How Much Does a Small and Large Breed Dog Weigh? (weight ranges)

You’ve probably seen plenty of people use the terms large-breed or small-breed.

But what is the cut-off that makes one dog a small breed and another medium? And why does this actually matter?

Well, it can be incredibly important when it comes to keeping your small, medium, or large dog healthy. As well as treating them for several different diseases.

is your dog small or large? How much does a small and large breed dog weigh?

Everyone seems to use the terms large and small breed...but not one ever seems to be more descriptive about weights and sizes of what a large or small breed is. - Adrok

What is a Large and Small Breed Dog?

The large and small breed definitions are going to vary depending on what context is being used to discussing them. Also, medium breed dogs may also be discussed as a separate category. There are really no hard and fast rules.

How much does a small, medium, and large dog weight? Here is the most common definition:

  • Small breed dog: less than 22lb (10kg)

  • Medium breed dog: 22lb - 55lb (10-25kg)

  • Large breed dog: over 55lb (25kg)


The main reason that we need to think about the category of dog, and deciding whether they are a small breed, medium breed, or large breed dog, is when it comes to feeding them. Especially when they are puppies. And this will apply for every single dog.

The classic example here is when feeding a large breed dog, it is important to limit their speed of growth by reducing the amount of fat, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D in their diet.

This might seem counter-intuitive, wanting to slow down their growth when they've got so much to do. However, we know that a large breed dog who grows too quickly will have an increased risk of various bone growth disorders.

we know that a large breed dog who grows too quickly will have an increased risk of various bone growth disorders

The classic ones being hip and elbow dysplasia, along with a cartilage problem known as OCD (standing for osteochondritis dissecans in this context!).

The joints are not forming properly. The cartilage may have holes or flaps of cartilage break free. All these cause joint problems to a large dog for life. Being a large dog that put an extra weight, stresses, and strains through those joint, they are going to get much worse arthritis than were they a small dog.

From this point of view when it comes to feeding, we generally consider that dogs less than 10kg (22lb) are small breed dogs. Those over 25kg (55lb) are large breed dogs. And dogs that fall 10 to 25-kilogram dogs or 22 to 55 pounds are medium breeds. 

Cruciate Ligament Rupture

If we are talking about cruciate ligament disease instead, and the likelihood of success of conservative treatment, then the situation is different.

In this instance, a small breed dog would actually be less than 15kg (33lb), and a large breed would be anything over this weight. There is no medium-sized dog category in this situation.

When to Spay a Female Dog

In terms of the best time to spay a female dog, then a large breed is probably one that is over 20-25kg (44-55lb). This is a consideration when it comes to balancing the benefits of spaying a dog with the potential side-effects of the procedure. Something which may be more relevant in larger breed dogs as I have discussed in my review of the best time to spay a dog.

No Clear Cut-offs

This highlights one of the big problems with making this definition. It is that a lot of the time, while there are studies that we are basing these recommendations on, they only include a small number of individuals or they might have a limited number of breeds.

It is actually really hard to extrapolate the results from those single, isolated studies across the dog population as a whole.

In all likelihood, as with most things, there is no black and white. It is more likely that there is a graduation effect rather than a really hard cut-off or boundary in a category. Any risk or benefit gradually shifting rather than changing abruptly.

For example, with the cruciate ligament, how likely is it that if your dog is 14kg they will be 80% likely to recover with conservative treatment yet, if your dog is 16kg this drops to 20%?!

There might actually also be specific risks that are more related to the breed of dog, rather than the size alone. It is just that those dogs that were tested were all of a certain breed and happen to be big dogs. If they had chosen other breeds to test, there wouldn't have been such a difference.

the weight ranges of small and large breed dogs

Healthy Adult Weight

Remember also, that when we are talking about small, medium and large dogs, the weight is actually the dog's healthy weight. Not their actual weight if they're overweight.

Lots of dogs, unfortunately, are overweight or obese. There is a massive obesity epidemic in our pet population. These recommendations would be based on a dog's healthy weight rather than their actual weight.

When it comes to feeding puppies, the weight is their adult weight or their expected adult weight. There might be a few that are a on the boundary, but we need to think about how big they are going to be when they are adults. And that is where we make that small breed, medium breed, and large breed cut-off.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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