How to Build Muscle in Dogs

A Simple Guide on How to Build Muscle in Dogs

If you are a dog parent, then “How to build muscle in Dogs” is a question that probably has come to your mind. Like humans, every dog needs a good muscle building in their body to function correctly and be healthy. Not having a proper muscle build would have tons of disadvantages for your doggo. But since dogs are usually very active and if you give them enough daily exercises, they don’t need a muscle-building regiment specifically. But there are times that dogs need muscle-building exercises like this.

Table of Contents

Why your dog needs Muscles.

  • If you have a Work Dog, then muscle building can enhance the ability to perform.

Working doggos help people guard, hunt, retrieve things, and control herds. There are special working dogs like police doggos and service doggos. Building muscles on dogs that perform tasks like that would always help them increase their performance magnificently. Lots of dog owners have asked me about how to build muscle in dogs just for this reason. But keep in mind that, building muscles on dogs would take time, work, and patience just like us humans. But if you build muscle in your doggo successfully, that would improve your doggo’s speed, mobility, strength level, body balance, flexibility, and even total body awareness. It would also reduce physical injuries and drowsiness.

  • Need muscle building to regain muscles after Surgery, Illness, or Injury.

When a dog gets an injury, surgery, or an illness, they can gain muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy means the loss of muscle tissue. Muscle atrophy can cause pain, transferring weight, and disuse. Doggos can also progress cachexia due to chronic kidney disease, heart failure, or cancer.

When that happens, your doggo will need proper exercises and build muscle to get back to normal.

  • Your “Senior” dog will need muscle building to improve their health and reduce any muscle loss due to old age.

When your doggo gets old, they will lose muscles since they were not as active when they were young. This is called Sarcopenia. This will weaken their joints, and can also have more redness on their skin due to this.

But luckily, AKC Canine Health Foundation (also known as The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation) can reduce this issue or even be prevented completely for your old doggo by building muscle mass.

These are the main specific reason for you to build muscle in your dog. Since building muscle mass requires proper exercise and a proper diet, it will also improve your dog’s mental and physical health in general.

  • You can Build muscles on a puppy even.

You can build muscle in puppies even. When they are in their peak growth rate, you can use special exercises and diets to build muscle on your pup.

You can have short walks with your pup, and that would help strengthen your doggo’s back legs. You can also add more protein to help build more muscle on your puppy, such as eggs, lean meat, cottage cheese (full fat), and quinoa. But it’s also better to get advice from your veterinarian if your pup is too young since some exercise may cause harmful effects for too young pups. 

How to Build Muscle in Dogs

If you plan to get a dog breed that can quickly build muscles,  you can consider these breeds.

  • Greyhounds
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentino
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • American Bully
  • Boxer
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Ca de Bou
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Bully Kitta

But before you ask “How to build muscle in dogs,” you have to identify if your doggo needs muscle building at all. Because sometimes, your doggo does not require muscle building if they already get extent daily exercise with a proper diet. And on top of that, if your doggo is young and doesn’t have any health issues, then muscle building sometimes does not require. But if that’s not the case, this is how you can check if your doggo needs muscle building.

  • Check if your doggo is Muscular or Fat.

If your doggo is obese, then you can see these signs.

  • Your doggo’s tummy would be enlarged or swollen. It would stand out, and you would notice that very clearly.
  • Your doggo’s spine, the base of the tail, and chest area would have substantial fat deposits.
  • Your doggo’s abdominal tuck and waist would not be visible.
  • You can notice fat deposits around their limbs and neck areas.

If you notice the above signs on your dog, your dog is obese, so you should definitely build muscle on your dog.

On the other hand, if your doggo is muscular, your dog’s body will have features.

  • You can feel your dog’s hip bones, vertebrae, and ribs very quickly. They would be covered with only a thin layer of fat.
  • Your doggo’s waist would be visibly different from their ribs and curves inward.
  • Your doggo’s abdomen tucks would be visible from the side.

As mentioned above, there can be multiple reasons for you to build muscle in your dog. However, when we talk about how to build muscle in dogs, there are mainly two things to consider.

How to Build Muscle in Dogs

Exercises You can do to Grow Muscles

You will have to include strength training exercises in your doggo’s daily routine. But keep in mind that when you start strength training for your doggo, you have to start slow at first and then gradually increase the intensity and strength to avoid any harmful incidents. Just like for humans, proper hydration is essential for your doggo when doing strength training. Make sure your doggo will drink much water. For that, you can put a water source where your doggo can drink water whenever they want.

When you consider strength training workouts, you can include strength training activities and aerobic. The workout routine can be 15-60 minutes, and should be done twice a day. If you are interested in how to build muscle in dogs, these exercises come on top.

  • Weight Pulling and Dragging

This is a great activity to build muscle on your dog, and it would make the bond between the dog and the owner extremely. Sports supporters and experts also suggest that weight pulling and dragging would help your doggo expel their energy.

  • Weight Vest Exercise

Weight Vest exercise would not only be good for muscle building, and it’s also perfect and effective for anxiety. Your doggo’s overall muscles would grow rapidly by using a weight vest, especially their leg muscles. 

  • Spring Pole Exercises

Spring pole is where you use a belt with spring and attach it to your doggo’s neck. This will let your doggo pull, swing, and even tug. Spring Pole exercises would be excellent for your dog for muscle building and as a stress relief. Also, spring pole exercises can be combined with training activities to improve impulse control on your dog.

  • Treadmill or Running

Not to mention that running would always benefit everyone. It not just provide muscle building, it also provides much cardio for your doggo, and would help burn useless fat on their body rapidly. If you don’t have a huge garden, you can use a treadmill so your doggo can walk and run properly. This will especially help build up leg muscles. 

  • Swimming

Dogs are natural swimmers. So unless your doggo is injured or fat, you don’t have to worry about your doggo being drowned.  If you have a swimming pool at your house, that would be an excellent activity for your dog. Swimming would be a great activity for your doggo to build muscle and a great way to burn more calories and unwanted fat.

How to Build Muscle in Dogs

Dog Toys for Muscle Growth

There are toys that are specifically made for dogs for muscle growth. Just like for us humans, there are toys and tools for this purpose.

  • Weight Collars
  • Service Dog Padded Pulling & Balance Harness
  • Muscle Building & Exercise Dog Ball with rope
  • Hundcycler Padded Dog Harness

If you are interested in more exciting muscle growth toys for dogs, you can visit this page for more details.

There are methods and exercises you can do to build up specific muscles on your doggo.

Building Specific Muscles

How to build muscle in dogs’ back legs?

If your dog needs extra muscle building in the back legs, then slowly walks and swimming would be great. Spring pole is also ideal for building back leg muscles. Also, you can try weight pulling and weigh vest but make sure that you start from lesser weights and gradually increase the weight.

How to build muscle in dogs’ front legs?

To build-up front leg muscles, you can do walks and swim for your doggo. Also, a weight vest would bulk up both front and back legs. 

If you want to know more about how to build muscle in dogs’ front legs, you can watch this short video.

How to build dog shoulder muscle?

Crawling forward will build shoulder muscles on your dog. Hiking and shoulder stretching also helps build shoulder muscles. High-weight dragging also builds shoulder muscle. But increase the weight gradually when doing weight dragging. 

Diet Requirements for Muscle Growth

How to Build Muscle in Dogs

Not just proper exercises, your doggo also will need a good diet to get in shape and build muscle.

When creating a diet, you have to consider the quantity because overuse of food can make your dog obese. And the quality of the food also plays a huge role in this.

If you are keen to use good quality supplements in your dog’s diet, then you can learn about them with this page.

But keep in mind that if your dog has unique food allergies (allergies that are unique only to your dog), then get advice from a vet before adding supplements to your dog’s diet.

You can have a complete proper diet without any supplements. This is how you make that.

Regarding how to build muscle in dogs, protein takes a significant place. If you want to build muscle on your dog, you have to add protein a lot to their diet. Researchers have found that if you increase the protein level of your doggo’s diet by 12%, it significantly increase lean body mass. Not just protein, you also have to add amino acids, which are necessary to build body mass.

It’s a good to start a proper diet about six to eight weeks before muscle-building training begins. Also, make sure that if your dog is old, they’d need more protein than fat.

These are the things that you can give your doggo for more protein.

  • Chicken or Beef for high protein
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega Fatty Acid Supplements
  • Cooked eggs because they have proteins, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.

Don’t feed your doggo raw eggs since raw eggs can contain “Salmonella,” which can be very harmful to your doggo.

Is Creatine (a natural amino acid) Suitable for Dogs?

Studies still haven’t found out yet that creatine is safe for dogs. Also, there is no proof that creatine can even help build muscle in dogs. So there is no point in adding creatine to your dog’s diet.

Not just Diet and Exercise, your doggo will also need proper rest. For example, dogs require 12 to 14 hours of daily sleep. If your doggo is going through muscle building training, then that sleep would be compulsory, and it would definitely the help muscle building process.

Benefits of building muscle in your dog.

  1. Increase the overall physical health of your dog.
  2. Increase bone density.
  3. Increase mental health and help conditions such as anxiety, depression, and phobias in general.
  4. Increase the bond between you and your dog.
  5. Increase the performance of your dog.
  6. Reduce the level of injuries.
  7. Increase recovery speed in general.
  8. Your dog would be less vulnerable to diseases since this increases the immunity level of your dog.

Muscle building will help your doggo have a better life. Therefore, as a dog owner, I strongly suggest that you do this if your dog requires it.

How to Build Muscle in Dogs