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When you bring home your German Shepherd puppy, you may begin to wonder just how big your new furry friend will be. Though you may have a rough idea of how large your German Shepherd will get, it’s important to understand the growth process and just how quickly they will reach their adult size.
In this article we’ll discuss the growing process of the German Shepherd puppy, and when they actually stop growing.
When it comes to your German shepherd’s growth, it’s all about the bones. Similar to the growing process in children, the growth of the bones happens within the growth plate.
Your German shepherd’s growth plates are located at each end of most of the long bones and contain cartilaginous regions in which new tissue can be created. During the process of the growing puppy, this tissue is flexible and pliable.
Once time has passed and the bone has reached its final size (once puppies reach adulthood) this tissue hardens to become the tough bones we generally think of in an adult dog or human. A GSD’s growth plates will close around 18 months on average.
This process of the bone transformation in young dogs is why it’s so important to prevent puppies from activities that can possibly injure their growth plates. Vigorous activity, jumping from high places, and any other activity that puts a strain on their bones and joints can hinder the aging process of the bones.
The German Shepherd is considered a large-sized dog that can grow to be fairly big depending on their parent’s size. While each Shepherd can vary, there are averages for the typical female and male German Shepherd.
The average female German Shepherd can weigh anywhere from 50-75 lbs when they reach adulthood and can stand up to 24 inches in height.
The average male German Shepherd can weigh anywhere from 60-95lbs with an average of around 70 pounds. Upon adulthood, a GSD can stand up to 26 inches in height.
When you choose to bring a German Shepherd into your life, the most accurate way of knowing how large your pup will become is by seeing their parents in person. If you are unaware of their genetic background, then these averages can help you prepare.
You’d be surprised at how quickly your German Shepherd pup will begin to grow into those huge paws and floppy ears. Since the German Shepherd is a larger dog, they have a lot more growing to do in such a short time period. Because of this, it can seem like their body changes overnight at times.
In general, the growth in a German Shepherd slows down significantly at the 1 year age mark and is fully grown between 2-3 years of age.
Since the majority of their growing is during the first year of their life, you will see the majority of a German shepherd’s physical changes during this age period.
Since the dog’s growing process takes place over a significantly smaller time period than it does in humans, any major health condition, hormonal change, or injury during this time period can have a great impact on their overall growth. Some factors that can affect the growing process in GSDs include:
Nutrition can have a huge impact on your German Shepherd growth chart and overall health. Since puppies are growing at such a fast rate, they will require a larger amount of vitamins, minerals, and calories than they would once they reach adulthood. It’s important to offer your growing GSD a quality German Shepherd puppy food to assist them in their growth.
Breed size averages can definitely point you in the right direction when guessing the ultimate size of your German Shepherd, but it all comes down to their genetics.
Even if the average German Shepherd may reach 90lbs, if they have smaller parents who max out at 60lbs, your pup is less likely to exceed that weight. The most accurate way to know how large your Shepherd puppy will be is by knowing the weight and height of their parents.
Spay and Neuter have been a hot topic in the world of animal health. While some believe that spaying and neutering at a young age (between 4 months-8months) can result in a smaller dog, it’s actually the complete opposite.
Recent studies show that desexing a dog at a younger age will actually extend the growth period within the growth plates, meaning that your Shepherd puppy can grow to be taller than the average unaltered Shepherd.
Desexing at a young age can result in a taller dog, but some people do still believe that holding off on desexing will result in increased body mass, meaning the dog will be more stout and girthy. This topic is still being researched extensively.
In order to keep your GSD on the right track while they grow, there are a few tips to guide them in the direction for a healthy future. Some ways to ensure a healthy growth period include:
Adequate nutrition: Always make sure to offer your growing German Shepherd a diet made specifically for puppies in order to make sure they are getting every vitamin and mineral they require for healthy growth. Failing to feed them a puppy diet can result in complications as they grow, and leaves them more susceptible to injury.
Prevent injury: Since the growth plates are so important, it’s essential to protect your puppy from injury as often as you can. Try your best to prevent them from jumping off furniture, make sure they are not involved in vigorous physical training during this period, and make sure they are resting adequately each day.
Vaccinate: Any major medical complication during puppyhood can result in possible difficulties as they age. By vaccinating your German Shepherd puppy you can help protect your pup against infectious disease, and help them have a healthy and happy “childhood.”
Overall, you can expect your Shepherd to continue to grow rapidly during their first year of life, then the process will slow down until they reach their final maturity around age 2.5. No matter the final size of your German Shepherd puppy, their fun-loving attitude and loyalty to your family are sure to please!