Skip to content

Muscle Building for Dogs – Strategies, Nutrition, Exercising & Dog Muscle Builders

↯ Key takeaway points

  • A high-quality diet is crucial for muscle building, including foods rich in protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, and fats.
  • Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, running, and playing catch with a frisbee, are great for overall health, burning fat, and reducing the risk of health issues like arthritis.
  • Resistance exercises, such as swimming, walking with a weighted vest, and pulling a weighted harness, are necessary for building strength and muscle.
  • Weighted vests, bungee leashes, and sled pulls are effective resistance exercises that can be incorporated into a dog's workout routine.
  • Walking alone is not enough exercise for muscle-building in dogs; incorporate various exercises including swimming, sprinting, and resistance exercises
  • Do not give your dog whey protein as it can cause adverse effects and allergies; consider alternatives such as nutritional supplements and raw diet
  • It's important to gradually introduce exercise to your dog and allow them enough time to rest and recover.
Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Friday 10 April 2020
Last updated on
Wednesday 30 August 2023
Muscle Building for Dogs – Tips, Training, Diet & Supplementation
This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

Muscle building for dogs is even more important than it is for humans. Man’s best friend has been working alongside humans for thousands of years. they are built for hard work, hence his muscles need all the exercise they can get to stay healthy and fit. Shying away from exercising your dog will only harm your dog in the long run.

If you think daily walks are enough for building dog muscles, you are mistaken. Although daily walking or running is a great cardiovascular exercise, you also need strength training for muscle toning as well as balance training for core strength. Here’s a complete guide that will help you understand the best dog muscle building regime as well as comprehend the importance of nutrients and muscle food for your dog.

How to Build Muscles in Dogs

A couch potato dog is as bad as a couch potato human. And giving your dog access to your yard isn’t the same as exercising him. This is how many dog owners misunderstand exercising dogs and expose their dogs to many health issues like obesity and arthritis.

Have An Exercise Routine

Apart from daily walks or runs, your dog needs a proper exercise routine. You need to include all kinds of exercises to build muscle and make them stronger. The exercise routine not only keeps your dog mentally and physically active and healthy, but it also helps you bond better with your furry companion.

Allowing your Dog to Rest

The worst thing you can do to your dog is to over-work them and tire them out. Gradually introduce your dog to exercise, don’t rush in and give your dog enough time to rest. If your dog isn’t used to exercise, you will need to start with baby steps, keep a vigilant eye on its responses as well as get it enough rest to recover.

Have a High-Quality Diet

Other than the exercise, it would help if you also give your pup a high-quality diet. Best dog food to build muscle is the one that has all the protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals and fats. Athletic canines need better quality food as well as more nutrition than your average dog.

lean muscle building in dogs
Lean muscle building is the best.

Best Dog Muscle Building Exercises

If you are looking to start a muscle-building routine for your dog, you will need to do a lot more than just walking your dog. Here are two major types of exercises required for muscular dogs:

  • Cardiovascular exercises
  • Resistance exercises

Walking, running jogging, taking the stairs are all different forms of cardiovascular exercises. These help a ton with your dog’s health as well as building muscle. Cardio aids to burn fat and also gives strength to the heart and lungs. It’s also excellent for releasing stress. Cardiovascular exercises reduce the chances of health issues like arthritis, behavioral problems like aggression and keep your dog fit and active. You and your dog can both benefit from brisk walking in the morning and a quick run at night. Not to mention, playing catch with a frisbee at the dog park not only keeps your dog agile but also helps him socialize better.

For strength building, your dog will need much more than just walking or jogging. If you are into naturally bulking up your dog, you will need to add resistance exercise to your dog’s workout routine. Dog muscle-building equipment like a weighted vest and resistance parachute will help your dog push itself more and build strength. Swimming, walking with a weighted vest or pulling a weighted harness are great resistance exercises that you can add to your dog’s workout routine.

Cardiovascular Exercises for Dogs

Cardiovascular exercise is the best exercise for all kinds of dogs; whether you are looking to build muscle or burn off excess energy of your dog, the following exercises are ideal for adding to its workout routine. Make sure you introduce these gradually if your dog isn’t into daily exercise at all.

Flirt Poles

A flirt pole is two in one dog muscle-building equipment. It’s the basic tool to train your dog, play with him as well as exercise him as much as you want. It’s basically a pole with a rope on one end. You tie your dog’s favorite toy to it and let the party begin. With this one toy, you can teach your dog self-control, hone striking skills and also improve its targeting.


One of the best workouts for dogs is sprinting. It is a great way to make your dog agile and lose excess fat from its body. To sprint is to move rapidly at high speed for a short period. However, like all exercises, you can’t just start sprinting one fine day and expect your dog to match your pace. Start your sprinting routine with a brisk walk for warm-up, give your dog the sprint command like “go” or “get going” and pick up the pace, reward your dog when it matches your pace. Keep adding gradually to this routine until you reach your goal.

Spring Poles

A spring pole is how you build muscle in a pit bull puppy or an adult dog. This equipment needs very little but gives great results. A spring pole will give your dog a lot of exercise with very little effort. It is also very easy to build; all you need is an erected wooden beam, or a tree in your back yard, a spring, and a rope. Your dog can play tug-of-war all day long with your contribution. The first advantage you can reap from a spring pole is a well-behaved and happy pup. Other than that your dog gets bigger, develops stronger muscles as well as gets increased energy and vitality.


How to build muscle mass in older dogs? The best answer is swimming. It is one of the best exercises that you can give your dog. Whether you have a mature/senior dog or a young puppy, swimming benefits all. First of all, it helps with strength and is also great for your mature dog that may or may not have arthritis. Swimming is a low impact exercise that really helps older dogs with obesity.

Other benefits of swimming are reduced inflammation, stronger muscles, a healthier heart, and a shinier coat. Other than immense cardio, it’s also a great resistance exercise that helps your dog tone his muscles. As water supports your dog’s weight, this one exercise is very light on your dog’s body.

Resistance Exercises for Dogs

Just like cardio, resistance exercises are designed to give your dog strength, agility, toned muscles, and it also helps build stronger muscle. How to build muscle in a pit bull puppy? Resistance workout should be your second best guess along with a weight gain pup food like Bully Max.

dog muscle building and fitness
See a vet before engaging your dog becomes a fitness bodybuilder!

Weighted Vests

If you are a new dog owner, you will be overwhelmed by the innovative ways to build dog muscles. A weighted vest is one of the most popular ways to give your dog some strength training. With the weighted vest, there is no worrying about different types of dog muscle-building equipment, all you require is a simple weighted vest, and you are good to start. With this masterpiece of a vest, you can turn your simple walking routine into a hard-core strength training one. This vest is great for swimming, jogging as well as walking; all it does is add resistance to any kind of movement and makes things a bit harder.

Bungee Leash

Just like the name suggests, a bungee leash is designed with a bungee cord, and it’s a great leash if you want to try resistance walking with your dog. If you have a big dog and if your dog is an excited and heavy puller, this is the perfect leash for you. The cord makes it easy to walk an over-excited dog, by absorbing the shock of pull. This leash is the best way to teach your dog controlled walking as well as obedience. With a bungee cord, your dog gets more room to run and explore things on its own.

Sledge Pulls

When it comes to exercising, a dog’s body isn’t very different than a human’s. As you can’t walk into the gym and do 100 pushups in a day, nor can your dog start and ace his workout in a day. You gradually need to ease your dog in a strength training routine. Weight pulling or sled pulling will help your dog build lean muscles as well as give it a rapid response rate. This is one exercise that is, in the true sense, infinite and never-ending, once your dog attains a goal, you start with a new one. This will keep him engaged and also help him build muscle.

Many owners feel that their dog might resent them or will not take to pulling weights, but this worry is baseless. Workouts like this make the dog/human bond stronger, and since their bodies are made for hard work, they love it.

nutrition matters with canine muscle building
Nutrition matters with canine muscle building.

6 Best Dog Foods for Muscle Building

Weight-gaining formulas are the best ways to give your dog the best and high-quality diet. Muscle gaining diets are the best way to add all the protein and fat that you need to muscle up your favorite pet. However, always check in with your Vet if you are looking to change its diet.

1. Bully Max High-Performance Dog Food

A high-quality diet is what your dog needs to bulk up after a good workout. Building dog muscles is a slow process, one that needs patience and a high-protein diet. Bully Max’s high-performance dog food is on top of our list for this sole reason. Among the many benefits of this one product, the most prominent is the high-protein content. The formula is also packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

You will be pleased to know that other than a high price tag, there are no drawbacks to this formula. Its completely safe for pups and older dogs and is great for muscle building. What’s more, this formula is packed with all the necessary nutrients for dogs. If you are worried about how to build muscle mass in older dogs, this is the ideal food that you should go for. Added bonuses are that the product comes in two sizes, the protein to fat ratio is 30/20, and it is also a grain-free product.

2. Purina Pro Sport Plan Formula

Whether you have a young pup or a mature dog, Purina pro sport plan is an overall diet that is packed with all necessary ingredients for bulking up your dog. This formula made our list for the key ingredients as well as its balanced portion of 20% fat and 30% protein.

After a high-level workout and adequate rest, your dog will need proper sustenance to recharge its energy. Protein-based formulas contain essential amino acids that dogs can’t make on their own. Apart from that, this formula also optimizes the oxygen metabolism that will enhance and strengthen your dog’s endurance. How to build muscle on a dog with food is the most common question; high-quality commercial food is the best answer.

3. Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

With 34% protein content, this formula is all you need for your big or small dog. The most prominent advantage of this formula is that it’s ideal for all kinds of dogs. From Bullies to Whippets, this formula serves all. The two sizes and four formulas of this dog food will keep you and your dog very happy.

The formula is free from chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, and soy protein. In addition to that, there are no artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives in this formula as well. The only adverse point is that this formula doesn’t have the amount of calories/cup, this might cause diarrhea, but it also happens when you switch diets in quick successions.

4. Taste of the Wild High Protein Recipe

Taste of the Wild high protein is how you turn your slim dogs is muscular dogs. It’s the best recipe for muscle gain and highly recommended for bulkier dogs like Pit Bulls. This recipe is also great for mixed breeds, so what makes it so special?

First off, the formula contains bison/venison as quality protein sources; the formula is also easy to digest for any breed of dog. The recipe is specially mixed for healthy, active and athletic dogs, so it’s a great way to end your workout routine. However, if you have a picky dog, you will need to mix this formula with other food.

5. Pedigree High Protein Dog Food

Available in 5 sizes and two flavors, Pedigree high protein dog food is ideal for muscular dogs. It’s also a good choice for people who want their dog to bulk up and build muscles.

This dry formula is free from added sugar, artificial flavors, as well as high fructose corn syrup. This recipe is high-protein and has passed the taste challenge for all breed of dogs. Packed with vitamin B2, B3 B6 and B1, folic acid, vitamin E supplement, this recipe is ideal for dogs that are engaged in strength training. An added bonus is that this recipe is perfect for picky eaters.

6. Raw Diet

A raw diet is what your dog would consume if he lived in the wilderness. So, it’s not something unusual, but there are some concerns like salmonella or bacterial contamination. Hence it’s not a very popular choice among dog owners. Another reason for not using a raw diet is the fact that it’s not as convenient as commercial diets. Vets encourage dog owners to rinse the chicken clean or even cook it before serving.

Nonetheless, you can’t deny that chicken is a great source for required protein in your dog’s diet, especially if you are looking for the best dog food to gain weight and muscles. If you are confused about how much chicken to feed on a daily basis to your loyal companion, here are a few things to consider. If your dog has never had a raw feed, you will need to gradually switch from dry feed to raw feed, follow the easy chart below to do so:

  • 1st day: No food, only keep your dog hydrated on water
  • 2nd day: Quarter of the raw diet you have planned
  • 3rd day: Half of the raw diet you have planned
  • 4th day: 3/4 of the raw diet you have planned
  • 5th day: Feed your dog the full raw diet you have planned

5 Best Supplements for Muscle Building in Dogs

All dogs are different, some are born athletes and muscular like bullies, but some breeds like basset hounds are short and stout. Albeit the fact that genes do play a crucial role but there with a good diet and proper muscle building supplements, you can really shape up your dog. Here is a list of premium supplements that can help your dog build leaner and stronger muscle.

1. PET CARE Sciences Weight Gainer

PET CARE Sciences weight gainer comes with many benefits including weight gain, muscle build, anti-inflammation, high amino acid, as well as all necessary vitamins. This supplement also encourages a healthy coat, shiny skin, and healthy joints. Every pack contains 90 servings; you can measure the helpings with the scoop included in the pack. The bacon flavor mixes well with any kind of food you serve your pup daily. This supplement is ideal for hard-working, athletes and show-dogs. It is also great for dogs who are recovering from an injury.

Most of the customers were thoroughly satisfied with this weight gainer and appreciated how safe its ingredients were.

2. Buddy and Lola Weight Gainer

With extra protein, healthy fat as well as BCCA, Buddy and Lola weight gainer is one of the most trusted brands for dog supplements. It’s important that you go for recommended brands as low-quality supplements can seriously damage the health of your dog.

Key nutrients are added to this protein to help your dog gain weight and muscle simultaneously. The ratio of healthy protein and fat helps build mass and bulk. If you are struggling with an underweight pup, Buddy and Lola weight gainer is your best bet. One scoop a day mixed with regular dog food is enough to encourage weight gain, healthy skin, and coat as well as agility.

3. Bully Max Weight Gain Supplement

Bully Max weight gain supplements are great for enhancing strength, muscle, power as well as speed. There are no hidden or mystery ingredients, so it’s completely safe for your mature dog. This supplement is rich in amino acids that act as the building block of tissues. It’s very useful for a highly-active and muscular dog to have a daily intake of this supplement.

It not only helps them gain mass but also keeps them from injuries and makes the recovery period smooth. On average, a dog needs more than 22 different chains of amino acids; this supplement helps with this daily requirement of amino acids, protein, and fats. This weight gain supplement also helps with good health and also prevents illnesses. An added advantage is a stronger immune system, prevention of weight loss, bone deformities and skin issues. Supplements are also great for dogs that suffer from low energy levels.

4. MVP K9 Weight Gainer for Dogs

How to build muscle on a Whippet? That’s easy, start your pup on MVP K9 weight gainer supplement. This formula is specially designed for skinny dogs that are underweight and need to gain weight. Every scoop of this formula contains 50% healthy fats that help the pup gain mass, 28% protein that will help him to grow into a muscular dog as well as 18+ BCCA for full support to its overall growth.

Apart from the building mass, this formula also encourages muscle growth and helps your dig retain its energy throughout the day. It’s the perfect formula for pups that love to workout. Full of whey protein and Creapure, your pup will get all the support growing up. The supplement contains no fillers, salt, and sugars. If you are looking for a muscular dog with ripped muscles, this the perfect supplement for you. This formula is perfect for both a small pup and a grown-up dog.

5. Bully Max Muscle Building Chews

Bully Max is perfect for building muscles and it also maximizes growth in both adult dogs and puppies. It’s 100% safe, and also vet-approved that makes it all dog owner’s favorite supplement. The formula is free from creatine, steroids, as well as any other harmful ingredients. Moreover, it’s perfect for all breeds, so you don’t have to worry if you have multiple breeds.

This chew formula is the best way to pack muscles in your dog. This chew formula includes seventeen powerful muscle strengthening ingredients. Not only just dog owners, but this formula is preferred by top breeders and vets Furthermore, the formula is innovative, and in chew form, so there is no measuring, no mess, and no spillage. Just give your dog chews along with its food and you are good to go.

Resting Time for Your Dog

Muscle building and strength exercises are important for all dogs. However, the rest afterward is extremely crucial as well. As much as your pet needs exercise, he also needs adequate time to relax and cool down. Your designed workout for dogs should also include a period of rest after the workout. Don’t forget that muscle-building comes with three steps, proper workout program, high-quality diet and adequate resting period.

On average, a dog needs 12-14 hours of sleep every day. And if your dog has a tough workout schedule, he might need even more. Moreover, puppies nap more than adult dogs, so you might need to consider that when you are devising a workout regime for your young pup.

You also need to understand that senior and older dogs also need more rest than adult ones. In the initial days of hard workouts and strength training, you will find your dog resting more than usual, this also understandable as the schedule modification brought about his change. Once they get used to their new workout routine, this too will go back to normal.

Proper warm-up session and a good resting period with proper hydration will bring a very active and pleasant change in your dog. A good resting period helps the dog look forward to a hard workout.

Muscle Building for Dogs – FAQ

Muscle building exercises, food, and supplements aren’t easy subjects for new dog owners, and we understand that there can be a lot of questions as well as confusion. Here are several frequently asked questions regarding muscle-building exercise and diet to help you on your quest to build muscles in your dog.

What Should I Feed my Dog to Help it Gain Muscle?

Let’s see, there are steps to help your dog gain muscle. The first one is to feed your dog a high-protein and premium diet. This is the most important step of all, no matter how hard you work your dog if you aren’t feeding him right this whole charade of building muscle will not work. For every pound, give your dog 1 gram of protein.

The second step is to set an exercise schedule with resistance as well as cardiovascular workouts. Exercise helps your dog rip and tear muscle only to build them even stronger. The third step is to ensure that your dog gets all the rest it needs. Giving your dog adequate rest is the key to perfect recovery.

Can I give Creatine to my Dog?

Creatine is a popular amino acid supplement that helps in building muscle mass, but it’s not advisable for dogs. A dog’s liver produces this organic compound that helps in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This enzyme makes muscles work longer and harder. Furthermore, Creatine is highly advised for mature and arthritic dogs. So, as your dog starts to show signs of aging, you should definitely start your dog on creatine. There are possible side effects like gas and diarrhea. So consult your Vet before feeding your dog anything.

Will Digging Count as Muscle Building Exercise for Dogs?

Digging isn’t a specific exercise but it is a form of cardiovascular activity. Hyperactive dogs that have a lot of energy buildup either chew stuff or start digging around the yard.

Can my Dog have Whey Protein?

It’s a by-product in the manufacturing of cheese and cannot be given to dogs. Its common knowledge that dairy products wreak havoc in a dog’s stomach and it should be avoided at all costs. It’s not a natural ingredient, and therefore you don’t always know how it’s made and what’s in it, so it’s not something you should feed your dog on a regular or occasional basis. Whey protein can cause all sorts of adverse effects like gas, diarrhea as well as vomiting, it can also spike up allergens and itching in your dog. There are many alternatives for Whey protein like nutritional supplements and raw diet.

Is Walking Enough Exercise for my Dog?

Not if you are looking to build muscles in your dog. For a muscular dog, you will need a variety of exercises. These exercises should include swimming, walking, sprinting, pulling weight as well as many other resistance exercises. However, if you are adamant to turn walking into a proper exercise, use a parachute vest or a weighted vest to add resistance to your dog’s walking. This will help build stronger muscles.

Muscle Building for Dogs
Muscle Building for Dogs – Tips, Training, Diet & Supplementation

Muscle building for dogs requires dedication in exercise and diet. Make sure to never forget their much-needed rest though, as health issues can arise without it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *