Many people adopt or rescue dogs from shelters, but this means their backgrounds are often unknown, including when they were born. Luckily, there are many factors vets use to help estimate the age of your furry friend. Understanding your dog's age is imperative for ensuring you are meeting their needs. If you would like to know more, check out these three factors that are used to determine the age of a dog.
1. The Dog's Overall Body Shape
Start by considering the size and breed of your dog. If your dog is a lab, but it's still small, it's probably a puppy. Naturally, this can be harder to judge with smaller dogs, especially mixed breeds, but there are signs you can watch for. If your dog doubles in size in the first few months, it was probably a puppy. On the other hand, an older dog may have some physical problems like hip dysplasia, which can cause pain and difficulty walking.
It's also important to consider the dog's body shape and size because smaller dogs tend to live longer than bigger dogs. On average, small dogs have a lifespan of 14.95 years, medium dogs live an average of 13.86 years, and large dogs live 13.38 years. However, the breed can play a role too. For example, one study found that Great Pyrenees lived 11.55 years on average while Great Danes lived an average of 9.63 years.
2. The Dog's Oral Health
Your dog's teeth play a huge role in estimating your pup's age. First, if the dog is a puppy, the vet will determine how many permanent teeth are still missing. Once all the permanent teeth erupt, however, there are other signs the vet can look for.
Wear patterns start to appear soon after the permanent teeth erupt, but they slowly fade to leave the teeth smooth. Tartar buildup can also be used to help estimate how old the dog is. Naturally, the older the dog, the more tartar they tend to have.
3. The Dog's Ocular Health
Finally, just like with humans, older dogs can struggle with ocular health problems. Look into the pupil of your dog's eyes. If the lens is clear, the dog is still young. However, as dogs get older, their lenses tend to get hazy or foggy, which you can see by looking into the eye. The cloudiness can affect your dog's vision, making it harder for them to see clearly.
Understanding the age of your dog is incredibly important so you can ensure you are giving them the proper care, especially as they get older. If you would like to know more, make an appointment with your vet to determine the age of your pup today.