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Forget what you were told; not every dog year is equal to 7 human years

Forget what you were told; not every dog year is equal to 7 human years
/ Image by cuppyuppycake / Moment / Getty Images

Myth busted

For years, we’ve been told that in order to compare a dog's age to that of a person, you should multiply the dog's age by 7 to compute how old the canine is in human years. Now, it seems that information isn’t actually true, and the simple rule of 7 dog years to 1 human year is far from accurate.

New research published Thursday in the Cell Systems journal debunks that theory, arguing that dogs and humans don’t age at the same rate.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new formula that takes a closer look at the difference between how dogs and humans age. According to a release, the study shows how dogs age at a much faster rate than humans early in their lives but slow down after reaching maturity.

Based on the study, a one-year-old dog compares to a 30-year-old human and a four-year-old dog to a 52-year-old human. Apparently, the rate of aging decreases after dogs turn 7.

After careful consideration, it does make sense. If humans actually aged seven times slower than dogs, then many of us would be able to reproduce at age seven and live to be 150 years old. Unlike humans, dogs can reach full sexual maturity after only one year of being born, and depending on the size of the dog, your pup can get pregnant as early as six months to eighteen months of age.

Although the origin of the seven-year myth is unknown, it has become clear that the development of a dog’s life is not linear, and it changes depending on their size and breed.

Therefore, it is best to check with a veterinarian. A professional is much more qualified to give advice about how to properly take care of your pet during each stage of life. We recommend referring to this graphic from the study which makes the age comparisons easier to understand and provides some helpful context for dog owners.

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