How long it takes for a dog to reach adulthood differs widely. Small breed dogs are classed as adult at 10 months old, while other breeds can take 18 months or even two years until they are fully grown.
1st stage of growth
Growth is generally divided into two phases. The first stage of growth is very fast, and you will almost see your puppy getting bigger overnight. This is when he is building his skeleton and bones, his ‘framework’ if you like. During this phase, his food needs to be ultradigestible – because his digestive system is still immature – and he needs exactly the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in his diet to help his bones develop properly. Too much of either is just as bad as too little. It’s also really important that your puppy doesn’t gain weight too fast, because that will put undue stress on his growing bones, so it’s best to choose a food which is particularly designed for this stage of growth.
2nd stage of growth
The second stage of growth is one of consolidation – his skeleton is fully developed, and he now needs to build up muscle. This is when he will fill out, and start to look more like his eventual adult self, although ‘filling out’ doesn’t mean getting fat – it’s still really important to control his weight gain, so that he is developing solid muscle to sustain his energy levels, rather than layers of fat.
The other factor to bear in mind is that what your puppy eats during growth will have an effect on his future health. As an example, smaller dogs have more dental problems (because they tend to have rather crowded teeth in their little jaws), so good oral hygiene via a food which helps reduce the risk of build-up of tartar and the formation of plaque will keep their mouths healthier, and their breath sweeter, for longer.
Although it might sound complicated, the ROYAL CANIN® range available from your local pet specialist has the right food for your puppy, whatever his age, size or breed, and each one has been individually formulated to provide the right nutrition for his phase of growth and life.