It is a myth that we have all heard, and probably believe it, for the most part. It is the myth that dogs age seven years for every one human year. This myth says that a 1-year-old dog will be the equivalent to a 7-year-old human.
Myth, busted This myth is wrong on multiple accounts. If this myth were true, it would mean that humans would reach sexual maturity at age seven, which we know is not the case. It would also mean that some humans would reach the age of 150.
This myth also implies that the seven dog years rule applies to all dogs and dog breeds. However, this is also not true. Smaller and larger dogs do not mature at the same rate. Also, smaller dogs tend to outlive larger breeds, which goes against this myth.
Why bother counting? This myth is all around us. We refer to “dog years” when we are talking about all kinds of topics other than dogs nowadays. It seems no matter how much research veterinarians and scientists have done, they cannot debunk this myth. It is ingrained in our culture.
But, why do we insist that the one-size-fits-all seven year ratio is true? Why do we even bother talking about it?
For dog parents, it is easy and comforting to compare our pets to us. Many of us like to compare puppies to small children since they go through many of the same or similar stages of behavior. Using dog years to compare them to us makes it easy to monitor their growth.
What the real science supports There have been a number of reports and studies done over the past 50 years about how dogs age. The results have all pointed away from this seven year myth.
The truth is much more complicated than we would like to believe. It turns out that each dog breed matures at its own pace and that smaller dogs tend to grow at a slower pace than larger dogs. However, the exact rate of growth may change over the years.
For example, a miniature poodle at one year of age may be the equivalent of 10.9 human years, while a great dane at one years old may be the equivalent of 26.8 human years. As our technology and medicine continues to improve, we will be able to keep our dogs healthier and have longer lives, which will lead these numbers to change over time.
What really matters is making sure dogs (and us humans) are able to live happy and healthy lives, and not worry so much about the number.
About the author:
Kayleigh has always loved animals and has spent time volunteering at the local dog shelter. The love of her life is her four year old Rottweiler, Lizzie. She enjoys writing for YeePet.com since it combines her love of animals with one of her favor...
See something on the Internet that you'd like us to profile in this column? Anything about pet fashion, technology or interesting is good. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.