If you’ve taken in a stray or adopted a dog, it can be hard to determine how old he is. And while Fido may act like a big clumsy puppy, looks can be deceiving. That old saying, “Dogs live seven years for every one human year” isn’t really accurate since that little formula only works if you know a dog’s age. However, you can “guesstimate” your canine pal’s age by tracking a few telltale signs.
The first thing to remember is Fido’s size and breed play a huge role in determining his lifespan. Smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas, tend to live longer than larger dogs, and during the first 2-3 years of their lives, they also mature faster.
On the flipside, larger breeds, like the Great Dane, grow more slowly as pups. By age five, doggy middle age is already upon a Great Dane, while a five-year-old Chihuahua would only be in his early-30s in human years.
The condition of Fido’s choppers also offers information about his age. Puppies younger than four weeks old typically have no teeth at all. In fact, Fido will have to reach three to four months old before he starts growing permanent teeth. They’ll also be a clean white at this stage.
As a dog ages, you’ll start to see more plaque, stains, and tartar. Around age five, plaque and tartar really start to develop, and Fido’s teeth may be less pointed or slightly worn down. At this stage, dental disease risks increase considerably. And canines ten years old and older often have loose, cracked, or missing teeth.
Much like with humans, gray hairs are telling signs of aging on dogs. Between seven and ten years old, your pooch will get gray or white hairs on his muzzle, chest, and haunches. However, some dogs develop gray hairs at a young age, oftentimes due to stress and anxiety.
Fido’s eyes also hold clues about his age. Over time, a dog’s eyes tend to get cloudy and produce discharge. These changes usually start appearing between six and eight years old. Vision loss or cataracts are also more common in senior dogs.
This one’s a pretty easy sign to spot. Anyone who’s had a puppy knows how energetic they can be. As Fido ages, he’ll probably prefer napping on the couch to running in the park.
Do you have questions about your dog’s age and health needs? Contact us today!