Here’s How to Know Your Dog’s Age in Human Years

Have you ever wondered how old your dog is in relation to humans? Is it difficult to figure out your dog’s age in human years? What does it really mean to think about “human years” for your dog anyway?

If you’re a pet owner, you’ve probably wondered about your dog’s true age more than once. After all, it’s clear that dogs don’t age at the same rate as humans, and it can be helpful to figure out your dog’s relative human age when considering their health and wellness needs, too. In the article below, we’ll help you learn how to tell your dog’s age in human years. Read on to find out more.

dog age


Is the 7-to-1 Theory Correct?

Although many pet owners believe a dog ages at a rate of seven “human years” per one “dog year,” this is an inaccurate myth. This concept came about to help dog owners recognize how much faster a dog ages than a human, but it is not the best way to understand your pet’s aging process. Many veterinarians, scientists, and canine health specialists agree that this is simply misinformation, and that it is far better to consider the different elements that make up a dog’s age instead.

There are many different factors that play into your dog’s aging process. Breed, size, weight, and lifestyle choices all make a difference, for example. It is also important to note that your dog’s overall health and wellness may cause changes in their life expectancy, too. Overall, you should take the time to consider your dog’s age based on a variety of specifics, rather than relying on the outdated 7-to-1 theory.

Does Breed Matter?

Yes. Your dog’s breed plays a major role in their life expectancy, with smaller dogs typically living much longer than larger dogs. Although this is a well-known and proven fact about dogs, scientists are still not totally sure why bigger dogs have much shorter lifespans than their small companions. However, it is typically believed that the difference lies in the rate of growth of large dogs versus smaller ones. A large dog reaches canine adulthood faster than a small dog, so it makes sense that they might reach old age sooner, too. Additionally, since bigger dogs grow faster, they are at a higher risk of developing cancer later in life as well.

According to scientists, every four pounds of body weight decreases a dog’s life expectancy by a month or so. Therefore, if you’re calculating the life expectancy of a big dog, you need to take into consideration just how large they are and understand that your small dog may live longer than your large breed. Recognize, too, that these statistics are always changing, and that advancements in canine medicine may make a difference in your dog’s life expectancy later, especially if they are a bigger dog.

how to tell how old your dog is

What is the Formula for Calculating a Dog’s Age in Human Years?

The true formula for calculating a dog’s age in human years is a little bit more complicated than the seven-year rule. In this formula, the first year of a dog’s life equals about 15 human years. The next year equals about nine years, so by the age of two, your dog should be the equivalent of roughly 24 human years old. After that, every additional year adds five human years to the dog’s life. Therefore, if your dog is 12 years old, they are about 74 in human years—which is a great frame of reference to help you understand just how quickly a dog can truly age.

Of course, this formula is designed for medium dog breeds. If your dog is smaller, you can remove a few years from the human age. On the other hand, if your dog is large, you should add a few years instead. By taking time to adjust your calculations according to your dog’s breed, you can create a more accurate chart that helps you determine your dog’s age as it relates to human years. Of course, if you’re having any trouble with these calculations or you have any further questions, you can talk to your Heart + Paw vet for more information as well.

In Conclusion

Aside from just a little bit of entertainment, it can also be beneficial to learn your dog’s age in human years so you can provide them with everything needed as they age. It’s a good idea to learn the difference between a 10-year-old dog and a 10-year-old human, for example, so you know how to help your pet deal with changes later in life.

As your dog gets older, be sure to talk to your vet about their lifelong needs. With the help of a trusted vet, you can care for your dog no matter how old they are.

Book an appointment today for your dog at any of our Heart + Paw locations by using the online form!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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