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Dog Years

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Dog years refer to a popular myth that household pets—specifically dogs and cats—age seven years for each human year. For example, a dog of age 9 would be said to be "63 in dog years".

In technical terms, this is not correct: Most household pets do not age in any linear correspondence with human aging. Dogs and cats age much more quickly in their early life than in their later life relative to humans. For example, the human equivalent of a one-year-old cat or dog is actually between about 10 and 15 years—a one-year-old dog or cat has generally reached its full growth and is sexually mature, although it might still be lanky and need to fill in a more mature musculature, similar to human teenagers. The second year is equivalent to about another 3 to 8 years in terms of physical and mental maturity, and each year thereafter is equivalent to only about 4 or 5 human years.[1]

However, even that rough guideline varies immensely from breed to breed. For example, giant dog breeds might suffer from arthritis and heart disease by the age of 7 or 8, while some small terrier breeds might live 20 years. According to the UC Davis Book of Dogs, small-breed dogs (such as small terriers) become geriatric at about 11 years; medium-breed dogs (such as larger spaniels) at 10 years; large-breed dogs (such as German Shepherd Dogs) at 8 years; and giant-breed dogs (such as Great Danes) at 7 years.[2] Conversely, giant breeds mature mentally and physically more slowly than small breeds.

With the advent of computerized data collection for breeds and for veterinarians, it has become possible to establish reliable records for average and typical life expectancies of animals. British life expectancy data show that mixed-breed dogs have a life expectancy of 13.2 years; some breeds, including the Bernese Mountain Dog, Bulldog, and Irish Wolfhound, have median life expectancies of only around 7 years, while the median is over 14 years for some small dogs, including Whippetss, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Dachshunds, Bedlington Terriers, and Jack Russell Terriers.[3]


  1. . ^ Spadafori, Gina (1996). Dogs for Dummies. IDG Books. ISBN 1-56884-861-7
  2. . ^ Siegal, Mordecai (Ed.; 1995). UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Book of the Dogs; Chapter 5, "Geriatrics", by Aldrich, Janet. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-270136-3.
  3. . ^ Fogle, Bruce, DVM (2000). The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. Doring Kindersley (DK). ISBN 0-7894-6130-7.

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