How Old Is Your Dog?

A popular misconception is that dogs age 7 years for each calendar year.  In fact, canine aging is much more rapid during the first 2 years of a dog’s life.  After the first 2 years the ratio settles down to 5 to 1 for small and medium breeds.  For large breeds the rate is 6 to 1, and for giant breeds the rate is 7 to 1.  Thus, at 10 years of age a Great Dane would be 80 years old while a pug would only be 64.

Dog Age Calculator

How to Tell a Dog’s Age

If you’ve taken in a dog whose age is unknown, there are some ways to determine his age. Here are some things vets check to get a general sense of how old a dog is:

The Teeth: Dogs usually have a set of permanent teeth by their seventh month, so if you’ve come across a dog with clean pearly whites, he is likely a year old or thereabouts. Yellowing on a dog’s back teeth may put the dog between one and two years of age, while tartar build-up at a minimal level could mean you have a dog between 3 and 5. Missing teeth or severe wear usually means the dog is a senior and could use some special dental care.

Muscle Tone: Younger dogs are more likely to have some muscle definition from their higher activity level. Older dogs are usually either a tad bonier or a little fatter from decreased activity.

The Coat: A younger dog usually has a soft, fine coat, whereas an older dog tends to have thicker, coarser (and sometimes oilier) fur. A senior dog may display grays or patches of white, particularly around the snout.

The Eyes: Bright, clear eyes without tearing or discharge are common in younger dogs. Cloudy or opaque eyes may mean an older dog.

Old Age in Dogs

The age at which a dog can be considered elderly varies widely among models. In general, the larger the dog, the more quickly it declines. For instance, a Great Dane could be considered “senior” at age 5, while a smaller toy poodle would still be spry at twice that age. Remember, however, that just because a dog is chronologically old doesn’t mean that an endless series of malfunctions is in store. In many cases an elderly dog can enjoy many healthy, active, pain-free years.

Other sources of information:

Information on how to work out a dog's age

How to determine your dog's age by its teeth