There isn’t an exact time when Bandit suddenly is an adult – it’s not like when you turn 18 and magically get grownup privileges overnight. Generally, the one year mark draws the line between a puppy and an adult dog, although many factors come into play. You'll need the help of your veterinarian to figure out whether or not your four-legged companion still is in his puppy phase.
It Depends on the Breed
Your vet is the best person to ask if your pooch still is a a puppy or not, but there are some things you can consider on your own. Dogs reach maturity somewhere between 12 and 18 months, according to PAWS Companions, a Washington-based animal shelter. Smaller breeds tend mature sooner than larger breeds, meaning a 12-month-old Yorkie can be considered an adult, while a golden retriever might not be referred to as an adult until he is 18 months old.
Is He Full Grown?
Usually, you can call Bandit an adult dog when he is close to being full grown. If his paws still are bigger than his head, he most likely hasn't finished growing yet. Your veterinarian can help you determine if Bandit still is growing by evaluating his rate of growth thus far, his breed and the size of his paws, just to name a few factors.
Why You Need to Know
It’s important to figure out if Bandit still is in that puppy phase or not because you need to know which type of food to feed him. Puppy food is higher in fat, protein and overall calories. If Bandit is full-grown, he doesn't need all that anymore. Continuing to feed him puppy food into his adult years can lead to weight gain rather quickly, adding unnecessary strain on his joints and vital organs.
Which is Best?
If you’re thinking about adopting a new canine and not sure whether you want a puppy or an adult dog, you’ll have to weigh out the pros and cons of each choice. Puppies are full of energy, require lots of attention and must be completely potty trained from scratch. On the other hand, you can shape a puppy into the perfect model dog that you want, training him to be an ideal dog that your friends will envy.
Adult dogs already are over that chewing period and often are easier to house train, since they can hold their bladder for longer periods of time. However, you don’t know the dog’s past. Maybe he’s been an outdoor dog his whole life and doesn't know he’s not supposed to pee inside or maybe he’s a little timid because he was never socialized. Talk to a veterinarian, breeder or dog trainer while weighing out your options. These experts can help you decide which pooch fits best into your lifestyle.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.