The dog's musculoskeletal system
Regardless of size or breed, dogs have 300 bones. In anatomy, the dog's musculoskeletal system is divided into the passive and active parts (bones and joints = passive, muscles; tendons and ligaments = active).
Depending on the dog breed and expected size when fully grown, the four-legged friends are fully grown in 10 - 24 months. Small dogs (Dachshunds, Jack Russells, etc.) reach their final size faster (10 - 12 months) than large dogs. These can grow until they are two years old (giant breeds such as Great Danes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, etc.).
Growth occurs primarily on the long bones (e.g. the femur), at the ends of which there are the so-called growth plates. Only when the final size is reached do these growth plates close and give the musculoskeletal system its stability. The period of time for this closure varies from bone to bone and from dog breed to dog breed.
The growth follows a fixed growth curve, which must be strictly observed when exercising young dogs in order to prevent malformations or subsequent damage. In the first six months of a dog's life, the dog grows very quickly, only after that does the growth curve become flatter.
How much exercise does my dog need?
When they are puppies, dogs should not be walked for too long at a time. Roughly speaking, you can expect five minutes of exercise per month of life or one minute per week of life. This rule of thumb is only intended to serve as a guide; depending on the character and breed of dog, the need for exercise can vary individually.
Once the growth plates have completely closed, there are many ways to keep the dog busy. Depending on the breed of dog, your four-legged friend's interest will vary. The herding dog breeds (Australian Shephard, Border Collie, etc.) are often suitable partners for agility or spielball, while among the hunting dogs there are activities that put a strain on the nose (tracking, mantrailing, etc.). There are also many other exciting types of exercise for the human-dog team to discover.
Musculoskeletal disorders in dogs
Young dogs and active breeds in particular need enough exercise and activity. They romp and run over meadows, hills and dale, through forests and fields in rain and snow. In addition to all the fun, there is of course also the risk of injury - while your dog is still active, it can quickly happen that your dog suddenly becomes lame.
This may be due to a sprain or strain, which must definitely be examined by a veterinarian in order to avoid consequential damage and unnecessary long-lasting pain.
In older dogs, osteoarthritis can occur due to wear and tear or old, not fully healed injuries. This chronic joint disease often causes pain for dogs and can limit their quality of life. The point at which a dog is considered old is a completely individual matter - here too, it depends on the size and breed of dog.
Do not take changes in your dog's willingness to run or the onset of lameness lightly. A veterinarian can provide quick relief through targeted diagnosis and individual treatment and enable your animal to live a pain-free life.