Most people who adopt a Labrador know that they haven’t chosen a small dog.
Though small and adorable as puppies, Labs grow quickly in their first year or so of life.
These energetic companions are smart, friendly, eager to please, and plenty lovable.
They can also be a lot of dog to handle, especially for first time owners, or for those who have previously owned smaller breeds.
After adopting your new Lab you may have many questions, and soon you might be wondering when will my Lab stop growing.
Keep reading to learn what factors contribute to the size of your pup and some important things to remember along the way...
What Does Normal Growth Look Like for a Labrador Retriever?
Normal growth in a Lab may vary slightly from dog to dog, but will follow a familiar pattern throughout the overall breed.
In the first year of life, you can expect your dog to grow tremendously, and quickly.
It may feel like every time you blink your pup is getting just a little bit bigger.
Studies show that Labs usually reach their peak growth rate at around 12-14 weeks, usually reaching about half of their adult weight by 18 weeks.
If this doesn’t seem drastic enough, most Labs finish skeletal development by 9 months.
Like most living things, Labradors go through different stages of development, which are easy to identify with a trained eye.
These stages - newborn, juvenile, adolescence, and adulthood- all come with marked periods of development.
In the newborn and juvenile stage, which contain the first 6 months of a Lab’s life, your pup will grow rapidly, and complete almost all of their skeletal development.
You may notice that your dog looks lanky, or slimmer during the latter half of this period.
During adolescence, they will complete skeletal growth and begin to fill out, until they reach their full weight and height in adulthood.
This should mark a notable slow in growth and weight gain, as well as a calmer demeanor.
When Do Labs Reach Their Full Size?
Considering all of these different stages of development, Labs officially reach their final size around a year to 18 months, depending on the dog.
Adult height and weight achieved, it is then important that owners take steps to maintain the healthy weight and composition of their dog.
Labs are a highly active breed requiring significant exercise and a balanced diet in order to prevent problems with weight gain which can lead to more damaging health problems as your dog continues to age.
With their final size achieved, you may also note a noticeable change in the energy level or demeanor of your dog.
As puppies pass adolescence and settle into adulthood around 2 years of age, Labs should calm significantly, another good indication that your dog has stopped growing.
What Factors Contribute to a Labs Growth?
Though an average male Labrador will stand around 22-23 inches, and weigh roughly 65-85 pound, and a female will grow to 21-22 inches, 55-75 pounds respectively, there is still a clear variation in the final size of the breed.
Several factors that can have a notable effect on how large a Lab can be, and many of them are actually related to elements controlled by the owner rather than the dog.
Food and Nutrition
As with any pet, proper food and nutrition are essential to ensure that your Lab grows properly.
A proper diet for a Labrador must be balanced, including the right balance of fats, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that will help your dog to grow healthfully.
Though it may be tempting to keep feeding a hungry dog, overfeeding your Lab can actually cause problems in their early development.
When you overfeed your young lab, you may encourage excessive growth that can be taxing on their skeletal structure.
When bones grow too quickly, it can lead to orthopedic issues in the breed further on down the line.
Spaying and Neutering
Perhaps only second to genes, spaying and neutering may have one of the largest impacts on the growth of your lab.
Dogs spayed or neutered earlier in their development, typically before adolescence is completed around 6-9 months, have growth plates that develop for longer, and close later than their “unfixed” counterparts.
The extended growth period attributed to this phenomenon is caused by the interference in typical levels of estrogen and testosterone directly linked to a dog’s sexual development or maturity, and therefore physical development.
This can result in a bigger dog, but can also lead to health issues.
Long bone growth, and delayed joint development can cause many orthopedic issues in the breed, and can be a significant contributor to health problems such as hip dysplasia.
Of course, this isn’t to say you should avoid spaying or neutering your Labs.
Just be aware of the timing, and perhaps delay operations until crucial skeletal development has been completed.
General Health and Genes
The final and most significant factor in determining the final size of your Lab is the general health and genetic history of your dog.
If you purchased your puppy from a lineage of notably larger Labs, you may fairly be able to predict a slightly larger than average adult dog.
The same may be said for Labs will family lines who veer towards smaller percentiles.
Overall, what is most important to consider in the growth of your Lab is that they are in good overall health, getting balanced nutrition, and plenty of exercise and attention.
A healthy, well attended puppy will inevitably lead to a well developed adult dog.
Wrapping It pUp...
It is important to remember that, breed standards aside, every Lab will develop slightly differently than the next.
Genetic factors, appetite, and even rate of sexual maturity can all affect the final size of your dog.
Unless you are noticing extreme weight loss, gain, or other notable health issues in your Lab puppy, it is likely that your dog is maturing as it should.
Though issues related to growth and development are generally thought to be uncommon in Labradors, you should always take care and see that your pup is getting proper nutrition, exercise, and stimulation as they mature into adulthood.