How To Tell How Old A Dog Is? All You Need To Know

So, how to tell how old a dog is? Indeed you did because people would have asked you sometimes about what’s the age of your puppy. Everyone is curious about the dog’s age, whether it is adopted from the shelter, rescued from the strays, or bought from the store.

Knowing the dog’s age matters for various reasons, like scheduling vaccination shots from the vet, feeding age-specific dog foods, and determining the approximate lifespan of your furbaby.

For determining how old your dog is, you must observe sure signs and physical characteristics that give clear indications about the approx age of your dog. It would be great for you to know which birthday are you celebrating with your dog.

Moreover, different breeds have distinct sizes or physical traits, which may confuse you about their actual age, so some subtle universal characteristics are necessary to observe for predicting their correct age.

Determining Your Dog’s Age

It is necessary for you to figure out your dog’s age if you don’t know about the exact day it was born. This age information is essential for maintaining your pet’s healthcare and hygiene.

Usually, puppies, adolescent canines, adults, and older-aged dogs; all have different needs and must be cared for with specific precautions for better growth and a healthy lifestyle.

how to tell how old a dog is

Dogs age faster than humans, and hence we may unintentionally slack our efforts and cause health problems or risks for them.

There are many physically distinctive indicators that you could look for and determine your pup’s age instantly or maybe ask your veterinarian for professional advice regarding the age.

Instead of asking your vet, learn the canine signs of aging yourself and make an educated guess which would allow you to take proper and specific care of your dog.

The aging profiles of dogs depend on their lifespan, which is:

Small dogs – up to 16 years (stays puppylike for 12 to 15 months)

Medium size dogs – 10 to 14 years (stays puppylike for 12 to 15 months)

Large dogs – 7 to 8 years (stays puppylike for 24 months or more)

For Puppies: It is relatively more straightforward to determine the age of puppies by looking at their newly grown teeth structure than the adult dogs.

  • At the age of 1 month – The 28 deciduous teeth (milk teeth) start emerging through the gums.
  • At the age of 5 months – A few of the 42 permanent canine teeth emerge out.
  • At the age of 7 months, all permanent teeth and the most potent back molars emerge entirely at this stage.
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Ridges on the Front Teeth:

  • When reached at one year, your dog would have uneven ridges on all four incisors (upper and lower jaw). Dogs primarily use these teeth to nibble and tear down rough textured food. The ridges gradually fade with an increase in the dog’s age.
  • When the age is 3 to 4 years, the ridges would have been halfway faded down.
  • Ultimately, all the uneven ridges vanish, and the incisors become utterly smooth at the age of 7 years.

Tartar Accumulation:

  • The formation of tartar around the dog’s teeth begins at the age of 4 and increases gradually with age getting thicker and darker in texture.
  • The condition of the teeth is subjective to the genetic factor and amount of dental care taken of your dog. The teeth as an indicator are not always a parameter to determine exact age and are just a predictive analysis method.

Dog’s Fur:

  • Although it is considered an age-determining indicator, the texture and color of the fur is not a very significant way to predict the dog’s age. Genetics and quality of life also play a significant factor in distinctiveness in the fur color and may tend to give the wrong age estimation.
  • However, if the fur under your dog’s chin and muzzle area begin to turn grey, the age of your dog may be as early as 2 to 3 years old.
  • And if you notice grey hair everywhere, like on the face, chest, paws, ears, legs, and body, then your dog is quite a senior regarding its age.

What is the Young Senior Dog Indicators?

The onset of this Young Senior stage of the dog brings various changes in them, causing their body and mind to slack in their routine and general behavior towards life. Some of the indicators are:

  • The muscle tone and agility tend to decrease gradually in senior dogs.
  • Inactiveness and persistent lethargy after playing.
  • They start developing lumps on their bodies called lipomas, which look like fat swellings and are usually not harmful and can be treated easily.
  • They start to have changes in daily behavior, which may be negative ones like fear of loud and sudden noises, sleepiness, decreased strength, and positive ones like patience, attentiveness, and stealthy life.
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What are the Super Senior Dog Indicators?

Super Senior stage of dogs is entirely equivalent to old age in humans and comes with certain disadvantages and disorders in your dog, which can be curable or deadly.

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Every dog has its personality and bonding process; once you spend time with them and match your vibes, you can determine their exact age and take care of them ideally with great dedication and passion till their last breath.

Some indicators show your dog’s old age symptoms and tell you to prepare for their End-Of-Life Care properly. These indicators include:

  • Suppose your housebroken dog starts to have unintentional excretion accidents in the house or other inappropriate places, and the female dog gets incontinent. In that case, this may be a clear sign of old age in dogs, and you would need prescribed medications and healthcare assistance from your veterinarian. Male dogs could be given belly bands for helping in the systematic defecation process, and we can provide female dogs with meds.
  • A medical condition called Lenticular Sclerosis is also a usual indication that causes bluish-grey swelling under their eyes when they get older. Your vet can diagnose this medical condition correctly and is not very severe as it doesn’t obstruct the vision and makes the eyes swollen. However, if your dog has Keratitis, that’s a severe issue and causes gradual blindness, and cloudy vision and immediate medical assistance are a must.

At what age is my dog considered a senior?

According to the Aging Profile factor, the last 25% of a dog’s expected lifespan is categorized under old age. This period is very laborious for senior dogs as they face specific challenges while doing their routine activities and suffer some severe body disorders.

Different breeds of dogs reach their senior age level at specific age limits according to their life expectancy; the following are some examples of breeds with their consequent senior age expectancy:

  • Great Dane is a breed with a life expectancy of 8 years and is considered senior at six years old.
  • Chihuahua is a breed with a life expectancy of 16 years and is considered senior at 12 years old.
  • Life expectancy of a bull dog is 6 years and is considered senior at 4.5 years old.
  • Doberman has a life expectancy of 10 years and is considered senior at 7.5 years old.
  • Beagle has a life expectancy of 12 years and is considered senior at nine years old.
  • Pomeranian has a life expectancy of 10 years and is considered senior at 7.5 years old.
  • Miniature Dachshund has a life expectancy of 14 years and is considered senior at 10.5 years old.
  • Pug has a life expectancy of 11 years and is considered senior at 8 years old.

Some Puppy Characteristics

Puppies have some particular parameters except breed and size that could determine their approximate age.

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Most puppies belonging to medium and large breeds have very awkward-sized large paws that seem a mismatched situation between larger dogs and them. They also have loose skin and a clumsy yet weird walking style until they become 1-2 years old.

How To Tell How Old A Dog Is In Human Years?

For a long time, the theory of “1 dog year = 7 human years” has been believed. Still, recently it was proved wrong and entirely inaccurate because of different life expectancies of each breed, due to which the calculation is slightly errored.

The facts and realities on which the rule of 7:1 was based had assumptions that are pure variables and irrelevant to current calculations.

Later a revised formula was applied and declared legitimate by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The exact formula was that:

  • The first year of a small/medium-sized dog is equivalent to 15 human years.
  • The second year of the dog is equivalent to 9 human years.
  • After that, each year for a dog is equivalent to 5 human years.

This complex calculation was then roughly simplified by regular people for easy and universal use. It wouldn’t give them a very accurate estimation but gave a basic idea for their understanding. That formula was different depending on the size of dogs:

For small dogs: Multiply the dog’s age by six, and you get the equivalent human age.

For large dogs: Multiply the dog’s age by eight, and you get the equivalent human age.

How Long Is a Dog Year?

A dog year is fairly more significant in their lives than a human year because of their shorter life expectancy. The calculation for age prediction is done considering the size, approximate weight, and age of your dog.

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Dogs get mature much faster than humans, and the smaller breeds have longer lifespans than larger breeds.

In order to compute the human equivalent age of your dog, please refer to the directions and examples provided in this section:

  • 1st dog year = 15 human years (The human equivalent age for a dog aged one year, regardless of its size).
  • 2nd dog year = 6 human years. So if your pup is two years old, it is the human equivalent of 21 years, regardless of its size.
  • For a dog of 3 years or older, add four years if it’s a small dog, add five years if it’s a medium, and add six years if it’s a large-sized dog.
  • Example: If your pup is seven years old, it’s human equivalent age will depend on its size; 41 years if slight, 42 years if medium, and 43 years if large.
  • Example: If your dog is 18 years old, its human equivalent age will depend on its size; 85 years if small, 101 years if medium, and 117 years if large.
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Suppose you don’t wish to remember the formula and calculate the human equivalence age manually. In that case, you will find plenty of dog age calculators on the internet for simplifying your task and giving accurate results according to your dog size and breed.

How to Tell How Old a Dog Is?

It may be not much crucial for you to know the age of your dog. Still, it is undoubtedly necessary for deciding the dietary routine, scheduling vaccination shots, various medications, and determining the estimated lifespan of your dog.

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You must have possessed the dog from any source that may not specify or predict its exact age; hence it becomes your responsibility to determine out the puppy’s age somehow, whether it is rescued from the streets, adopted from the shelter, or bought from the store.

The dog goes through various stages in life that have different advantages and lifestyle activities. Let us analyze those stages before age prediction.

  • Puppy stage: This is the first stage and lasts distinctively depending on different breeds and sizes of dogs. It can range from 9 to 15 months for small and large dog breeds, respectively.
  • Adult stage: It comes second after the puppy stage and varies depending on the breed and size. This stage remains for six years for larger dogs and 7-8 years for smaller dogs. This range varies due to the differences in life expectancies of the breeds.
  • Senior stage: This stage arrives after adulthood and lasts until the death of the dog. It resembles old age in humans and requires proper attention and special care for them.

Eyes

Dogs’ eyes become gouging and swollen like with increasing age and would be easily visible to you as cloudy or blurry. They develop a thick layer of swollen tissue around their eyes that either appears bluish or would be of their natural fur color.

It doesn’t deteriorate their vision but causes uneasiness and obstruction of comprehensive view. If this occurs to your dog, it is a clear sign that your dog is getting pretty older because this condition doesn’t appear at all in the earlier stage.

Fur Color

Similar to human hair, the fur of dogs also turns gray with increasing age and marks the onset of approaching old age. If your dog has gray hair on its furry coat, your dog may be approximately 7 – 10 years old.

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Dogs’ fur is naturally gleaming and silky for most breeds and tends to turn into a greyish hue very rarely without any reason except old age.

So, the presence of gray hair on the fur means your dog is pretty old, and you could treat the discolored fur with a good diet, regular exercising, and healthy routine activities.

However, if your dog has gray body hair and you are sure that it isn’t old enough to have this condition, consult your vet for further instructions regarding any unusual conditions.

It is possible in some cases that dogs don’t get gray hair in their entire lifespan, and in some cases, premature graying is seen. So, this method isn’t entirely accurate for age determination.

Hearing Ability

The hearing ability in dogs is pretty excellent, and it surely does deteriorate with aging. If you strongly feel that your dog is having more trouble hearing from you than before, it may be a reliable sign that your dog is getting older.

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It is also possible due to any other underlying ear issue that rarely occurs, so it is best to let your vet check once and give the diagnosis.

Dogs usually lose their hearing ability in the senior stage, and if your dog still has sharp hearing skills, then it is no chance your doggy is old at present.

Every particular dog is different in its way, but it’s highly possible that if you got a new dog with hearing issues, it might be either older or physically disabled.

Activity Levels

Young dogs are incredibly active, energetic, and playful most of the time. But if your dog persistently remains inactive and sluggish, your dog may have entered the senior years.

Adult or Young dogs can stay inactive in only rare conditions like sickness, acute illness, or severe disorders for a short time. These are some of the symptoms that you may observe in a dog approaching old age:

  • Stops playing for long stretches
  • Takes more naps in a day
  • Decreased hearing ability
  • Poor eyesight
  • Cardiac and excretory issues
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Loss of interest in playing games
  • Muscle loss, Arthritis, and weak body
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Feels lethargic after long walks
  • Partial limping or trouble in climbing stairs
  • Slow healing of wounds
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Senior dogs have problems staying active and frequently moving due to improper body functioning and low energy levels, which we should not force to perform a heavy exercise.

So, if your dog is flamboyantly active and running around like a crazy kid, you have a young dog, and its senior years are far-flung.

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Body Shape

When the activity levels decrease, and regular exercising stops in the dog due to possible approaching of old age, the body doesn’t have an outlet to sweat or burn calories which ultimately causes obesity, deformation in body shape, fatty deposits in unusual areas in the body, and accumulation of harmful fatty acids in the liver.

Behavior

Behavioral changes certainly occur in old age dogs due to weak body functioning and unhealthy routine. They may become more fearful of sudden noises or movements, develop anxiety, face loneliness, get afraid quickly, and avoid new experiences.

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These issues are most likely to occur if you restrict your dog’s lifestyle or routine habits and don’t give proper exposure to them as puppies and young dogs.

However, along with negative changes, some positive changes like patience, attentiveness, and a quiet lifestyle also are taught in the dog.

Caring for your furbaby at old age

When your companion gets old, it undergoes complex physiological, physical, psychological, and mental changes. These changes are occurred very subtly in their lives but go unnoticed by their owners at the start.

If you consult a vet at that time, you will get a chance to prevent your dog from suffering in silence from any underlying diseases, and you may make its old age journey decorated with your love.

Invest your time in them for managing their healthy diet, daily schedule, interactions with other dogs, sleep patterns, nutritional habits, light exercising, etc.

Please make sure that you take proper care of them by scheduling frequent periodic visits to your vet and checking their health and gradual effects in their progressive aging regarding the following factors:

  • Hearth health
  • Blood tests
  • Eyesight and Hearing ability
  • Skin health
  • Fur coat quality
  • Dental hygiene
  • Respiratory health
  • Circulatory system health
  • Weight and body condition
  • Muscular system and joints
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If you spend a reasonable amount of time taking care of your furbaby, which is in its old age, that would be a precious farewell gift for them.

Your dog cant be much entertaining for you as it was years back, but now it’s more important than ever to keep them safe and happy. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a necessity for a senior dog for various reasons:

  • Taking care of their vaccination schedule
  • Checking for any parasite infections
  • Regular wellness checkups
  • Lighthearted exercising, including brisk movements
  • Dental care
  • Highly nutritious food choices
  • Frequent body evaluations for any new disorder or malfunction

Conclusion

In conclusion, these physical indicators you observed are not the parameters you should completely trust and draw conclusive age results. The physical characteristics may vary according to plenty of reasons and might give you wrong results.

If you are misconception about the age with a substantial error margin, the precautions you would take for your dog may be unfruitful or possibly harmful.

However, if you still wish to determine their age, observe all the physical traits very carefully a few times each and evaluate the results by putting together all the information. Make a reasonably accurate educated guess and ensure that you cross-verify it with some expert on this matter.

So, calculating your dog’s age yourself is never accurate and may have high error margins. It is best to consult a professional or your vet to assist you in this matter and, if possible, don’t care for your dog, depending on how much they will live further. Love and appreciate your furbaby every moment of their life; then its age won’t matter to you unless it is explicitly required for medical or other essential purposes.

FAQs

How To Tell How Old A Stray Dog Is?

The physical characteristics that need to be evaluated for a street dog are similar to all the other dogs. Stray dogs are not any different from the dogs you consider expensive and lavish. For determining the approximate of a stray dog, look for the following traits:
Check their teeth
Observe their hearing ability
Examine their fur coat
Look at their eyes for any deformities
Consider genetic conditions
Look for muscular conditions

How To Tell How Old A Male Dog Is?

The technique for determining an approximate age for a male dog differs from the one we explained in the above sections. The gender of the dog doesn’t matter for evaluating the factors of age estimation. Observe all the explained traits for a male dog and calculate their age.

How To Tell How Old A Female Dog Is?

To determine the approximate age of a female dog, observe the physical characteristics that have been looked for in a male dog. Gender doesn’t play a role in determining age via physical traits like eyes, fur coat, genetics, eyesight, muscular health, teeth, etc.

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Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.