Dog Years: Determining Your Canine's Real Age

A common calculation used to determine a dog's age is that dog years are equivalent to 7 human years. While a common belief, it's not accurate. Dogs mature very quickly in their first 2 years. A more accurate calculation is 10 ½ years for the first two years and 4 years for each additional year, but even that is not accurate as there are a multitude of factors that contribute to a dog's real age.

Aging Factors in Dogs

  • Size - Smaller dogs tend to live 1 ½ to 2 times longer than larger dogs.
  • Individual characteristics - Every dog's body is different. Some are healthier than others and a mixed breed dog tends to live longer because he is not as prone to the problems associated with any particular breed.
  • Gender - Female dogs tend to live 1 to 2 years longer than male dogs of the same breed.
  • Breed - Each breed has a typical life expectancy that is not necessarily based upon its size.
  • Living conditions - A dog who is kept at the proper weight and given proper care will tend to live longer than one who is either under or overweight or subjected to poor living conditions.
  • Neutering - A neutered dog will typically outlive his intact relatives. This is because the neutered dog's body is not subject to the problems that the reproductive hormones can cause.

Determining your dog's age is more complex than any simple calculation. His size, gender and how he's cared for are better measures of his real age than just multiplying by 7.