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The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

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Dog Years - Not What You Think

Posted May 13, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta


Think your seven-year-old dog is 49 in "dog years"? Think again! It turns out that the simple formula of multiplying a dog's age by seven may not be an accurate translation. One thing that has stayed consistent over time, however, is the increasing canine lifespan. In 1987, 32% of dogs lived past age six; today about 12% more make it that far.

Canine life spans vary depending on many factors, but most important is size. Physical size and weight are significant as both can cause dogs to age faster. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Big dogs – have shorter life spans, are more likely to develop arthritis and other health complications, and age faster in dog years
  • Small dogs – have longer life spans and age slower in dog years

Calculate Your Dog's Age

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a basic formula for calculating an animal's age in dog years. The following guidelines are for medium-sized dogs:

  • Year 1 = 15 years for a human
  • Year 2 = 9 years for a human
  • Years 3 and beyond = 5 years for a human

Don't want to do the math? This pet age calculator provides estimations based on the formula.

Life Stage Timeline

What goes on with a dog during the various stages of canine development? Knowing these factors can help determine the ideally-aged pet for you. They can also help you understand why on earth your dog decided to do something that seems outrageous!

  1. Puppies: Birth – 5 Weeks – Born with eyes and ears sealed closed; eyes open at about two weeks; moves by rolling and crawling.
  2. Puppies: 5 – 12 Weeks – Learn by exploring, wrestling, and discovering boundaries of acceptable behavior; separated from mother and littermates at 8-12 weeks.
  3. Puppies: 3-7 Months – Loss of milk teeth and growth of permanent teeth leads to increased chewing; rough play leads to napping; puppy can and should learn "sit", "lie down", and "off".
  4. Adolescent: 8-18 Months – Full-size; rebellious phase; high-energy; tests boundaries.
  5. Young Adult: 18 Months – 6 Years- Settles into regular routine; occasional playtime; becomes companion.
  6. Senior: 7+ Years – Laid back and mellow; still willing and able to be active.
  7. Twilight – Rests in bed or on the couch; short walks.

Resources:

http://www.slate.com/id/2217908/

http://www.npwm.com/mc_pet_age_calculator.asp?menu_id=405&menu_item_id=1

http://dogs.about.com/od/dogcarebasics/ss/ages_stages.htm

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#1

Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 2:53 AM

Yeah, yeah...whatever.

How about my Cat years? I've gone totally deaf over the last year...or maybe my hoomans have stopped talking to me? I old cat now..

Del

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 4:17 AM

Aw, you're on the calculator link too......It doesn't have a big enough range though....... Extrapolating the data, I figure that after 17 years cat and dog have the same age - 84. In younger years, the cat get's older wiser quicker. After that, the dog gets wiser older every year (4 compared to 1 'years per year'). There's always a sunny side

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#3
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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 7:25 AM

Your just not the cute little fur ball you were as a kitten.

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 9:57 AM

Hmmmm. Do pets age faster if they are stressed out? My cat would be very very old if this were true. She gets all stressed out from panicking about the wind (& more). I wonder if that makes her old and cranky.

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#5

Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 10:10 AM

My Brittany, (bitch, age 10), works out to 60 yrs old using the on-line calculator, (it figures in weight too). She acts much younger than 60, more like 2. Then again, I'm 55 and still act 18, (Peter Pan Syndrome).

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 10:16 AM

My female beagle, age 14, is 78 according to the calculator and 98 according to the "old" method. Some days she does seem to act 78 (shivering and needing some warmth from her fleece coat). Most of the time she prances around and can't wait to get outside! We walk a mile or two several times a week when it's decent out.

Her hearing is quite bad (we communicate via sign language - well, I signal, she barks, whines, and howls) but other than that she's in great shape for a dog that's had major surgery and has a mild heart murmur!

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#7
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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/13/2009 11:48 PM

The Pet calculator is broke! my dog Andra (a Husky/wolfdog crossbreed) lived to a ripe age of 17, she even survived the cats , 16 and 15

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 2:56 AM

When the calculator gets to it's limit, you can keep adding 4 for dogs, and 3 for cats. My cat (Sooty) is somewhere in her 80's, but she can still make some amazing jumps and claw her way up a garden fence. I haven't seen many humans the same age doing that !

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 2:59 AM

Or chop the dog in half and consider it as 2 smaller dogs.

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 3:10 AM

A cat growing an extra head would achieve parity....

(4:3, It's either that or chop a leg off a dog )

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#11

Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 4:17 AM

I know of this simple rule that they said (don't remember who, when, where...) applies to all animals:

it takes 20% out of one's average/normal lifespan to become adult

20% from when its a senior until the end of its life

and the rest of 60% is adulthood

That would mean that since us humans become adults at 20, we should normally live up to 100. Since it doesn't happen that often, I'm not sure if the rule works or not...

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 4:38 AM

it takes 20% out of one's average/normal lifespan to become adult

I do not agree it takes a lot of males 80% percent to become adult if ever

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 5:13 AM

NO no..it's a typo'
'Adult' should read 'A dolt'

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Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 5:35 AM

I don't like to burst Chanel's (21) bubble, but I will. Bella was unproven at 26, Butch is accepted as having been 28, and Bluey reportedly scored 29. OK, so Chanel is still going, but there must be another somewhere who's older ? "Dog" is 34 by my reckoning. Photographs are unavailable.

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#15

Re: Dog Years - Not What You Think

05/14/2009 7:06 AM

I've been told Different Breeds age at different rates. My Pugs metabolism is so high they aren't supposed to live nearly as long as my Lab will.

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