Why is My Golden Retriever Too Skinny? 7 Causes and Solutions


Disclaimer: This article was reviewed and edited by a Vet, but it doesn’t replace your own vet. Please seek veterinary help if needed.

So you’re at the park and you see a couple of Golden Retrievers on a walk with their owners and it suddenly grabs your attention that your Golden Retriever is skinnier than the others walking by, so of course, you ask yourself: “Is my dog too skinny?”

So why is my golden retriever too skinny? Golden Retrievers get too skinny for many reasons including malnutrition, genetics, stress, and exercising routine; whether to worry about it or not, depends mainly on your dog being skinny since birth or noticeably losing weight all of a sudden.

If you’re looking into reasons why your golden retriever may be too skinny, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll get to know all the causes and solutions of why your dog might be underweight, so keep reading!

Why is My golden retriever too skinny? 

skinny golden to show why is my golden retriever too skinny

Golden Retrievers are one of the most energetic breeds there is; you can always see them everywhere running around, ready for playtime 24/7.

Unfortunately, Goldens also have a great tendency to become overweight, as their vigorous attitude sometimes applies to their eating habits as well, which makes them prone to obesity.

It is rare but it happens that sometimes Golden Retrievers can become skinnier than they should be; this goes back to a lot of reasons including malnutrition, them being genetically skinny, or maybe feeling stressed or suffering from a certain illness.

Is Your Golden Retriever Too Skinny? Healthy Weights for Golden Retriever at every age 

Here’s your guide to your golden retriever’s weight at every age based on each gender.

For Male Golden Retrievers;

AgeAverage Weight% of Weight
7 Weeks4 -17 lbs, av. 9 lbs12%
8 Weeks5 – 17 lbs, av. 10 lbs13.5%
9 Weeks8 – 17 lbs, av. 12 lbs16.5%
10 Weeks10 – 22 lbs – av 15 lbs20.5%
11 Weeks12 – 25 lbs, av. 17 lbs23%
3 Months16 – 43 lbs, av. 22 lbs30%
4 Months25 – 44 lbs, av. 30 lbs41%
5 Months27 – 57 lbs, av. 40 lbs55%
6 Months29 – 72 lbs, av. 44 lbs60%
7 Months32 – 77 lbs av. 48 lbs66%
8 Months49 – 85 lbs, av. 55 lbs75%
9 Months45 – 77 lbs, av. 61 lbs83.5%
10 Months50 – 77 lbs, av. 63 lbs86%
11 Months55 – 77 lbs, av. 68 lbs93%
1 Year65 – 77 lbs, av, 68 lbs93%
2 Years65 – 80 lbs, av. 73 lbs100%

For Female Golden Retrievers

AgeAverage Weight% of Weight
7 Weeks5 -17 lbs, av. 9 lbs13%
8 Weeks5 – 17 lbs, av. 10 lbs14%
9 Weeks8 – 17 lbs, av. 12 lbs17%
10 Weeks10 – 22 lbs – av 15 lbs21.5%
11 Weeks12 – 25 lbs, av. 17 lbs24%
3 Months16 – 33 lbs, av. 22 lbs31.5%
4 Months22 – 44 lbs, av. 30 lbs43%
5 Months25 – 52 lbs, av. 40 lbs57%
6 Months27 – 61 lbs, av. 43 lbs61.5%
7 Months31 – 67 lbs av. 45 lbs64%
8 Months40 – 70 lbs, av. 52 lbs74%
9 Months44 – 68 lbs, av. 52 lbs74%
10 Months52 – 68 lbs, av. 60 lbs86%
11 Months52 – 80 lbs, av. 65 lbs93%
1 Year55 – 90 lbs, av. 70 lbs100%
2 Years55 – 90 lbs, av. 70 lbs100%

How skinny is too skinny for Golden Retrievers? 

If your Golden Retriever’s typical adult weight fits within the breed standard for weight and is constant, it is at a healthy weight and not considered skinny. Female Golden Retrievers should weigh between 55 and 65 pounds, while males should weigh between 65 and 75 pounds.

So if your adult golden retriever’s weight is a lot less than the weights mentioned above, your dog is probably too skinny.

When your Golden Retriever’s weight loss reaches 10% of his or her usual body weight, he or she is considered underweight. The ribs, hips, shoulders, and backbone may be apparent and easily felt as physical symptoms. Furthermore, the abdominal taper between the ribs and hips may be severe, with little to no body fat.

Bear in mind that each dog has its individual characteristics and body type which gets affected by multiple aspects, so as long as your dog is closer to this range, it is fine, but if you notice a huge difference, this should get your attention.

7 Possible Causes Your Golden Retriever is Too Skinny (and their solutions) 

Golden Retrievers, similar to us humans, may get skinny for various reasons, mainly 7:

Malnutrition/ Improper diet

Your golden retriever may be losing weight and becoming skinny-looking because either he’s not getting enough food or getting food that is of low quality – both are inadequate for his daily nutritional needs and optimum health, which results in weight loss.

Solution: Ensure the diet you choose is complete and balanced. It’s best for your vet to write you down everything your dog should and shouldn’t be eating; but as a rule of thumb: You can feed your dog poultry, meat (cooked or raw), and vegetables for variety.

Choose large, raw, meaty bones. For recipes and recommendations, check out my guide to Golden Retrievers foods and treats for every age here (I even included homemade Ice cream, so make sure to check it out).

Your dog could also be eating the wrong diet for their age. For example; they’re still eating puppy growl when they should be on an adult diet by now. You can learn when and how to switch your golden to adult food here.

Health Issues

An underweight Golden Retriever or one that is losing weight too rapidly may be suffering from parasites, diabetes, or thyroid problems. This is especially probable if he has suddenly grown thin and has been exhibiting other symptoms of illness such as tiredness, a lack of desire to eat, or vomiting.

Solution: If your dog appears to be unwell or has a medical issue, the best course of action is to take him to a veterinarian.

Genetics

It’s possible that your Golden Retriever’s thin look is hereditary. This is more likely if his parents were skinny by nature or if he was reasonably skinny as a puppy if he did not become skinny abruptly, 

Solution: Pay your vet a visit, and If you have been feeding it the proper quantity and the vet detects no problems, then it goes back to genetics.

It would not be a reason for concern in this situation unless your dog has been exhibiting symptoms of health issues.

Stress

Have you recently started leaving your golden retriever alone for long periods of time? Have you gotten more busy than usual? Have you gotten a new puppy? These can all cause your dog to feel stressed which may cause a lack of appetite and weight loss 

Solution: take a look at any changes that may have happened recently that could be causing stress to your golden retriever and try to get him used to this new environment.

Being a picky eater

If your dog is a picky eater, it may be difficult to convince them to eat enough to be healthy, as he will be repelling away from the food he doesn’t like – eating based on taste, not nutritional needs and hunger. 

Solution: If you feed your dog dry food, you may want to try topping it with wet or fresh food, and try encouraging your dog to eat whatever there is by not changing food if he refuses to eat.

Exercising routine

Golden Retrievers normally need a minimum of 1 hour of high-intensity exercise every day to keep them healthy and free of any pent-up energy that may cause them to act aggressively or have a change of behavior.

But if your dog is getting too much exercise and not enough nutrients to compensate, then he may lose weight excessively. 

Solution: the key is balancing between the energy that your dog spends and the intake of food that meets his nutritional needs.

Change of Environment

Did you move to a new house recently? Did you change parks? Has the staying or sleeping area of your dog changed? Changes in the dog’s surroundings or daily routine may cause a bit of confusion and anxiety thus lead to weight loss 

Solution: make sure your golden retriever isn’t having a hard time adapting as it may lead to their loss of appetite and them becoming more skinny than they should be.

How to fatten up your golden retriever 

There are always methods you can use to make your golden retriever gain a little bit of weight, but make sure you choose the right, healthy track.

Here are some tips that will help you fatten up your golden retriever:

  • Feed your dog high-protein food
  • Make sure the amount of exercise matches the amount of food he gets and not exceed it by a mile.
  • The focus of high-fat dog food — either dry, canned, frozen, and/or freeze-dried 
  • Feeding your dog high caloric food and treats
  • Supplement meals with snacks 
  • Give your dog three meals a day instead of one meal.

Why is your golden retriever not gaining weight even though they’re eating?  

Your Golden Retriever may not be gaining weight even though they’re eating because he may need to eat more food, stressed, or he may have a health problem that requires care. If this does not improve, it is advisable to get him examined by a vet to inspect him and determine what is causing this.

When to worry and check the vet? 

If your dog wasn’t always skinny or one of his parents at least was, or if you notice that your dog is eating quite a lot yet not gaining any weight then you should look into the matter as it may be caused by an underlying health issue.

Physical signs that should catch your eye include: 

  • You can see your dog’s Ribs and backbones from afar.
  • It’s visible that your dog has very little or no body fat.
  • You can see and feel your dog’s ribs.
  • The slope from waist to hips is exaggerated and noticeable.

These signs are often your red flag to go and see the vet.

Related Questions 

What is the favorite food of golden retrievers? 

The favorite food of golden retrievers is dry kibble, canned foods, and a mixture of meat and vegetables. When it comes to taste, golden retrievers are huge fans of poultry, kidney, turkey, beef, and salmon.

What to do if my golden retriever is underweight? 

If your golden retriever is underweight make sure he is getting enough food quantity and quality to satisfy all his nutritional needs and promote a healthy lifestyle. If he stays underweight then you should visit the vet to make sure it’s not due to health issues.

Is it normal for a golden retriever to be skinny? 

It is normal for golden retrievers to be skinny but extremely rare, as they are more prone to be overweight. Being skinny may go back to genetics, health issues, dietary habits, malnutrition, or even stress; pay your vet a visit to create a lifestyle that will keep your dog healthy.

How can I make my puppy gain weight fast? 

You can make your puppy gain weight fast by focusing on providing him/her with high caloric food, focus on high fats-containing food, supplementing meals with high caloric snacks and treats, and making sure exercising is adjusted based on food intake.

Helpful Resources 

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Nutritional Deficiencies

Signs of Malnutrition in Dogs

I.M. Bland, A. Guthrie-Jones, R.D. Taylor, J. Hill, Dog obesity: Veterinary practices’ and owners’ opinions on cause and management, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 94, Issues 3–4,

I.M. Bland, A. Guthrie-Jones, R.D. Taylor, J. Hill, Dog obesity: Owner attitudes and behaviour, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 92, Issue 4,

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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