How Old Is My Dog?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 10/13/21 •  6 min read
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How Old Is My Dog

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When you adopt a dog from a breeder, they will have records that will include the dog’s birthdate. You’ll never be left wondering how old your dog is when you have this information. However, if you adopted your fur baby from a shelter or rescue, they may not have the information about your dog’s birthdate. So, how can you determine your dog’s age?

The Old Myth of a Dog’s Age Compared to Human Age

You’re probably familiar with the old way of determining a dog’s age. It was once thought that one year of a dog’s life was roughly the same as seven human years. This is really a myth.

The reality is a little different. However, don’t feel bad if you’ve been using this method to figure out your dog’s age.

How to Tell Your Dog’s Age

Before we get into the details of how to tell your dog’s age, it’s important to understand a few statistics first. Generally, large dogs live between 7-8 years, medium dogs live between 10-14 years, while small dogs live about 16 years. These are the average lifespans for these dogs. It’s important to understand that some dogs will live a little longer while others will have a shorter life.

When it comes to puppies, they’re usually easy to tell how old they are. You can tell from their roly-poly bodies and the way they act. Puppies may sleep a lot, and when awake, they’re very active! They love to play! You can also tell a puppy’s age from these indicators:

For older dogs, you can use these methods to determine their approximate age:

Ridges and unevenness of front teeth: at about one year of age, a dog will have something that resembles bumps or ridges along the tops of their four front incisors (top and bottom jaws). These are the teeth used to nibble and groom. As he uses his incisors, the bumps will wear down. By the time a dog is about 3-4 years old, the ridges will be worn off about halfway. By about seven years of age, the bumps/ridges will be completely gone.

Tartar buildup: usually starts to develop around the teeth by about four years of age. The tartar also becomes darker and thicker as the dog ages.

Fur color: this is another way to determine the age of a dog. You may have noticed that fur around a dog’s muzzle and under the chin starts to turn grey when a dog is about two years old. However, keep in mind that greying can come on early due to stress and a hard life. Genetics can also play a part in when a dog’s muzzle and chin begin to turn grey. Dogs also develop grey fur on their face, chest, behind the ears, on the ears, and even their paws as they get older.

Other Indicators of a Dog’s Age

There are also other indicators of a dog’s age! Let’s take a look!

Body shape: just like us, humans, dogs will distribute their weight differently as they grow older. As they age, the fat pads can develop on the dog’s lower back/lumbar region. They may also experience some muscle wasting, which makes the spine more noticeable.

Lens clarity: older dogs may develop cloudy eyes, which can be a sign of lenticular sclerosis. This is a condition where the lens of the dog’s eyes becomes hazy or opaque. The good news is that this doesn’t seem to affect the dog’s vision. However, cataracts are an eye condition that can develop in older dogs, too. Cataracts create a milky white appearance in a dog’s eyes and can affect the dog’s vision. This is a condition that must be treated, as it can lead to permanent blindness.

How Can You Tell When a Dogs Has Become an Older Senior?

That’s a very good question! Here are the things that can indicate your dog has reached his very senior years:

Slow down: older dogs will start to slow down and may even sleep more than when they were younger. They seem to tire out sooner and may not want those long walks anymore.

Develop lipomas: senior dogs may also start developing lumps on various parts of their body. These are called lipomas, which are fatty lumps. Usually, they are benign; however, it’s a good idea to monitor the lumps for any changes. If you notice any big change in your dog’s lumps, then it’s time to have them examined by the vet.

Behavioral changes: as dogs age, they may develop a fear of thunderstorms, become more attentive and clingier, and more.

Muscle tone: tends to decrease in dogs as they age, just like it does for us, humans.

Have potty accidents: some older dogs may start having potty accidents in the house. There is medication the vet may prescribe for your dog, or they may suggest the use of belly bands. A belly band is a band that wraps around your dog’s waist to cover their urethra. This works to catch urine in dogs who are incontinent. They come in reusable/washable versions, as well as a disposable belly band.

Dog Years to Human Years

Remember the myth we mentioned at the beginning of this article? The myth, which has been around forever, says that dogs age one year for every seven years of human life. Many of us have used this measure to determine the age of our fur babies!

It’s a fact that even a dog’s breed and size can determine how he will age and how long he’ll live. Most people know that smaller dogs tend to live longer than large dogs, for instance. Let’s take a look at a Chihuahua and a Great Dane. When a Chihuahua hits his senior years, he may be ten years old. However, when a Great Dane enters his senior years, he only is seven years old. So, age also depends on the dog’s breed and size.

Here’s a handy chart to help you get an idea of how old your dog is in human years!

Dog’s Age Age in Human Years
Dog’s Size Small Medium Large Giant
1 15 15 15 12
2 24 24 24 22
3 28 28 28 31
4 32 32 32 38
5 36 36 36 45
6 40 42 45 49
7 44 47 50 56
8 48 51 55 64
9 52 56 61 71
10 56 60 66 79
11 60 65 72 86
12 64 69 77 93
13 68 74 82 100
14 72 78 88 107
15 76 83 93 114

There you have it! These are some of the ways you can determine your dog’s age, even if you don’t know his birthdate. And you can find out about how he is in human years, too!

We hope you and your fur baby have many great, wonderful years together!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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