If the pet has entered the family as an adult or grown-up puppy, then most owners are interested in the question of how to determine the age of the dog, and this is absolutely correct. After all, dogs of different ages have their own needs both for nutrition and for walking and caring.
Why know your pet’s age
There are a number of reasons why owners should know how old the pet is:
- Firstly, it is necessary in order to vaccinate your four-legged friend in time. Most vaccines are given according to age. A young animal is vaccinated every 12 months. But when it reaches maturity, vaccinations are carried out much less often, since the immune system at this age begins to weaken and the viruses introduced with the vaccine can harm the dog’s body.
- Secondly, to determine the appropriate period for mating. This is especially important for bitch owners to calculate the onset of estrus.
- Third, to calculate a convenient time for castration or sterilization. Not all people want to deal with offspring, so they resort to the services of veterinarians. But the fact is that too early an operation, as well as in old age, can harm the dog. Most veterinarians recommend performing this procedure at the age of 6-7 years, without looking at whether the dog has given birth or not. Many owners castrate or neuter a pet in order to extend its life cycle, to help avoid health problems – cancer, prostatitis, uterine prolapse, genital infections, etc.
In addition, the ability to determine the age of dogs is necessary for those who volunteer, accommodate stray animals, work in shelters and veterinary clinics. After giving a four-legged friend to a new family, you must provide all the available information about him.
There are several options for calculating the age category of dogs.
The main ways to determine age
It should start with the fact that experts divide dogs into several age groups:
- puppies – dogs from birth to two months;
- young individuals – up to one and a half years;
- adult dogs – over 18 months.
Experts most often use the method of evaluating a dog’s teeth. This principle is based on the regularity of the appearance of teeth, their abrasion, and then the period of their change and abrasion of the permanent dentition. As in humans, in dogs they change once, and if she lived in suitable conditions, had good nutrition and a correct bite, then her age can be determined as accurately as possible by her teeth.
How to determine the age of a dog by the teeth? The following features are observed:
- if there are no teeth in the oral cavity at all, then we are talking about a newborn baby, which is a maximum of two weeks old;
- at three weeks, the puppy begins the process of teething;
- the front incisors appear at the age of one month;
- on the 35th day, the puppy’s molars erupt, while the milk ones;
- a baby is 1-2 months old with normal development, the entire dentition is present.
If the puppy has not erupted all its teeth by two months, then it has significant health problems and it would not hurt to show it to the veterinarian.
The next sign of age in dogs is changing teeth:
- In the period from 2 to 4 months, the front incisors, including the toes, change in puppies. Such an advance in age is determined by the fact that in different breeds the change of teeth begins in different ways.
- In the period from 3 to 5 months, the lateral and middle teeth are replaced.
- By six months, the puppies lose their milk teeth, and new ones begin to grow.
- Complete replacement of teeth occurs by six, to a maximum of eight months.
The final stage of calculating the age of the puppies occurs at 12 months. The dog is already formed, has a muscular corset, and often has a full coat (but not in all breeds). The teeth of one-year-old dogs are snow-white, with tubercles (they usually bite out fleas) and resemble a serrated blade of a knife.
In the future, it is the tubercles, which have an unusual trident shape, that are the determining link for finding out the age of the pet. It is at the level of their abrasion that professional veterinarians and dog handlers look, if you need to say how old the dog is. Their condition is divided into several stages:
- Two years. At this time, the dog shows abrasion of the tubercles on the lower toes. After that, there are no major changes.
- Four years. By this period, the bumps of the hooks on the upper jaw are erased, the enamel coating of the teeth loses its shine and becomes matte.
- Five years. There is a complete erasure of tubercles on all incisors, dullness of the canines is often observed, the enamel acquires a noticeable yellow tint.
- Six years. At this time, significant changes take place – the incisors change shape (they are concave), and determining the correct bite becomes very difficult. The enamel turns yellow even more.
- Eight to ten years. The abrasion of the teeth is pronounced, the canines become dull, the teeth, in addition to the obvious yellowness, can be covered with plaque. Tartar formation is often observed.
- Over ten years old. At this age, dogs begin to loose teeth, fall out, often the formation of caries. This is the most obvious sign of a pet’s advanced age.
Other methods for determining age
If it is not possible to determine age by teeth, then you can try to do this by appearance and behavioral characteristics:
- A young pet has well-developed muscles, which can be felt when stroking. In addition, a young animal spends little time sleeping, being more in motion.
- An old dog has a flabby muscle corset, obesity is often diagnosed. The dog gets tired quickly on walks, sleeps more. Visible calluses appear on the elbows and joints.
Such signs are very similar to human ones, because an old person is much less active than a young one.
Determining the age by the condition of the coat may not give reliable results, since the coat is influenced not only by age, but also by a lot of factors. In addition, in some breeds it is absent altogether.
But if there is a comprehensive assessment of the dog’s qualities, then a silky coat with shine is a sign of a young animal. And if it is dull, heterogeneous, with gray hair (especially in the area of the muzzle), then this may indicate that the animal is elderly. But you should also know that gray hair with pigmentation disorders can be in young individuals.
You can try to determine the age of the pet by the eyes. A young dog has clear eyes, most often with a cheerful, mischievous shine. The old dog has a certain cloudiness of the eyes, especially the pupils, there is no transparency, there is no more enthusiasm and playfulness in the look, cheerful sparks. Often, the eyes become deeper-set, the animal may have decreased vision and various eye diseases. But cloudiness of the eyeball can also signal the presence of disease.
Comparison of the age of a dog and a person
Many owners are interested in information on how to determine the age of a dog by human standards.
Modern experts have found that the old calculation system, where one year of a person equals seven years of a dog, is absolutely wrong. After all, the development of dogs proceeds in different ways in different life periods. For example, only in the first year of life, an animal undergoes a lot of changes – from a dairy puppy to a sexually mature dog, that is, if compared with a person – from a newborn baby to a 16-year-old teenager. It turns out that the seven-year calculation is not at all suitable for these calculations.
At two years old, a dog corresponds to 25 human years, that is, it is already a fully developed, adult animal. That is, in a year, the pet overcomes a ten-year human period, it becomes more serious and obedient, its behavior is significantly different from that of a puppy.
After two years, the development of a beloved pet slows down significantly. And it is from this time that the classical calculation can be made – 1 year is equal to 7. But in this case, taking into account the individuality of the dog and its belonging to a particular breed, the result will be an average.
Everyone knows that small-breed dogs do not age as quickly as large ones, and their life cycle is much longer. Their age is calculated based on the fact that one year corresponds to five human years. Medium-sized dogs live six human years in a year, and representatives of large breeds live seven.
An attentive attitude towards your beloved dog, good and caring care will help keep her healthy and prolong her youth.