There is no doubt that your dog is a source of some mysteries. Maybe you have adopted an adult dog and need to know its age. Having a pet dog means you have to keep on solving various problems. For example, where did your favourite slippers go, and where is that smell coming from? The age of your dog is yet another mystery that most people fail to solve. Knowing the age of your dog helps you to determine their diet and preventive measures that they need. It will also help you to make sure that they lead a healthier and happier life. So, how can you determine the age of your pet dog?
Inspection is the simplest and the easiest way for you to determine the age of your dog. Of course, you can conduct some of the expensive tests, like DNA analysis. But all those tests are costly and take time. Check the teeth, coat colour, and size to determine the age of your dog.
The ageing process of a dog
Before we talk about your dog’s age in details, let’s analyse the stages of progression that a dog goes through its entire life.
It is the first stage of the life of a dog. The length of the puppy stage varies from one breed to him next. Generally, the smaller dogs enjoy a more prolonged puppy stage than the larger dogs. The large dogs exit the puppy stage when they are about 15 months old.
This stage comes right after once the puppy stage is over. This stage varies depending on the breed type. The larger dogs have a relatively smaller adulthood phase than that of the smaller breeds. The smaller dogs remain adult for about seven-eight years, while the larger dogs move on to the next stage after six years.
This stage starts when the dog stops being an adult and lasts till they breathe their last breath.
The veterinary professionals use various charts to calculate the dog’s age to human age. Generally, multiplying the smaller dogs’ age with six and the larger dogs with eight gives you the human equivalent age of your pet dog.
Old age dog signs to check for
You can keep on checking the various physical aspects of your pet dog to determine its age. The condition of their teeth, coat, size can give you a clear indication of their age.
Examining the teeth is one of the most reliable ways to determine the age of your dog. If you have bought a puppy, you can guess its approximate age by checking on its teeth’ growth level. The puppies do not have any teeth till they are four weeks old. The puppies aged four weeks to eight weeks, however, have needle-sharp teeth.
Most puppies start growing permanent teeth when they are about three months old. The permanent teeth of the dogs stay bright and clean till they become one year old.
After the first year, the teeth of your puppy may start showing signs of ageing. In the beginning, you can see the spots of plaque and the stains on their teeth. As time passes, the teeth of your dog would become a bit yellow. You can also spot visible plaque on them.
The dogs of about five years of age have visible signs of tartar on their teeth. Their teeth can become less pointed, and for some dogs, their teeth start to wear down. During this time, the dogs become increasingly vulnerable to various dental diseases, and they start losing teeth. The older dogs often have loose and cracked teeth.
It is impossible to determine the birthday of your dog just by looking at their teeth. However, you can surely narrow it down by checking their condition.
Humans hair gets grey little by little as they become older. Likewise, their furry friends also become a little grey as they age. So, you can determine the approximate age of your dog just by checking their coat. Between the age of seven and ten, the dogs tend to get some grey on their chest, muzzles and haunches.
Saying that, just like their humans, the dogs can also become grey before age. Please do not confuse the grey in their coat with their age always. Sometimes, grey fur can occur due to excessive anxiety and stress.
The eyes of your pet dog are yet another place where your dogs show their age. As the dog becomes older, their eyes start to get cloudy. Just like humans, it is also a part of the normal ageing process of dogs. Still, it is a good idea to talk to your vet if you notice that your dog’s eyes are becoming cloudy.
Only the vet can determine whether the cloudy eyes are appearing because of their advanced age or suffering from ocular diseases. The vets also can help you to understand whether your dog is suffering from any discomfort. As they age, some dogs tend to lose their vision completely. Others can develop cataract that requires treatment as they become older.
Vision is not the only thing that you should be worried about in your dog. As the dogs get older, they start losing their hearing abilities as well. In the younger days, dogs have a sharp hearing ability. But the ageing process can create a problem in that as well. If you notice that your dog is having trouble answering your call, you should get in touch with your vet. The vet can check the hearing ability of your dog. They can also help you develop a care routine for the dogs that have lost the ability to hear completely.
You can also check the muscle build of your dog to narrow down their age. The muscle tone of the dogs’ changes as they start ageing. Thanks to that, their body shape also changes with time. You can even narrow down the age of your pet dog by checking up on their muscle tone.
For example, puppies have rounded and soft bodies with little or no muscle tone. They also have ears and paws that tend to look oversized compared to the rest of their bodies. However, young and middle-aged dogs tend to have a well-shaped body with proper muscle tone. With age, the body shape of older dogs change. They can lose their muscle tone and can start to carry extra weight. Some dogs, however, tend to become a bit boney.
The younger dogs have a lot of energy. They rarely stay in the same place and love to be out and about. As the dog’s age, they lose their energy and tend to become less active. The older dogs can even have difficulties in climbing the stairs, running or jumping.
Older dogs often show less interest in playing with their human companions. Instead, they prefer to take naps on the cosy corners of you the sofa. Keep an eye out on the activity levels of your dog. It will help you to understand whether they are suffering from old age. Also, check on the movement of your dog. Some of the older dogs suffer from problems like limited joint mobility and stiffness of the legs.
Does the bark of a dog change with age?
Yes. The bark of your dog can also change over time. As the dog’s age, their voice box loses its ability to make loud sounds. The bark of the senior dogs is less noisy than the younger ones. The older dogs tend to bark with a muffled voice. But that does not always mean the muffled bark is a sign of old age.
Sometimes various medical issues can also make the bark of the younger dog muffled. So, if you think that your dog has lost its natural voice quite suddenly, do not hesitate to take it to the vet right away.
Why do smaller dogs live longer?
While it is a truth, the researchers are yet to find a suitable answer to this question. Generally, the larger mammals tend to live a longer life than the smaller ones. However, it is not valid in dogs. The larger breeds tend to age faster than the smaller ones.
Scientists concluded that the life expectancy gets reduced by one month by every 4.4 pounds of your dog’s body mass. The larger dogs also suffer from age-related issues more than that of the smaller ones. Numerous studies are going on right now to find out the answer to this puzzle.
There is no doubt that determining the age of dogs is one of the most challenging jobs. Even the experienced vets sometimes get baffled while determining the age of adult dogs. The only way to remedy this is to document even the slightest changes. You can also take photos of your pet and compare it with the older ones to check out the differences. Talk to your vet to find out more about the physical condition of your dog. Veterinary professionals will also guide you about the steps you should take to help your dog age gracefully.
About the Author
Teresa has been a pet lover since she was little. She currently lives with two dogs and two cats, and a hamster. Teresa is a qualified dog groomer and canine behaviourist; these days, she spends her time studying canine nutrition. Teresa is the founder of the Dog Friendly Scene and loves sharing her knowledge on pets.