Puppies grow up so fast. One day they’re falling asleep in your lap, and the next day they’re too big to fit! But when does a puppy stop being a puppy and become an adult dog?

Read on to learn about the puppy aging process, and how to tell when your puppy is no longer a puppy.

Growing up is a process

It goes without saying, but your puppy is unique! While puppy development follows a general timeline, don’t worry if your puppy doesn’t mature at the same rate as its littermates.

In general, puppies become adult dogs between one and two years of age.

But it’s not like they wake up the morning of their first birthday and are suddenly grown-up dogs! In fact, puppy maturation is a process, and it varies from dog to dog depending on size, breed, socialization, and more.

Sexual and physical maturity for dogs

Most dogs reach sexual maturity around six months old. Sexual maturity is the physical stage at which a dog can physically sire or give birth to puppies. Having puppies may sound very adult, but if you’ve ever spent time around a six-month-old puppy, you’ll know that they’re not fully grown up.

Similarly, a puppy can be physically mature before they’re fully adult. Physical maturity is when your puppy reaches its adult height, which depends on the breed. In general, small breeds are fully grown around 12 months of age, while larger breeds can take between one to two years to finish growing.

In fact, if you’ve raised a puppy, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of having a physically mature pet that doesn’t quite know how to control its body.

“The zoomies” are a whole new experience when your puppy weighs 50 pounds.

Emotional maturity for dogs

Emotional maturity, on the other hand, is when a dog acts like a dog instead of a puppy. As with every other aspect of puppy development, the process of becoming emotionally mature takes place over time. You may not see it happening, but one day you’ll realize that your puppy has become a dog.

Emotional maturity coincides with your puppy’s hormonal surges evening out. As puppies grow and become sexually mature, they may act out, test boundaries, and “get in trouble.” But somewhere between one to one and a half years, your puppy will settle down, and their adult personality will emerge.

Puppies mature at their own rate, so it’s hard to identify the specific moment a puppy becomes an adult. As your puppy grows, watch them for these signs of emotional maturity:

  • Listens and responds appropriately to training
  • Settles down more readily
  • “Listens” and responds to social cues from other dogs

Sometimes, the answer to the question “when is a puppy no longer a puppy” is simply, “when you can tell they’re an adult.” It depends on your particular puppy and may take place over time.

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