Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Old Is Your Dog?

Translating a dog’s age into human years depends upon several considerations. You may have heard that one year in a dog’s life is equal to seven years in a person’s life. This is not actually true. In the first year of life a dog grows and changes very quickly. On his first birthday, your dog has all the physical abilities that a human who is sixteen years old will have, and his thought processes have also entered the canine equivalent of the teenage years. When the dog is two years old he is at the same stage as a twenty-four year old human. After that, we can say that each year adds about five human years in terms of the way your dog’s body (including his brain and nervous system) is changing.

This method to compute a dog’s age is complicated by its breed. Generally speaking, bigger dogs have shorter lives than smaller dogs.

Even within certain size ranges there are other complications. For example, the shape of your dog’s face can help predict how long he will live. Dogs with sharp, pointed faces generally have longer lives while dogs with very flat faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, often have shorter lives. Of course, dogs that are well cared for can often live much longer than average.

The same kind of considerations play a role in the mental age of dogs. It is important to recognize that there is a large degree of variability even within a single breed. In some respects the process of mental aging seems to be related to the individual’s behaviors. People who remain mentally active, who read more, take courses, do puzzles, and engage in games that require problem solving seem to slow the aging of their brains. This also seems to be the case for dogs. For the mind and brain the key phrase is “Use it or lose it!”

So, how old are your dogs?

Alice England


Pauline said...

Very Interesting, Alice!! I enjoyed this. Cute doggies.

Art and Sew Forth said...

I learn new things every day on this blog! That was great-especially the part about the shape of the face. !

Cody's Closet said...

I have read this before about how dogs age. Cody will be 8 in December and Copper will be 3 on December 31.

Cody's pretty young for his age. He doesn't enjoy all the romping that Copper and Kalel do but he's pretty active especially since he works.

Giupetto and Gianna Tails said...

I did hear a little about the again not being an even 7 years per. In my vets office they have a wheel chart, but it does not consider the breed, just small medium large, nor the shape of the face, etc. Never knew that. Can I tug on my dogs face to make it longer. BOL

SassySashadoxie said...

Very informative. Sasha is going on 3 and a half and Charlie we suspect is going on about 8-10. We don't know how old he is for sure. We have had him for about five years and they suspected he was about 3-5 years old when we rescued him.
All my dogs lived well into their teens. My last doxie mix lived to about 14. He could have been older though cause he was a rescue, too. My childhood dogs lived to 15 (boston terrier) and 18 (fox terrier chihuahua mix) years of age.

I am also interested if mix breeds tend to live longer than pure breeds. It seems like that is what has happened in my life.

AngelPups said...

Love this post! I had heard that the first year was more like 15 years than 7, but had never heard about the second year being 24 and 5 years per after that....That would make Big Mac about 34+ and Molly roughly 30-ish....but I can't think of them as anything but puppies ;-) And Moxie? Well, she's definitely a goofy teenager and I suspect will be her whole life!;-)