Is your dog small, medium, or large? The ultimate guide to dog sizes

Do you have a hard time determining if your dog is a small, medium, or large breed? You’re not alone! This can be a difficult question to answer, especially since there are so many different dog breeds out there.

Dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes and it can be a bit overwhelming. So here is my ultimate guide to dog sizes by weight and how to tell how big your pup will be.

Dogs are often categorized by size based on their weight into three main groups: small, medium, and large. Small dogs weigh under 24 pounds and stand less than 16 inches tall at the shoulder. Medium-sized dogs fall between 25 and 59 pounds, with a shoulder height ranging from 16 to 22 inches. On the other hand, large dogs tip the scales at over 60 pounds and tower with a shoulder height exceeding 22 inches.

However, it’s crucial to know, that these size classifications aren’t governed by any official standards or rules. This means that while these groups are commonly accepted, there’s flexibility depending on the breed and individual dog.

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While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.

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Why dog size matters

There are a few reasons why it’s important to know the size of your dog.

First, different sizes of dogs have different needs. Small dogs typically need less exercise than medium or large dogs and can be content with a smaller living space. Conversely, large dogs often need more exercise and may do better in a home with a backyard.

Different dog sizes can have different health issues. Small dogs are more prone to dental problems, while large dogs are more likely to develop joint problems.

Knowing the size of your dog can help you be aware of potential health problems and make sure you are taking steps to prevent them. It can also help you make decisions about their care, such as how much exercise they need or how big should their dog house be.

Another reason why dog size matters is that different sizes of dogs have different temperaments. Small dogs are often known for having high energy levels, while large dogs are usually calmer and more relaxed. Medium-sized dogs can fall somewhere in between, depending on the breed.

Knowing the size of your dog can give you a better idea of what their personality might be like.

Finally, different sizes of dogs have different lifespans. Small dogs typically live longer than large dogs, with medium-sized dogs falling somewhere in the middle.

In general, the larger a dog gets, the shorter it will live.

And if you want to think more practically, knowing your dog’s size will also help you decide which collar size or harness you need, or how big your dog’s bed should be.

small, medium, and large dog size by weight

How do you categorize a dog’s size?

The size of a dog is classified based on its weight.

The weight ranges vary depending on your literature source.

I must also add that it’s always based on healthy weight for a given animal or breed. So if your dog is obese, he doesn’t belong to a different category, he’s just overweight.

In general, there are 3 categories of dog sizes based on their weight – small, medium, and large. These can be further divided into subcategories. Or sometimes you find 4 categories – small, medium, large, and giant.

Dog size by weight in pounds:

  • Small dogs: up to 24 pounds
    • Teacup dogs: up to 5 pounds
    • Toy dogs: 5 to 12 pounds
  • Medium dogs: 24 to 59 pounds
  • Large dogs: 60 up to 99 pounds
    • Giant dogs and Extra-large dogs weigh over 100 pounds

Dog size by weight in kg:

  • Small dogs: up to 10kg
    • Teacup dogs: up to 2.5kg
    • Toy dogs: up to 5.5kg
  • Medium dogs: 10 – 26kg
  • Large dogs: 27 – 45kg
    • Giant dogs and Extra-large dogs weigh over 45kg
dog size chart by weight

What size is a small dog?

A small dog is typically any breed that weighs less than 24 pounds (less than 10 kilograms). Some of the most popular small dog breeds include the Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, and Beagle. 

Small dogs are often known for having high energy levels and are usually playful and affectionate. It’s a huge category ranging from tiny teacup dogs to 20-25 pound dogs.

These cute dogs have huge personalities, which doesn’t mean that they don’t need proper training. Without training, they can turn into little alpha monsters that can overtake your whole life. So please, no matter what size your pup is, he needs training. 

Many of their issues are behavioral. A dog is not a small child and if you treat him like one you can end up with an aggressive, bossy, and uncontrollable pup that you can’t leave alone for one minute. They can destroy your things, your home, and your relationships. Train your dog, no matter what size he is.

Small dogs have their own set of health issues, mostly due to overbreeding or unethical breeding. There is an article in the Guardian about health issues of brachycephalic dogs called Vets ask prospective dog owners to avoid flat-faced breeds. If you are considering buying a flat-nose breed, please read it…

Dogs in this category tend to live longest (except teacup breeds), so you need to take this into consideration when deciding which breed you want to buy.

When Paris Hilton showed her chihuahua on TV and social media, people started massively buying chihuahuas. What they didn’t realize was that they can live up to 20 years. That is a long time to care for an older dog. In a decade, a lot of those poor pups ended up in shelters because their owners didn’t want them anymore.

Teacup dogs:

Teacup dogs are bred from another (usually already small breeds). Someday someone realized that people find tiny dogs cute and will pay good money for them. 

However, veterinarians and other pet care professionals often consider this type of breeding cruel and unethical. They have several health issues that can directly impact their life quality. American kennel club doesn’t endorse teacup breeders and doesn’t even recognize teacups as an official breed.

Toy dog breeds:

Toy dogs are small breeds that were bred for the purpose of being companions. They usually have a lot of energy and are very playful. Some popular toy dog breeds include the Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, and Maltese.

Small dog breeds:

There is a huge variety of small dog breeds. They come in all shapes, colors and temperaments. Some popular small breed dogs include the Beagle, Boston Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

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What size is a medium size dog?

Medium dog breeds:

A medium dog is typically any breed that weighs between 24 and 59 pounds (about 11 to 26 kilograms). Some popular medium dog breeds include the Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Medium dogs are often known for being intelligent, active, and trainable. They need a lot of movement, so be sure you have enough time to go for walks or to a dog park. Some of them need special training, otherwise, they can get bored or aggressive.

Medium dogs have some of the same issues as small dogs when it comes to health and behavior, but are prone to other health problems as well. Hip dysplasia is a common problem in medium and large breeds, but it can also affect smaller breeds like the French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Pekingese. Other health problems that commonly affect medium dog breeds include elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease or epilepsy.

What size is a large dog?

Large dog breeds:

A large dog is typically any breed that weighs more than 60 pounds (more than 27 kilograms). Some popular large dog breeds include the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler and Newfoundland.

Large dogs are often known for being loyal and mostly calmer, although that depends on the breed. Some need a firm hand, some are very active, and some love to work.

Sometimes they are so sweet they just don’t realize how big they actually are. If you ever survived a big Goldie trying to get on your lap and cuddle you know what I’m talking about

Large dogs often suffer from joint diseases, such as hip or elbow dysplasia or arthritis. They are also more prone to weight gain and bloat (Gastric dilatation-volvulus), which is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with fluid, gas, or food and twists. Other health problems that commonly affect large dog breeds include cancer and cardiac diseases.

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Giant dog breeds:

Giant dog breeds are any breed that weighs more than 100 pounds (over 45 kilograms). Some popular giant dog breeds include the Great Dane, Mastiff, and Saint Bernard.

Giant dogs are often known for being gentle giants. But again, they also need proper training.

Because most of them are so calm, many large dog breeds are great for apartment living, despite their weight.

Giant dog breeds are prone to the same health problems as large dogs, but they often have more severe cases. For example, giant breeds are more likely to develop arthritis at an early age and their joints can get damaged more easily. They are also more likely to suffer from bloat.

This is also the category with the shortest lifespan. The average lifespan of a giant breed dog is about six to eight years, while small breeds can live up to 15 years or more.

My professor at the University used to say that giant breeds are either growing or getting old. They usually reach adulthood much later than other dog sizes, it takes them up to 18-24 months. Then you get a brief period when they are in their prime and after that, they can already be considered seniors and need proper geriatric care.

Giant breeds also have different nutritional needs. They have a very long “puppy” phase which is a nutritional anomaly in itself and in adulthood often need joint and other supplements. If you decide to buy a giant breed, talk to your vet about breed-specific nutrition. You would be surprised how enormously beneficial proper nutrition can be for your pup’s health.

So, these are the different size categories for dogs. As you can see, each category comes with its own set of pros and cons. It’s important to do your research before getting a dog.

There are a few points you should consider before you get a puppy. Once you know you really want a dog, you should look also at the size, breed, and your own lifestyle to find the perfect match.

I love this very helpful American kennel club site where you can filter breeds not just by size, but also by activity level, barking level, characteristics you want your future dog to have, or trainability.

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How big will my puppy get?

This is a question I get a lot. And unfortunately, there is no definite answer.

It depends on the breed and the size of the parents. For example, a Toy Poodle and a Standard Poodle can have puppies of all sizes, from tiny Toy Poodles to large Standard Poodles. The same goes for mixed breeds.

If you want to know how big your puppy will get, you can ask the breeder or look up the average size of the breed and the size of his parents. But even then, there are no guarantees. Some puppies end up being smaller or bigger than expected.

The best way to estimate your puppy’s adult size is to look at its parents. If both the mother and father are small dogs, chances are the puppies will be small too. If one parent is a small dog and the other is a large dog, the puppies will likely be medium-sized. And if both parents are large dogs, the puppies will probably be large as well.

But what if you don’t know the parents and the breed? You can order a DNA test or try to estimate the breed (or breeds involved) by looking at the shape of the skull, snout length, tail characteristics, current weight, and fur length. But again, it’s not easy, even for experienced vets 🤷‍♀️ 😩

If you really want to know, Wagtopia offers a DNA My Dog Breed Identification Tests, that will help you answer all those burning questions 😎

This is Ellie, my parents got her from a shelter when she was around 9 months old. She had a big head (which reminded everyone of a Howavart), a long snout, long fur, and big paws. We all thought she was going to be big (at least medium size).

Well, she still has a bigger head than usual, a long snout, and big paws, but weighs only 8kg (17.6 pounds). I strongly suspect that there was a Dachshund involved somewhere along the family tree because instead of growing upwards, she kind of grew along the horizontal axis 😛

vetcarenews - small dog picture

If you want to get a sense of how big your puppy will eventually be, there are growth charts that give you an estimation based on the breed and the weight at different ages.

As a general rule of thumb, small breeds double their weight by six months old, medium breeds by nine months old, and large breeds by twelve months old.

Giant breed dogs need a bit longer to reach their full size. They usually don’t reach their adult weight until they are 18 to 24 months old.

So, if you want to get an idea of how big your puppy will be, you can look at the growth chart and see where they fall. But again, this is only an estimation.

The best way to know for sure is to wait and see 🤷‍♀️ ☺️

So, that’s it from me, I hope this guide helped you understand the different categories of dog sizes. Take care! ☺️ ❤️

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am and want to get more pet health and pet care tips, as well as a weekly dose of animal cuteness (or weirdness 😉), subscribe to my newsletter! Now you will get a free pet planner as a bonus 🤗

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