Is My Golden Retriever Overweight?

Wen Duan
Written by Wen Duan

Interesting enough, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54% of pets in the US are either overweight or obese. That's parallel to the amount of overweight humans in the US (60%).  Yikes! 

Not only do obese and overweight dogs have an increased amount of health problems (heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, etc.)  they also on average have a shorter lifespan. According to Vets Animal of Garden City, healthy-weight pets can live up to 2.5 year longer than overweight pets. 

In this article, I will be covering how to tell if your adult golden retriever is overweight. These rules do not apply to puppies. Puppy weight gain is normal. Puppies become adult dogs between 1 to 2 years of age. As a general rule, it's rare that puppies are truly overweight, and puppies' weight can fluctuate from thin to fat. Weight fluctuation in a puppy is normal. 

We will be covering the following in this article: 

  1. How to tell if my golden retriever is overweight? 
  2. Causes of dog's weight gain
  3. Basic Tips And Tricks To Help Your Dog Loose Weight

How to tell if my golden retriever is overweight? 

01 look at your dog from the side 

Healthy, average weight golden retrievers should have curves. There should be a tucked up area from the ribs and legs. The curve doesn't have to be extreme, but should at least be visible. 

Overweight dogs will have a straight rectangular body or rounded body. Overweight dogs will have a tummy that goes straight from front to back 

02 Look at your dog from the top 

A healthy dog should have an hourglass figure from the top. You should be able to see the waist of your dog right behind the ribs when viewing your dog from the top. 

An overweight dog will have a more rectangular shape from the top and you will not see a clearly defined waist or hips.

03 touch their ribs 

Put your hand on either side of your dog's side and with gentle touching you should feel every rib. The ribs can be felt easily without excess fat covering. 

The rating is from for overweight to severe obesity. Overweight dog's ribs can be felt through a bit of slight fat covering. Heavy dog ribs are hard to feel under fat covering. Obese dog's ribs can only be felt with heavy pressure.   A severely obese dog's ribs cannot be felt at all. 

Note: If you can see all your dog's ribs, then they might be underweight. 

04 Weigh your dog 

This is last on the list because these are ideal weights for the average golden retriever. Also, your dog's weight can depend on their individual ancestry and genetics. There will always be outliers that are  shorter, taller, larger, and smaller animals. These numbers should only be used as a guide. It is better to follow the above steps as a sign of obesity or overweight. When in doubt, consult your vet and get your dog a health exam. 

How much should a golden retriever weigh?  

According to AKC Golden Retrievers weigh the following: 

  • Average Adult Male Weight:  65-75 pounds. 
  • Average Adult Female weight: 55-65 pounds

How much body fat should a golden retriever have? 

  • Very Thin: 5% body fat
  • Under weight: 5-15% body fat
  • Ideal body weight: 16-25% body fat 
  • Overweight: 25%-35% body fat  
  • Obese: 35% body fat 

  • What causes dogs to gain weight?

  • When it comes to your dog's weight gain, the same rule that applies to human weight gain applies to your dog. Here are a couple of common causes of weight gain in dogs:  

    1. Too much food, not enough exercise. The number one cause of overweight dog is chronic overfeeding followed by lack of activity. The most common reason why a dog is overweight is because the dog eats more calories than it can expend. 
    2. Obesity is more common in older dogs. As dogs grow older, they become less active. So, a dog eats more food or even the same amount of food as when they are young and energetic, they will likely gain weight.
    3. Unhealthy food choices can also cause a dog's weight gain. A combination of too many treats with high calorie foods could cause your dog to gain weight.
    4. Health reasons. Other less common causes of weight gain are Hypothyroidism, Pancreatic Cancer, and Cushing's Disease. Weight gain is also a potential side effect of neutering. 

Basic Tips and tricks to help your dog loose weight

  1. Use smaller size treats. Pick treats that are low in calorie and fat with minimal carbohydrates. Treats made of 100% meat is a good choice. When giving dog food and treats a good rule is that no more than 10% of their daily calories should come from treats, leaving the 90% for nutritionally balanced food, unless of course you are using the dog's daily food as their treats!
  2. Give positive reactions or attention. Instead of food reward, transition to positive words and attention for your dog. 
  3. Start with 20-30 minute walk twice a day. Overweight dogs may need time to work up to a 30 minute walk if they are not used to it so take it slow and watch your dog. Go to dog parks or a doggy daycare where your dog can be off the leash and learn and socialize. 
  4. Scheduled portioned feedings. If your dog is overweight, it's likely they were eating too much. It's important to start a routine for your dog. Measure out what your dog eats and makes sure it is proper portion for your dog. If you are unsure how to lower your portions consult your vet to confirm. Letting your dog graze all day long means you don't know how much they are eating, so make sure to only give your dog food at designated times or spread out a set amount through the day.
  5. Make sure everyone in the family is on the same page. A diet only works if it is consistently implemented by everyone who feeds the dog. A dog will remain overweight if someone is sneaking food or keeping their previous habits. It's very tempting to treat our pups but it's for their own good sometimes to slow down on the treats!

Other Great Treat Ideas for Your Golden Retriever

If you're looking for other great treat ideas for your golden retriever, check out our new book! It's filled with easy homemade treats that are good for you dog and your dog will love them.

Comment below if you have any doggy weight loss or health questions! 

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About the author

Wen Duan

Wen Duan

Wen is a proud dog mom and a frequent contributor to our blog.