Why Do Dogs Age Faster Than Humans? (4 Reasons)

by Stuart | Last Updated:   October 12, 2021

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Not only do dogs have shorter lives than humans, their bodies actually age faster than humans. Different breeds age differently, with small dog breeds in general living longer than large ones. Large dog breeds will have a rate of aging faster than most smaller breeds. A large or giant breed could be looking at a lifespan of only 10 to 12 years. On the other hand, some smaller dog breeds, if kept healthy, can have an additional few years in their average lifespans.

A dog of old age and a eldery person laying on couch hugging and napping

What Causes Dogs to Age Faster Than Humans?

It can be difficult to accept that dogs age significantly faster than us. However, it’s our unfortunate reality, and here are some of the reasons why dogs age faster than humans.

  1. Size: On average, smaller dogs live much longer than large dog breeds. For example, the average life expectancy of Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers is up to 15 years or even more. However, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds have an average life expectancy of around 8 to 10 years. 
  2. Genetics: The genes your dog inherits from its parents play a crucial role in determining its age. Genetics will tell you about the diseases they are prone to and how quickly they age. 
  3. Wear and tear: Dogs love and need – exercise, but overworking your dog can have detrimental effects on their health. Heat exhaustion, muscular pain, and the deterioration of paw pads caused by wear and tear can lead to an early departure for our furry companions.
  4. Brain: Humans have much larger brains than their animal counterparts. Our brains use a huge amount of energy and take a long time to develop, resulting in a slower journey to sexual maturity. Dogs with smaller brains can grow faster and sexual maturity quickly and breed rapidly in much greater numbers.

Do Dogs Really Age 7 Times Faster?

Contrary to popular opinion, dogs actually don’t age 7 human years for each year in dog years. The long-believed theory: “1 dog year = 7 human years” is not supported by science. According to AKC (American Kennel Club), here is how you calculate dog years to human years:

  • 15 human years equals the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life
  • Year two for a dog is about nine years for a human
  • Each human year would be around five years for a dog

Every dog breed has its own expected life span. Usually, larger dogs live far shorter lives than their smaller counterparts.

How Does a Dog Become Old?

It can vary to a degree, but dogs are generally considered “senior” at seven years of age. Here’s how a dog becomes old.

Dog yearsHuman years
744 to 56
1056 to 78
1577 to 115
2096 to 120

Some of the hallmarks of aging in dogs include:

  • Greying muzzle
  • Slowing down or difficulty getting around
  • Increased barking
  • Cloudy eyes or difficulty seeing
  • Hearing loss
  • Stiffness 
  • Awful breath due to tooth decay
  • Weight fluctuation

It’s important to note that physical signs of aging might look different in dog breeds.

Help Your Dog Live a Long and Healthy Life

Just like us, age is not a disease for dogs. There are some ways and preventative measures you can take to give your dog a long and fulfilled life.

Here’s how you can help your dog live a long and healthy life:

  • Feed the right diet: Feed a high-quality diet that’s specially formulated to provide all the nutrients your dog needs. Give your dog high-quality dog food designed for a specific breed and life stage. This will ensure that your doggie gets all the nutrients they require. 
  • Stay on top of preventative care: Consult with your veterinarian on when to vaccinate your dog, the benefits of spaying/neutering, and how to protect your pet against parasites. By spaying or neutering your dog, vaccinating them, and staying up to date with parasite prevention, you’ll help improve their longevity.
  • Schedule regular vet visits: You should be visiting your veteranarian on an annual basis at minimum, and regular check-ups from will help to detect any health issues and hopefully get them treated before they turn into more serious problems. 

Dog Breeds With Long Lifespans

When you’re ready to bring home a dog, choosing one of these breeds will keep you in terrific company for many years to come. 

  • Maltese, Average lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Beagle, Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Australian Shepherd, Average lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Shih Tzu, Average lifespan: 10 to 16 years
  • Australian Cattle Dog, Average lifespan: 12 to 16 years
  • Toy Poodle, Average lifespan: 10 to 18 years
  • Chihuahua, Average lifespan: 12 to 20 years
  • Dachshund, Average lifespan: 12 to 16 years
  • Jack Russell Terrier, Average lifespan: 13 to 18 years
  • Yorkshire Terrier, Average lifespan: 13 to 16 years
  • Pomeranian, Average lifespan: 12 to 16 years

What Are the Visual Signs of Aging in Dogs?

Dogs show a variety of signs of aging, both physically and mentally. Some signs of dogs aging include:

  • A graying muzzle
  • Slowing down
  • Increased barking
  • Cloudy eyes might be due to cataract formation, which can affect their ability to see
  • Stiffness and may have difficulty getting around
  • Weight fluctuation

It’s important to note that signs of aging can look different in dog breeds.

Final Thoughts

As dogs become more emotionally intertwined with human life, the issue of their shorter life spans, as compared to ours, has become a troubling issue.

As dogs get older, they require more care and attention. Dogs are more prone to age-related problems as they progress into their senior years. Obviously, your goal is to keep your dogs as healthy as possible as they enter their senior years. 

The yearly wellness examination for senior dogs allows your vet to assess a dog’s health status. The best way is to provide a healthy lifestyle and detect disease early so that intervention can occur timely.

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.
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