Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Show off that figure!

Well, we are still around in 2013, despite being absent for a week. Today we are back, and participating in the Show Off Your Dog's Waistline Campaign. I am pretty proud of the amazing shape my dogs are in, and think that this is a major issue. So many people think my dogs are too skinny, while they hold on to the leash of a dog who could probably stand to lose 10+ pounds. So many vets don't tell owners when their pets are overweight, or downplay it if they do. I always make a point to ask my vet twice about my dogs' weight. The first time, I ask if their weight is good. She always says yes. Then, I say, "My dogs compete in dog sports, including a lot of running, jumping, twisting, turning, and physical activity. How is their weight for that?". Sometimes, the answer is the same, that they are at a good weight. But, I've had her suggest taking off as much at 5 pounds from the dog she just said a minute ago had great weight! Being athletes changes things, but shouldn't all dogs be kept at the weight that best keeps them safe while running, jumping, and being active?

For a great, short read about dog weight, I will refer you to one of my favorite sports vets and writers, Dr. Zink. Her article Corpulent Canines is a great easy to read article about the weight we keep our dogs at, in sports and in conformation, and how those may affect the dogs.

Here are my dogs. Pallo, as a corgi mix, has a naturally stockier build than many dogs. His bones are thick, his skin is thick, and while he is technically short haired, he has plenty of fur on there too.

From the side, Pallo has a very obvious tuck up behind the ribs. His ribs are not visible, but can be easily felt. His shoulders, back, and rear are well muscled and defined.


From the top, Pallo has only a slight waist. His hips are obviously wider, but he doesn't have a big dip in. His spine is not sticking out, and his ribs are not visible. This is appropriate for a dog of his coat and build.

Koira is leaner and more muscular in build. Her bones are thinner, her skin is thinner, and her coat is near non existent. Yes, if a lab looked like this, it would be severely underweight. For Koira, this is perfect weight. I might even try to put a bit more muscle on her.

From the side, Koira has a defined tuck up. (It was cold outside when we took the pictures, so she was hunching a little bit from cold.) Most of her ribs are slightly visible. Her muscles are outlined and defined, though she could use some additional muscle definition. Tendons are visible stretching across the outside of her ribs.

From the top, Koira has a visible waist. Her ribs are visible, but not sticking out (I will say again, though, that she was cold, so her ribs are a bit more sticky-out than they would otherwise be). Her spine is visible but not protruding. Her muscles are well defined. For a dog of her coat and build, this is an appropriate active weight.

To keep my dogs in this condition, I do a lot of things. We go out for a few hours at a time at least three times per week. We go to flyball practice at least once a week. Swimming, dock diving, lure coursing, skijoring, disc, hiking, and general off leash play are all part of our physical routine.

I feed my dogs accordingly for the amount of exercise they are getting. Spending a full weekend at a flyball tournament? The dogs get extra helpings of nutrient and calorie dense hearts, as well as additional snacks like dried meat jerky and raw or hard boiled eggs, on top of their regular raw meals. Spending a week sitting at home while I'm working a lot? The dogs will get just the base raw meals, with a balance of meat, organ, and bone.

The most important thing to make this work is that I look at and feel my dogs on a regular basis. I make sure they are in good muscle condition and that they are not gaining too much fat. Relying on a scale for my dogs is tricky, because my dogs can gain a lot of poundage in muscle if we are doing some really active training and conditioning. Three pounds gain of fat would be bad, but a three pound gain in muscle (or more) has happened more than once with these guys, and I would certainly not want to cut back their food because of the number on the scale!

The best example I can give of this is that, when I adopted Pallo, he weighed in at the vet at just over 25 pounds. He had no waist and was visibly chubby. He was around 9 months old then. He has since lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle. Pallo is the same height (within an inch) as when I adopted him, but now weighs 37 pounds of healthy muscle!

So, anyone else have some dog waists to share?


  1. So true what you said about the weight difference for dogs competing in sports. Our vet only told us to take of 3-5lbs when I reminded her that Sophie is active in flyball and dabbles in agility.

    Both of your guys look great! Hopefully we will get a chance to see you in the lanes this year!

  2. Aww, we can't make that tournament. Our team will be there racing (Pacific Pups) but unfortunately I have a prior commitment that wknd. Hopefully next season!

  3. People call Nola too thin all the time, when in reality she's the fittest Dachshund I've ever seen. I can feel her ribs, hips and spin easily, she has incredible muscle definition and is very fit.
    Nola's MOm

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  5. BEAUTIFUL dogs.

    People who don't compete in intense sports like flyball and agility just don't GET the fact that these dogs are healthier being slightly underweight than at "average" weight.

    I could write a book on how many times I've been harassed about my dog's weight (and she's a Lab no less... but she's not a typical fat lab or even a "normal" field lab. Each dog is unique but no one seems to embrace this) Your dogs look great, I think they're in perfect shape.

  6. Thank you for participating in the campaign!

    Yes, weight is a guideline, but not ultimate measure. One of the reasons is that muscles weigh more than fat. So a leaner dog can actually be heavier than a chubby one. That's why the body condition score is important for the assessment.

  7. Great post! Loved the pictures! Both your dogs have a beautiful tuck and waistline! Good point about the muscle and why hands on is a good choice!

  8. Looks like you all are in great shape! My vet said something similar about most dogs that visit him. He was very complimentary about Sephi and Maya's weight as well as how clean their teeth were. The vet's only seen Pierson once when I first got him. Pierson's gained weight since then but trust me when I say that is a good thing. I'm sure the vet will be pleased when he sees him next.

  9. I need to try and get some photos. Having corgis, my guys almost always look thick and tubey. Between the heavy coats and heavy bones, I can't get them to look visibly thin. Because I do agility w/ Jimmy, I check his weight w/ the rib test religiously. Right now he needs to cut back and he's not happy about that! I feed raw as well plus training treats and scraps. He's been getting less and you would think I am starving the poor boy. My vet always comments on how svelte both boys are, and how nice and short I keep their nails. Both just basic maintenance if you ask me...

    Oh, and a nice bonus of keeping the dogs fit/trim...I stay a bit more fit/trim too!

  10. Love this post! I frequently get comments on Herbie being too skinny. I think she's just right, and as a vet tech, nothing gets under my skin like obese pets. So many people don't even know what a good weight looks like.


  11. I'm going to join in on this blog hop....

    Your guys look great. I think mine are good too, maybe Broo is a bit too big but he barely gets anything and exercises like crazy. Bentley on the other hand could maybe gain a bit more.

    Such a simple and important factor to dog health!

  12. Beautiful dogs! Have you always used a raw diet? If not than why did you change? What advantages have you noticed over kibble?