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Dear AKC: Can you please tell me the low and high weight of a male Golden Retriever that is 2 1/2 years old? What should his weight be? — Tipping the Scales

Dear Tipping: According to the Golden Retriever Club of America, which publishes the breed standard (a written document which describes an ideal adult specimen) males should be 23-24 inches in height at withers and weigh between 65-75 pounds.

To be sure your dog is not overweight, there is a more hands-on approach to knowing if your dog is too fat or not. There are two ways to determine if Fido is fit. First, have someone stand your dog in a profile view, then look at him from the side, or if you are alone, stand him in front of a mirror. Then look to the dog's loin (the indented waist area just past the ribcage before the hips). Does that area seem to “tuck up” towards the rear of the dog or can you run an imaginary straight line along the bottom of your dog's belly from chest to hind end. If there is no visible “waistline” then your dog is overweight.

Take the Rib Cage Test

You can get the same view of the loin from above. Looking down over your dog's back is there a discernable indentation? A place where you can place your hands? Or does your dog look like a sausage, all bloated and round with nowhere for your hands to fit nicely behind the rib cage?

And speaking of rib cages, my favorite weight check is what I call the rib cage test. Gently place you fingers on your dog's side and run your hand from front to back along the rib cage, pressing gently. If you can feel your dog's ribs then he is in good weight, if you need to press down hard or cannot feel anything but flab between your hand and the dog's bones, its time to take you pet for some much needed exercise. Working in conjunction with your veterinarian, a sensible weight loss program for your pet with will add years to his life and reduce the risk of injury to his bones.

Highs and Lows

To determine if your dog is underweight, you would easily see his protruding ribs and feel the deep grooves between them with your hand. His hip bones become pronounced as well. But it does depend on the breed, since some sight hounds like Greyhounds, Salukis and Ibzian Hounds, are naturally on the trim side with a hint of rib cage showing.
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