6 Sure Methods on How to Tell a Dog's Age

There are many times when someone would want to know a dog's age. Perhaps you just got your puppy from the shelter, and you'd like to know how old it is. Or, maybe you have a friend that rescued a stray dog and needs to know how old it is to ask the vet what shots, etc. this dog needs. Regardless of the reason, knowing how to tell a dog's age is certainly not straightforward.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can tell what age a dog just by inspecting it!

Dog Age Progression

Before detailing how to analyze your dog's age, let's first examine the various stages of life that every dog goes through.

The first stage is the puppy stage. How long this stage lasts depends mostly on the size of the dog. Small breeds will exit the puppy stage around nine months old. Large breed dogs will cease being puppies around 15 months. 

The adult stage, which comes after the puppy stage, varies by the size of the breed. In general, for smaller dogs, they remain in the adult stage until year 7-8 where they transition to the next step. Larger dogs exit adulthood as early as year six because they have a smaller life expectancy overall.

Finally, the senior stage lasts from when the dog stops being an adult until death.

Most dog age charts will tell you that multiplying by 6 for small dogs and 8 for big dogs will get you the equivalent age in "human years." If your dog is little and is five years old, you'll multiply five by six to get 30. So your dog would be reasonably young overall. Conversely, if you have a substantial dog and multiply that number by eight, you'll get 40. So a giant dog is entering into its midlife.

One of the First Signs of Old Age in Your Dog: Dull, Worn Teeth

The teeth of a dog tell a big story. Under 3.5 months old, a dog won't have any teeth. Then, around four months, they'll start getting them all in until seven months. Those newly minted pearly whites will remain clean for the first year, and then around that time, you'll start to see some dullness.

By three years, their new teeth will begin to show some signs of use. Expect to see some tartar build-up and for them to be dull. From ages 3-5, more tartar will get on those teeth. Finally, after five, the dog's teeth will start to look worn and diseased.

If you get your dog's mouth open wide enough and long enough to take a close look at their teeth, you can have a reasonably good idea of how old they are.

Check the Eyes

After some time, dogs will develop thickening in their eyes that will be visible to you. Their eyes might appear more cloudy than average. If this happens, you know you have an older dog since it rarely occurs when dogs are young. 

Get Your Dog's Age via the Color of Their Fur

Much like with humans, a dog's fur also grays as it gets older. If you're noticing some gray hairs, you have a dog that is likely at least seven to ten years old.

Of course, this certainly isn't a guaranteed rule. Some dogs will never get gray hair, and others will. Some dogs will get it when they're younger in life. If you see gray hair, call your vet, and ask how they want to proceed (wait it out, bring the dog in, do a biopsy, etc.).

Hearing

If your dog has more reduced hearing now than they once did, that's often a reliable sign that your dog is getting older. Usually, dogs lose their hearing in the senior years, so if your dog has its hearing intact, that often means that your dog isn't in the upper years. 

Every dog is different, but if your newly-acquired dog has hearing issues, there's a good chance that you acquired an older dog.

Activity Levels

Older dogs aren't as playful or energetic as the younger ones. If you see your dog's activity levels going down, then you must have a more senior dog. However, if your dog is running around like crazy and acting like a kid, he or she is ready to move to the next level.

There Are Many Ways to Check a Dog's Age

How to tell a dog's age? There are many ways! Please note that none of the methods above will work with 100% preciseness for 100% of the situations, but they should give you a ballpark figure.

Does a dog's bark change with age?

Yes, it does! Over many years your dog's voice box will lose its ability to make sounds loud. A senior dog's bark is less noisy and tends to be more muffled than a young dog. Please note that there are also medical conditions that can cause a weak or muffled bark. If your dog has suddenly "lost" its ability to speak, take it to the vets. You're better to be safe than sorry.

How do you calculate a dog's age to human age?

The formula to calculate from dog years to human years is not as precise as it is with cats. You can arrive at a rough approximation by multiplying the dog's age by six to get the total number of human years for smaller dogs. For example, if you have a Yorkshire Terrier that's ten years old, you would be looking at a 60-year-old dog. Conversely, if you have a bigger dog, you'll need to multiply the age by eight years to get the equivalent human age. So a 10-year-old Giant Schnauzer would be eighty years old!

How to figure out your dog's age?

There are many ways, but, to summarize, look at the teeth, eyes, fur, and teeth for any signs of age. If all of those look young, you can have reasonable confidence that the dog is a puppy or young adult. Conversely, if those look old, you might have a senior dog on your hands!

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Written by Leo Roux

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