week three introduces the start of your puppy’s unique personality. At this point, it is important to carefully expose a little puppy to kind and caring people in order to foster a happy and healthy puppy personality.
Socialization becomes key starting at week three.
Socialization Stage (3 – 12 weeks)
Hello, active playtime! Week four is fun with a tiny little pup.
Puppies will now learn how to urinate and defecate on their own while also moving away from their bed to empty their bladder.
They will start cutting their back teeth, plus they will learn their ranking within a group.
During action-packed playtimes, four-week-old puppies will learn inhibited biting where they bite for play rather than to hurt. They will also become more vocal, they’ll love to wrestle, and they will be steady pals at games of tug-of-war.
Week five ushers in the bark! This week puppies go from “crying” to actual barking.
They will also love to run and play, and they’ll love you extra much when given a good teething toy.
Goodbye momma’s milk. By week six a puppy should be fully weaned.
He will now want to eat five or six meals each day and is ready to start good doggie training.
So go ahead and introduce your puppy’s first collar. Encourage him to respond to his name, and reward often with puppy treats and glowing puppy praise.
Get active in socializing your puppy this week.
Whether that’s going shopping together or having a friend over, begin introducing your puppy to new and unfamiliar faces.
This week often means the beginning of the “fear period”.
A puppy will suddenly appear afraid of new things and will be easily alarmed.
This is totally normal and all part of a little pup maturing.
Week 8 – 12:
At this point, a puppy is ready to join her fur-ever home. Never separate a puppy from her mother and littermates prior to this. However, once week eight rolls in, your puppy is ready for her new home.
Her hearing is fully developed, she’ll enjoy a solid 18-20 hours of sleep every single day to nurture her growing brain and body, and she’ll be ready for her very first set of vaccines and deworming. (Click here to learn about proper puppy vaccines. )
Once the little pupper is vaccinated, you can then socialize her with other puppies and animals.
Her adult teeth will start cutting through, and she will have no problem showing her adventurous side.
Also at this point, a puppy should begin obedience training. Especially after bonding with her new family, a puppy is more than ready to start learning the ropes of good puppy obedience.
Ranking Stage (3 – 6 months)
From three to six months, puppies discover where they fit within a group structure.
They’ll start testing their boundaries and will have no problem testing authority.
So it’s extremely important in this phase to be consistent with a puppy.
If you say no, mean no. If you say yes, stick to it.
Puppies will push and prod and pull out their cutest faces in an attempt to get their own way. Be consistent with your training and your work will soon pay off.
Also during the ranking stage, puppies will rapidly change in size. They’ll go from tiny little pups to growing pals who love to romp and play.
If you wish to spay or neuter a puppy, now is the time to do it.
Adolescence (6 – 18 months)
Once a puppy reaches six months old, you can say hello to puppy adolescence.
It’s during this season that a puppy is especially impacted by his pack members, whether that’s his littermates or his human family.
A puppy also reaches sexual maturity at this point and for female pups, they will typically experience their first heat cycle.
When a puppy reaches her first heat cycle, however, will vary between dog sizes.
For example, small breed dogs may experience their first heat cycle as early as four months old while large breed dogs can wait as long as two years before their first heat cycle occurs.
Regardless, if you are hoping to one day breed your dog, we recommend waiting to breed a female until she is through at least three heat cycles.
Once a female puppy reaches full maturity, again depending on the breed, she can have a heat cycle anywhere between two and four times per year.
If you are unsure how to tell if your female puppy is having a heat cycle, click here to learn the signs of a female dog’s heat cycle.
Also during adolescence, you can expect a puppy to be extremely active.
Puppies at this stage love action, whether it’s a walk around the block, and run through the park, or romping and playing games in the backyard.
Like earlier months, puppies continue to be very formative through adolescence.
So consistent training and proper socialization should be built into a daily routine with puppies all through their adolescent months.
Post-Adolescence (1 – 2 years)
During these years a puppy reaches full social maturity and is considered an adult dog.
Good dog training should continue into adulthood to ensure a respectful and well-behaved canine.
Newborn – Three Weeks
From newborn to three weeks, a puppy receives all the nutrition needed from his mother.
However, after his baby teeth begin cutting through at three weeks of age, a puppy can start being weaned.
To supplement his mother’s milk and aid with the weaning process, good foods to begin with include canned puppy food or softened puppy kibble. You can soften regular puppy food by simply submerging it into warm formula or water until it reaches the desired consistency.
(For starters, we recommend this canned puppy food
and this puppy kibble.)
Six – Seven Weeks
Puppies should be fully weaned and no longer drinking any milk from their mother once they reach six and seven weeks of age.
Eight – Twelve Weeks
Puppies should be eating three times every day.
For good puppy health, it is extremely important for a puppy to have a high-quality dog or puppy food.
By choosing a high-quality dog food, puppies can avoid blood sugar drops while boosting their immune systems to fight against diseases.
To learn more about why quality makes a difference in your dog’s food, click here.
In addition to good dog food, you can supplement your puppies diet with scrumptious puppy treats. (Although treats should never be more than 10% of a puppy’s daily caloric intake.)
Puppies are available to both purchase or adopt from on-line as well as local platforms. You can browse current puppies for sale here.
If you prefer to choose a “puppy near me”, you can search from pet stores, local breeders, pet shelters, your daily newspaper, or on-line breeder lists from your area.
Alternatively, to broaden your search base, you can search for puppies online from both local and long-distance breeders through platforms such as VIP Puppies, Lancaster Puppies, and AKC Marketplace.
Learn more about where to get a puppy here.
Believe it or not, not everyone calls their little four-legged furry pal a puppy.
Alternative words for puppy include:
- little dog
- small doggo
- puppy dog
- little doggie
Q. How old before puppies open their eyes?
A. At two weeks, a puppy’s eyes begin to open. At first, sight is only blurry although with time, a puppy will see more clearly and sight will become normal.
Q. How much do puppies cost?
A. There are a variety of factors influencing the price of each puppy including breed, pedigree, and age. Typically, a puppy can range in price between $200 – $5,000 or beyond.
Q. Do puppies need to be dewormed?
A. Yes. Many puppies are born with worms. Subsequently, they should be dewormed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks old then again every few months throughout life.
Q. When should puppies be dewormed and vaccinated?
A. Puppies should be first dewormed at two weeks old. Vaccinations should begin around six weeks old with the DHPP vaccination. Click here for a full puppy vaccination schedule.
That’s all for now.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and introduce your puppy in the comments below.
We’d love to meet.
Until next time,
Bauhaus, J. (2019). Puppy Timeline: Growth Stages to Becoming a Dog | Hill’s Pet. [online] Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Available at: https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/new-pet-parent/puppy-growth-timeline.
En.widipedia.org (n.d.). Puppy. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puppy
Fidosavvy. (2019). Puppy Weight Estimates – Get In The Ballpark. [online] Available at: https://www.fidosavvy.com/puppy-weight-estimates.html
Mattinson, P. (2019). Puppy Development Stages with Growth Charts and Week by Week Guide. [online] The Happy Puppy Site. Available at: https://thehappypuppysite.com/puppy-development-stages/#growth.