Blog Archives

The Weimaraner — Growth Plate Closure and Appropriate Exercise

Here come Mousse or Mousse is on the loose…

Dogs grow until the growth plates close. In large breeds such as the Weimaraner, the growth plate closure tends to take longer than in small breeds. Even with the Weimaraner, the growth plates close by the time they are two years old. Most experts agree (and there is scientific evidence to back up these statements) typically the growth plates close by the time they reach fifteen months. The leg bones draw intense scrutiny for two reasons. First, they receive the brunt from any type of high impact during exercise; secondly, we know that the bones (in the legs) close later than some other bones. Growth plates can close as early as two years of age. The rib cage is the last area to complete the growth stage and become set. The growth plates in the rib cage usually close around three years of age.

Between two and three years of age, the Weimaraner will still fill out, muscle-up, and gain fat. Actual growth is impossible once the growth plates close. Information on this topic is mixed and confusing. This is largely because growth plate closure is not an exact science, and because breeds vary. Even within a breed, such as the Weimaraner, size and other factors affect the growth-plate closure timeline Some agility facilities will not allow you to bring your Weimaraner without actual proof of growth plate closure, and that means X-ray documentation.

With mixed messages, we defer to the Pat Hastings, who is considered the expert in canine structural development. She is teaching in her seminars and writing in her books that the typical large breed dog’s (leg) growth plates will close around two years of age. Therefore, it is important to determine what is the appropriate exercise for the young developing Weimaraner. Cliff suggests that you limit sustained strenuous high-impact exercise to one-half-hour a day. That would mean you run one direction for fifteen minutes, and turn around and head home. Later, you could play fetch on the turf to get in some easier joint exercise. The importance of taking caution to protect the joints cannot be overstated. Damage can happen without notice, and show up later in life.

We place a lot of Weims with runners–casual and long-distance runners. We always caution people about hitting the road in the first year. Being a serious athlete, it is very difficult to postpone this type of activity. In lieu of these longer runs, we suggest swimming the Weimaraner. This is the perfect exercise to set the Weimaraner up for the field or running. It is a low-impact exercise that burns a lot of energy. Although it takes a knack to get the Weim water retrieving, the dividends are many.