Oh My Gosh! That Dog is Too Skinny!

This Dog is Gorgeously Well Muscled and in Fantastic Condition! Pulling on the leash is making his ribs more prominent and stretching his body.

Until recently, this was the reaction I would get when I took my dogs in public.

I shamefully have to admit that when I took my female dog, Fury, in to get spayed at the vet I got in trouble for several pounds of weight gain.

The kids had come for the summer and “LOTS” of unwanted food and vegetables made their way to the floor and past the lips or my furry friends!

I actually thought that was it; until I cut back on her food and she still wasn’t losing weight.  Then I realized she was supplementing her own diet with all of the fresh figs and peaches she could scarf down while she was outside on our property.

Funny how an incredible spike in sugar calories was keeping her from losing a little fluff!

Until fig season is over she is humiliated and forced to be spending her outside time on a leash!

I keep my dogs THIN!

And, I do this for several reasons!

My dogs are working dogs and they spend much of their time doing things like pulling carts or tires, running after balls, and flying through the air to bite “bad guys” in protection sports!

And in order to be successful in their jobs, they need to stay on the slender side of life.

It is also extremely hard on their joints and teeth to carry extra pounds and hit a decoy.

Just a few pounds can make the difference in healthy, and a blown knee, injured back, or other serious injuries more about that here.

This dog is also overweight!

I Want to Be Able to See my Dog’s Ribs

On a short haired dog, I want to be able to see a little bit of ribs.  I don’t want to be able to see back bone (yikes) but I DO want to be able to see the ribs a little.

On a long haired dog, I want to be able to feel ribs (without poking and pushing).  Again, I don’t want to be able to easily feel backbone, but I do want to be able to feel some ribs.

This is a fairly fine line, and one that takes some effort to walk each day and each week.

You can’t get into a feeding rut, or your dog will either lose too much weight or gain too much, so it is imperative that you keep a close eye on your best friend.

As his body changes or he begins to exercise more, he needs more or less food.

Before You Send Hate Mail

Obviously this is tooo thin!!! Note the lack of muscle down his body and the prominence of not only his ribs but his hip bone and spine.

and I know this is controversial…

I recognize that this concept is hard for some people.  The last thing they want to do is see a little bit of ribs showing on their dogs.

I’m not talking about crazy thin, with hip bones and backbone, and ribs but I think people equate a thin dog with abuse.

And as hard as it is to look at an emaciated dog, I think it is equally disturbing to look at an obese dog!

But let me tell you that a thin dog is much healthier than an overweight dog!

Overweight dogs are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and all the same adversities that overweight people suffer from!

And I would rather have a thin healthy active dog that can play sports and go everywhere; than a dog that has a ruptured knee, bad back, or hip/elbow dysplasia and cannot exercise.

If you are unsure; ask your vet!  Your vet will be happy to tell you what your best friend should weigh and each dog, breed, and age is a little different!

In a lot of ways I think our idea of normal, or healthy weight is a little skewed.

This dog is obviously painfully over weight. Thanks to the fattestdogintheworld.blogspot.com for the photo.

And, let me tell you, I wish someone would meal feed me only a certain amount!

Will power and mindless eating is also a problem for me!

Did you know even dogs and other animals (my cats) eat just because they are bored!

And, it is also important to know that a normal, healthy dog is always hungry.

In the wild, dogs would have to eat as much as they could and gorge themselves because they never knew where the next meal would come from or when it would come.

So it is normal for your dog to always act “crazy hungry” (this is why I do meal feed).

On an added note, sometimes our senior friends need a little extra “fluff” to give them an extra buffer if they get a little sick. Again if you are unsure, ask your vet for his/her opinion and help with a diet program!

It is our job as their humans and their partners to make sure they are as healthy and happy as they can be!

What do you think?

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  1. Pearlie says:

    I totally agree! I have 2 Munsterlander pointers, and one Pitbull, who has the same body score as the one at the top of the page. they are all active, healthy dogs. My eldest one is 9 this year, and has always been thin and high energy. When I tell people one of my dogs is one year old, & the other is 9, they think she’s the puppy! I groom dogs, & unfortunately see the results of the Standard American dog’s diet. many of the pet foods today are loaded with grains, and the ones that are “grain free” still have their share of starch, via potato, or some other form. If you think about it, dogs don’t really need this extra energy (unless you’re running in field trials, or have a bobsled team) and when do farmers feed grains to their animals? when they want to fatten them up of course! In my opinion, this is the problem. I see dogs that just reek of yeast overgrowth from too much sugar (starch), I see dogs full of fatty tumors, ones that are so obese they can barely stand… the owners replies? “she barely eats” or “I feed according to what the bag says” well, if your dog should weigh 40lbs, why are you feeding them the amount it says to feed a 75lb dog? so what do I feed my own dogs? the same foods I should eat: fresh meats, fruits, and veggies, only giving them extra starch/grains during hunting season, when they run for almost half a day straight. having a fat dog really does shorten their lifespan, and feeding “real food” costs about the same as feeding a good quality canned, but with the assurance your pet will live a fuller life with less vet bills.


  2. Eileen says:

    I feed my dog raw and I can see her ribs and her muscles rippling along her flank, neck and shoulders.


  3. Nicole Beaumont says:

    I think your dog looks great, I have working dogs that do Obedience/ Agility and flygility and they need to be kept fit with all the jumping so no extra weight on them, as you say extra weight doesn’t help their joints, and I hate it when people say that they are too thin, thats only because they are use to looking at fat animals. I work in a vet clinic and there is nothing worse than seeing all these dogs and cats come in so overweight that they really can’t move, poor animals they really dont have a good life when they are like that.


  4. Donna Tindall says:

    I think your dog looks great! I like to see lean animals. I worked for seven years at a vet clinic where I saw dogs, cats, and horses all suffering from parents “loving them to death”. Feeding a dog that is supposed to be 40 pounds, rations for a 100 pound breed is neglect. It is as bad, worse in fact, than underfeeding some. Some of them could hardly breathe or walk because of the weight. Owners would say “I only feed them one bowl a day”. I would suggest to them that,maybe,they should get a much smaller bowl. I have one Confirmation Champion Belgian Sheepdog, four Papillons, and a Brussels Griffon. All my girls and I are crazy about our work time and playtime. My older Pap bitch(Massi) is smart enough to only chase the others around the spruce tree once, then just 2-3 feet every pass as they run by. We can’t even really call it work when there is good healthy snacks involved can we?-Donna


    Minette Reply:

    nope to dogs, work is life and fun. Laying around the house all day can kill their spirits.

    My Dutch Sheperd only eats maybe a cup and a half some times close to two cups of food total per day (with some snacks), she is an athlete doing dock diving, pulling a cart, doing obedience and chasing her ball to keep her in tip top condition!


  5. eileen says:

    I have a collie-boxer cross – two years old, full of energy and she has that lean boxer body – big in the chest but skinny at the back. She was very skinny as a pup and I worried about her all the time but i switched her to a better quality food. Now she eats less volume of food but has a much stronger looking body. Her coat is in great condition and she has really toned looking muscles – much better than mine!! I think its very important to remember the quality as well as the quantity of food given. As she is a mixture of two breeds there are no guidelines for her ideal weight but my vet said the way to tell if she is healthy is that you should occaisionally see the ribs (like in the photo – depending on the way she stands) and it should be easy to feel the ribs but they should not protrude. Seems like thats working out – she is a picture of health, can run for miles, has a great temprement and overall seems bright and happy. I think also people sometimes forget that as a dog gets older the amount of exercise they can do is a little less so the food needs to be reduced as well.


  6. Ruth says:

    I think your dog looks great! Really healthy and beautiful. People are just used to seeing fat dogs. As the human population gets fatter, so do the pets!


  7. Anna says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. I have a lab and she is thin. I admit, I tried to make her gain weight and have had her tested for several things. She just has a fast metabolism. You can’t see her ribs normally, but when she flops on her back you can really see them and that freaked me out. Her tummy goes up, like a whippets does, so I don’t think she is of good breeding.


  8. Sharie Lavell says:

    Dear Minnett,

    I just want to say how much I appreciate your writing. You are so helpful. I love the way you express yourself so that you cover things that would come up when using a new method. It is good to hear the reasoning behind your suggestion. That is so unusual. It seems most trainers and writers don’t understand the need for the background which needs to be included with a direction.

    U have a six year old. 77 pound, male GoldenDoodle, who is my service dog, my partner, and my “love.” I found a trainer who worked with the people with disabilities and our puppies together. I thought it was a great method. I’m really sorry that she died.

    I wish you were close to San Diego so that we could work with you to brush up on our behaviors. I know that I always need training as well as my Cameron. I will just continue reading your work and appreciating it.

    Cameron is with me all the time to help with mobility. He even went with me to the Emergency Room for eleven hours a week ago. He was so good. I was quite proud of him.

    Thanks again,

    Sharie Lavell
    760 599 8765


  9. Brian says:

    I totally disagree and think that you, yourself must be anorexic if you thing protruding ribs are healthy on a dog. If they are as active as you say they are, they need more food, not less. Let’s just say, I would hate to be your pet.


    Minette Reply:

    And, I would hate to be overweight and lose my dog early to the problems of obesity!


  10. Lisa Chociej says:

    My dog is 100% raw fed. Raw meats, bones (no weight-bearing bones), and organs of various sources once a day. About 1.2 lbs on very active working days (she is my service dog) and a tad less on less active days. And one day a week to just fast and rest.
    Anyways, she is extremely healthy and loves to be very active.


  11. AnnMarie says:

    Ok I’m stuck on this one. I don’t like seeing animals too skinny or too fat. It’s very hard to reach a happy medium with this topic. But not for nothing, I just don’t like seeing a dogs ribs. Hey maybe it is a healthy thing? But dogs love food and very much enjoy eating. Whether it dates back years ago or whatever the reason is I don’t care about all of that. I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with a dog or cat that gets to enjoy life and gets to enjoy some extra food here or there. They want to enjoy it and the fruits that come along just like we do! Again I’m not saying fat or obesity is ok. Just think we can spoil them a bit. My friends dog is so friggin skinny and yes always seems to be starving. My dog was never like that? Every dog is different and I know they’re always hungry no matter what. But still. What are they here for? Let them enjoy some damn good food once in a while.


    Minette Reply:

    Food kills people, food kills dogs. I personally would rather my dogs live as long as possible. My dogs are athletes, they get snacks but I won’t be responsible for killing them with too much food.


  12. Dawson says:

    I would not say seeing the spine is bad. In most cases yes, but some dogs have very arched backs. We have teo Boston terriers. Our female is perfect weight, tiny bit thicker of a short haired coat. Can’t see her ribs or anything but her stomach is not even with her chest, she has a clear curve were her stomach is.

    Our male is exreamly active and as an arched back. His spine sticks out A TON. He did get very sick a few weeks ago and loss a little weight which is when I noticed his hip bones sticking out, but that may have already been there. Either way the vet was not concerned with his weight. He is just pure muscle.


  13. Leah says:

    I agree with everything you said but with the exception that salukis for example have to show back bone and ribs. If they don’t they’re overweight and will have heart problems. That’s just the way salukis are made to be.


    Minette Reply:



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