Updated: August 14th, 2021
Monitoring your Golden Retriever puppy’s health in the formative years and ensuring that they hit all of their growth milestones is one of the best ways to ensure the long-term health of your dog. Malnutrition and stunted growth, or overfeeding and growing too quickly, can have significant long-term impacts on the health of your dog.
But how do you know whether your puppy is on track? While each Golden Retriever pup is unique and individual, they go through similar growth stages and should be hitting similar weight targets. Here is everything you need to know about your puppy’s growth stages in order to monitor your Golden Retriever’s growth and development.
We will start by going through the five main stages of puppy growth and listing the key developmental milestones that they should be hitting in each period. Below this you will find a comprehensive weight chart for both male and female Golden Retrievers, telling you exactly what kind of weight range they should be in at each stage. Finally, we will discuss a little bit more about why it is important to ensure your dog is neither too small nor too big for its age.
Puppy Growth Stages
All puppies go through similar growth stages in the first year or so of their lives. Each stage has different growth milestones and behaviors to look out for, and the puppy will need different types of care.
Stage One: Neonatal
This period generally lasts from the birth of your puppy until they are about three weeks old. During this period, they are largely helpless and should be kept with their mother, who will be able to feed them and keep them clean and warm. During this period, you can see their eyes and ears beginning to open, their first baby teeth coming through, and they will slowly start crawling, and then eventually walking unsteadily.
The size of puppies will vary significantly during this period, but they tend to be small and weigh less than five pounds.
Keep an eye on any dogs in the litter that are smaller than their siblings, the runts of the litter if you will. These runts often struggle in the earlier stages of life, as they cannot compete for the food and care they need from their mother. This does mean that unless they are cared for by hand, they often die.
Life is especially hard if the runt is from a large litter. Golden Retriever litters can be anywhere from four to twelve pups, with eight being the average. The mother might also reject the runt instinctively as part of the process of natural selection.
Key Development Milestones:
- Eyes and ears open
- First baby teeth come through
- Learn to crawl and walk awkwardly
Stage Two: Socialization
Lasting from about three to twelve weeks old, this is when puppies start to take in the world around them, so this is a vital period for their growth. While puppies should continue to stay with their mother throughout this period, they will also need to start eating some solid foods as their mother’s milk dries up.
It is important to socialize puppies beyond their mother at this age; socialization should be with people and with other animals, so that they find it easier to get along with others when they are older. This is also a good age to start taking them on car rides and introducing them to regular household menaces, such as the vacuum cleaner.
According to Dr Barlow of Pet MD:
“A well-socialized pup should be outgoing and uninhibited while meeting new people, animals and being introduced to new places and will likely be very active and exploratory.”
At this age, they will be playful and running around, and they will learn important habits, such as inhibited biting, which is biting to play rather than hurt. They also tend to start using their vocal cords more at this stage, so expect a bit of barking and growling.
It is also at the start of this period that your puppy will begin to learn to control their bladder and bowel movements, and following the example of their mother, they are likely to leave the sleeping area to relieve themselves. As soon as they start to demonstrate this behavior, house training can begin.
It is also during this period, from around eight weeks old, that Golden Retriever puppies can start to experience fear. For this reason, it is very important to protect the pups from fearful situations, as bad experiences at this stage can have a lasting influence on their behavior. Don’t be worried if you pup seems like a scaredy-cat at this age; it is just a phase that will pass.
Don’t forget to take your pooch for their first vaccinations around the six to eight week mark.
Key Development Milestones:
- Eating solid food
- Curiosity behavior
- Play begins
- Barking and growling
- Gain control over bladder and bowel movements
- First vaccinations
Stage Three: Juvenile
During this period, which lasts from three to six months old, your puppy’s rapid growth will start to slow down a bit, as they are now pretty much fully developed and are just smaller versions of the adult dogs that they will be. During this period, they will lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth will start coming through.
It is at this stage that puppies can be removed from their mother and taken to their family home, though this should be done with care. This is also a vital period for training, during which the puppy will develop habits for life. It is important to have clear and consistent rules, and to train the dog through positive reinforcement at this time, and never rely on punishment.
Again, during this period, the dog is still learning about fear. Any fearful experience, such as punishment, can have a long-term, negative impact on their behavior.
Unless you are planning on breeding your dog, this is also the age to have them spayed or neutered, just before they reach sexual maturity. According to Dr Murray of PetMD:
“…spaying greatly reduces the chance of mammary cancer and eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer, while neutering will decrease the possibility of prostate disease and eliminates testicular cancer in your dog. Spaying and neutering can also help to lessen the development of certain behavioral issues in your puppy as he or she continues to grow.”
Key Development Milestones:
- Adult teeth start to come through
- Can be removed from their mother
- Serious training can begin
- Spaying and neutering should take place
Stage Four: Sexual Maturity
Starting at around six months old and continuing until as late as sixteen months, Golden Retrievers will grow to their full size, and if they have not been neutered, they will reach sexual maturity and start entering heat cycles and displaying mating behavior.
At this age, your dog may also be trying to understand and define their role within the pack, and as a result, may start challenging both human and animal members of the family. They can also start displaying territorial behavior.
During the early months of this period, you may feel like your dog has unusually long legs for their body, but this will even out over time. Their ears and nose also tends to grow faster than the rest of them, so they will go through a period of floppy ears as well.
Goldens grow very fast during this period, which leaves their bones vulnerable to injury. This is a good time to be wary of anything that puts excessive pressure on the joints, such as big jumps.
Key Development Milestones:
- If not neutered, begin displaying mating behavior
- Start of territorial and challenging behavior
- Legs, ears, and nose grow disproportionately faster than the rest of the body
- Fragile bones due to rapid growth
Stage Five: Adults
From about 16 months, most Golden Retrievers are considered adults, though they may still have some growing to do. Most Goldens are fully grown by the time they are two years old.
Key Development Milestones:
- Reach full size
- Character traits become more fixed and consistent
Here is a great Book about Growth of Golden Retrievers. Have a look it as well.
Golden Retriever Puppy Growth Charts
While every puppy is different, you can expect your Golden Retriever to hit different weight goals at different ages. Target weights vary depending on whether the dog is male or female, with female dogs growing faster, but male dogs reaching a higher overall weight. For this reason, we have put together separate guide weight charts for male and female Golden Retrievers.
The weight of your dog will also depend on whether they were bred for show or for work, with show dogs tending to be heavier. If you have a working Golden Retriever, their weight should be near the lower end of the weight ranges given here, and a show dog, at the higher end.
Golden Retriever Male Puppy Growth Chart
Age Weight Range Percentage of Adult Weight 7 Weeks 4 -17 lbs, av. 9 lbs 12% 8 Weeks 5 – 17 lbs, av. 10 lbs 13.5% 9 Weeks 8 – 17 lbs, av. 12 lbs 16.5% 10 Weeks 10 – 22 lbs – av 15 lbs 20.5% 11 Weeks 12 – 25 lbs, av. 17 lbs 23% 3 Months 16 – 43 lbs, av. 22 lbs 30% 4 Months 25 – 44 lbs, av. 30 lbs 41% 5 Months 27 – 57 lbs, av. 40 lbs 55% 6 Months 29 – 72 lbs, av. 44 lbs 60% 7 Months 32 – 77 lbs av. 48 lbs 66% 8 Months 49 – 85 lbs, av. 55 lbs 75% 9 Months 45 – 77 lbs, av. 61 lbs 83.5% 10 Months 50 – 77 lbs, av. 63 lbs 86% 11 Months 55 – 77 lbs, av. 68 lbs 93% 1 Year 65 – 77 lbs, av, 68 lbs 93% 2 Years 65 – 80 lbs, av. 73 lbs 100%
Golden Retriever Female Puppy Growth Chart
Age Weight Range Percentage of Adult Weight 7 Weeks 5 -17 lbs, av. 9 lbs 13% 8 Weeks 5 – 17 lbs, av. 10 lbs 14% 9 Weeks 8 – 17 lbs, av. 12 lbs 17% 10 Weeks 10 – 22 lbs – av 15 lbs 21.5% 11 Weeks 12 – 25 lbs, av. 17 lbs 24% 3 Months 16 – 33 lbs, av. 22 lbs 31.5% 4 Months 22 – 44 lbs, av. 30 lbs 43% 5 Months 25 – 52 lbs, av. 40 lbs 57% 6 Months 27 – 61 lbs, av. 43 lbs 61.5% 7 Months 31 – 67 lbs av. 45 lbs 64% 8 Months 40 – 70 lbs, av. 52 lbs 74% 9 Months 44 – 68 lbs, av. 52 lbs 74% 10 Months 52 – 68 lbs, av. 60 lbs 86% 11 Months 52 – 80 lbs, av. 65 lbs 93% 1 Year 55 – 90 lbs, av. 70 lbs 100% 2 Years 55 – 90 lbs, av. 70 lbs 100%
Dangers Of Stunted Or Accelerated Growth
Not all Golden Retrievers will grow to the same size and at the same rate. The size of the parents is always a good indicator of whether your Golden will be above or below average in size. However, while natural variation is nothing to worry about, stunted growth or accelerated growth is.
If a Golden Retriever puppy is malnourished or suffering from an unidentified medical condition, usually hookworm or ringworm, their natural growth can be compromised. This can lead to serious medical issues in later life, as it can leave then with weak bones, weak muscles, and a weak immune system, as well as a tendency to develop both skin and digestive issues.
Growing too quickly, largely as a result of over feeding, can also pose a major health risk. As well as leading to obesity, carrying too much weight at the development stage can leave your dog with skeletal abnormalities, hip dysplasia, and osteochondrosis, a condition that affects the joints.
While every Golden Retriever puppy is different, ensuring that your puppy is meeting key growth milestones and is not racing too far ahead and growing too quickly is a certain way to pick up on problems and deal with it early, ensuring their overall health in later life.
The weight of your dog is a good indication of their healthy development. While male and female Goldens will have different weights, and show Goldens tend to be heavier than working Goldens, overall they should be hitting the weights listed in the charts above. If not, consult your vet about malnutrition, possibly caused by worms, and excessive growth, which is often the result of loving overfeeding.
There are also key development and behavior milestones to look out for at each stage of your puppy’s development. If you feel like your pooch is missing any of them, again, it is time to consult your vet.
In general, good nutrition and a loving home is a recipe for a happy and healthy Golden Retriever. If you want to know more about your golden retriever, you can do a DNA test too. You can choose one of the tests below.
Have a look at our pages that we give tips for puppies.