dog's BCS

dog’s BCS (Body Condition Score)

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The BCS (Body Condition Score) is a 5-point scale that helps you calculate your dog’s optimal weight. You can tell if your dog is skinny, fat, or ideal by looking and feeling their body. Together with weight management, it also leads to maintenance of “appropriate weight” and “appropriate amount of food”. Now PetsVary explains BCS for dogs.

What is a dog’s BCS (Body Condition Score) ?

The Body Condition Score is a method of judging the condition of an animal’s fat deposits based on its “appearance” (visual inspection) and “touch condition” (palpation). By knowing the BCS, you can know whether your dog’s body type is “thin”, “ideal” or “fat (obesity) “.

BCS was originally made for livestock animals such as cows, but is now widely used for pets such as dogs and cats. In addition to the “five-level evaluation”, BCS may also use the “nine-level evaluation” to see finer differences. This time, we will explain the “5-level BCS” that is easy for owners to use.


BCS1 skinny Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvis are easily visible, and fat is not discernible by touch. The constriction of the waist and the lifting of the abdomen when viewed from the side are noticeable. The spine may also appear lumpy.
BCS2 somewhat thin The ribs can be easily touched. The waist is conspicuous when viewed from above, and the abdomen is clearly lifted when viewed from the side.
BCS3 ideal body The ribs are palpable without excessive fat deposits. When viewed from above, the waist can be seen behind the ribs, and when viewed from the side, the abdomen can also be seen.
BCS4 slightly obese The ribs are palpable, although the fat deposits are rather heavy. There is a constriction in the waist when viewed from above, but it is not noticeable, and the abdomen is slightly raised.
BCS5 obesity The ribs are covered with a thick layer of fat and cannot be easily touched. Fat is also deposited in the lumbar vertebrae and ridges. The waist is absent or barely visible. When viewed from the side, the abdomen does not hang, or rather hangs down.

Difference between BMI and body fat percentage

In the case of humans, BMI (Body Mass Index) and body fat percentage are known as methods of knowing how fat is attached. BMI can know the degree of obesity, but it cannot be applied to dogs because it is based on the human body. In addition, since dogs have different skeletons and muscles depending on their breed, it is not possible to create a “dog BMI”.

On the other hand, body fat percentage is valid for dogs as well. Exactly, the appropriate value varies depending on the breed, but as a guideline, 30% or less and around 20% are considered appropriate. However, since the measurement requires special equipment for dogs , it is basically measured at a veterinary hospital. Measuring instruments for home use are also on sale, but they may not be affordable.

For these reasons, BCS is widely used in dogs as an evaluation index that can easily know the health condition.

How to Diagnose Your Dog’s BCS (Body Condition Score)

Visual inspection and palpation should be performed in the diagnosis of BCS.

1. Inspection: Presence or absence of constriction

Look at your dog from above and see if you can see the waistline. If it can be clearly confirmed, it corresponds to lean (BCS1-2) or ideal body type BCS3. If you can’t see it well because it’s stocky, it corresponds to BCS 4-5 of the obese body type.

2. Visual inspection: belly angle

When you look at your dog from the side, make sure the belly hangs diagonally toward the buttocks. If it can be clearly confirmed, it corresponds to lean (BCS1-2) or ideal body type BCS3. If it is parallel to the ground or hangs away from the buttocks, it corresponds to BCS 4-5 of obese body type.

3. Palpation: can you see the ribs?

Place your thumb behind your back and wrap around your chest. If you can feel skin, then fat, and then ribs, it corresponds to the ideal body type BCS3. If you can feel the ribs directly without feeling the fat layer (you can see the ribs with your eyes) , it corresponds to BCS 1-2 of lean body type. Conversely, if it is difficult to feel the ribs in the fat layer, it corresponds to BCS 4-5 of the obese body type.

4. Palpation: Can you check your pelvis, lumbar vertebrae, and spine?

Make sure the pelvis, lumbar vertebrae, and spine as well as the ribs are palpable and visible. However, your dog may be more reluctant to be touched than his ribs. If you suffer from arthritis, you may feel pain, so please try to touch it within a reasonable range.

Read Also: difference between benign and malignant (cancer) liver tumors in dogs

What Your Dog’s BCS (Body Condition Score) Tells You

If it’s just to find out if your dog is too thin or obese, some owners may think, “Isn’t it okay to just weigh your dog regularly, even if it’s not BCS?” Of course, weight management is also important, but if you know your dog’s BCS, you will be able to understand not only your dog’s “obese or too thin” but also its “appropriate weight” and “appropriate amount of food”.

1. BCS reveals “obesity/too thin”

If you look at the BCS of dogs whose owners say they are not overweight, it is often the case that they actually fall under 4, which is “slightly obese.” Is it because it looks cute and healthy to be a little plump? Weight is effective in knowing changes, but if the “proper weight” that the owner recognizes is not appropriate, it will continue to maintain a bad condition.

The “puppy period” and the “beginning of the senior period” are of particular concern. During puppyhood, the amount of food must be increased according to growth, but it is not uncommon for cases of BCS 1-2 due to lack of food. Around the age of 7, the amount of exercise gradually decreases, and it is a time when it is easy to find yourself overweight. Check regularly to see if BCS3 is maintained.

2. “Appropriate weight” determined by BCS

The appropriate weight is different for each dog, and there is no standard. The appropriate weight of your dog is the weight of the ideal body shape of BCS3. The ideal weight changes with growth, so it is important to check the BCS regularly and adjust the “appropriate weight”.

3. “Appropriate amount of food” as seen by BCS

You can know Even if the owner thinks that “my child eats less”, there is no problem if the BCS is maintained at 3, and if the BCS is 4, it is actually overeating. Conversely, even if you think that “my child is eating well”, if the BCS is 2 or 1, it is actually not enough.

There is no problem with the amount advised by the pet shop clerk or breeder, or the recommended amount written on the dog food package, as the “appropriate amount for the first meal”, but be sure to check the BCS and increase or decrease it. please. There is no “perfect amount of food” that never changes, so adjust it regularly.


  • You can see how much fat your dog has with BCS
  • Necessary for proper weight and food intake
  • It is important to check regularly

BCS helps you know if your dog is maintaining its ideal body shape. By checking regularly, you will not only notice if you have lost or gained weight, but you will also be able to maintain your “appropriate weight” and “appropriate amount of food.” You can easily do it at home without using any tools, so we recommend that you practice it for your dog’s health.

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