PUPPY SIZE
by Dale Miller

The day that breeding show Schnauzers becomes an exact science - when we can put all the data about prospective studs into a computer, toss in after it the ingredients of the bitch and come out with the perfect combination which will produce puppies that exactly meet everybody's interpretation of the Schnauzer Standard - that is the day, I am sure, when the majority of breeders, including myself, will quit for lack of games that fanciers play. As much as we grouse and unhappily muse about those mediocre puppies we got from a meticulously planned "perfect" breeding, it certainly would take away all the fun and sense of personal accomplishment not to have to study pedigrees, travel to Pakistan and back to see for ourselves the qualities of various specimens and their offspring, and pipedream that our ultimate decisions will be satisfying and right.

In the hope that this "Utopian" day does not come, when we will no longer have to put our knowledge, common sense, guess work, and hunches into our breeding to attain the ideal, we must continue to reckon with the problem - or pleasure, if you will - of attempting some kind of accurate evaluation of our puppies at various stages in their development. It would be great if we all had the space, the time, and the help to keep all puppies to maturity and then sort the wheat from the chaff - but that, too, is much too easy - who likes to roll off a log?

Litter of Barclay Square puppies - two on the left became Ch. Barclay Square Brickbat and Ch. Barclay Square Becky SharpSo, we get down to brass tacks. The individual visible attributes of a puppy become apparent one at a time - we look hard at size, general sturdiness and bone, overall body proportions, coats, head properties, teeth, and early weaknesses or strengths as bones and muscles begin to take shape. Some of these considerations are slightly on the intangible side.

I personally have found that the recording and study of puppy size is the single most valuable tool in the weeding out at an early age of pets (or perhaps breeding stock) from those that will be further considered for the show ring. For whatever value it may be to other breeders, among whom there are, I'd venture, none who has never bred an oversized or undersized Schnauzer, I shall attempt to show definite patterns in weight and size statistics from my own litters whelped over the last several years. I do not offer them as absolute yardsticks to go by because, though very telling, my own results don't always follow a set pattern. In addition, it surely must be true that people working with bloodlines quite different from those prominent in my kennel will find that their puppies grow quite differently from mine through their early life. I offer these figures as having been an invaluable help to me, hopefully to others, and to encourage others to follow a similar program for their own enlightenment.

My method is simple, but has to be consistent to make it worthwhile. Puppies are weighed at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 weeks of age. Birth weights mean very little, I have found. Weights are taken without fail on the right date, at night after a full meal and always on the same scale. Puppies, of course, could be weighed empty in the morning but all must be done alike to make sense out of the figures - as much as 1/2 lb. variance can be seen in a puppy weighed two different ways.

Two-week weights showed the least definite pattern of any age bracket. I found 9 oz. to 13 oz. to be the average weight of puppies undersize at maturity. Those weighing 1 lb. or more all reached 12 inches or more. Nearly 85% of correct-sized mature dogs weighed from 13 oz. to 1 lb. 3 oz. at 2 weeks; all that ended up oversized were between 1 lb. 1 oz. and 1 lb. 7 oz. Thus, I have set as a rule of thumb 1 lb. to be just right at this age.

Four-week weights of puppies maturing undersized averaged 1 lb. 6 oz., and all puppies over 1 lb. 11 oz. made correct size. Close to 100% of correct-sized adults weighed from 1 lb. 9 oz. to 2 lb. 4 oz., and in almost all cases of oversized dogs, weight at four weeks was between 2 lb. and 2 lb. 9 oz. Thus I like something approaching 2 lb. at 4 weeks.

Six-week-old puppies at playSix-week weights showed 2 lb. 6 oz. to be typical for the puppy that just didn't make it. Correct size was attained consistently in puppies that were 2 lb. 8 oz. to 3 lb. 5 oz., with none varying more than a few ounces from that. Dogs that went oversize were 3 lb. 4 oz. or more. We have never had a puppy that went over 2 lb. 12 oz. at 6 weeks that didn't make size. Thus I consider a 3 lb. pup at 6 weeks as being ideal.

Eight-week weights in our kennel seem to have been the most consistent of all, and the time when one may want to start thinking about placing his puppies. My records show almost no overlapping of weights at this age. Everything 3 lb. 12 oz. and under, except in two cases, did not make size. Ultimately correct-sized puppies ranged in all but very few cases between 4 lb. and 5 lb., with the exceptions being close to 4 lb. and very little over 5 lb. All oversized dogs weighed between 5 lb. and 6 lb. at 8 weeks. Thus, I incline toward bitches that are 4 lb. to 4 lb. 8 oz. and dogs from 4 lb. 4 oz. to 4 lb. 12 oz. as being right on the nose.

Ten-week weights showed that anything 4 lb. 8 oz. or under didn't make size. The most ideal adult sizes came from puppies between 5 lb. 4 oz. and 6 lb. 4 oz., and oversized adults were 6 lb. 4 oz. up to 7 lb. 8 oz. at ten weeks.

At three months we start measuring, and to oversimplify, we like to see the puppies right around 10 inches at three months, 11 inches at four months, 12 inches at five months - give or take small fractions depending on whether dog or bitch, and again these figures are not 100% reliable but very close to it.

From the above, it is obvious there are quite a few borderline cases and a few that just don't follow the rules at all, but even for the latter there seems to be an explanation. A case in point, a male weighing in at 3 lb. 11 oz. at 8 weeks and 4 lb. 11 oz. at ten weeks attained a height of 13-1/2 inches, all out of line with our predictions. However, he was most atypical - all legs and little body or bone - not prospective show material. So despite his height, our weight chart did after all help us to determine that he was pet stock.

It is truly remarkable how close we can come in projecting adult height (within 1/4 inch in the vast majority of cases) from these growth records. Naturally, most of the figures relate to dogs who mature between 12 and 14 inches, but within those limitations they usually tell us if a male will be 12-1/4 inches or a female right up to 14 inches, both of which might look out of place in the ring even though within Standard.

We have fun and save a lot of guesswork playing the numbers game.

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Copyright © 1996-2013 Article & older puppies, Dale Miller; younger puppies & animation, Karen Brittan and Britmor Miniature Schnauzers. All images and written material on this site are my property and may not be used without my express written permission.