My Hound Mix, Rosie wakes up at 5:30 every morning. She goes out for a quick potty, leaps up and down as I pour her kibble, then spends the next hour tossing her favorite stuffed llama around the room as the other dogs and I snooze. She sure is spry for a 105-year-old.
How do I know she’s 105? Well, my vet thinks she’s about 15 in human years, and dogs age 7 years for every one of our years…right? Not exactly. Rosie is definitely a senior, but veterinarians and researchers are moving further and further away from the old 7 year myth. In reality, canine age is a moving target, with several factors affecting “true age” in relation to numerical age.
With hundreds of dog breeds ranging from tiny Teacup Poodles to giant Great Danes, there simply cannot be a one-size-fits-all calculation for aging. A study led by Dr. Kate Creevy of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has honed in on just how much size and breed affect canine aging.
The study found that larger canines have a much higher chance of dying from cancer than their smaller cousins. They are also more likely to succumb to intestinal diseases and musculoskeletal problems.
Along the same lines, certain breeds just aren’t as hearty as others. English Bulldogs are at an especially high risk of respiratory crisis. Golden Retrievers and Boxers have extremely high cancer rates, often developing the disease quite young.
Dr. Creevy pointed out to the BBC that although small dogs have the aging advantage in later life, they tend to age faster in the first 2 years. They have a shortened adolescence and a longer adulthood, while very large dogs can take up to 2 years to reach full maturity, but may only live another 5 or 6 years.
Small dogs reach skeletal and reproductive maturity sooner than larger breeds. Once they’ve achieved those measures of adulthood they carry on to live longer.
Strangely, this phenomenon only appears in dogs. Dr. Creevy chocks it up to the fact that no other species has such a diverse range of sizes.
To answer the question – how old is your dog in human years – Dr. Creevy recommends the following guidelines:
For the first two years:
- Small dogs: 12.5 years per human year
- Medium sized dogs: 10.5 years per human year
- Large dogs: 9 years per human year
For dogs 3 and up, breed begins to come into play. Add the following number of years for each additional “human year” to calculate the age of these popular breeds:
- Dachshund (Miniature) 4.32
- Border Terrier 4.47
- Lhasa Apso 4.49
- Shih Tzu 4.78
- Whippet 5.30
- Chihuahua 4.87
- West Highland Terrier 4.96
- Beagle 5.20
- Miniature Schnauzer 5.46
- Cocker Spaniel 5.55
- Cavalier King Charles 5.77
- Pug 5.95
- French Bulldog 7.65
- Springer Spaniel 5.46
- Labrador Retriever 5.74
- Golden Retriever 5.74
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier 5.33
- Bulldog 13.42
- German Shepherd 7.84
- Boxer 8.90
So a 7-year-old Miniature Dachshund is 46.6 in “dog years”, while a 7-year-old Boxer is more like 62.5. Certainly seems a little more accurate than the old 7 year rule, huh? Unfortunately, it still leaves us Mutt parents in the dark. But as the saying goes, you’re only as old as you feel, and my sweet Rosie sure seems to feel like a pup!
H/T to BBC.com