From the notorious Pinchot that was arrested for killing a cat to Bosco, the reputed mayor of Sunol, Labradors have built a home in the heart of Americans; after all, Labs are the only good thing about the American dream.
To make sure that my lab (read: Labrador) lives a long and healthy life, I have to keep a bunch of things in mind, ranging from protecting them from diseases to making sure that they don’t injure themselves while playing outside. One thing that we often miss out on is weight. The first question that arises is, how much should my Labrador weigh? The optimal weight depends on their age.
If you want to learn more about the perfect weight for your dog, read ahead and find out.
The Optimal Weight
What is the right weight for a dog? The right weight for a lab depends on your dog’s age. At the age of 5 months, the average weight of an adult lab for a male and female are; between 29 to 36 kg, and 25 to 32 kg, which is 65 to 80 lbs, and 55 to 70 lbs.
You should try to keep your dog’s weight in the average rate. If it goes underweight, it could get sick more often, and it will feel tired. Things could get even worse if your dog is overweight. An overweight dog could easily get an infection, and in a worst-case scenario, the lab could get cancer. You read that right; obesity could lead to cancer in dogs because it increases the chances of developing a tumor.
It is wise to maintain the lab’s weight to be sure that it can live a loooong and happy life with you, free from any problems. So, below is a makeshift weight chart that can help you keep that lab on track;
To put it simply, the risks we face by being too slim, or too overweight, is the same level of risk that your lab faces, when it’s too slim or too fat. As their pet parent, you are responsible for their health. So, don’t give over to those puppy dog eyes, fight that urge and stay strong. You need to stay strong for their health.
Labrador Loses Over 100 Pounds (Video)
How To Maintain The Optimum Weight?
How do you control the weight? Well, the first step is taking a look at what you are feeding to the Lab. You will need to see if you are feeding it too much or too little. While you try to provide your Lab a good diet, it is important to make sure that you are giving the right amount of nutrients.
This could be a challenge, considering labs are foodies like us – they’ll eat anything they can get, all day, every day. It’s not all bad, though, unlike other breeds, labs don’t make a fuss about food, they will eat whatever’s in the bowl. So, you gotta be careful about how much you feed the lab, and more importantly, what you feed it.
In addition to diet control, you will have to ensure they are getting the necessary amount of physical activity. Letting them slack around the house the entire day isn’t going to help. Dogs are the mirror image of their pet parent, so, if you aren’t working out, they are going to slack around. You need to start taking them out for a walk or indulge in exercises that help you feel more energetic.
To conclude, you would need to maintain their weight by focusing on their diet and exercise.
How Do You Weigh A Dog?
Stop reading the article, pull out your weight machine, and try to get the dog stand on it, so you can measure the weight. I’ll wait…
Yeah, so, presuming that like every other dog, yours is equally restless, allow me to explain how you can measure a dog’s weight. If he is still a pup, you can place him on top of the bathroom scales and measure the weight without any difficulty. For an adult Lab though, you would need to follow the steps described below;
- Step 1: Measure your weight on the bathroom weight scales
- Step 2: Pick up the dog, and step onto the bathroom weight scales
- Step 3: Measure your weight with the dog in your arms
- Step 4: Your Weight with Dog – Your Weight = Dog’s Weight
This isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s as close as you can get with a bathroom weight scale. For accurate weight measurement, you could buy a weight scale made for Labs. Or, you can wait for the next visit to the vet. Most vets have a weight scale for dogs in their waiting rooms.
Knowing your dog’s weight could help you determine if they are underweight or overweight. Also, knowing your dog’s weight could be beneficial for other reasons, such as; drug dosages. You can determine the right dose of a medicinal drug prescribed to your lab. For some drugs, doses vary based on the weight of a lab.
Body Condition Scoring
Once you know the weight of your lab, you or the vet can use something called Body Condition Scoring (BCS) to determine if it’s under or overweight. The BCS is an official rating system used by most vets.
The BCS is a ranking system used to see if your dog is fit or unfit. There are 9 ranks, going from underweight to overweight. What are these 9 ranks? Read about them below!
- Emaciated – The dog has no body fat or muscle mass, and you spot its bones from far away.
- Very thin – There is no body fat and muscle mass. The bones are easy to spot.
- Thin – There is no body fat, and the bones are slightly visible, and easy to feel upon touch.
- Underweight – In this state, you can notice the abdominal tuck, where the abdomen is behind the ribs, and you can feel the body fat.
- Ideal – Perfectly proportioned, where there is no excess body fat, and you can notice an abdominal tuck.
- Overweight – You can feel the extra fat, and begin to notice the waist. The abdominal tuck is there, but it’s not clearly visible.
- Heavy – The excess amount of fat makes it difficult to feel the ribs. There is no waistline, and you can see a rounded abdomen.
- Obese – There is a lot of fat at the lower back and tail. The waistline and abdominal tuck are gone.
- Severely obese – You can’t feel the ribs with pressure. You can notice the excessive fat on the neck and chest too. The waist and abdominal tuck aren’t visible, and you can notice an abdominal distention. Abdominal distention is another term for a bloated stomach.
Under or Over – What’s Next?
Now that you have a better idea about your dog’s weight, the question arises, what are the next steps?
If your lab is underweight, you can work with your vet to come up with a diet plan based on either calories or nutrients. I would feed them some snacks throughout the day, aside from the meals. Moreover, you can use the following methods;
- You can add some raw food into their diet because it will help it gain some muscle mass.
- Furthermore, I would suggest adding another cup into their daily diet. Feeding an extra cup of kibble could give them that additional nutrition.
- In case, you are feeding the dog some homemade food, I would recommend adding more ingredients with carbs and proteins.
- You could also use supplements to provide them a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.
- Don’t feed it all at once, spread out the food to 3 to 4 meals in a day.
- A vet would probably prescribe some high-calorie dog food to help it gain weight.
Bonus tip: Dog treats shouldn’t be more than 10% of their overall diet.
Is your lab overweight? Don’t worry; I got the perfect solution to your problem. The American Kennel Club (AKC) came up with a list of strategies to help your dog lose weight. Wondering how your Labrador can lose weight? Keep the following tips in mind;
- Exercise, exercise, and exercise – I couldn’t emphasize anything more than this. You and your dog both need to exercise in order to be physically healthy. Exercising can help burn calories, maintain digestive system, prevents other health problems, and it slows down the aging process.
- Is it really hungry? – It’s difficult to resist those adorable eyes, but you have to stay strong, my dear reader. We often give in to them, but the lab is just trying to get your attention. And, when you give in to feed them something, it thinks of it as a reward. As a result, the lab ends up eating more than it should.
- Treats and Scraps – When we aren’t overfeeding the lab after it glances at us with puppy dog eyes, we volunteer to give it a treat or feed them our leftovers. I wouldn’t discourage giving treats if you are using them to reinforce a positive behavior. However, you can be cautious and offer it low-fat treats.
Unfortunately, obesity is a common problem amongst labs. However, you don’t need to worry about it too much because I will have a detailed discussion about it later on in the article. So, stick around and learn how to maintain your lab’s weight.
It doesn’t matter if your lab is too thin or too fat because, ultimately, you need to change its diet. Now, I should warn you, changing the diet drastically will create some problems like vomiting or diarrhea. None of us want to put our lab through that. To change a dog’s diet, you will need at least 7 days. What do you do in these 7 days? Why 7 days? Let’s get into it;
We take 7 days to change the diet because it is important to take your time to transition them into a different diet. Here is how you need to help them transition to a new diet;
- For the first two days, introduce the new weight loss or protein-rich dog food. You need to feed them 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food.
- In the next two days, you can increase the new food to 50%, and decrease the old food to 50%.
- You see where I’m going with this, right? On the 5th and 6th day you can bump the new food to 75% and bring the old food down to 25%.
- On the final day, the seventh day, you can feed them the new food.
Tips To Raise A Fit Labrador
Obesity is a common problem amongst most labs because we all know how much they love to eat. There is a chance that this might be a genetic problem, but we will discuss that later. At the moment, I want to help you learn about the tips you need to use for keeping a lab.
- To keep a lab fit, you will need to start by shifting it to a healthier diet. If it’s already overweight, you can shift to weight-loss dog food.
- Give it treats, but not the traditional ones. Feed your lab healthy treats like a slice of apple or pieces of banana.
- Feel his ribs to get an accurate idea about it gaining or losing weight. When you can feel its ribs on touch, it has a healthy amount of weight. When you can visibly see the ribs, it means the dog is underweight.
- You have to be mindful about underfeeding the dog. Make sure it receives all the necessary nutrients.
- If you decide to give it treats, try to count them in its daily diet. For instance, if you fed the lab 2 treats that are similar to half a bowl of kibbles, you need to deduct that half bowl of kibbles from the number of kibbles you are supposed to feed it within a day.
- Again, you need to stop feeding the dog extra food, which includes food scraps. I know, it’s an easy way to get rid of the scraps and give into those famous puppy eyes.
- It is important to get them the right amount of exercise in a day. I won’t talk much about this because I have an entire section on it later.
Bonus Tip: Adjust the dog food according to their age. The nutrients a puppy requires differ from the nutrients an adult dog needs. Similarly, the nutrients of an adult dog differ from the nutrients a senior dog needs.
It is vital for both humans and dogs to exercise regularly. Why? It not only helps us maintain the weight, but it also gives us the ability to avoid other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. You may also know that exercising can make you happier. I won’t go into the details of it because that is not what you are here to learn.
Dogs need exercise for the same reasons as us. It helps them shed weight, and it is good for their overall health. Exercising will keep the dog’s digestive and metabolic system healthy. Also, exercising can be good for their mental health because it engages their minds during a workout.
Below are some guidelines that will prepare you and the dog for exercise.
- To get the dog exercising, you can start by preparing a healthy diet. This means no more junk foods for the lab. You need to be careful about what you feed, and how much of it do you feed. Managing the diet along with regular exercise could help the lab lose weight quickly. Depending on the weight of your dog, you may have to decrease the amount of food you feed it. Don’t feed it too less either, because it should have the energy to get through the exercise. Just in case, you should contact your vet regarding the best diet for your lab.
- Once you have a diet planned out, you can figure out when is the right time to take it out for a walk. For example, let’s say you are free at 5 o’clock in the evening. At that time, you can take it out for a walk. Every day, at that time, you need to take it out, for exercise, to create a routine. A routine would help you regularly exercise.
- Additionally, it is time to say farewell to excuses! You need to stop using excuses to get out of exercising. If you want the lab to get healthier, consistency is the key to success. You need to own your responsibilities towards the lab and take care of it. It’s time to step up!
- It’s hard? I know it can be hard to hold yourself responsible sometimes, so I have a solution for you. If you feel like this will be a bit difficult to do on your own, grab a friend along, or join a walking group. Having some people to talk to along the walk, could be nice for your dog too – it will get a chance to mingle with others. If your friend isn’t available, or there is no walking group, seek out someone else, maybe your neighbor.
All of the above will help you prepare for the exercising trip ahead, but the question is; what are the exercises?
Types of Exercises
If you think a walk is not enough for the lab, I found a couple of other exercises that you could use. Read all about them below and pick the one best suitable for your lab;
- Fetch – The first thing that could possibly come to your mind is playing fetch. It is any dog’s favorite thing to do. They live for this stuff, y’know. If you want to mix things up a bit, try playing fetch with something else (Frisbee, a favorite toy, or anything else that comes to your mind).
- Flirt pole – You are probably wondering, what a flirt pole is. Well, a flirt pole is a toy that has a long handle with a ball or toy attached at the end. It could be a great way for the dog to release some pent-up energy.
- Jolly balls – A jolly ball is a ball that is too big to fit into a lab’s mouth. It will spend all of its time trying to grab but will end up pushing it further. You could find some jolly balls with a string too. Using this, you can have another exercise, tug of war. Playing tug with the dog could be a good exercise.
- Obedience Training – The activities used for obedience training could be a good exercise for the dog. It will help them move around, be physically active, and it will help you make the lab a more obedient dog.
- Other Dogs – Take the dog out for a walk and let it mingle with other dogs. Eventually, they will start playing around together. Not only do you get the dog to exercise, but it will also make some new friends in the process.
- Sports – Some dog sports like scent work, fly ball, agility, etc. are sports that could be good for the dog. If you think the lab is good enough, enter it into a competition for fun. You could let the dog pick the sports it likes the best.
- Swimming – Labradors were bred to swim. It makes sense to let them exercise by taking a swim every now and then. Swimming would also have additional benefits like strengthening the muscles. Take the lab out for a swim; it will love it!
- Toys – Last but not least, you could use toys to get the dog to exercise. I would recommend getting toys that move on their own. This could increase the chances for a lab to interact with the toy and play around.
Some other exercise routines include going cycling, skating, or running with your dog. These are a lot similar to walking, but your lab will be moving a bit faster, which can make a huge difference. The faster it moves, the more calories it sheds. A friendly tip, you have to build the intensity up to the fast-paced exercise because having the dog run with you immediately could injure it.
Brain Stimulating Exercises
As we talk about exercises, I wanted to talk a bit about their mental health too. You are probably aware of the growing concerns about mental health issues in humans. However, not many people are aware of the mental health issues in our pets. When some dogs aren’t engaged, they could get lazy and depressed. To avoid this, you could get brain-stimulating toys.
What are these toys? These are toys that would get the lab to use its brain. For instance, you can get a puzzle toy. It gets the labs to use their brains and solve some problems. They are a bit difficult, so give it some time to solve the puzzle. You could also get it a chew toy. I know it doesn’t sound like something that stimulates the brain, but playing with a chew toy releases endorphins, a chemical inside every animal’s (including humans) brain that reduces stress.
Some other exercises that you can use to stimulate its brain are;
- Teaching the dog something like a trick – having the labs learn some new trick like whirling, crawling, or waving, will make them use their brains, which is good.
- Playing hide and seek – labs love to play hide and seek. You can pretend to hide their toy or play the game yourself. It is a good exercise that they can enjoy.
- Shell game – Find three similar caps, and something as small as a nut. Shuffle the caps around with a nut inside one of them. Let your dog find the nut. You could replace the nut with a treat to motivate the lab.
- Teaching it to help with chores – Teach them to start working around the house because it gets them to move around and stimulates their brain. You will have to make some changes to make it easier for them to help. For example, tie something around the fridge, so it can open it with ease.
- Food puzzles – If the dog finds normal puzzles too difficult, you could switch to food puzzles. Here, your lab would have to solve the puzzle to get food. It is a great way to get the dog to use their brain.
Helping A Senior Dog Lose Weight
Is your senior dog overweight? Should that be concerning considering the fact it is old? Yes, an overweight dog is a concern, regardless of their age. It is especially dangerous for senior dogs because they are more likely to develop a life-threatening disease.
If your dog gets older, and a bit overweight, here is what you can do;
- Switch to a less-calories or weight loss dog food.
- Avoid high-fiber foods because dogs often feel hungry even after having a bowl.
- Decrease the amount of food you give to the lab.
- You could refer to the previous section for additional tips.
Tip: If your senior dog starts losing weight rapidly, on its own. You should take it to the vet. Rapid and sudden weight loss might mean there is something wrong.
Circling back to the beginning, to answer your question in short, an ideal weight for a Labrador is 55 to 75 kg for the females and 65 to 85 kg for the males. Remember, it is important to make sure that your lab weighs between the weights mentioned above. Normally, it would seem like your dog is fit, but it’s not. We all have got so used to seeing a dog overweight, due to which, we presume that is their weight. A fit lab would actually be seen as a slim and unfit. Using the BCS, you can get a better idea about whether or not your lab has a healthy weight.
To summarize, I would suggest keeping things balanced. Don’t let your lab get overweight, nor should it be underweight. And, it’s okay if it tips over to either side a bit, as long as it is not extremely thin or fat. If your lab faces any problem being over or underweight, you can refer to my tips to help it lose or gain weight. Lastly, before you get started on a diet or an exercise regimen, visit the vet for some advice.
What is a good weight for a Labrador?
A good weight for a Labrador is different for the stud (male) and dam (females). A male lab should weigh between 29 and 36 kgs, which is 65 to 80 lbs. The dams, on the other hand, should be about 25 to 32 kg or 55 to 70 lbs. As I mentioned earlier, it isn’t something to worry about if your dog is a bit overweight, but it would be better to keep a good weight. Use the tips mentioned in the article to make sure they have the right amount of weight.
How much should a Labrador puppy weigh?
A Labrador crossing puppy-hood, at about 8 weeks of age, should have a weight between 4 to 7 kg, which is 9 to 15 lbs. To maintain their weight going from their birth to the age of 8 weeks, I would urge you to carefully consider what you feed to the lab. At this delicate age, you also need to make sure that the puppy receives the right amount of nutrients to grow up into a healthy adult lab.
How big will my lab get?
A Labrador can gain about 70 to 80 kg by the time it’s in adulthood. If you want to be sure that the lab will grow into this weight later, you could determine it by checking it’s weight today. Assuming that your lab is 6 to 7 months old, it has gained 2/3rd of the weight it will have as an adult. So, with this in mind, you will have a better idea of how big your lab will get.