The Right Way to Calculate Dog Years to Human Years

Key Points:

  • Is it true that 1 dog year is the same as 7 human years? And is it supported by science?
  • Dog sizes and breeds will matter in how they age as smaller dogs might live longer than bigger ones.
  • New research & study in 2019 suggests there is a new formula because of the changes that have been made to dogs’ DNA over time.
How old is your dog?
Now and Then. Playing with photograph of a puppy beagle fitting in his face with the actual senior dog, ten years of distance.

It is still unclear who started the calculation of 1 dog year = 7 human years. This popular calculation has been around for decades ago since the 1950s. Although this calculation has been around for a while it has never been supported by research or science. It has never stopped people from using the calculation formula into counting the dog years vs human years using this rule.

It could be because in general, the ratio of 1:7 is because of the general statistic that’s showing people usually live until they are around 70 years old, while dogs live for around 10 years.

A veterinarian from Kansas State University, William Fortney guessed that it could just be a marketing ploy to educate the public on how dog’s age compared to humans, especially in health matters, and to bring their dogs in for check-ups yearly.

How Do You Calculate Dog Years to Human Years?

The American Veterinary Medical Association breaks down a few key points as a guideline in how you can calculate dog years to human years.

  • A medium-sized dog’s life, for its first year, can be compared to 15 human years.
  • For the 2nd year of a dog’s life, it is equal to around 9 human years.
  • After the 1st and 2nd year, approximately, each year after will be around 5 human years.
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What Are the Methods Researchers Use to Come Up with These Numbers?

When trying to figure out the calculation for dog years vs human years, many factors could come into play. It’s not possible to precisely be sure when a pet becomes “senior”. According to AVMA, small dogs and cats can be considered “senior” when they are around 7 years old. Although, large breeds might live longer than smaller breeds.

Large breeds are considered “senior” when they reach 5 or 6 years of age. The “senior” classification is since older dogs tend to live shorter than younger ones, and veterinarians start seeing more age-related diseases & injuries in animals at the age of 5 or 6 years old. In contrast to popular belief, dogs don’t age at the rate of 7 human years per dog year.

Looking at the easy example of a Great Dane, their life expectancy is around 7-10 years according to Great Dane Club America. With that statistic, a 4-year-old Great Dane can be considered around 35 years old in human years. Again, you should keep in mind that’s just the average and rough calculation based on their life expectancies.

People might think that the National Centre for Health Statistics would keep track and records all dogs. They don’t keep those records. If you are looking for some records for statistic calculation, you can check pet-insurance companies, breed clubs, or veterinary hospitals instead.

Are There Specific Reasons Why Small Dogs Live Longer Than Big Dogs?

The relationship between the body mass and a dog’s lifetime has puzzled experts for years, and study has yet to provide a clear explanation for this as well. This is why the research has been quite important for many studies.

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If you look at the examples of large mammals (e.g., whales or elephants), typically, they live longer compared to small mammals (e.g., mice). So, why is it that small breed dogs live longer than larger breed ones?

According to evolutionary biologist Cornelia Kraus of the University of Gottingen in Germany who spoke to Inside Science, large dogs are quicker, and their lives seem to unwind in a more rapid motion compared to smaller dogs. It was expected that a dog’s life expectancy has decreased by nearly a month for every 4.4 pounds of body mass that they have. That statement was according to some researchers.

Kraus suggests numerous explanations for this trend and occurrence, including the possibility that larger dogs may experience age-related ailments or diseases more quickly. Their rapid growth may increase the risk of getting cancer or dying from abnormal cell proliferation. Future research is being planned to clarify the relationship between their growth and death.

How old is my dog in human years?

Canine gerontology is a growing topic these days in many studies because dog owners will want to increase the amount of quality time they will spend with their pets. To “delay dog’s aging & to promote their healthy lifespans”, many Dog Aging Project has been researching the process of aging in dogs with different breeds.

Every stage of a dog’s development, whether they are measured in human or dog years, can be beautiful and endearing. Senior or older dogs can be very endearing and touching with their thoughtful looks and grey muzzles.

2019 Epigenetic Clock Study

There is a study back in 2019 by some researchers at the University of California San Diego for a new method in trying to calculate the age of a dog. This is based on the changes that have been made to dogs’ and human’s DNA over time.

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Researchers performed different projects that involved 104 Labrador Retrievers within the range of 16 years of age. This is done to compare the epigenetic clocks compared to humans. The results have allowed them to come up with a formula to count a dog’s age compared to a human’s age.

Since the research and study were just done by using one breed, the “human age” calculation and method that they came up with might not be accurate. This can be because of the different maturity in different breeds that could cause the UCSD model to not have enough variables to produce definitive conclusions.

Although the newly proposed method is supported by the study and research itself, it is unquestionably more helpful in determining the dog’s “human age” compared to the old “multiplying the dog’s age by 7” myth.

Did you know that people have been trying to compare the ratio of ages between canines and humans for many years?

According to the new calculation, a dog can live up to 9 years, while humans can live up to 80 years old. If these new figures are correct, then a dog’s lifespan was reduced by a year and ours as humans by over a decade. Fortunately, though, both species’ lifespans have increased even with the new scientific study and research.

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