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How to Get Your Head Around Dog Years

Dalmation

By the logic of our four-legged companions being small, cute and in most cases full of energy, it’s hard to think that dogs could be the same age as ourselves.

Now it’s common knowledge that dogs age faster than us humans, but figuring out how old your canine is relative to human years isn’t as simple as you might think.

For instance, a Bulldog’s life expectancy is estimated to be around ten years, while a Great Dane will live to 8.5 years on average. At the other end of the size scale, small Poodles have been known to live close to 15 years. The well-believed theory is that dogs under thirty pounds live longest, while dogs over a hundred pounds live the shortest. So there’s a huge difference in life expectancy depending on the breed of your dog.

Still, a quick online search should tell you how long you can expect your pup to live for in their own years, but how many candles are they blowing out on your terms? Here are a few theories.

Multiply by seven

A popular misconception is that dogs age seven years for each calender year. However, this method is inaccurate and more so the older the dog gets. This calculation only comes close up until the dog is around two years old, where their ageing process slows every year after. So you can use this theory at the start, but don’t live by it.

Judge on appearance

If you don’t know your dogs age in their own years, you’ll have to use their appearance to determine a rough estimate.

Teeth

Perhaps the best way to guess your dog’s age is from the condition of their teeth, as puppies get their baby set by the time they’re eight weeks old. Permanent teeth start showing up around three-and-a-half months in, with a full set arriving after seven months. The teeth will stay white until they’re around three years old when tartar will begin to build up.

Eyes and fur

Examining the eyes and fur colouring will provide more clues. Older dogs will often develop a hardening of the lens protein, causing their eyes to go cloudy, while grey patches of fur should start emerging when they’re between seven to ten.

Muscle tone

Younger dogs tend to be more active and should have muscle definition to prove it. Older dogs who perhaps don’t get out as much will be a tad bonier or a little fatter as a result of their leisurely strolls around the park.

Hearing

Also try testing your dog’s hearing to see whether they respond quickly to your calls and requests, as a difficulty in this area is often a sign of old age.

The middle-ground approach

Once you’ve consulted with a vet and learned of your dog’s age in their own years, you can now see how old they would be as a human.

Trawl through all the tables and graphs you like, they’ll often throw up the same calculation that’s preached by vets all over the world. The middle-ground calculator works out that for the first two years, one dog year is equal to 10.5 human years. The ageing process then slows down to one dog year for every four human years, which is what you can use for as long as they live.

Pretty startling, right? To think that your two year old pup – you know, the one that chases his own tail – is actually beyond their teenage years. Well try working out how the same dog that barks at the sight of an animal on television is effectively 65 – baffling!

Rupert Brown

Rupert owns and runs Muddy Paws with his wife Emma. Having set up the company when Oscar was a puppy 8 years ago (the famous chief tester here at Muddy Paws HQ), Rupert has lots of experience when it comes to looking after a canine companion. Visit Rupert's Google+ profile.

Rupert Brown

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