By adopting a dog, we would therefore like to be able to keep it with us for life, but here it is: the longevity of the dog is much less than that of the human. That said, when is a dog considered old? At what age will he be part of the “golden age” group? In this month of animal geriatrics, let’s take a look at what the life stages of dogs are and where yours fits in there.
• Read also: Animal geriatrics: can a dog become senile?
Until what age can we say that a puppy is a puppy? At what age does he become an adult or a senior dog? Do not just rely on the appearance of white hairs! The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has published guidelines on several topical veterinary topics including, but not limited to, life stage guidelines for dogs. Let us summarize these four stages of life.
1. The Puppy
This period extends from birth to the end of the animal’s rapid growth period, ie between 6 and 9 months.
2. The young adult
This period extends from the end of the animal’s rapid growth period to the end of the animal’s physical and social maturation, around the age of 3 or 4 years.
3. The mature adult
This period extends from the end of the animal’s physical and social maturation (around the age of 3 or 4 years) to the beginning of the last quarter (25%) of the animal’s estimated lifespan. For example, the last quarter will be at 15 years if the dog’s estimated life expectancy is 20 years.
4. The senior dog
This period corresponds to the last quarter (25%) of the animal’s estimated lifespan. For example, if a dog has an estimated life expectancy of 10 years, it becomes senior at the age of 7 and a half.
Life expectancy and life stages
However, you will no doubt have understood that the duration of each of these life stages varies according to the size of the dog in adulthood. Small breed dogs will finish growing sooner than large breed dogs, however, the former will often live longer than the latter.
Yes, the longevity of life is greater in small dogs! Thus, dogs of small breeds will reach their “golden age” later than larger dogs. Large dogs reach their “golden age” more quickly… Thus, it is not uncommon to see a Chihuahua live beyond 15 or 16 years while a Great Dane has an expectation of life of less than 10 years.
Life stage calculation
How do you know where your dog fits in there?
A fun and easy way is to use the AAHA calculator on their website at: aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/life-stage-canine-2019/canine-life-stage-calculator/. We just have to enter the breed of our dog and its age in the calculator and voila!
To find out at what age our dog becomes a senior dog, we can also carry out a search to find out its estimated life expectancy and then do a simple calculation by multiplying the life expectancy by 0.75.
Broadly speaking, small dogs live between 15 and 16 years old, medium dogs between 12 and 14 years old and large dogs between 10 and 12 years old.
Beyond all these figures, certain things are not misleading, because clearly visible physical changes take place in aging dogs: the appearance of whitish hairs on the head and body, slightly more hanging lips, a certain muscle wasting and a look imbued with wisdom from the good old doggie that we love so much.