February 9, 2010

What are dog years?

Filed under: age of dogs,dog age,dog years,human years — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:26 am

Dog years. We’ve all heard people talk about them or tried to figure out our dog’s age in “dog years” but do we really know what dog years are? One of the oldest rules of thumb is that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years, although this isn’t exactly accurate. The idea behind talking about dog years is to recognize that the stages of a dog’s life including childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, will occur at different periods because their life spans are much shorter than humans. Imagine talking about a 2 year old human going through puberty. The idea is ridiculous; but, strictly speaking, dogs tend to experience the hormonal changes we associate with puberty somewhere between 8 months and 2 years depending on the breed.

dog yearsYet converting from dog years to human years and vice versa isn’t a direct ratio as the one human year is seven dog years theory. In fact, the ratio is slightly skewed with the figure being higher in youth and decreases as your dog’s age. Nevertheless, since a dog’s lifespan is a fraction of a human lifespan we try to determine dog years so we can predict the kinds of life changes that will occur.

So, how can you calculate your dog’s age in dog years? Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to that question. In fact, calculations of dog age will require a different formula depending on the age and breed of your dog. A medium-sized dog of 2 months old is said to be about 2 years in human age while a 14 year old dog of the same breed would be 82. For all intents and purposes then, we use “dog years” to understand the developmental stage of our dogs but the term really has very little validity in the world of veterinarians.

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