My previous Devon Rex was dumped at a shelter after 18 months being locked in a room. She’d been bought on the misguided belief that she wouldn’t cause cat allergy. It took me years to get her settled after that rough start, and it could have been worse.
I’ve seen plenty of animal lovers who are allergic to their pets. It’s heartbreaking to watch. The good news is there are things you can do to help.
We’ve all heard the saying: “multiply your dog’s age by seven to get the human age.” Like most simple rules, there’s a lot wrong with that:
Dogs age at different rates to people depending on how old they are. They age much faster when young and slower when old.
The number ‘seven’ has been chosen to match our lifespan to an arbitrary dog age of eleven. No vet would consider 11 an accurate dog lifespan any more.
Here is a more modern and less simplistic view:
Dog Years to Human Years 1 is equivalent to 15 2 is equivalent to 23 3 is equivalent to 28 4 is equivalent to 33 5 is equivalent to 38 6 is equivalent to 43 7 is equivalent to 48 8 is equivalent to 53 9 is equivalent to 57 10 is equivalent to 61 11 is equivalent to 65 12 is equivalent to 69 13 is equivalent to 73 14 is equivalent to 77 15 is equivalent to 81 16 is equivalent to 85 17 is equivalent to 89 18 is equivalent to 93 19 is equivalent to 97 20 is equivalent to 101
after this add 3 human years for each dog year. This approach is an amalgamation of several modern theories first proposed by Lebeau (1953). The Wikipedia page on dog ageing gives a good summary.
The two methods only agree around middle age, as you can see by the graph.
Even if more accurate, the new approach brings up two questions:
Do Large Dogs Age Faster?
Everyone says it, but what is the evidence? There isn’t much. All people are doing is observing that certain large breeds have shorter lifespans. That’s not the same thing.
The dog breeds famous for short lifespans are the giant breeds like Great Danes and Wolfhounds. I think that the diseases they are known for (bone cancer and dilated cardiomyopathy) take them while they are still in the prime of life. If we look at the large breeds, like Golden Retrievers for example, it’s not at all clear that they live any shorter lives than small dogs.
When Is A Dog Considered Old?
British is an Airedale terrier who inspired this blog. By the old method, he’s 63 years old and even the new way says he’s 57. Most importantly, in his head, he’ll always be a teenager.
Dogs are only as old as they feel. I don’t think we should talk about ‘old age’ in dogs the way we do about people being retired or pensioners. True, knowing the equivalent human age is helpful in thinking about healthcare but it says nothing about their state of mind.
When I wrote about how to know when to go to the vet I said all change is meaningful. Old age is just the sum total of separate diseases. If we keep them under control our dogs can feel and act young right up to their senior years.
Lebeau, A. (1953). L’âge du chien et celui de l’homme. Essai de statistique sur la mortalité canine. Bulletin de l’Academie Veterinaire de France, 26, 229-232. The matching of human and dog ages in this visionary study from 1953 has stood the test of time and become the basis for modern approaches to assessing dog age.
What do you think when you see a dog like this? Many people would say he’s not pretty, or pedigreed, and he probably doesn’t have too many fine manners. Of course we’d disagree. And more and more dog lovers are also seeing the rough diamond in these dogs. Continue reading “Are Staffy Cross Dogs Good Pets?”
Runt. What a powerful word. It instantly brings to mind images of poor, sickly puppies destined to never be as healthy as their brothers and sisters.
What if the whole idea of the runt of the litter is a myth? Well that’s what I think, anyway. My 20 years tell me you can take home the smaller puppies without having poorer health, as long as you follow a few basic rules… Continue reading “Myth 29: The runt of the litter”