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The Truth About Dog Age in Human Years: Understanding Canine Ageing and Care

April 18, 2023

As a pet owner, you may have wondered how old your furry friend is in comparison to human years. It's a common question, and the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

While dogs and humans share many similarities, including the ability to feel emotions, they age differently. In this blog post, we will discuss the truth about dog age in human years and what you need to know to ensure your dog lives a healthy and happy life.

The general rule of thumb to tell a dog’s age used to be that one dog year was equivalent to seven human years. However, this calculation is outdated and not entirely accurate. A report from UC San Diego School of Medicine has shed some light on the topic of canine ageing and care.

The UC San Diego Report

The UC San Diego report analyzed the DNA methylation patterns of more than 100 Labrador Retrievers ranging in age from a few weeks to 16 years old. The study found that dogs do not age at a consistent rate compared to humans. In fact, the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life is roughly 15 human years, the second year is around 9 human years, and each year after that is equivalent to about 5 human years.

The report also highlights that larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs. For example, a Great Dane’s lifespan is usually around 8 years, while a Chihuahua’s lifespan can be up to 18 years. This is due to the fact that larger dogs have a higher risk of developing health issues such as joint problems and heart disease

Age Calculator

This chart below, takes into account the dog's breed size to determine their age in human years:

Based on the above chart we can tell that dogs age slower as they grow old and we humans grow old faster.

But keep in mind that this chart is just an estimate and that dogs age differently depending on their breed size and health. Always consult with your veterinarian for a more accurate assessment of your dog's age and care needs.

Canine Ageing and Care

As your furry friend ages, their care needs will change. Here are some tips to help you care for your ageing dog:

  1. Regular Checkups: Regular checkups with your veterinarian are essential for monitoring your dog's health. As dogs age, they become more susceptible to certain health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. By scheduling regular checkups, you can catch these conditions early and provide the necessary treatment.
  2. Proper Nutrition: Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining your dog's health as they age. As dogs age, their metabolism slows down, so they require fewer calories. Additionally, older dogs may have dental issues that make it difficult for them to eat certain foods. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your ageing dog.
  3. Exercise: Exercise is important for dogs of all ages, but it's especially important for ageing dogs. Regular exercise can help maintain your dog's muscle mass, prevent obesity, and improve their overall health. However, be sure to adjust your dog's exercise routine to account for any physical limitations they may have.
  4. Mobility Aids: As dogs age, they may develop mobility issues, such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. Mobility aids, such as ramps, stairs, and slings, can help your dog move around more comfortably. Talk to your veterinarian about which mobility aids may be best for your ageing dog.
  5. Mental Stimulation: Mental stimulation is important for dogs of all ages, but it's especially important for ageing dogs. Activities such as puzzle toys and training can help keep your dog's mind sharp and prevent cognitive decline.

Additionally, senior dogs may require different types of care than younger dogs. For example, they may need softer food as their teeth become weaker, or they may need more frequent potty breaks due to bladder control issues. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and make adjustments to their care as they age.


In conclusion, the truth about dog age in human years is more complex than the popular belief that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years. Dogs age at different rates depending on their breed, size, and health. Understanding canine ageing and providing proper care is essential for ensuring your furry friend lives a healthy and happy life. Make sure to take your dog to regular check-ups with a veterinarian, provide them with a healthy diet and exercise routine, and make adjustments to their care as they age.