For as long as we can remember, we’ve multiplied our dogs’ age by 7 to convert their dog years into human years. For example, a 2-year-old dog would really be 14 years old by human standards (yay, teenagers!).
Scientists have now developed an equation using changes in canine DNA over time as a guide—that 2-year-old dog now becomes 42.
The study1 claims that puppies age rapidly at a molecular level, but that that molecular aging slows as they get older. It’s not the DNA itself, but the “wrinkles on the genome” that change, according to genetics professor Trey Ideker. In other words, “the marks on the genes that control a dog or human’s growth pattern.”
Related: Which Dog Breeds Live The Longest?
While this particular formula is based on the 104 Labrador Retrievers used in the study, we know that smaller breeds tend to live a bit longer, and larger breeds may not get as many years, so keep that in mind!
Why Do Smaller Dogs Live Longer Than Larger Dogs?
Larger breeds have shorter lifespans mainly because they age quickly. Due to their larger size, it puts more strain on their physiological processes, and they are also more vulnerable to certain physical illnesses (such as cancer). The average rule of thumb is that larger breeds have an average life expectancy of 7 years, while smaller breeds can have a life expectancy up to 14 years.
How Old is My Dog?
Go ahead and give it a try with the calculator below:
What Can I Do To Extend My Dog’s Life?
Here are some ways to extend your dog’s life expectancy:
1Wang, T., Ma, J., Hogan, A. N., Bannasch, D. L., Ostrander, E. A., & Ideker, T. (n.d.). Quantitative translation of dog-to-human aging by conserved … – cell. Cell Systems. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.cell.com/cell-systems/pdf/S2405-4712(20)30203-9.pdf