Birthday Pups: The True Time Warp Of Dog Years

How old am I now?
            How old am I again?



Let’s say today is your dog’s birthday and they’re turning three; so that means that in dog years, they’re 21 years old and officially a legal adult, right? Wrong. Most of us have gone our whole lives following the belief that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years, but studies now show that this is not, in fact, true. Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but at age three in human years, your dog hasn’t been a puppy for a while now.

Puppy's first BARKday!
                                  Puppy’s first BARKday!

The simplest piece of evidence is this; dogs reach sexual maturity at about a year old to two years old. If one year in a dog’s life matched up with seven in a human’s, it would mean that a seven year old human would be able to reproduce at the age of 7. As you and I both know, that is most certainly not the case.

                                       HAPPY BARKDAY!

So then how, after only being alive a year, can a dog (still a puppy in most people’s eyes because he or she acts like one) be ready to reproduce and have puppies of their own? Studies have shown that our pups don’t actually age consistently; they mature faster earlier on in life, and then later on, just like their joints, their aging slows down.

The birthday girl - Pupi Dupi!
               The birthday girl – Pupi Dupi!

As if this didn’t make calculating the actually age of your pooch complicated enough, it turns out that smaller breeds not only live longer than larger ones, but they also have been proven to mature at a faster rate. This means that after two human years, a smaller dog is more mature than a larger. However, if the comparison is after five years, the smaller dog is considered ‘younger’ in relation to its total (and longer) lifespan.



Bigger doesn't always mean better...
Bigger doesn’t always mean better…


These inconsistencies with maturation explain how in the 13th century and inscription was written at Westminster Abbey showing that dogs live nine years for every human one, or how Georges Buffon, a French naturalist in the 18th century believes that dogs lived up to between 10 and 12 years, while humans could last until age 100. Interestingly enough, the number has gone down, and when taking all of the factors into consideration, Dr. Kate Creevy, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Georgia, says that dogs age about six, not seven, years for every human year.

Dog Birthday Party

If there are so many options of how many years a dog has lived in comparison to those of a human, how has the lucky number seven stuck around for so long? “It’s a way to educate the public on how fast a dog ages compared to a human, predominantly from a health standpoint,” William Fortney, a veterinarian at Kansas State University explained. “It was a way to encourage owners to bring in their pets at least once a year.”

Happy BARKday to you! Happy BARKday to you!
Happy BARKday to you! Happy BARKday to you!

With all of these complications, confirming how many candles to light on your pup’s birthday may seem impossible, but the good news is that it isn’t! The chart below is a relatively standard prediction of the dog’s age based on their size and age in human years. Just make sure to categorize your pup correctly!



How old is your dog really?
How old is your dog really?



Now that you know how old your dog REALLY is, you can plan the rest of your puppy party! Just make sure the cake is a doggy do and not a doggy don’t! Check out some recipes for pooch- friendly cakes here! Wishing your pup a happy barkday from Wendy, Baby Hope, and friends!


For the Best that Pet Lifestyle and Animal Welfare has to offer follow Wendy Diamond on Facebook, Twitterand right here at!