Friday, March 28, 2014

You Calling My 104 Pound Labrador Retriever Fat? | FitDog Friday

Rudy - March 2014

Rudy is an active dog.  He's a big dog.  He's not a fat dog.

Rudy is huge for a Labrador Retriever.  We sometimes joke that he's part pony. Rudy was the first born of a litter of seven puppies.  When we met him, he was nicknamed Fatso.  Not because he really was fat, but because he was so big.

Rudy - 9 weeks old

These days when some folks hear what he weighs, they immediately jump to the conclusion that he's fat and overweight.  Labs are assumed to be fat.

A few days ago, while looking for something on the Blog Paws website, I noticed their links to Healthy Pet Tools including a Healthy Weight Calculator. 

After filling in the information, I received the following result:
"UH OH!  Unfortunately it appears as if RUDY may need to lose some weight.  Dogs that are overweight are prone to a wide variety of issues, including arthritis and diabetes.  Make an appointment with your veterinarian to check RUDYs body condition and develop a plan to get back on the right track."
Rudy is not fat.


Rudy is certainly not fat!  He could gain a few!  Summer 2013©ForLoveofaDog.com

When Rudy was 1 year old, I used a photo of him to illustrate how to measure for the properly sized elevated dog feeder.  At only 1 year old, Rudy was already 26" at the withers.


Rudy at 1 year old.  ©ForLoveofaDog.com

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard for Labrador Retriever dogs:
The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled, dog that possesses a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation...
Size - The height at the withers for a dog is 22 1/2 to 24 1/2 inches; for a bitch is 21 1/2 to 23 1/2 inches.  ...  Approximate weight of dogs and bitches in working condition:  dogs 65 to 80 pounds; bitches 55 to 70 pounds.   [emphasis is mine]
When I measured Rudy the other day for this blog post, Rudy measured 27 7/8 inches at the withers.  Rudy weighs 104 pounds.

To give you some perspective:
  • AKC standards for Great Danes are a minimum height of 30 inches for males and 28 inches for females.
  • Miniature horse standard height is 34 to 38 inches.  The world's smallest miniature pony is reported to measure 24.8 inches at the withers. 
That old saying about just being big boned?  True in Rudy's case.

 Rudy at 3 years old - October 2013

Not only is common sense required when determining if your mixed breed dog is overweight, it is essential for purebreds, too.  Not only should you not rely on the web to diagnose all ailments, you should not rely on only that for healthy weight information.

As Kate O'Brien of SlimDoggy notes in a How to tell if your Labrador is overweight article for The Labrador Site, you first should have an honest look at your dog, then check to see if you can feel their ribs, and consult your vet if you're still not sure. 


Rudy - March 2014
Just because my dog is a Labrador Retriever, 3 years old, and weighs 104 pounds, does not mean he is obese or out of shape.  Rudy is a big lug.  He's active and fit.  And we plan to keep him that way with a healthy organic diet, exercise, and lots of love.


We're participating in FitDog Friday Blog Hop sponsored by SlimDoggy, Peggy's Pet Place and To Dog With Love.  Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below for lots of fun fitness tips and advice.
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32 comments:

  1. Those calculators really need to be taken with a grain of salt. According to them Tubby who despite his name is fairly lean for a pug is fat, because he is also taller an dbigger then other pugs. Dogs are different sizes at different times I once took 4 month old Weasley to a vet who declared him obsese, as a pudy puppy! It wsa ridiculous. My regular vet always says my pugs are a good weight and Im very careful. If there are any increases food gets cut back and Weasley goes up

    retro rover

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    1. Totally agree. Plus, I think it's especially true of mixed breed dogs. Rosie has a strange body build, but our vet says she's fine. He's obsessed with pet obesity, so I'm fine with his assessment.

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  2. All those numbers and tables are for average dogs and for guidance. Only you and your vet know if your dog is active, healthy and a good weight. Poor guy getting called fatso, not nice. I won't offer an opinion as you have to see a dog in person to really know, in some photos I look chubby, in some I look thin.

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  3. Rudy looks great. I can't quite get my head around a lab as big as a Great Dane this early in the morning.

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    1. LOL! Go have a cup of coffee, Amy ;-)

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  4. Its much like the BMI for humans. These numbers are guides and really only apply to an 'average' dog/person.

    SlimDoggy Jack is also pretty big (not as big as Rudy) which is why his healthy weight is on the high end for a Lab.

    I can only wonder what trouble would occur if we got Rudy and Jack together for a meet up?

    -SlimDoggy Steve

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    1. LOL. Well, I don't think there'd be much trouble (Rudy is a lover) unless Jack called him "fat!"

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  5. Great post. I would of never guessed he weighed that much. He is looking good and fit. Have a great weekend.

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  6. We have the same - Reilly is 18.5 inches which is huge for a sheltie and accordingly is heavier than a normal sheltie too. Our vet checks him regularly and he says his weight is great and more importantly his heart is great.

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    1. The first time I visited your blog, I saw Reilly and assumed he was a Collie! He is big for a Sheltie. I rely on my vet, too, because the most important think is their health.

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  7. Rudy looks in tip top shape - and very active too. I don't think you have any problems there ;)

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    1. Thanks! Unlike some Labs, Rudy would rather be running and playing than eating :-)

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  8. All those numbers and charts are for average dogs and for guidance! Only your dogs vet knows best or you the owner! Rudy looks great :)

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    1. Absolutely! A little common sense goes a long way when judging your pet against all those numbers and charts.

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  9. Please don't be offended, but he actually looks to me like he could lose a few pounds. I am used to seeing very athletic, very in shape dogs since I am involved in dog sports. I wouldn't call him obese by any means, but if he were my dog, I'd probably want to take a few pounds off of him.

    Of course, I will add that pictures are never as reliable as having your hands on the dog. So while the photos make it look to me like he could lose a few, I wouldn't be 100% sure of that unless I actually had hands on the dog.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Truth? I am offended. Though I respect your right to your opinion... I think I'll continue to rely on my vet's opinion. My vet is obsessed with pet obesity, knows Rudy, sees him frequently (we're friends) and has examined him. Unfortunately, I'm not the best photographer :-(.

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    2. I'm sorry you are offended. I don't normally go around telling people I think their dog is fat. But you asked, and my honest opinion is that he is slightly overweight. He is by no means horribly obese, but while his older photos look like he was in good weight, the newer ones from Oct 2013 and the most recent on from 2014 look like he has gained some. I am certainly not attempting to upset you, I am simply sharing my opinion from my experience.

      And while I won't say your vet is doing this, many vets will not tell an owner that their dog is overweight unless it is severe. I always have to ask with my dogs, twice, before my vet will give me her honest opinion of if my dogs are the proper weight for the sports that they participate in, and I have a good relationship with my vet.

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  10. This is much like the old saying that "you can't judge a book by its cover." Rudy is uniquely built and a healthy dog. Weight chart are helpful guideline, but each animal should be analyzed individually. Rudy is a beauty.

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    1. Thank you! He's a big lug and I adore him :-)

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  11. Photographic wise - a friend and I have talked before about the difference the angle a picture is taken at can make in how a dog looks. The different pictures of Rudy at 3 years old show this.

    If anyone looks at the first picture of Rudy in this post they can see that he not only has a waist but his rib cage is not covered in the layer of fat that is typical for Labs.
    Remember, this is a breed that is designed to retrieve in cold water and thus built differently than a breed that was designed to spend all their time on land, or in warm water.

    Rudy is an athletic looking dog, with huge, well developed muscles. He reminds me of a Lab we had who once snapped a heavy duty choke-chain that was attached to a steel line - without seeming to notice she'd done so and certainly without ill affect (she had decided she would NOT wait for us in Grandma's yard while we walked across the street without her.)

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    1. Thanks, Chris. Though he, too, is a "rescue" dog, Rudy is all Lab, unlike my other mixed breed dogs. I think he's a good example of what can go wrong with dog breeding. He is too big and too tall. Obviously - from the AKC standards for the breed. We saw this in draft horses when US breeders got away from the standards and bread for height in Belgians - way too much leg for the tasks they were originally bred for. Rudy's only 3 now.- time will tell if his size impacts his joints and hips negatively. Unfortunately, I do suspect it will impact his longevity.

      Also unfortunately, I do not possess excellent photography skills ;-)

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  12. I never realized that Rudy was such a large dog. We routinely see labs at 100+ pound labs at tests. Just like Rudy they are all very fit and in shape. Can you believe that Freighter weighs almost 89 pounds? He is solid as a rock. I think he is probably done growing (finally). We are going to take a pound or two off him. I think his correct weight will be right around 85, give or take a pound.

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    1. I wish I had your photography skills, Linda. This post would have been so different!

      As I mentioned to Chris (above), I do think Rudy is an example of breeding gone in a questionable direction. He really is too big, too tall. However, he is very active and fit. I also think people forget that muscle weighs more than fat and Freighter is a very good example of that. He's definitely a very fit, athletic dog!

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  13. Good job! Rudy sure is a big boy, but I can see his waist. He looks great!

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  14. Wow! Great post. I can't believe how big Rudy already was at nine weeks! And he's crazy tall. I had no idea! Just like with people, height and frame have everything to with how much you should weigh.
    Diane and Rocco

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    1. Thanks for picking up on his size at 9 weeks. He was a giant even then.

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  15. Yes, he is a very sleek and handsome Lab!

    My vet told me Mia needed to lose a few and we didn't go back to him for two years because I was afraid of his lecturing me about not getting her slimmed down enough. I can feel her ribs. I did cut back on her meal sizes, and she is a couple of pounds lighter than she was two years ago.

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    1. My vet has a terrible "bedside" manner and would not hesitate to lecture us on our dogs weight or any other issue. I know this from experience! lol

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  16. That's got to be the biggest lab I've ever seen! :O And that's it, he's big not fat! :)

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  17. That is definitely NOT a fat dog. He looks fantastic. His shape is amazing. I would love to stand him next to Sydney, because he has 30# on her. But then I think he might be 10" taller.

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    1. I've always thought of our dogs as being big dogs, but Rudy gives new meaning to those words! He's our first that isn't able to walk under the kitchen table - lol. Part pony, part draft dog, and all love :-)

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  18. Wow, he is a big boy, just big not fat!! We wonder if our Lab mix Luke is going to get that big. At 5 months old he weighs over 40 lbs, and he's been gaining an average of 2-3 lbs per week. Our vet predicted he'd be at least 80-100 lbs. Luckily we are already in practice of keeping an eye on the other dogs' weight so we know what to look and watch for, and we measure their food carefully.

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