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How to Determine the Age of a Dog

How to Determine the Age of a Dog

Although our furry friends are only in our lives for a short period of time, we’re in theirs for the majority (if not all) of theirs. This is why it can be so important to make the most of the limited time that we have together.

For this reason, most pet owners will want to know how old their canines are – but dog years aren’t the same as ours. Not only that, but many individuals think that each year of a human’s life equals to 7 of a dog’s, but this isn’t actually the case. Fortunately, finding out how old a dog is isn’t usually a complex task.

Why do people think that each human year is 7 for a dog?

Most people believe that a human year is the same as 7 dog years – but is this really the case? It was believed to be so from around the 1950s, but since then research has helped us to understand that it isn’t an accurate estimation.

But where did the notion come from in the first place? Well, it’s most likely that the number was calculated in accordance to the social and economical climate at that time, as humans generally lived to 70 and dogs to around the age of ten (for most breeds).For this reason, it wasn’t hard to believe that each year of a person’s life equalled to 7 of a dogs’.

Although this isn’t actually correct, it’s been thought to be true for so long that it’s earned status as a common fact, with most individuals not even questioning it.

How to properly calculate dog years

So, if each year of our life isn’t 7 of a dog’s, then how old are our furry friends?

In most instances, the first human year of a medium sized canine’s life equals 15 dog years, the second about 9, and the rest tends to be roughly 5 of their years for each human one. Also, one thing that many individuals don’t know that the first dog year of a canine’s life actually equates to 52 days in human time.

From this information, we can see that a dog’s age increases much quicker than we originally thought they did – and that they mature much faster, too. However, it’s important to note that this is just general guideline, since different sizes and breeds can sometimes have an effect on how their lifespan differs to ours.

Although the ages of different dog sizes are the same for the first 5 years of their life (which converts to 15, 24, 28, 32 and 36), we do begin to see changes when they’re 6 – and this is when it can be the most important to calculate a dog’s age.

For canines under 20  lbs, 6 is equal to 40, whilst it tends to convert to 42 in medium sized dogs (21 to 50lbs) and 45 in large ones (weights above 50lbs). The ages typically go all the way up to 16 human years, which is the equivalent of 80 for smaller pets, 87 for average sized ones and 120 for giant canine breeds.

This is the main reason why bigger canines have a shorter lifespan than smaller ones– and why calculating dog years can be so important.

How did we get these statistics?

We may have better technology and resources these days, but having all these varying numbers for different years may not seem as likely as having just one number (7) for each human year. Although there are a variety of different factors to consider, all of which make it difficult to provide an exact calculation from human ages to those of our furry friends, there are a few things that we do know.

For example, shorter dogs are considered to be elderly when they’re 7 in human years – even though they’ve still got quite a while longer before they’re gone. A large canine, however, is often considered to be a senior at the age of 5 or 6, since they tend to have a shorter lifespan.

The reason why canines at these ages are considered to be elderly is because this is typically the time when most vets see age related health problems in canines, such as reduced hearing or vision. This has helped us to better understand and more accurately calculate the difference between our time and that of our pets.

We’ve found this information after years of studying different factors that could potentially make a difference, such as breeds, health, diet and much more.

Why do some dogs have a longer lifespan than others?

Most people these days know that a dog breed’s size can play a big role in how long they live, but despite this, it’s still something that even the most knowledgeable scientists can’t explain. Typically, a shorter dog will live longer than a larger one – but why?

With most other types of mammals, large animals tend to live longer than smaller ones, which is why the relationship between a dog’s lifespan and their body is so puzzling. Although we may not know the exact reason just yet, there are a few different theories as to why this may be the case.

What we do know however, is that every 4.4 pounds of a dog’s body mass lessens the average lifespan by (roughly) 4 weeks. While we may not know why their size makes so much of a difference, it’s still important to know this kind of information, so that we can figure out how much time we have with our beloved pets.

Effects of growing old

Nobody wants to get older – and there are a number of reasons for this. However, much like with humans, these kinds of animals can suffer from a number of different health related issues that can come with aging.

Although they’re unlikely to develop these kinds of conditions when they’re puppies (or even when they’re in their prime), they tend to be more likely to succumb to them as they grow old. Some of these include life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, whilst others are much more symptomatic of the regular effects of aging (such as a loss of hearing or skin issues).

In this sense, our canine companions aren’t to dissimilar from us – not only is there a chance that they’ll suffer with issues when they become elderly, but they can also develop many of the same health problems that we can when we’re old, too. Some of the most common issues that these kinds of pets can form as they get older are:

  • Arthritis (as well as other problems that can affect joints and movement)
  • Weaker muscles, bones, bladder and immune system
  • Reduced hearing and lung function
  • A number of stomach issues (such as constipation, pancreas-related diseases and more)
  • Cataracts (which is a condition that reduces vision)
  • Increased tiredness and less energy
  • Diabetes
  • Skin problems (which can include a number of things, such as thickness, dryness and even white hairs)

Although more severe issues can occur, such as strokes, these are some of the most ordinary issues that can develop in senior canines.

In addition, where one breed may be more prone to a certain type of issue as they age, other breeds may be more likely to succumb to another kind of condition when they get older, too. For this reason, it can be even more important to care for our furry friends when they get old.

Things that can affect a dog’s lifespan

Body mass isn’t the only thing that can have an effect on how long dogs live – and knowing what other factors can alter their lifespan could help to increase a pet’s prospects. These are diet and neutering.

Although there is no one ideal diet for a dog, it can make a huge difference to how long a pet lives by the way that they are fed. From high grade god food to a vegetarian diet, there are a number of different diets that can increase the lifespans of these kinds of animals – just as long as they are healthy.

Also, research has found that neutering can reduce a number of risks that can come with age, but can also increase the chances of other conditions developing, which is why it can often be a wise idea to do a bit of research before neutering a dog.


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