How Old Is My Dog? Quick Tricks to Determine Your Pet’s Age

How old is your dog if you don’t know his past? Knowing his age can help you care for him better. Learn some quick tricks to estimate his age by looking at his body, his health, and his genetics.

How Old Is My Dog? Quick Tricks to Determine Your Pet’s Age
How old is my dog? Read on to learn some quick tricks to determine your pet’s age.

Photo by Lisa Fotios

Determining a Dog's Age

If you’ve adopted or rescued a dog, you may not know his birthday or history. But knowing your dog’s age can let you care for him better. It can help you choose the right food, healthcare, and exercise most appropriate for his stage of life. But how can you find out how old your dog is if you have no clues? Let me show you some ways to estimate your dog’s age by looking at different parts of his body and health.

Take a Peek at His Teeth

One of the most reliable ways to figure out your dog’s age is to look at his teeth. Dogs have two tooth sets:

  • Baby teeth are small, white, and sharp. They appear when the puppy is around three weeks old and are gone at six months of age.
  • Adult teeth are larger, stronger, and yellower. They push out the baby teeth when the puppy is four months old and are fully grown by seven months of age.

Here are some clues to look for:

  • If your pup still has baby teeth, they are probably under six months old.
  • Dogs within the six-month to two-year age range usually have fully grown adult teeth with no signs of wear or tartar.
  • If your dog’s adult teeth show minimal signs of wear and tartar buildup, they are typically between three and five years old.
  • Dogs between five and ten have adult teeth with moderate to severe wear. This includes chips and fractures and tartar buildup.
  • If your dog is missing or has broken teeth, they are likely over ten years old and in their senior years.

Different factors, like breed, diet, and dental care, can affect canine teeth, making it harder to predict age. Factors like chewing habits, oral hygiene, and genetic issues can also influence plaque and tartar buildup.

A simple way to determine your dog’s age is to check its teeth for wear and tartar buildup.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Look at His Eyes

Different parts of a dog’s eyes can change as they age, such as clarity, color, and shape. A common age-related change is the cloudiness or blueness of the lens caused by lenticular sclerosis. Another change is the lens' whiteness or opaqueness caused by cataracts. Here are some things to look for:

  • A dog with bright and clear eyes, without cloudiness or blueness, is likely under six years old.
  • If your dog has slightly cloudy or blue eyes with no signs of whiteness or opaqueness, they're probably between six and ten years old.
  • Senior dogs over ten may have impaired vision with white or opaque eyes.

These guidelines can be affected by the environment, breed, and health. Some breeds naturally have cloudy or blue eyes. Some dogs may experience eye issues brought on by diseases, injuries, or infections unrelated to aging. Canine eyes may also be affected by genetic or health issues.

Examine His Coat

Different types of hair on a dog's body can change in color, texture, and thickness as they age. Gray hair is one of the most noticeable changes, which usually starts on their muzzle or face and spreads. Some breeds may have more or less gray than others. To tell if your dog is a mature adult or a senior, look for these signs in their coat:

  • If your dog has no gray hair on his muzzle, he is probably younger than five years old.
  • Some gray hairs around the muzzle or face suggest an age between five and ten years old.
  • Your dog is likely older than ten years if there's much gray on the muzzle, face, and body.

Older dogs often have thin or patchy coats, too, especially on their belly or lower back. They may also have dry or flaky skin that lacks suppleness. Changes like these happen because of aging, hormonal imbalances, or health issues.

The gray hairs around its muzzle indicate this dog is between five and ten years old.

Photo by Ken Reid on Unsplash

Pay Attention to His Hearing

Canine hearing changes with age. Senior dogs may have trouble hearing high-pitched noises like whistles, squeaky toys, or high-pitched voices, which can impair their ability to obey commands. Age, ear infections, ear wax buildup, or other ear issues could all play a part. To work out your dog's age by his hearing, consider the following:

  • A young dog responds well to all sounds and voices.
  • An older dog, between six and ten years old, may struggle to hear high-pitched sounds and voices.
  • A senior dog over ten years old may have difficulty responding to most sounds and voices.

Over time, dogs' ears may change in appearance and odor. You might notice more ear wax or discharge, or they may be prone to ear infections or inflammation. These changes could be due to aging but also to factors like allergies or parasites.

Consider His Muscle Tone and Build

Dogs lose muscle mass and strength over time. Look for fat pads in the lower back or lumbar area. These changes are caused by wear and tear, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, or health issues. These signs can give you an idea of your dog’s age bracket:

  • A young dog, likely under five years old, has strong and lean muscles. You can’t see or feel his ribs or spine easily.
  • A dog between five and ten years old has moderate muscle mass and some signs of bone or fat. You might be able to see the ribs or spine slightly.
  • An older dog, likely over ten years old, has low muscle mass and more signs of bone or fat. You're likely to see or feel the ribs or spine more clearly.

Your pet’s posture or gait is another consideration: older dogs may find it harder to sit, stand, or walk. Also, their joints may become more painful or stiff. They might struggle with coordination or balance. As your dog ages, your vet can give you tips on a healthy diet, exercise, and supplementation.

You can tell if your dog is a senior by looking at his mobility and health.

Photo by Jean Alves

Notice His Mobility and Activity Level

As dog owners, we know how much energy they have for physical activities. But as our companions' age, their excitement and stamina decrease. Older dogs prefer shorter or slower walks and nap more often. This can be due to general fatigue, boredom, and health issues. Here's how to judge their age group based on these factors:

  • High-energy dogs without signs of fatigue or boredom are likely less than five years old.
  • Dogs with moderate energy and stamina and some indications of fatigue or boredom are probably between five and ten years old.
  • Dogs with low energy that get bored or tired easily are likely over ten years old.

Behavioral or attitude changes are also factors: older dogs may have more mood or personality changes and experience more anxiety than younger dogs. They may also have more cognitive decline or memory loss due to aging, hormonal imbalances, or mental health issues.

Don’t Forget Genetics

Genetics can also be helpful when figuring out a dog's age. Different breeds have different life spans, so if you know your dog’s breed, you can guess his age accordingly. For example,

  • Small breeds like Chihuahuas or Toy Poodles may be young adults until five years old, mature adults until ten years old, and seniors after that.
  • On the other hand, large breeds like Great Danes or Mastiffs may be mature adults at five years old and seniors at eight or nine years old.

Here's a general rule of thumb:

  • Dogs of small breeds will be considered young adults up to seven years old, mature adults up to 12 years old, and seniors after 12 years old.
  • For medium breeds, young adulthood is up to six years old, mature adulthood is up to ten years old, and seniority starts after ten years old.
  • Large breed dogs are considered young adults until five years old, mature adults until eight years old, and seniors after eight years old.

Keep in mind that even within the same breed or size, some dogs age faster or slower than others. Some breeds may also have health issues that affect their lifespan.

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Final Thoughts

It can be tricky to know how old your dog is if you didn’t adopt them from a puppy. But knowing your dog’s age can help you give them the most appropriate care at every stage of their life. You can estimate your dog’s age by looking at his body, health, and genetics. However, these are educated guesses, and they may not be accurate. Why don’t you try these tips first and then have a chat with your vet who can give your dog a complete checkup and do some tests if needed?

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)