Muscle Building for Dogs: A Complete Guide

Is your dog aging, injured, or in need of exercise? You may need to start a muscle-building routine for your dog. When assessing your dog’s health, veterinarians look at several markers like diet, weight, body condition, and muscle condition. Muscle condition is critical to your dog’s overall health.

When a dog suffers from muscle loss, they become weaker, have a lower immune function, and recover slower from illness or injury. Muscle loss is prevalent among aging, injured, or sedentary dogs. 

To improve your dog’s muscle condition, you can incorporate a muscle-building workout into your dog’s daily routine. We’ll cover everything you need to know on how to beef up your dog.

Reasons to Build Your Dog’s Muscles

There are three main reasons to build your dog’s muscles:

1. To Strengthen a Senior Dog to Improve Health And Reduce Muscle Loss 

Sarcopenia is the muscle loss that occurs with aging but, unlike cachexia, appears in the absence of disease. Older dogs lose muscle as they age because they aren’t as active, their joints are weakening, and they experience more inflammation. 

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation states that improving muscle mass will reduce injury, extend the life of your senior dog, and improve overall health. Creating a senior dog strength training routine will boost your older dog’s muscle mass.

Can Old Dogs Build Muscle?

A great way to build muscle in older dogs is to create a dog strength training routine that will reduce muscle loss. This strength training routine should include:

  • Walking for 30 minutes a day
  • Swimming is excellent for resistance training that is easy on joints
  • Cross-training is energetic and fun cardiovascular training
  • Fetch, Frisbee or tug-of-war are great ways to exercise through play

How Often Should You Walk an Old Dog?

Try to walk your old dog for at least 30 minutes every day. But watch for cues and take it slow if they are showing signs of fatigue. Walking is critical to keep their joints moving and muscles in shape.

Related: Active Nutrition for Your Dog: Rogue’s Approach to Pet Nutrition & Performance

2. To Regain Muscle After Injury, Surgery, or Illness

Muscle atrophy is a normal side effect of injury, surgery, and illness. Dogs lose muscle because of pain, disuse, and transferring weight. Dogs can also develop cachexia, which is muscle loss caused by various diseases like heart failure, cancer, and chronic kidney disease. 

Your dog’s muscle will not return without proper exercise and diet. By incorporating a muscle-building routine, your dog will recover faster and regain mobility.

Can Muscle Wasting in Dogs Be Reversed?

As your dog ages, its muscles atrophy or lose muscle tissue. The hind legs are particularly susceptible. Joint pain and arthritis can cause pain and cause muscle fibers to weaken or atrophy. The good news is you can often reverse muscle atrophy with exercise and good nutrition.

What Causes Weakness in a Dog’s Back Legs?

A dog can suffer from weakness in their back legs from:

  • Age
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Chronic Pain
  • Joint Pain and Arthritis
  • Surgery
  • Reduced Activity

How Can I Help My Dog’s Back Legs?

There are several things you can do to help your dog reverse atrophy in its back legs. It will take patience, consistency, and lots of love. To help build their back legs:

  • Massage the legs for better circulation and to relieve stiffness.
  • Feed them a diet of quality dog food and supplements that boost muscle and joint development. Food, treats, and supplements should be rich in Omega-3s to help with inflammation and joint pain.
  • Exercise your dog, but take it easy, take it slow and do it every day. 

Rogue Pet Science offers a wide variety of supplements and treats that are high in Omega-3s and other essential vitamins to help with muscle atrophy.

Related Link: Metabolic BioMarkers and Origins 5 in 1

3. To Enhance Your Work Dogs Ability to Perform

Many dogs work to help people hunt, herd, retrieve, guard, and perform specialized jobs like service dogs and police dogs. Building muscle helps dogs to perform in their various work duties. Many owners want to know how to bulk up their dogs so they can optimally perform. You’ll need patience, time, and consistent effort to bulk up your dog. But the work you put in will pay off. Excellent muscle conditioning can improve flexibility, balance, speed, body awareness, mobility, and strength. It also reduces fatigue and injury.

Should Work Dogs Do a Dog Weight Training Program?

Dogs shouldn’t be lifting weights in a traditional sense like humans, but you can do resistance training to help bulk up your dog. For resistance training, you can have your dog:

  • Walk with a weighted vest
  • Pull a weighted harness
  • Swim

All of these resistance exercises will build your dog’s muscles but be sure to give your dog rest days to let the muscles rebuild. Cardiovascular exercise is also very important.

Related Link: Reasons Why Whole Fish is Good For Your Dog

Don’t Worry About Building Muscle on a Puppy

If your dog is under two years old, they are still considered to be a puppy. Puppies grow at different rates and exercise enough on their own. They do not need a muscle-building routine. Muscle building for puppies is discouraged because it can affect their overall development.

Breeds that Can Build Muscle Easily

Some dog breeds can build muscle more quickly than other breeds:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweilers
  • Boxers
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentino
  • MyostatinPuppies naturally muscle build on their own.
  • American Bully
  • Greyhounds

These dog breeds produce big muscular dogs, which is why many of these breeds are athletic or working dogs. Pit Bull owners, in particular, want to know how to make their Pit Bull buff. But you don’t need a specific Pit Bull muscle builder routine to make your Pit Bull’s muscles bulk up.

How to Assess Your Dog’s Muscle Condition

A trip to the vet is the easiest way to assess your dog’s muscle condition. Your veterinarian is certified to evaluate muscle conditions and determine if your dog needs muscle building. 

You can also use the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Score Charts for Muscle Conditioning and the Tufts University Clinical Nutrition Service video on how to assess your dog’s muscle conditioning score.

Is My Dog Fat or Muscular?

Once you have learned how to assess your dog’s muscle condition, you can then determine if your dog is fat or muscular. Dogs that are obese have a body composition that:

  • Their abdomen shows obvious distension.
  • Their chest, spine, and base of the tail have massive fat deposits.
  • Their waist and abdominal tuck aren’t visible. 
  • Fat deposits are around their neck and limbs.

Muscular, built dogs have a different body composition. If your dog is fit, then:

  • Ribs, hip bones, and vertebrae are easy to feel with little fat covering.
  • The waist is visibly different from their ribs and curves inward.
  • Their abdomen tucks upward and is visible from the side.

How to Build Muscle on a Dog

There are three areas you need to focus on to build muscle in a dog. Similar to humans, dogs need a balanced routine of a healthy diet, strength training exercise, and rest for recovery. Here is how to beef up your dog and improve your dog’s muscle conditioning:


You need to feed your dog a diet rich in protein. A study from The National Library of Medicine found that dogs that consumed a 12% protein diet had a significant increase in lean body mass. Low protein diets that contain a substantial amount of corn gluten lacked the amino acids necessary to build body mass. Dietary supplements can also boost your dog’s nutrition. 

Pro Tips:

  • Start with a good nutritional diet six to eight weeks before training.
  • Senior dogs need more protein and less fat in their diet to maintain muscle protein synthesis. 

What Can I Feed My Dog to Gain Muscle?

Before you start feeding your dog new food to help them gain muscle, you may want to call your vet to determine the best muscle-building diet for your dog’s breed. That said, to help your dog build muscle, you may want to consider adding:

  • More proteins, such as chicken or beef
  • Omega Fatty Acid Supplements
  • Antioxidants

Increasing the protein levels in your dog’s diet will enable the muscles to build when you exercise your dog.

Can You Give a Dog Creatine?

Creatine is a natural amino acid that many people take to build muscle. But preliminary studies haven’t determined if creatine is safe for dogs, and there is no conclusive evidence that creatine can help your dog build muscle. 

You’re better off not giving your dog creatine until further studies can prove its safety and effectiveness for dogs.

Are Raw Eggs Good for Dogs?

Cooked eggs are a great food source for helping your dog build muscle. Cooked eggs have many essential:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Proteins
  • Fatty Acids

But you shouldn’t feed your dog raw eggs because it has no added benefit. And raw eggs can contain Salmonella, which can be very harmful to your dog. Better to be safe and cook the eggs before feeding them to your dog.

Want to improve your pet’s skin, coat, joints, and digestion? Rogue Pet Science has an Origins 5 in 1 food topper that will enhance your dog’s gut health.

Related: Why Origins 5 in 1 is the Best Supplement for Breeding Dogs


You’ll want to incorporate strength training exercises into your dog’s exercise routine. When starting strength training exercises, start slow and gradually increase the workout’s intensity and length. Remember proper hydration too. Your dog will need lots of water. 

An excellent strength training workout consists of aerobic and strength training activities. Dogs should work out twice daily for 15-60 minutes. Activities that are great for building muscle for dogs include:

You should also ensure that your dog properly warms up for five to ten minutes by walking or jogging. Senior dogs need a longer time to warm up. And after exercising, your dog should cool down for five to ten minutes by jogging and then walking to help flush toxins. 

Talk to your veterinarian about what exercises will be best suited for your dog.


Allow your dog time to rest and recover after exercising. Remember that dogs need 12-14 hours of sleep every day, roughly 50% of their day. Dogs only need to be active about 20% of the day, which leaves the rest of the day for relaxing and lying around. 

Muscle Building Can Improve Your Dog’s Health

Whether your dog is old, recovering, or hard-working, there are many benefits of incorporating a strength training routine into your dog’s exercise schedule. You’ll want to balance this with a high-protein diet and plenty of rest to build your dog’s overall muscle condition for a longer, healthier life.

Rogue Pet Science uses only proven ingredients to create all-natural pet supplements and vitamins to improve your dog’s overall nutrition and gut health. Rogue Pet Science offers natural, high-protein, and nutritious dog treats and supplements to improve the health of your dog.

Want to improve your dog’s skin, coat, joints, and digestion? Rogue Pet Science offers many products that will enhance your dog’s gut health.

Related: The Link Between Gut Health and Allergies



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