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Adult Dogs

Adult Dogs

Adult Dogs

Physical characteristics

  • Most puppies have finished their growth and development by 18 months of age and can then officially call themselves adult dogs
  • Teeth – clean and perfect, especially if you maintain daily care, though dental problems can be seen in 80% of dogs over 4 years.
  • Shiny adult coat
  • Clear eyes and good eyesight with excellent hearing
  • Dogs of this age that are fed and exercised appropriately are lean and muscular
  • Years 3 to 5 considered "Prime of their life" age
  • Later in this period you may see first instances of allergy-based skin problems, such as flea allergy dermatitis, atopy and food allergy


  • By one year, dogs should know how to behave appropriately in public places
  • May still get excited easily and have occasional "mad moments"
  • Will know their ranking in your family
  • Most of their development has been programmed into their brains
  • Dogs at this age may still have some annoying puppy habits such as chewing and occasionally some dogs could still benefit from toilet training.
  • Continue to train dogs but recognize it may take them longer to learn a new trick then when they were younger
  • Females that have not been spayed may display aggression as they experience heat and may even become pregnant
  • By three years of age socialization should be maintained, though your dog is likely to have "settled down" more, compared to earlier years.
  • Antisocial behaviour will be more difficult to correct by this age.


By one year, you need to have switched to adult dog food

  • Ensure the six nutrient groups are being served: proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water. A good quality dog food will contain this – ask your veterinary clinic staff to assist in choosing the most appropriate dog food for your dog
  • Amount of food may vary depending on size of dog and level of activity and to prevent obesity, don't feed too much
  • Treats should represent less than 5% of their daily dietary intake
  • Avoid feeding just before/after exercise as this can make your dog's stomach bloat and potentially twist, which can be fatal
  • A body condition score can be done by your veterinarian to test their weight. You can also visit to help you determine if your dog is becoming overweight. If you suspect your dog is overweight, your veterinarian can work with you to develop a plan to get your dog back on track.

Vaccinations and other preventative treatments

Annual check-ups are necessary to monitor for parasites, respiratory problems, ear infections, tooth tartar and decay etc

  • Groom your dog as required – the frequency will depend on your dog's coat, and as they get older, check for any skin lumps, bumps or growths as you do this.
  • Maintain heartworm, flea and intestinal worm, and tick prevention in areas where they are a problem
  • Booster vaccinations may be required - this will be assessed by your veterinarian at annual check-ups.
  • Keep an eye on changes in weight, appetite, coat quality and agility, which might suggest underlying disease

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