Hear From our Experts > Dogs

How to score your dogs body condition

Published 20th December 2019
Estimated 2 minute read time.
How to score your dogs body condition
Ribs
What to do
Run your fingers over your dogs rib cage, on either side of their chest in a head to tail direction.
 
What should you feel?
You should be able to feel the ribs with a slight covering of muscle over them, but they shouldn't be visible, feel like sharp ridges or be poking out. It's important to really feel them with your finger tips rather than just looking, as many dogs' coats will hide the ribs from view.
 
Low Scoring
If your dog is underweight, their ribs will protrude and feel sharp or bumpy as you run your hands along them. If this is the case, it'll mean a lower BCS.
 
High Scoring
If your dog is overweight, their ribs will be difficult to feel as they will be covered in a layer of fat and muscle. The deeper the ribs are to feel under this layer, the more overweight your dog is and the higher the BCS.
 
Belly
What to do
Run your hands along your dogs underside, again from head to tail end and also look at the belly from the side.
 
What should you feel?
The belly or undercarriage should start low to the ground where it meets the sternum (or breastbone) at the bottom of the ribcage. Then it should slope higher the further back towards the hips you run your hands on either side.
 
Low Scoring
An underweight dog with a lower BCS will have a very pronounced 'tummy tuck' up towards the hips.
 
High Scoring
If the belly droops or hangs down near the floor all the way along and doesn't tuck underneath the hips then your dog may be carrying excess weight and have a higher BCS.
 
Waist
What to do
Looking down on your dogs waist and hips from above, you should notice that this area is much narrower that the width of the chest and ribcage.
 
What should you feel?
A slowly tapering abdomen leading from the wider chest to a narrow waist is the sign of an ideal body condition.
 
Low Scoring
An underweight dog will have a noticeably narrow waist and the bones of the hips and spine may be easily visible and can be felt protruding under the skin. The more pronounced these bony projections, the more underweight they are and hence the lower BCS.
 
High Scoring
In overweight or obese dogs, the waist does not narrow towards the hips. The trunk or abdomen will often be just as wide as the chest, giving them a barrel-shaped appearance. In dogs with a very high BCS, there may eve be fat pads at the waist which stick out even further than the width of the chest when viewed from above.

Our website uses cookies so that we can provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.   x

Finding your nearest store…