Hi human, my name is Casey, and I’m a golden retriever. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a puppy, but I’ve had puppies of my own in the past.
If you’re wishing that your puppy could stay a puppy forever, I can relate. They grow up so fast! But if you are wondering when a dog is considered an adult, I can help you with that.
Today, you’ll learn the answer to the question, “When is a dog considered an adult?” You’ll also find out the signs that you should watch out for.
Signs That Your Dog is Considered an Adult
Generally, puppies are considered to be an adult dog at one and two years of age, but this can greatly vary based on the type of breed your dog is – a shih tzu, a labrador retirever, and a miniature poodle will all experience puppy growth at different rates. For example, I, like many other Golden Retrievers, was considered an adult when I was 16 months. However, my friend Tico is a chihuahua and was already an adult at one year old. He’s definitely still more mature than I am.
So, while you can try and guess when your dog is considered an adult based on the general age range, it’s better to look out for physical and behavioral signs in your puppy as he matures.
Because I have so much experience, to help you out, I’ve come up with a list of signs to look out for to know when your puppy is reaching adulthood.
No More Puppy Teeth
Like you humans, us dogs lose our teeth when we’re young. Puppy teeth start falling out at around 12 weeks old, and our adult teeth will usually come in by the time we’re six months old. I guess you can consider that to be the time when we enter our adolescent years, or become teenagers, as humans say.
When you notice that your dog has adult teeth, make sure that you start taking care of those teeth! If you were finger brushing your puppy’s baby teeth, now is a good time to switch to using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
He’s Less Destructive
When you first got your puppy, he was probably very excited, and the way that puppies show that excitement is to destroy everything they see. I know how much you humans hate this, but luckily, it’s usually a temporary phase!
In fact, when you notice that your puppy has stopped being so destructive, that might be a sign that he’s no longer a puppy. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never find a chewed-up sneaker again, but it will probably happen less frequently.
They Get In Heat
Dogs go through puberty in a way that is similar to you humans, and it can get just as embarrassing for us as it is for human teenagers! On average, dogs reach sexual maturity at around nine months of age, although this does vary by breed.
There are several signs of sexual maturity to watch out for in both male and female dogs, including:
- Marking a lot
- Lifting a leg to pee
- Males becoming interested in females who are in heat
- Appetite changes
- Bloody vaginal discharge
If you are going to neuter or spay your puppy, make sure that you watch out for these signs. Male puppies are usually neutered at around six months, while female puppies are spayed before their first heat, which typically occurs at the age of five or six months.
Less Accidents Around the House
If you’ve had a puppy, you know that you have to watch out for little accidents around the house while you potty train them. We eventually get to a point where we stop having accidents around the house, but it isn’t just a sign of your good house training!
As dogs age, we’re able to hold our urine and feces longer, meaning we’ll stop leaving accidents around the house. By the time we’re four or five months old, we can go six-to-eight hours without needing to use the bathroom. As we become adults, we can go even longer than eight hours without using the bathroom, although you should still be conscious to make sure we get enough of them!
As dogs get older, we do try testing the boundaries a little bit. In fact, you may notice that we seem to get a little more aggressive at around the age of 18 months.
Don’t worry, we’re just being moody teenagers at this age. Just like you establish good habits with your own kids, it is important to establish good habits with your adolescent dog, and it’s best to start early!
When we’re puppies, we love our soft, fluffy puppy coat, which is when our fur is much shorter than it will be when we’re adults.
But at around six months old, you’ll notice our fur to fall out to make way for our adult coat. It takes anywhere from six months to another year for our adult coat to fully come in, and you may notice that we look a lot different.
Our coat color, length and texture may change as we become adults, so you might have to switch up your grooming techniques, such as getting a new brush for our new fur, since our new coat may tend to get matted and tangled. You may end up brushing us more often or taking us for a spa day at the salon, but this is a clear indication that your puppy is no longer a puppy.
When Your Dog is Considered an Adult
Every human wants their puppy to stay a puppy forever, and believe me, we would if we could! However, the reality is that puppies grow fast, and it is important to know the signs that your puppy is starting to grow into an adult dog.
If you look out for the signs that I mentioned, you’ll be able to enjoy your puppy’s young years and prepare for the many more enjoyable years you’ll have together.