Why Is Your Golden Retriever So Small? 5 Reasons and Solutions

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are typically classified as a large dog breed, however, you might notice that your Golden Retriever is not the average size associated with the breed and that is smaller in size compared to other dogs of the same age.

As a pet parent, it’s very important to be aware of the factors that affect your Golden Retriever’s growth to make sure that your dog is healthy and growing at a normal rate.

So, why is your Golden Retriever so small? The main reason your golden retriever is so small is its genetics. Other factors that affect your dog’s size and growth rate are poor diets, inadequate exercise, prolonged stress or anxiety, and some medical conditions. You need to keep track of your dog’s size at different ages to ensure it’s growing at a normal rate.

Keep reading to learn more about the average size of golden retrievers, the factors that affect their size and growth rate, and what to do if your dog is smaller than average.

When Do Golden Retrievers Reach Full Growth?

golden puppy chewing grass to answer why is your golden retriever so small

On average, Golden Retrievers reach full growth and become adults when they are at 12 to 18 months in age. Sometimes, their bodies will continue to grow until they are at 18 to 24 months of age.

The rate at which a Golden Retriever grows and the size it will reach depends on various factors. However, it’s normally considered a sign of normal growth rate if the dog’s weight is proportional to its body frame.

What Is the Average Size of a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are considered to be a large dog breed.

At full growth, the average Golden Retriever’s weight will range between 55 and 90 pounds, while its height will stand at 22 to 26 inches for males, and at 20 to 25 inches for females.

So, if a golden retriever’s weight and height are below these numbers, it would be considered smaller than average.

Take a look at the following charts to learn the average weight and height of Golden Retrievers at different ages:

Growth Chart for Male Golden Retrievers

AgeWeight RangeHeight Range
8 weeks3-17 lbs.6”–15”
9 weeks5-17 lbs.9”-15”
10 weeks8-22 lbs.10”-15”
11 weeks12-25 lbs.10”-15”
3 months16-43 lbs.10”-20”
4 months25-44 lbs.12”-24”
5 months27-57 lbs.13.5”-24”
6 months29-72 lbs.19”-24.5”
7 months32-77 lbs.19”-26”
8 months49-85 lbs.21”-26”
9 months45-77 lbs.22”-26”
10 months50-77 lbs.22”-26”
11 months55-77 lbs.22”-26”
1 year65-77 lbs.22”-26”
2 years65-90 lbs.22”-26”

Growth Chart for Female Golden Retrievers

AgeWeight RangeHeight Range
8 weeks5-17 lbs.6”-15”
9 weeks8-17 lbs.9”-16”
10 weeks19-22 lbs.11”-18”
11 weeks12-25 lbs.11”-18”
3 months16-33 lbs.11”-19”
4 months22-44 lbs.12”-22”
5 months25-52 lbs.13”-24”
6 months27-61 lbs.15”-24”
7 months31-67 lbs.16”-25”
8 months40-70 lbs.18”-25”
9 months44-68 lbs.20”-25”
10 months52-68 lbs.20”-25”
11 months52-80 lbs.20”-25”
1 year55-90 lbs.20”-26”
2 years55-85 lbs.20”-26″

On average, male Golden Retrievers grow to be bigger than their female counterparts, but size is not the only difference, and you can learn more about the differences between male vs female golden retrievers here.

What Are the Factors That Affect the Golden Retriever’s Growth?

If you are concerned about your Golden Retriever’s growth or feel like it’s smaller in size compared to other dogs of the same age, then you need to understand that its growth rate and size will normally depend on several reasons.

So, let’s take a closer look at these reasons:


The main factor that affects your Golden Retriever’s growth rate is simply its genetics.

There are different types of Golden Retrievers and their size will vary according to their bloodline, gender as well as age.

Poor Diet

Another important factor that affects your Golden Retriever’s growth rate is its diet.

The number of calories and the balance of nutrients your dog is consuming has a big effect on the size of your dog as well as how quickly they are growing. So, if your dog is not getting enough calories and nutrients, it’s likely to end up growing smaller than other dogs of their age.

Generally, it is recommended that Golden Retrievers eat between 1,353 and 1,740 in a day. The number of calories should be adjusted according to the dog’s age and activity level. You can learn more about feeding your golden retriever here.

Inadequate exercise

Exercising is important to your Golden Retriever’s growth as it helps the dog develop muscles as well as improve bone and joint function.

Generally, it’s recommended to provide Golden Retrievers with 3 to 4 hours of physical activity in a day.

However, keep in mind that exercising will not be effective if your dog’s diet is not good. Also, avoid subjecting your dog to an intense exercise routine during the early stages of its life as this could have a reverse effect and hinder the development of its body.

Prolonged stress or anxiety

Golden Retrievers are highly sensitive, so experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety for a prolonged period of time can cause them to lose their appetite leading to stunted growth and severe weight loss.

There are many things that could cause your dog to feel stressed or anxious such as experiencing separation anxiety due to being left alone for too long, having any sudden changes in its environment or daily routine, letting strangers enter its territory, and being around loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks.

You need to understand your dog’s body language and be on the lookout for other signs that it’s stressed or anxious including trembling, barking and whining, hiding or cowering, avoiding eye contact, panting, and pacing.

Various Medical Conditions

There are various medical conditions that can cause Golden Retrievers to suddenly lose their appetite leading to severe weight loss.

In this case, it’s recommended to be on the lookout for any symptoms and to take your dog to a vet to determine whether it’s sick.

When to Be Concerned About Your Golden Retriever’s Size?

If you are concerned about your Golden Retriever’s size, it’s a good idea to keep track of its size at different ages.

If your dog has always been smaller than what’s considered average for its age, then there’s nothing to be concerned about as the cause for this is usually the dog’s genetics.

However, if your dog has suddenly become small due to sudden weight loss, then you should be concerned as the cause for this could be a more serious health issue and you will need to address that problem in order to get your dog to normal size.

What to Do About Your Golden Retriever’s Small Size?

If your Golden Retriever is smaller than average due to a problem with its health, here are some tips you can follow to get your dog to a normal size:

  • If you have gotten your dog from a breeder, ask to check on the parents. See if their size is also smaller than their peers. If not, ask the breeder if they have kept track of the sizes and weights of the parents at different ages or contact other people who have gotten the other puppies in the litter and see if they are also smaller than their peers.
  • Make sure you’re feeding your dog the right amount of calories for its age and activity levels.
  • Make sure your dog’s food contains all kinds of nutrients that it needs for development, but most important of all protein. You can also consult with a nutritionist about what kinds of food are best for your dog’s diet.
  • Establish a daily exercise routine for your dog without over-exerting it. Some of the best exercises you can do daily with your dog are taking it on walks, climbing stairs, or playing a game of fetch.
  • Keep your dog away from any situations that can cause it to feel stressed or anxious. You can also take it to a dog behaviorist if you cannot determine the cause of its stress and anxiety.
  • Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any symptoms of illness. You can also take it for routine check-ups every now and then to make sure that it’s in good health.

Related Questions

What Are the Main Types of Golden Retrievers?

There are three main types of Golden Retriever which are American, British, and Canadian. These types have very similar appearances with slight differences in size. American and British Golden Retrievers tend to have a less stocky appearance compared to Canadian Golden Rey Retrievers

 What Is the Average Lifespan of a Golden Retriever?

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever ranges between 10 and 12 years, depending on the dog’s health and living conditions. To make sure your dog will live longer, you need to provide with good living conditions including a healthy diet, regular exercise, as well as your attention and affection.

You can also learn about the 20 ways you can make your golden retriever live longer here.

Are Golden Retrievers Energetic?

Golden Retrievers are energetic. So, you need to provide them with enough exercise regularly to help them release their energy in a healthy manner. Otherwise, they will become bored or depressed which can lead to them developing some destructive behaviors.

What Are the Health Problems Golden Retrievers Are Prone to Have?

The health problems that Golden Retrievers are prone to have to include hip or elbow dysplasia, skin conditions, respiratory conditions, some kinds of cancer, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, cataracts, and ear infections. You need to take your dog to the vet for regular checkups to make sure it’s healthy.

Helpful Resources 

Golden Retriever – AKC Breeds Standards

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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