Pet owners who usually adopt through pet shelters or rescues have little idea about the pet. Even if they don’t know much, they give lots of love to their pets, which is great! But, how to tell how old a dog is! Over time, this is one of the biggest questions constantly hitting their mind.
It’s easier to determine a dog’s age when they’re puppies or if you get them through a breeder. Otherwise, determining their age can be tricky. But it’s not impossible.
Knowing your dog’s age is essential to give them the happiest life. Their diet, exercise level, and preventive care depend on it. So, how to know a dog’s age?
No worries! We know how you can easily do it. Read through the article to understand how to determine your pup’s age to give them the happy and healthy life they deserve.
How to Tell a Dog’s Age
If you have a puppy, it will be easy to figure out its age because the puppy stage is the most prominent. After that, it becomes harder to figure out.
Before we go into details to determine your dog’s age, we want to answer another standard question, “How big will my puppy get/how long will my puppy live?”
Answer: The answer depends on your puppy’s breed. Usually, small dogs live up to 16 or 17 years. Whereas large- and giant-sized dog breeds live up to 8 or 9 years; the highest is 10 years. Medium-sized dogs live longer than large dogs, up to 13 or 14 years old.
The difference in the lifespan is because of the maturity time. Large dog breeds stay in the “puppylike” stage for more than 24 months, while medium and small dog breeds mature after 14 or 15 months.
Now that we’ve cleared that up let’s focus on puppies’ age determination. Here are 3 ways to estimate their age.
- Baby teeth start to appear as they turn a month old.
- You’ll notice your pup’s permanent canine teeth appear at about five months of age.
- The molar teeth are the last permanent ones to appear between 6 and 8 months.
Moving on to adult dogs! Knowing your pet’s breed makes it a little easier to determine their age using these three ways. So, try to learn it beforehand.
3 Ways to Determine a Dog’s Age
1. Check Your Dog’s Teeth
A dog’s teeth stay clean and white until age one. After that, you’ll see some tartar buildup, and the ridges become less pronounced.
- At age one, your dog’s 4 front incisors of the top and bottom jaw, which they use to nibble while grooming, forming ridges and bumps.
- The ridges almost wear off at age three to four, and yellow tartar buildup on your dog’s teeth.
- At age 7, the buildup of tartar gets darker and thicker. The ridges of the incisors become smooth.
Although teeth are a great way to get an idea of your dog’s age, they won’t help determine their actual birthday. Moreover, some puppies have genetically poor teeth, so it’s better to research your dog’s breed first.
2. Check Your Dog’s Vision
As we grow old, some of our senses start to deteriorate. The same is for our furry pals. You’ll slowly notice a change in their senses as they grow older. Puppies have great vision, but older dogs’ vision becomes hazy.
Observe your dog’s eyes and see if you notice any cloudiness. Cloudy eyes usually occur due to the natural hardening of the lens called lenticular sclerosis. Still, it doesn’t impair your dog’s vision. The cloudiness occurs in dogs between 6 and 8 years.
If you notice a milky white lens, it’s probably cataracts and not lenticular sclerosis, which usually occurs in 9 to 10 years aged dogs. Visit your veterinarian to get it checked as it causes visual impairment.
3. Consider Your Dog’s Fur, Muscles and Skin
What is the first sign of aging in humans? Can you guess? It’s gray hair. Your dog isn’t so different from you. Their hair color can determine their age range.
However, the fur is not a guaranteed age-determination factor because many dogs naturally have white fur. But, at least you’ll know if your dog is a senior or just in adulthood. So, look for gray hair or pattern changes in their fur near the muzzle and face.
Moving onto the muscles and skin. Puppies usually have soft, rounded bodies with little muscle and tight skin. Medium-aged dogs have slim, toned bodies with visible muscles. On the other hand, an older dog might have loose skin, decreased muscle tone, and extra fat or visible spine bones.
Can a Vet Tell How Old a Dog is?
Of course, vets can tell! They have studied all about animals. Just ask your veterinary doctor to check your dog to estimate its age.
The physical characteristics veterinarians take into account for a dog’s age determination are:
- Body Shape
- Lens Clarity
- Fur Color
Moreover, you can also ask to get a blood panel done. Dogs’ blood profiles usually account for the organ’s working conditions and determine the age range. Blood panels also help determine if your dog has any diseases early.
Well, nothing will exactly give you your dog’s birthday but knowing their age can help prevent many diseases. And, your dog gets to celebrate their birthday whenever they want.
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When is a Dog Considered a Senior?
Different dog breeds live up to different ages, so we have to take their aging profile factors in this case. Here are some signs that your dog is getting old so you can care for them accordingly.
- Eating pattern change
- Weight gain/loss
- Sleeping pattern change
- Mental and physical health change
- Drinking patterns and urination
- Signs of lumps or bumps
Usually, dogs are considered senior at the last 25% of their lifespan. For example, large-breed dogs have a lifespan of 9 to 10 years, so they are senior dogs when they reach the age of 7. On the other hand, small-breed dogs with a lifespan of 16 years are senior when they reach the age of 13 or 14.
How to Calculate Dog Years to Human Years
How fast do dogs age? Faster than you think! It is because of their shorter lifespan than ours.
For years pet owners have calculated their dog’s age. Apparently, 1 human year is equal to 7 dog years. Although this calculation method isn’t proven and doesn’t help convert dog years to human years, it has become traditional. The reality is not so quick and easy. So, how old is 1 in dog years? It’s 15 human years!
There’s a new way to calculate dogs’ age. For your convenience, we have made a dog age chart according to the weight and size of dog breeds.
|Age of Dogs in Years||Age of Small Dogs in Human Years (20 lbs or less)||Age of Medium Dogs in Human Years (21 to 50 lbs)||Age of Large Dog in Human Years (More than 50 lbs)|
Signs Your Dog is Dying of Old Age
The thought of losing a beloved pet is hard to digest. But if someone is born, they will pass away someday. In this case, dogs tend to die sooner.
If your dog is a senior pet, you should observe these signs to keep them more comfortable during the process.
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of coordination
- Not drinking water as often
- Lack of enjoyment or fun activities
- Muscle twitching
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Slow, heavy breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of grooming
- Dull eyes
- Weight loss
Enjoy the Time Together
A beloved pet’s death at an old age can be heartbreaking, but it’s more devastating when a pet passes from a disease. That’s why the “Dog Aging Project” aims to understand the influence of pets’ genes, environment, and lifestyle to help increase their lifespan and provide a disease-free life.
Try to enjoy as much time as possible together with your pet. Even when they won’t be here one day, you’ll still have their memories in your heart.
I am Dana McQueen, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment.