When figuring out how to calculate dog years, we always used to just multiply our dog’s age by seven. But as it turns out, it’s not always that easy. Multiplying by seven can give you a good estimate for how old your dog would be if they were human, but it doesn’t take all factors into account. Instead, it’s advised that you pay more attention to your dog’s size and breed. After all, larger dogs tend to age much faster than smaller dogs. So, how can you calculate your dog’s age?
How to Calculate Dog Years
While you can use the old “seven per year” rule for an estimated guess, it’s not exactly correct. That rule works mostly toward larger dogs, but with smaller dogs, it makes them seem ancient as they enter the double digits. So, how should we think about dog years instead?
The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that we consider the following:
- A dog’s first year is similar to a human’s first 15 years
- A dog’s second year is similar to nine human years
- Then, every dog year is equal to about 5 human years
These observations were made after researchers compared the life stages of a dog to the life stages of a human. Both humans and canines experience similar stages in growth and health, but dogs experience it at a much faster pace. Large and giant dogs experience aging exceptionally faster than smaller breeds.
So, it’s important to note that while we should keep the above factors in mind, it’s likely that a smaller breed might gain less human years each year than a larger breed would.
Dog Age Chart
To make better sense of this information, we’ve compiled a chart to compare dogs of different sizes. All dogs start out by aging the same, but as a dog gets close to their senior years, they begin aging more rapidly.
Small (20 pounds or less)
Medium (21 to 50 pounds)
Large (51 to 100 pounds)
Giant (Over 100 pounds)
Age of Dog (in years)
Age in Human Years
By using this chart, you’ll be able to more easily tell how old your dog is and when they’ve reached their senior years. It’s not an exact science, but hopefully it can help more dog lovers understand their dog’s age in comparison to their own lifespan.
How Do You Know When Your Dog is a Senior?
Since not all dogs age at the same pace, it might be harder to tell when your dog is a senior. However, when your dog reaches their senior years, they will start to slow down and potentially experience more health problems. So, it’s important to give them extra love and support during this time. You might even need to change their food or make their exercise routine easier.
Most small dogs, along with cats, start their senior years at around 7 years old. While 44 to 47 doesn’t sound too old for humans, it is a point where people start to age more and develop age-related health problems. The same is true for dogs. With that in mind, bigger dogs, especially giant dogs, are more likely to be seniors at around 5 or 6 years old.
Your vet can also determine whether or not your dog is a senior based on their appearance and health conditions. This can come in handy if you have a rescue dog that you don’t know the exact age of.
Here are some symptoms of aging in dogs:
- Gray hair, primarily around muzzle and other areas of the face
- Cloudy eyes
- Stiff legs
- Loose skin
Vets might also look at your dog’s bones, joints, muscles, and organs to decide how to calculate dog years. A lot of times the cleanliness of a dog’s teeth is also an indicator. Every aspect of your dog’s health and well-being could help you determine how old they are. Once they reach their senior years, it’s recommended that you bring them in for vet checkups more frequently.
Keep an Eye Out for Health Concerns
Learning how to calculate dog years isn’t always easy, but it’s a great way to better understand your furry friend. Older dogs need more care and comfort, so knowing your dog’s age can help you give them everything they need to thrive. The older your dog gets, the more you should look out for unusual behaviors and symptoms. Whenever you notice something out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet.
Sadly, dogs age much faster than humans, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from giving them the best life possible. Live every day to the fullest and make them as happy as you can. And when in doubt, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional for health advice.