If you own a dog, you’ve heard this rule: 1 year for Fido equals 7 years for you. Turns out, the math isn’t that simple. Dogs mature more quickly than we do early on. So the first year of your fuzzy friend’s life is equal to about 15 human years.
Size and breed also play a role. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, but they may mature more quickly in the first few years of life. A huge pup might age more slowly at first, but be nearing middle age at 5. Tiny and toy breeds don’t become “seniors” until around age 10. Medium-sized pooches are somewhere in the middle on both counts.
Clues to Look For
If you’ve adopted a puppy or dog but don’t know her history, you may not know how old she is. Even if you don’t know the birth date, you can still guess her age.
Her teeth should give you a rough idea of her age. These guidelines will vary from dog to dog, and they also depend on the kind of dental care (if any) she had before you got her.
– By 8 weeks: All baby teeth are in.
– By 7 months: All permanent teeth are in and are white and clean.
– By 1-2 years: Teeth are duller and the back teeth may have some yellowing.
– By 3-5 years: All teeth may have tartar buildup and some tooth wear.
– By 5-10 years: Teeth show more wear and signs of disease.
– By 10-15 years: Teeth are worn, and heavy tartar buildup is likely. Some teeth may be missing.
How to Calculate Dog Years to Human Years ?
As a general guideline, though, the American Veterinary Medical Association breaks it down like this:
– 15 human years equals the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life.
– Year two for a dog equals about nine years for a human.
– And after that, each human year would be approximately five years for a dog.
Why Do Smaller Dogs Live Longer than Larger Dogs ?
This phenomenon has baffled scientists for years, and research has yet to explain the relationship between body mass and a dog’s lifespan.
Generally speaking, large mammals, like elephants and whales, tend to live longer than small ones, like mice. So why do small dogs have a longer average life span than large breeds?
Large dogs age at an accelerated pace, and “their lives seem to unwind in fast motion,” according to researcher Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, speaking to Inside Science. Scientists concluded that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduced a dog’s life expectancy by about a month. The reason why is still unknown, though Kraus puts forward several possibilities, including that larger dogs may succumb to age-related illnesses sooner and that the accelerated growth of large dogs may lead to a higher likelihood of abnormal cell growth and death from cancer. Scientists plan future studies to better explain the link between growth and mortality.
World’s Oldest Dog Dies Peacefully At Age 30
Every dog owner can tell you that dogs aren’t with us for nearly long enough. But 30 years is an incredibly long life for a pooch. Maggie, an Australian Kelpie, lived her days on a dairy farm. And for most of her 30 years of life, she stayed in good health. But she suddenly deteriorated over two days and passed away peacefully in her sleep.
Unfortunately, Maggie can’t officially have the title of world’s oldest dog, as her owner, Brian McLaren, lost her paperwork long ago. Without that paperwork, there is no independent source of verification for her age. So she won’t make it into the Guiness Book of World Records. But hopefully a good, long life is an even better reward.
How Long Do Dogs Live ?
Dog ownership is one of the great joys of life. Our furry friends provide us with unconditional love, companionship, and more smiles than can possibly be counted. There are pitfalls associated with dog ownership, however. We can deal with the messes and other passing aggravations; it’s the undeniable fact that people live longer than dogs that eventually brings most owners to tears.
Thinking about the inevitable loss of a beloved pet often compels owners to ask, “How long will my dog live?” Of course, there is no way to specifically answer that question when it comes to a particular individual, but averages are available for many well known breeds, including the Golden Retriever, Bulldog, Dachshund, German Shepherd and Pug.
How Long Do Mixed Breed Dogs Live ?
For mixed breed dogs, owners can use an individual’s weight to help determine how long he or she would be expected to live. In general, small dogs enjoy longer lives than do their larger counterparts. A recent analysis of veterinary records revealed that dogs under 20 pounds had an average lifespan of 11 years while those over 90 pounds typically lived for only 8 years. Medium and large dogs fell in the middle at around 11 years. (State of Pet Health 2013 Report, Banfield Pet Hospital).
But average life expectancy isn’t the whole story. The very definition of “average” means that many individuals will have shorter lifespans while others can be expected to live much longer than the norm. Perhaps a better way to evaluate a dog’s longevity is to convert “dog years” into “human years.” In this way, we can understand just when a dog is an adult, a senior citizen, geriatric, or the equivalent of a human centenarian.
5 Tips for Determining Your Dog’s Age
1. Look for Signs of Graying
Many dogs get gray hair as they age (just like we do), says Dr. Kate Creevy, associate professor of small animal internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station.
“This begins at varying ages and progresses at varying rates,” she explains. “Just like some human adults are white-haired in their 40s and others are minimally gray until their 70s, dogs can vary greatly in this trait. Graying, primarily on the muzzle, suggests the dog is a mature adult, but it does not provide a closer estimate of age than that.”
But younger dogs can go gray too. “Golden Retrievers, for instance, often start graying as early as 4 to 5 years of age,” says Bouloy, who is board certified in canine/feline practice. Other dog breeds, like Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, and Poodles, can also be inherently gray in color regardless of age.
2. Gaze into Your Dog’s Eyes
As a dog ages, the lens—the part of the eye that refracts and focuses light—begins to change. “Mild bluish-gray discoloration (cloudiness) can be observed if one looks closely into many middle aged and older dogs’ eyes,” says Lund.
Known as lenticular sclerosis, this benign condition typically appears when the dog is about 6-8 years of age. Lund says it can be a huge help in estimating ages for middle-aged and senior dogs. Lenticular sclerosis shouldn’t be confused with cataracts, a serious condition that can lead to blindness, which is also marked by a cloudy lens. He says that most often, teenage dogs start showing signs of incomplete cataracts that typically progresses to complete cataracts.
3. Assess the Condition of the Teeth
Just as we do, dogs have only two sets of teeth—baby and adult, says Creevy. In humans, the adult teeth begin to emerge in late childhood and early adolescence. In dogs, this occurs in the first six months of life.
After that, using teeth to estimate age is tricky, she says. “After all the permanent adult teeth emerge, they only change over time by accumulating tartar, stains, or other signs of disease. The rates at which these changes occur vary widely by dog face shape, breed background, diet, and the dental care that is provided.”
After a dog’s adult teeth have erupted, there isn’t an accurate way of aging a dog based on their dentition, says Dr. Heather Loenser, veterinary advisor for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). “Well-cared for teeth in a 15-year-old dog could look healthier than a 5-year-old dog who’s been allowed to chew on hard toys.”
There are exceptions. Lund says some young dogs can have tartar and plaque buildup on their teeth fairly early in life. “But moderate to severe amounts of tartar and staining or broken teeth often lead us to rule dogs out of the youngest adult class if no other evidence for youthfulness is evident.”
4. Study Your Dog’s Behavior
“Oftentimes very active, energetic, and spasmodic dogs are younger, leading us to a prediction closer to 1 or 2 years of age, versus 5 or 6 years,” says Lund.
As many dogs age, their activity levels begin to decline. “They may have difficulty getting up or down, have trouble walking or climbing stairs, and may sleep more than they are used to,” says DiGangi, who is board certified in canine/feline and shelter medicine practices. “In some cases, older dogs may start to wake up in the middle of the night or start to have accidents in the house.”
Loenser, who also works as an associate veterinarian at Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, says some dogs develop signs that mimic senility in people, a condition called canine cognitive dysfunction. “These dogs can become forgetful, confused, and seem depressed.”
This is another area where you need to consider other variables. “Injury can lead to mobility problems earlier in life that might be confused with age-related osteoarthritis,” Bouloy explains. “And your veterinarian can detect conditions like hypothyroidism (low thyroid level) that make a middle-aged dog seem like a geriatric dog.”
5. How Fit Is Your Dog ?
“Young dogs tend to be lean, fit, and flexible, while older dogs often gain weight,” Creevy says. Weight gain is typical at middle age, but with increased senior years, they tend to lose weight and develop decreased muscle tone, Lund adds.
Part of this is because dogs in their advanced years are more likely to become less active, more likely to nap, and experience a slower metabolism. “It is certainly possible to keep an older dog lean and fit—but not if we continue to feed him as much as he ate when he was very active and growing.”
Another thing dogs have in common with us as they age is the onset of more aches and pains. “As most dogs are quite active throughout their lives, there is an expectation for some joint stiffness and potential pain or discomfort as they age due to arthritis,” Lund says.