If you’re adopting a dog from a shelter or lost track of how many years you’ve had your canine companion, you may be asking yourself, “How old is my dog?” While there’s no way to give you an exact answer, there are a few things to help you figure out roughly where your dog is in life.
Know What Breed You Have
How old your dog is can depend on what breed you have. Some breeds have longer lives than others, and the size of your breed plays a big factor in their life cycle. Small dogs often have much longer lives than large or giant dogs, so a large dog that’s middle-aged may be the same age as a small dog that’s only begun adulthood. Knowing how long the general lifespan of your dog’s breed is can help you determine where they’re at in life.
Check Their Teeth
Aside from your dog’s breed, the best way to figure out around how old they are would be to look at their teeth. Dog’s teeth, like humans, show signs of age and wear and tear as they get older. Dogs who are only 2 or 3 years old are going to have very sharp and clean teeth. At around 4 years old, a dog’s teeth will start having visible tartar buildup, which is a yellow plaque. The yellower and duller your dog’s teeth are, the older they’re going to be. Senior dogs may be missing a few teeth, or have dental issues present that show signs of their aging.
However, there are tartar removal treatments some pet owners do, and a previous owner may have taken care to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and pristine.
Check Their Eyes
Over the years, dogs develop cataracts on their eyes much like humans do. Dog’s eyes have water and protein around them, which can build up and solidify over the years, giving old dogs those characteristic cloudy eyes.
Check Their Fur
When examining your dog’s fur, you may be able to spot signs of aging around their muzzle, eyes, and paws. It’s a sure sign your dog is approaching the end of their adult stage in life if you notice some graying hairs are present. The more gray or white fur your dog has, the older they are, as older dogs stop producing melanin, which is responsible for fur pigmentation.
Monitor Their Activity Levels
If you’ve ever had a puppy or a young dog, you know just how energetic they can be. A dog’s energy levels and activities may be an indicator of their age. As dogs age, they slow down and tend to take more naps, rather than running circles around you like when they were two or three. A dog who will still play and happily go for walks, but relishes in their naps is likely to be a middle-aged adult or an adult nearing their senior years.
Monitor Their Weight
As your dog becomes slower and lazier in their everyday activities, you may notice some weight gain or fatty deposits start to appear. This is natural as the calories they’re burning no longer match up with the calories they’re eating every day, leading to weight gain and excess nutrient storage. While not necessarily a bad thing, make sure to monitor your dog’s weight, no matter their age, and take the appropriate steps to make sure they’re getting some exercise and keeping a weight that isn’t excessive.
How old is my dog is a question you may never get a proper answer to, but you may be able to get an estimate within a few years of their actual age. If you find your dog has clear eyes, sharp, white teeth, has no gray in their fur, and is full of energy, chances are your dog is probably under 4 years old. If you find your dog has a white muzzle, loves to take naps, has cloudy eyes, and their teeth are dull and yellowed, your dog is most likely a senior, though the actual age depends on their breed. If you find your dog somewhere in between those two, they’re probably in the upper half of their adult years. No matter what age your dog is, make sure to give them lots of love because they deserve it.