How to Tell a Dog's Age

How to Tell a Dog’s Age

If you’ve recently acquired a dog, and it didn’t come with any records detailing its age, you may wonder just how old the dog. Since dogs typically only last around 10-15 years, you may want to know how long you can expect your furry friend to be part of your family.

Luckily, there are a few different ways to help you determine the dog’s age. Here are a few of those methods.

1. Inspect the Dog’s Teeth

Dog's Teeth

You can typically tell a dog’s age based on their teeth. It may not give you an exact year, but it can help you determine whether the dog is a puppy, a young dog, a dog at its midlife point, or an elderly dog.

Puppies start to develop their puppy teeth around eight weeks. These aren’t permanent teeth, however. They’re usually small and thin. If you see these kinds of teeth in the dog’s mouth, then you have a puppy on your hands.

At around three and a half months old, the puppy will start to lose its puppy teeth. In their place, the adult teeth start to grow. At around seven months of age, the permanent teeth should all be in place.

So, if your dog is growing teeth or needs to chew a lot because of the distress in their mouth, then you likely have a dog between the ages of three months and eight months.

After eight months, determining the dog’s age by their teeth can be a little more difficult, but it isn’t impossible. You’re going to need to inspect the amount of tartar buildup on their back teeth.

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Unless you happen to give your dog a lot of dental chews or if you brush your dog’s teeth, then this method might not work as well either. However, in the event that you don’t do much with your dog’s teeth, you can inspect them to see how much tartar has built up.

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Their teeth will typically remain white and clean for three years of age. There won’t be any sign of wear either. After three years, however, tartar build-up starts to develop.

Between the ages of three and five, you might notice some discoloration of the teeth. They’ll be duller. You’ll also see that the back teeth have some tartar on them. In addition, you might see small signs of wear.

After five years of age, the tartar build-up will be significant if dental care isn’t provided. You’ll also see far more wear on their back teeth. As the dog grows older, that build up and wear will increase.

Older dogs, especially, will have duller teeth than younger dogs.

2. Check the Eyes

If you suspect that your dog might be older, one way to help determine its age is by examining its eyes. As dogs become older, they can sometimes develop a protein on the lens of their eye. This hardening is actually a protein. It can make their eyes appear cloudy.

While your dog isn’t affected by the cloudiness as it can still see quite well, it could become a problem. You should take your dog to the vet, so they can receive treatment for the hardening protein.

This typically only occurs in older dogs. So, if you notice that your dog’s eyes are slightly cloudy, then it’s likely that they’re later in their years.

3. Fur Coloring

Just like humans, dogs can go grey. If your dog already has grey fur, this can sometimes be difficult to notice. However, some dogs develop white fur as well. Dogs typically start to go grey around seven to 10 years old.

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One of the places that they grow grey fur the most is around their muzzle. If you notice a lot of grey hair on your dog’s muzzle, then it’s likely that they’re around 10 years of age or older.

4. Check Dog’s Hearing

Dog's Hearing

Sometimes as dogs become older, they also seem to become more aggressive. However, it isn’t simply because they’re starting to become grumpy. The reason is often due to the fact that their hearing is starting to go.

Because they can’t hear as well, they are startled more easily. In response, they become aggressive.

Unfortunately, your dog’s sense of hearing can start to go in their older age. The older that they are, the more difficult time they might have in hearing. If you find yourself often calling for your dog, and your dog doesn’t respond, then it could be due to hearing loss.

The older your dog is, the more pronounced the hearing loss will be.

5. Dog’s Duration with Owners

Another way to determine your dog’s age is to do a bit of math. Think about how long the dog has been with you. If they were with you for seven years, and you received the dog when it was a puppy, then it’s likely that they’re around seven years of age. At most, the dog may be eight.

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However, if you received your dog as an adult from someone else, then you might need to do some investigating. It might be a good idea to get in contact with the previous owners. If you can determine how long the dog was with them, and then how long it’s been with you, you can estimate quite well the general age of the dog.

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6. Body Shape

Dog's body shape

While the growth of your dog is another indicator of its age, there are also a few key things about a dog’s developing body that can help determine its age. As a dog grows older, it starts to distribute its weight differently.

As the dog becomes older, fat pads start to develop around their lower back area. These are typically absent in younger dogs.

Senior dogs often have a sway-backed appearance. This is because of the mild muscle wasting that occurs with dogs. The muscle wasting results in a more prominent spine. You can also run your hands along your dog’s back to feel for their muscles and spine. If you find a prominent spine rather than muscle, your dog is likely a senior.

7. DNA Test

One last way that you can help determine your dog’s age is to have a DNA test taken. Much like DNA tests for humans, there are dog-specific DNA tests that can tell you a lot about its genetic makeup.

Besides scanning for genetic problems or defects, the test can also tell you the genetic age of the dog. This is determined by the length of certain DNA chains. As a dog grows older, the links are extended.

A DNA test is one of the most effective methods for determining your dog’s age. It may be able to narrow down from a general age to a specific year.

Can Your Vet Determine Your Dog’s Age?

Determine Your Dog's Age

While vets sometimes seem like miracle workers, they can’t always give you an exact age for your dog. However, they will utilize the methods listed above to help you come up with the general age of your dog.

They may also recommend having a genetic test performed. Besides helping you learn the age of your dog, it can also help you understand if there are any genetic diseases that are or may plague your dog in the future.

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If you’re unsure of where your dog came from or who its parents were, then a genetic test is a great idea. You won’t know if they might have a genetic condition otherwise.

How Old Can Dogs Live?

A dog’s lifespan is specific to its breed. Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. Mixes are also healthier than purebred dogs. However, most dogs typically live anywhere from 10 to 16 years of age.

The oldest dog to have ever lived, Bluey, managed to live for 29 years.

How to Tell a Dog's Age

Last update on 2019-12-13

Random Dog Quote:

“When a man’s best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem.”
-- Edward Abbey

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