Dog Years: How To Convert Your Dog’s Age To Human Years

Mother and daughter giving dog birthday party

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Dog years tend to go by faster than human years. That’s because dogs live shorter lives than we do, even though we wish they could be with us forever. You may have heard that one dog year is equal to seven human years–meaning that a one-year-old dog has lived the equivalent of seven years. This is not really how dog years work.

Converting dog years to human years is more complex. Dogs age differently based on their sizes, breeds, and stages of development. Here is what you should know about converting your dog’s age into human years.

Why Convert Dog Years To Human Years?

English Bulldog with Puppy

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You may be wondering why we even bother converting dog years to human years when we already know how old a dog is. While it’s true that you probably know your dog’s real age, converting that number from dog years into human years can help you find out what stage your dog is at in life in a way that makes more sense to you, and you can adjust how you care for your dog accordingly.

For example, adolescent dogs might learn new commands or respond to socialization training differently than adult dogs. Senior dogs need different food than what puppies eat. You need to watch out for certain ailments and medical conditions in geriatric dogs that juveniles don’t have.

Assigning dog years to your dog’s actual age gives you an understandable representation of how old your dog really is. You can use that to make better decisions about what kind of care they will need.

How To Convert Your Dog’s Age From Dog Years To Human Years

Golden retriever sitting in front of 'Happy Birthday' sign

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There is much disagreement about exactly how to convert a dog’s age from dog years to human years. Any chart or conversion that you use will mostly be a rough estimate. It will likely take into account your dog’s weight and overall life expectancy.

It’s generally agreed, however, that dogs age much faster in the first two years of life than any other time. When your dog is one year old, they will be about the equivalent of age 14 to 15 in human years. By the time they reach the actual age of two years old, they will be about equivalent to 23 to 24 years old in human years.

From then on, they will gain about four human years for every actual year they age until they reach five years old. Once they reach the age of five, heavier dogs will begin to age faster than lightweight dogs. Generally, smaller dogs tend to live longer and age slower than large dogs, though there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.

So the age breakdown looks like this:

  • Real age 1 year–Human age 14-15 years
  • Real age 2 years–Human age 23 to 24 years
  • Real age 3 years–Human age 27 to 28 years
  • Real age 4 years–Human age 31 to 32 years

For every dog over the age of five, you can use the chart below to find a fairly good approximation of the dog’s equivalent age in human years.

How old is your dog when you convert dog years to human years? Do you think this estimate is accurate? Let us know in the comments below!