Healthy Dog - Normal Values


These are some of the guidelines used by your vet to assess your dogs health.


Temperature - 100.5 to 102.5

Heart rate - 180 beats a minute for puppies

  •   60-160 beats per minute for most adult dogs
  •   180 beats a minute for toy breeds
Respiration -10 to 30

The normal respiratory rate for dogs is 16 to 20 breaths per minute. The normal heartrate is 70 to 160 bpm. Large dogs tend to have slower heart rates so your dog should be in the 70 to 120 bpm range. This varies according to the cardiovascular fitness of the dog, too. The more active the dog is the slower its resting heartrate will be.

Pulse - 60 to 120

Gestation - 62 days

Estrous Cycle - 4 to 6 months

Estrus - 9 days

Average lifespan - 10 to 14 years

Weight range - Smallest - some toy breeds are as small as 2-3 lbs

  •  Biggest - some of the giant breeds are over 150 lbs
The "ideal" weight for a dog is approximately the weight where the last 3 to 5 ribs are just barely visible or can be felt with a very light touch. Many dogs are overweight and many dog owners feel their dog is too thin if they can see any ribs. It is better from a health perspective to be a little too thin than to be a little too heavy, though. Breed size determines when bone growth stops. Little breeds may be fully grown by 6 or 7 months of age while giant breed dogs may continue to grow for 18 to 24 months. Most pitbulls are probably their full adult size, except for muscling and fat deposition, by the time they are a year of age.      

Aging dogs

Question:  The Merck Veterinary Manual lists some suggestions for aging dogs by their   teeth but I do not have a lot of faith in this method of assessing age  

This seldom works in Puppy Mill dogs as their diet is so bad that their teeth age quickly.

What do you think about aging by internal organs, such as during a spay.  Can you actually tell if they have never had a heat cycle ?


Answer: Marsha-

Dogs that have not been through a heat cycle do tend to have smaller uterine horns and the ligaments attaching the ovaries are often very inflexible, so sometimes I really do have the distinct impression that a dog hasn't been through a heat cycle. Also, nipple enlargement tends to occur after the first or second heat cycle, so that is a hint, too. However, I don't think that it is possible to age a dog by visible changes in organs, or at least I have not been observant enough to note consistent changes that might give hints as to age.

I read somewhere, but unfortunately have no idea where, that it is possible to age dogs by removing the first or second premolar and examining the tooth structure in some way but I can't remember any more than that, mostly because I thought it was an impractical test for real life situations.

It would be nice to have a good way to age dogs so if you run across one, let me know. I'll try to do the same for  you.

Mike Richards, DVM


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...