It’s a dog’s life, isn’t it? There is one major difference, though: ours is a lot longer.
The average dog lives around 11-14 years, depending on the breed. That means their whole life follows a different timeline to ours. But why is that, and how does it work?
Let’s take a look at the subject of dog years vs human years below.
Dog vs Man
There’s no simple explanation for the difference in aging between human and dogs. The simplest is really “that’s how it is.”
Biologically, there are a few things going on. Dogs have faster metabolisms than humans. According to the sexual maturity theory of animal lifespans, dogs age quicker because they reach sexual maturity early and can have many offspring. Their lives don’t need to be as long to continue the species.
Some of it is down to senescence, the natural form of aging we still don’t really understand. Nature says that a dog’s lifespan is as long as it is.
Pup, Pup, and Away
The link between a dog’s aging and ours isn’t as simple as the old “seven years is one human year” would have you believe.
For starters, dogs mature rapidly. Their first few years of life will take them all the way up to their late twenties. They’ll already be a teenager in human years before their first year of life is out.
This trend continues throughout their life in less dramatic ways and some years present larger leaps than others.
The Golden (Retriever) Years
It’s during the middle years that the old urban myth most applies. It’s still not exact, but on the road to turning 10, a dog’s age is a fairly steady progression relative to human years.
These are a dog’s prime years. They’re sexually and physically mature. Though they lose some of the energy of puppyhood, they’re often better behaved and just as playful and inquisitive.
Sly Old Dog
Dogs settle into old age around their 10th-11th year of life, taking old age as the human retirement age. That’s a decent round decade, which makes it easy to remember that any dog north of 10 is a senior.
Given that dogs age more rapidly than us, that means that a dog over 10 usually has an upper limit of 6 years left in the tank. Bigger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones.
Big Dogs, Small Dogs, Dogs as Big as Your Head
By now, you’re probably feeling like you’ve got it down. Here’s a complication: the scale works a little differently depending on dog breeds. Typically, small dogs age slower than larger dogs, whose bodies experience more stress over their lifetime.
It can be helpful to make a timeline for your particular dog’s breed. With a good timeline creator, you can have your own timeline for your pup.
Dog Years vs Human Years: Throwing You a Bone
If you’ve always wondered how dog years vs human years actually works, we hope we’ve cleared some things up and brought you a little closer to your canine pal.
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