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Assessing Your Dog's Weight and Body Condition

Weight and Body Shape

Is My Dog Overweight?

Do you ever wonder if your dog is under or overweight? 

Your dog's weight and body shape can have a huge impact on their overall  health and wellbeing.

Body condition scores (BCS) are used to identify the condition of dogs. The grading system is based on the amount of fat found on the animal in various areas of the body.
Each dog is given a body condition score (BCS) that ranges from 1 (emaciated/very thin) to 5 (very overweight/obese).

How to Assess your Dog's Body Condition Score

What do I need to do to assess my dog's body condition?
  • When assessing your dog's body conditioning score, start by observing the dog from a distance (few feet away). 


  • View the top of the dog while standing above its back. Look for general fat distribution and body proportions.   It is important to remember that certain conditions such as pregnancy will change the general appearance of the dog.

  • After observing your dog from a distance, physically feel the ribs, waist and hip regions and use the body conditioning score chart to determine what your dog's current score is. 

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Body Conditioning Score for Dogs

Body Condition Score of 1

These dogs are severley underweight and are in danger of death from starvation.. The ribs are easily felt and can be seen. The back bone or spine can also be seen and felt and there is no fat covering the body.


Animal Welfare Victoria describes an emaciated dog's body condition as:

  • Individual ribs, spine and pelvis prominent and evident from a distance

  • Lack of muscle mass

  • Little or no body fat

  • Hollow rump

  • Waist prominent when viewed from above.

  • Abdomen obviously tucked up

  • Neck thin

  • No fat on tail

Emaciated/Very Thin


Veterinary advice must be sought.

Dogs with this score are underweight and thin. The ribs are easily felt and can be seen. There is little fat cover and the dog has an hourglass shape when viewed from above.

Animal Welfare Victoria describes a thin dog's body condition as: 

  • ribs, spine and pelvis bones visible and easily felt

  • little body fat

  • neck thin

  • abdomen tucked up

  • little fat on tail

  • obvious waist when viewed from above

Body Condition
Score of 2



Increase feeding and worm dog if not wormed recently (ensure 'all-wormer' is used — some products do not cover all worms).

Seek vet advice if dog remains underweight or if you are unsure of feeding or worming regime. 


Dogs with an IDEAL body condition score of 3, will have ribs are easily felt and the waist should be visible behind the rib cage.


In Groodles and other breeds with thick fluffy coats, you should be able to feel it or see it when they are wet. 

From the side you should be able to see a “tuck” to the abdomen starting where the chest ends and going up toward the hips.

You should be able to feel the points of the hips easily, with no bulges on any side. If you can clearly see the hip bones or there is no muscle on them, the pet is too thin.



Animal Welfare Victoria describes an dog with an Ideal body condition as: 

  • ribs and spine can be felt with flat fingers, last few ribs may be visible

  • dog should have a waist when viewed from above

  • belly is tucked up when viewed from side

  • good muscle mass

  • rump well muscled

Body Condition
Score of 3



No changes required.

These animals are considered overweight.

The ribs are difficult to feel.

There is also an extra amount of fat and tissue between the hind legs and under the abdomen.

Animal Welfare Victoria describes an overweight dog's body condition as:

  • ribs and spine not visible but can be felt

  • fat deposit on tail

  • little or no waist when viewed from above, rounded appearance, back appears broadened

  • dog squarish along back line when viewed from side

  • abdomen not tucked up, may appear rounded underneath

Body Condition
Score of 4



Reduce feed intake or provide lower calorie feed.


Increase exercise.


Seek vet advice if you are unsure of appropriate diet or you have concerns over your dog's exercise regime.

Dogs in this category are considered severley overweight.

The ribs are covered in fat and difficult to impossible to feel.

Fat often hangs from the abdomen and between the legs.  


Dogs in this catgegory are at risk at suffering from many complications including arthritis and diabetes.

Animal Welfare Victoria describes an obese dog's condition as:

  • ribs and spine not visible and difficult to feel

  • tail has obvious fat deposit

  • no waist and back broadened when viewed from above

  • belly obviously rounded and possibly distended

  • dog square or rounded up along back line when viewed from side

Body Condition
Score of 5



Seek veterinary advice on diet and exercise regime.

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