The best way to judge the fitness or ideal weight of a dog is not by weighing it! The best judge is a dog’s BCS or Body Condition Score. This is an observational technique to evaluate body conformation.
Studies have verified that visual appearance compared to a BCS chart guidelines directly match the percentage of body fat determined by expensive x-ray technology called DEXA. BCS evaluation only requires that a dog be observed from the side and looking down from the back to the front.
The Purina Chart is one of the best. It is a 9-point system that is easy to use. Other sources us a 5-point system but it requires too much subjective interpretation for animals falling between distinct categories.
Owners should set a score of 4/9 as the goal for their dog’s BCS. The dog’s weight at a 4 is its individual, ideal body weight. A famous 12 year study of litters of Labrador puppies by the Purina company showed that puppies that maintained a lean body weight (a perfect 4) lived almost 2 years longer than their overweight littermates.
“Score a 4, live some more!”
The beauty of this system is that by assigning a BCS, a dog’s ideal weight can be determined.
The following table shows how:
|9 Point scale||5 Point scale||% Overweight|
Data: Courtesy of Dr. Angela Witzel, Univ. of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
1) A dog has a 9/9 BCS and weighs 100 lbs. According to the chart it is 40% overweight. That means its’ weight should be 60% less (100%-40% = 60%). Its’ ideal weight then is 60% of 100 lbs. or .6 X 100 lbs. = 60 lbs.
2) A dog has a 4.5/5 BCS and weighs 40 lbs. The chart says it is 30% overweight and should weigh 70% less (100%-30% = 70%). Its’ ideal weight is .7 X 40 lbs. or 28 lbs. Dogs with a BCS greater than 9 or 5 make it difficult to establish an ideal weight.
Go ahead! Grade your dog’s BCS (use the 9-point scale) and calculate its’ ideal weight.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN