Dogs are some of our favorite creatures on this planet. They are known as “man’s best friend”, and they are bred to help and serve human beings. Despite all of this, there are a lot of myths out there about our favorite furry creatures. They remain mysterious to us in some ways due to urban legends pasted down over time. Today, we want to tackle one of the most popular urban legends about dogs.
The lifespan of a dog is not a one to seven ratio as is often believed. That is to say that one year in a dog’s life is not equal to seven years in the life of a human. A simple measurement like this doesn’t get close to covering the full scale of how to tabulate the rough approximation of a dog’s life compared to that of a human.
There are a number of factors that go into calculating the length of a dog’s life as it corresponds to that of a human. The first consideration is what the breed of the dog in question is. Different breeds have different expected lifespans. Generally, the smaller the breed, the longer the lifespan, but that doesn’t always hold true either.
Two more things to be mindful of are the weight and health condition of the dog. Both of those things help determine how old the dog is relative to human years, and how long of a lifespan is reasonable to expect from that dog. Owners should consult with their veterinarian about what an appropriate weight for their dog is and attempt to maintain that weight in them.
Early years count more
We know that the early years of a dog’s life count more in the overall calculation of how old they are relative to a human being. During the first two years of a dog’s life he or she is growing at an astounding rate. The dog develops its physical form and can double in size (or more!). That is why those early years matter so much. You can roughly determine that the first year of the dog’s life alone is equal to about 14 or 15 years of a human life.
Dog size can be broken into categories
For simplification we can break dogs down into four groups based on their weight. Small dogs would be 20 pounds or less, medium dogs 21-50 pounds, large dogs 51-90 pounds and giant dogs above 90 pounds. The larger dogs gain years more rapidly in the first years of life, and that puts them well ahead of the smaller breeds in terms of overall age in no time at all.
It is simply inaccurate to make the claim that one dog year equals seven human years because those years just don’t correspond perfectly to the ratio that is set out in that assumption without a lot of special circumstances thrown in.
Maintaining a simple formula
Those who wish to keep the formula as simple as possible and estimate the age of any dog at all on the fly can still use one formula that gets you close enough. That method is to assume 10.5 dog years for each human year for the first two years and then 4 dogs years after that. That will get you close enough to be considered pretty accurate for a general estimation.
Which dogs live the longest?
Finally, we just want to touch on the fact that mixed breed dogs tend to live longer than other dogs due to their genetics being more diversified. They can get through a lot more in terms of illnesses and the like because they have more diversified genes to withstand a lot more. The rules still apply to them in terms of size and health and all the rest of it, but apples to apples, they tend to do better than a pure breed dog.