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Is my Golden Retriever too Skinny? (How to tell & What to do)

If you have owned a Golden Retriever, you know that they are the best companion to have. This is why so many owners become concerned when they notice their dog is very skinny.

All Golden Retrievers will weigh differently depending on their age, height, and if they are male or female. Certain factors can cause your Golden Retriever to look skinny including genetics, illness, injury, old age, and many others!

If you are concerned about your Golden Retriever’s weight, many steps can be taken to ensure that they stay healthy. Keep reading to find out more about why your Golden may be looking skinny!

Thank you, Karen B., for use of your photo!

Why is my Golden Retriever Skinny?

While there are more concerning reasons why a Golden Retriever appears skinny, there are also causes that are nothing to worry about and are common for the breed.

Genetics is one of the main reasons why Golden Retrievers will appear skinny. If your dog’s parents are skinny, you shouldn’t be surprised if your dog is skinny as well!

A Golden who has been skinny its whole life is nothing to worry about; however, if you notice your dog dropping weight suddenly, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible to ensure they don’t have anything more serious going on that is causing weight loss.

Be sure to remember that younger Golden Retrievers will normally have a very skinny, lanky body; this is nothing to worry about because they typically grow out of this quickly as they grow older!

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NOTE: Being skinny and being underweight are different. It is okay for a Golden Retriever to be skinny, but if it becomes underweight, this could be a serious issue.

How Much Should my Golden Retriever Weigh?

When owning any dog breed, it is important to know what their minimum and maximum weight should be, this ensures that they stay happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Body type can make a huge difference in whether or not your Golden Retriever is over or underweight. The standard weight of a full-grown male Golden Retriever is between 65–75 pounds and for a female, between 55–65 pounds.

Weight fluctuates throughout a Golden’s life, here are the standard weights for Golden Retrievers at different ages:

Age
Weight
7–8 Weeks
Male = 4–17 lbs. Female = 5–17 lbs.
1–2 Years
Male = 65–80 lbs. Female = 55–90lbs

Since Golden Retrievers are a larger breed, it oftentimes takes them longer to reach their full adult weight, sometimes up to two years. Some Golden Retriever owners become concerned that their puppies may be underweight; however, they are normally just taking a while to grow!

Golden Retrievers typically stop growing around 11–12 months and stay at a consistent weight during that time. However, Goldens are known to gain more weight after this amount of time up until 18 months of age.

Maintaining your dog’s weight relies heavily on making sure they get the necessary number of calories from their diets. Here is the normal number of calories based on an active Golden Retriever’s weight:

Pounds
Calories
55
1,550–1,800
65
1,650–1,950
75
1,950–2,250

NOTE: It is better for a Golden Retriever to be lighter than heavier in weight. Having a lot of weight can cause health problems such as hip strain/hip dysplasia or even more serious issues.

Why are some Golden Retrievers Skinny?

Some Golden Retriever owners become worried if they notice their dog is skinnier than others of the same breed. The truth is all dogs are different! While your dog may appear skinnier than others, they may be just as healthy; however, it is important to keep watch on their weight!

Many influences can cause a Golden Retriever to appear skinny. Some of the most common reasons include injuries, disease, stress, old age, picky eating, etc., or even a combination of these.

A lot of Golden Retrievers are naturally skinny either from genetics or exercise. Goldens are a breed that require a lot of exercise, so it is no surprise that they are a skinnier breed!

NOTE: Stress is a major factor in Golden Retriever weight loss, most of the reasons listed above are driven by stress!

Injuries, old age, and illness can not only cause weight loss themselves, but the extra stress added on can make the weight loss even more significant.

Stress can also be caused by environmental factors such as moving to a new house or going on walks in strange places; this can cause a Golden to become uncomfortable and stressed, leading to weight loss.

NOTE: If you notice that your Golden Retriever is suddenly losing weight, this could be a sign of underlying illness!

Thank you, Karen B., for use of your photo!

How to know if my Golden Retriever is Underweight?

Some Golden Retriever owners aren’t familiar with what their dog should weigh, this is why it is important to visit the vet so that you can ensure your dog is healthy.

There are several ways to see if your Golden Retriever is underweight including keeping track of their weight and checking to see if any bones are showing because of their lack of muscle mass.

According to some Golden Retriever owners, vets have previously told them that they should be able to feel their dogs’ ribs, but not see them, if you are seeing them then your dog is underweight.

Another great way to check and see if your Golden is underweight is to look at them from above and from the side. They should have a narrowed area near their back/hips, but it should not be enough to show any bones.

TIP: A vet will typically use a body condition score chart to determine if your Golden Retriever is at a healthy weight or not.

If your dog loses more than 10–15% of their weight within a week or you notice that they are dropping weight significantly over a short amount of time, they may have a serious health issue and need to be taken to the vet immediately.

Another way to easily tell if your Golden Retriever is underweight is to take notice of its fur/coat. A healthy Golden will have soft, shiny, dense fur; however, when they are underweight, their fur may appear dull, course, sparse, or it may even stop growing completely.

Not only are there physical signs to tell if your Golden Retriever is underweight, but they may also have behavioral changes. Sometimes underweight dogs will act nervous, sleepy, weak, or display other strange behaviors that they normally wouldn’t have.  

Why is my Golden Retriever Losing Weight Suddenly?

If your Golden Retriever is losing weight and you are unsure why, there could be more serious issues going on than just their genetics or extensive exercise.

Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are prone to a wide range of health issues, more so than a lot of other breeds. This is why it is sometimes hard to determine what is causing a Golden to lose weight so drastically.

One of the most common causes of rapid weight loss in Golden Retrievers is that they have developed worms. Thankfully, this is easily treatable by medication and should go away within a couple of weeks.

TIP: Dog foods with probiotics are a good option for dogs who have had parasites!

It is usually easy to tell if your Golden Retriever has developed parasites here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Soft stool
  • Decreased appetite

Parasites are easily cured, but if left long enough, they may cause further issues including drastic weight loss which can be very dangerous for the dog.  

Golden Retrievers can contract parasites from many things, one of the most common reasons is because they love to eat weird stuff! Read this article next if you want to know more about why your Golden Retriever does this: Why Your Golden Retriever Eats Weird Stuff (Grass, Poop, Sticks, Dirt)

Several other health issues that can cause weight loss in Golden Retrievers include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer(s) — The most common are lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma.
  • Heart disease
  • Hip & joint problems
  • Eye disease
  • Depression
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Diabetes (If you notice your dog drinking a lot of water, this could be a sign of diabetes!)
  • Liver disease
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory disease
  • Infections
  • Dental disease
  • Malnutrition

Thankfully a lot of these issues can be treated by a vet by using either surgery, medication, etc.

NOTE: Typically weight loss from cancer is caused by a tumor. It is a good idea to look over your dog’s body often and check for any strange lumps or bumps.

While medications are often used to help maintain a dog’s weight, they can also cause the issue. Weight loss is a common symptom of a lot of medications.

Drastic weight loss is typically caused by a lack of appetite from taking a medication. A loss of appetite can also be caused by most illnesses. If your dog is in pain from a certain illness or disease, they probably aren’t going to want to eat as much as they usually do.

TIP: If your dog is taking a new medicine and you notice them losing weight, make sure to contact your vet and see what they recommend.   

Thank you, Karen B., for use of your photo!

Cures for Underweight Golden Retrievers

Sometimes it is hard to get your Golden Retriever to gain weight whether they are ill, or just being picky eaters. It is important to find a cure as quickly as possible if your Golden is underweight.

While there are several cures for underweight dogs, the two most important aspects to pay close attention to are your dog’s diet and activity level.

If your dog is exercising often while also being fed a low-calorie diet, it can easily become underweight. A Golden who is exercising often requires a lot more calories than one who isn’t. Thankfully this is an easy fix!

Many dog foods contain significant amounts of protein, these are the best choices for underweight Golden Retrievers. There are also foods specifically branded for weight management.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Golden Retriever puppies require more calories because they are so active, and they are growing quickly!  

Here are several other steps to take to ensure your dog does not become underweight:

  • Visit the vet often — A vet can keep up with your dog’s weight and give you any necessary tips to ensure that their weight stays healthy. They may also conduct certain tests to see if your dog is at a good weight or not.  
  • Monitor your dog’s eating habits — Not only can a vet keep up with your dog’s weight, but you can too! Especially when your dog is a picky eater, it is important to pay attention to how much they are eating to ensure that they are getting the necessary nutrition to maintain a healthy weight.  

TIP: If your dog is eating hard food and is being picky, try adding soft/wet food to the mix, your dog may like it better!

  • Set calorie goals — Setting a calorie goal for your dog, in particular, can help you keep them on a strict eating schedule with the right portions for each meal.  
  • Have specific mealtimes — The number of times you feed your dog throughout the day can also influence their weight. It is oftentimes a good idea to feed an underweight dog multiple small meals throughout the day.

NOTE: This not only helps their weight but also avoids them having any stomach issues from eating too much at one time!

It is important to pay close attention to any changes your dog has throughout its life, even if they are small. Even the simplest change, such as switching to a new food, could cause a dog to lose weight; this is usually because the new food doesn’t have as many calories as what they were previously eating.

Before switching your dog’s food, make sure to ask your vet what your dog’s weight in particular should be. Switching the food without knowing this could cause your dog to lose weight.

TIP: If you are planning to switch your dog’s food, introduce the new food to them gradually, this can ensure that they don’t have any digestive issues or reactions to the new food!

Read these next! All about Golden Retriever eating and sleeping habits:

Golden Retriever Sleep Guide (When Will My Puppy Sleep Through The Night?)

Why Your Golden Retriever Eats Weird Stuff (Grass, Sticks, Poop, Dirt)

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