Since a dog’s needs vary depending on age, it helps to know how old your dog is. But what if you adopted a dog? With little to no info available, we find ourselves wondering how to tell how old a dog is. Good thing, there are a couple of things you can do to make a sound guess – 7 ways to be exact.
Your Dog’s Age Compared To Human Years
Ever heard about the rule that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years? If you have, let me tell you now that this no longer applies.
Apparently, even if most dogs live up to 10 years and humans live up to 70 years, you won’t be able to gauge your dog’s exact age in human years using the 7:1 age ratio. Why? Because dogs, in general, mature faster during the first two years of their life.
To give you an idea, the American Kennel Club states that a medium-sized dog’s first year equates to 15 human years. A dog’s 2nd year is equivalent to around nine years in humans. From thereon, one dog year is equal to about five human years.
Note, however, that a dog’s lifespan also varies depending on the dog’s breed, dog's size, and genetic makeup. Small dogs tend to have longer life expectancy than big dogs. That said, you’ll discover that smaller breeds (like Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus) often live up to 10 to 15 years while a bigger dog (like the Great Dane) only lives up to 8-12 years on average.
If you want to see how a dog ages based on size, the American Kennel Club provides a chart that shows exactly this.
How To Tell How Old A Dog Is
Understanding the difference between human and dog years will give you a better understanding of a dog’s aging process. This becomes easier if you know your dog’s age. But what can one do if you know little about your dog’s history, including its age?
Yes, figuring out if your adopted canine companion is a puppy, middle-aged, or a senior dog is going to be hard, but don't fret. There are a couple of things you can check. Like humans, an older dog will show visible signs of aging. This will give you a rough estimate of how old your dog is.
Take A Peek At Your Dog’s Chompers
The Humane Society of the US mentioned that checking your dog’s teeth is the way to go if you wish to get the approximate age of your furry friend. To do this, you will need to check two things, namely: teeth development and the teeth condition.
Puppies are born without teeth, and they remain toothless until around four weeks old. By eight weeks, puppies get all their baby teeth. Permanent teeth start to show when your puppy is around 4 or 5 months and would have it all when they’re around seven months old.
A dog’s age can also be deduced by examining its teeth’s condition. Younger dogs will have a set of sharp teeth that remain clean until they’re a year old. At ages 3 to 5, the ridges of the teeth wear off and may look yellowish due to stains and tartar buildup. On the one hand, the teeth of senior dogs aged 7 to 10 years old will be completely smooth. Some would also have cracked, loose, or missing teeth.
Note, though, that using your dog’s teeth to determine age becomes trickier for older dogs and smaller dogs. An older dog that gets daily dental care would most likely have little to no tartar buildup while younger dogs that get zero dental care and have a nasty habit of chewing stuff may show a set of worn-out teeth.
Check Your Dog’s Coat
A dog’s fur color changes as they age, and like people, gray hairs are also a sign of aging for dogs. For many dogs, gray hair starts to appear around the muzzle when they’re around 5 years old. If your pup has a muzzle full of gray hair, then it’s safe to assume that they’re old-old (unless it’s from a naturally gray breed).
Look Into Your Dog’s Eyes
A dog’s vision also falters as a dog ages. As such, the lens of an older dog may look cloudy and blueish in appearance. This condition is known as lenticular sclerosis and is commonly seen among dogs aged 5 years old and up.
Besides this, older dogs are also prone to develop cataracts. If your dog shows any of these signs, make sure to get your dog checked by a vet.
Check The Quality Of Your Pet’s Hearing
Yes, loss of hearing is among the many signs of aging to watch out for in dogs. If you think your dog has difficulty hearing, you probably have a senior dog with you. To make sure, you can seek the advice of your vet.
Feel Your Dog’s Back & Body Shape
Instead of getting a bulging tummy, dogs tend to develop fat pads over their lower backs as dogs age. A bony, curved, prominent spine and muscle wasting may also mean that your pup has graduated from being an adult dog.
Check Your Pup’s Activity Levels
A puppy is expected to be spritely and active. Whether they’re large or small breeds, a young dog often gets the zoomies. Dogs beyond 5 years old, on the one hand, prefer to sleep. As dogs age, they also tend to feel exhausted after a few minutes of playtime.
Look For Signs Of Joint Aches & Pains
That’s right. Your pooch may also experience mobility problems as they age. Arthritis is also common among geriatric dogs. Note, however, that this can also be a symptom of an underlying health problem. So, to be sure, it’s best to consult your vet.
Trying to figure out your dog’s age?
While differentiating a puppy from most dogs is easier since they’re exceptionally cute, finding out if a dog is an adult or in its later years can be pretty challenging. The 7 ways mentioned above may give you a rough estimate of your dog’s age. But, as always, they are not full-proof.
Besides their breed, your dog’s medical history and lifestyle will affect its general appearance and health. Adult dogs may show signs of aging early due to stress or an underlying health condition. If this happens, your best course of action is to contact your vet. Either way, you’ll have to see a vet to check if your furry friend requires additional shots and check the status of their overall health.