How old is my dog in human years? People have always used the formula of one dog year equaled seven human years. Scientists now suggest the 1:7 ratio is not correct. New studies show that dogs age more rapidly when they are young compared to humans. It is not a straight line comparison between dog years and human years but instead a linear one.
Want to find out how old your dog is relative to human years? Try out our Amity Pets dog years calculator below and see what you find out!
Dog Years to Human Years: Why Does it Matter?
So why does it even matter comparing dog years to human years? Really it comes down to the health of your dog.
Having an idea of how old your dog is relative to human years makes it easier to put in perspective the possible health issues your pet may experience. The “age” of your dog can also help veterinarians better diagnose and treat your beloved family member in a time of need.
The goal is to help your dog live a long healthy life.
Converting Dog Years to Human Years
There is a recent study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine that attempts to shed more light on the relation of dog years to human years. The old, one human year to seven dog years ratio is out the window.
The study took a unique approach of comparing something called “methyl groups” in the subject dogs and humans genes (DNA) and came up with a completely different way of comparing age.
Keeping it simple, dogs age much faster in their early years than previously thought. The study gives a practical example of a dog can have babies at less than one year old.
The graphic below provides a means to visually see the results of the study that comparing dog years to human years is a linear progression.
Dog Lifespan by Breed
Yes, the breed of a dog does make a difference in how long their lifespan is. Mostly, based on the size of the dog breed.
What Dog Breed Lives the Longest?
If you want a dog that lives the longest the simple method is to think small.
How Long do Small Dogs Live?
Small dogs usually live around 10 to 15 years.
Here is a brief list of small dog breeds that live the longest, in no particular order. It is not unusual to see many of these breeds live beyond 15 years.
- Toy Poodle
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Cockapoo (a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle)
- Scottish Collie
Dogs with Shortest Lifespan
Remember, larger dogs just don’t live as long. In fact, big dogs die significantly sooner than smaller dogs.
How Long do Big Dogs Live?
Big dogs usually live around seven to ten years.
Here is a brief list of dogs with the shortest lifespan, in no particular order.
- Great Dane
- Irish Wolfhound
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Saint Bernard
Do Smaller Dogs Live Longer?
Yes, smaller dogs do live longer than bigger dogs. This may be puzzling to some because we all know that, in general, larger animals seem to live longer.
Examples such as elephants living much longer than a cat and a large eagle lives much longer than a hummingbird. Why are dogs different?
Research by evolutionary biologist Professor Mark Elgar of the University of Melbourne’s School of Biosciences simply states that larger dogs don’t live as long as smaller dogs because they age more quickly. This rapid aging leads to a point where their bodies break down and stop functioning.
“We conclude that large dogs die young mainly because they age quickly.”, Professor Mark Elgar. He also added, saying the rule of thumb is that “the average lifespan for quite large dogs is about seven years, and 14 years for smaller dogs.”
It is wise to remember when making a decision on a family pet that some larger dog breeds may only live around seven years. Most people don’t know that.
When is a Dog Old?
We all love our dogs and it is sad seeing them grow old in what could seem like a short amount of time.
So when should you think of your dog as being old? Age is subjective. Just as with humans what some may consider old others may not.
Depending on the size of the dog, generally, they could be considered old, or “getting old” around seven to eight years. This can also vary based on the breed of dog, and your opinion! Dogs do seem to be living longer now though due to the advances in veterinary medicine.
The key point is to realize that just because your dog is only a “young” seven years old it does not mean they can still do everything they did when they were two.
Can a Dog Live 20 Years?
While it is very rare for a dog to live 20 years it does happen. As we stated above most cases of this phenomenon is with smaller dogs. Check out the list above of smaller dogs that love longer if you missed it!
Oldest Dog Ever
The Guinness Book of Records states that the oldest dog ever was Bluey, an Australian dog that worked cattle and sheep for 20 years! Old Bluey, who died in 1939, lived for 29 years and five months.
Signs Your Dog is Dying of Old Age
No one is happy thinking about if their dog may be dying of old age but it is important to recognize the signs. Sometimes your dog is just sick and not dying. You may be able to catch these signs early and take some preventive action.
- Loss of appetite – Not eating usually means something is wrong with your dog.
- Not drinking water
- Lethargic and has lost interest in things – Not being interested in playing with their toys or taking a walk. Not excited about food.
- Odd behavior – Dogs suffer mental decline with aging just as humans do. You may notice them wandering aimlessly and seeming confused or even bumping into things.
- Struggles to breath
- Constant pain and even cries out at times
- Loss of energy
- Incontinence – Your dog may not be able to control going to the bathroom
- Seems distant to you and does not want your attention
What can you do if you see these signs?
- Take your dog to the vet. It may be just sickness of some type and quick treatment can solve the problem but you won’t know unless you go to the vet.
- Comfort your dog the best you can. Stay with them and give them lots of affection.
- Don’t try to force them into activity but let them move around as they want to.
Are Dogs Living Longer?
According to Fondazione Capellino, a non-profit philanthropic organization, cats and dogs’ lifespans are twice as long today as they were 40 years ago. Good news! They say the same factors that are allowing humans to live longer now apply as well to our pets.
Why Don’t Dogs Live Longer?
The general consensus among people who study such things conclude that dog grow and mature much faster than humans and this accelerated pace results in a much shorter lifespan.
Can We Make Dogs Live Longer?
In general, yes you can! Providing your dog with good quality dog food, a good living environment, and regular visits to your veterinarian can increase the lifespan of your dog.
Do Neutered Dogs Live Longer?
According to Steven Austad, Ph.D., a professor, and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham spaying or neutering a dog can result in a longer life for the animal.
“It is important to spay and neuter your pets, not only for their protection but also for the benefit of the community,” Austad said. “Many dogs who struggle with disorders associated with intact dogs end up being put to death.”Steven Austad, Ph.D.
Do Cats Live Longer than Dogs?
Yes, according to most studies the average lifespan of a cat is longer than that of a dog. One of the reasons given are that cats tend to be more solitary in nature and this could result in them being exposed less to infectious diseases.
Cats also may be better at protecting themselves because they are more nimble, have sharp claws they use well as weapons’, and possibly a greater sense of avoiding dangerous situations.
Dog Life Expectancy Calculator
Is it realistic to even compare dog years to human years? Kind of. Do these dog years calculators really work? Well, they work to a certain extent but keep in mind it is all just a guesstimate people created.
Dog age calculators are just a tool to help you in your quest for a happy and healthy dog.
Knowing your dogs ‘true’ age is a good thing and can help you take better care of your pet.