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There are many reasons why it’s important to know a dog’s age. From the type of diet he should be eating, to what type of behavior to expect, and to determine if he is suffering a health problem or is simply getting older and slowing down.
While it’s quite easy to tell a puppy from an adult dog, many fully grown dogs look a lot alike whether they’re 3 or 13. Fortunately, since our pups can’t speak up and tell us what year they were born, there are a few simple ways to make a close estimate of a dog’s age.
Examine the Dog’s Teeth
Checking your dog’s teeth is the most common (and easiest) way to know how old he is. Normally, dogs develop all of their permanent teeth when they are about 7 months old.
1. If your pooch’s teeth are all clean and white, it is possible that he is about 1 year of age or younger.
2. Once you see a yellowish discoloration at the back of his teeth, your pooch may be about a year or two.
3. When a minimal tartar build-up is present and if some of his teeth wear off, he may already be about 3 to 5.
4. If your dog shows a more extensive amount of wear, as well as tartar presence on his teeth, then he may likely be anywhere between the age of 5 to 10.
5. Heavy tartar accumulation, severe wear, and missing teeth may suggest that your pooch is more than 10 years old, and may likely need older dog vet care.
Looking at the Other Indicators
There are other signs that may give you an idea how old your dog is, too. These include his behavior as well as his other physical characteristics.
1. Study the dog’s nose. If he has been developing white hair around his snout and whiskers, then he’s likely to be 7 years old and up.
2. Check his eyes. As dogs age, their eyes sometimes become slightly opaque. If the dog’s eyes appear cloudy (or just not bright and clear) chances are, he’s an older pooch.
3. Finally, evaluate the dog’s behavior. Some common signs of old age would include stretching more often, avoiding going upstairs, and a lowered level of interest when it comes to playing.
While none of these indicators are an exact science in and of themselves, comparing several factors will help you come to a fairly accurate conclusion about your dog’s age. With a good guess at his age, you’ll be able to give him the proper level of attention and care.
My rescue pit bull/german shepherd mix is 3 years old according to the shelter. He loves to go on walks and run around chasing birds at the beach. He also gets the “zoomies” occasionally and will sprint back and forth for a few minutes while we are on our walks. His teeth are very white and the bottom row is still pretty rigid and he is buff, it looks like he was working out while he was at the shelter. He does, however, have some grey around his mouth and on his face and loves to sleep. I have no idea about his history, he was found as a stray very dirty and covered in ticks, so he likely had a stressful past. I’m just enjoying the time that I have left with him but would love it if I could get a better idea as to how old he might be.
I just rescued a Chihuahua. His teeth are in deplorable condition. His front teeth and a couple of incisors are missing, and he has significant tartar build up and horrific breath. No graying around his muzzle either, and his lower jaw is misaligned with his upper jaw. I also suspect that he has been hit by a vehicle or abused at some point, because he has difficulty with jumping. I really have no idea at how old he may be. I’m guessing around 5, because he still loves a good running fit (LOL) and he loves his toys. I love him regardless.
Comment:a few days before my lab started to cough he sometimes eat soil if I scold him he never mind and while coughing a white soapy fluid like substance is omitted pls help me what I can do for him
wow this article is really helpful. Thanks a lot!!!
A few months before turning 3 yeas old my black lab started getting gray around his mouth especially the chin. He’s almost 4 now and the graying has pretty much stopped. He has no graying past his nose or muzzle. I’m thinking that this young adult graying is just part of reaching full maturity (like a fully mature male gorilla reaches “silverback hood”), and that the muzzle graying will come later when he becomes a senior
“avoiding going upstairs, and a lowered level of interest when it comes to playing.”
these symptoms are much more commonly seen in pets with chronic pain! “old age” is not a disease…
you’d be amazed how many “old” dogs start prancing around again when their arthritis if treated appropriately!
I would say it is even difficult to judge based on the teeth as well. Sometimes they surprise you and have horrible teeth, just horrible. An unbelievable amount of tartar build up (especially in smaller breeds)can be present in a young dog. The dog I’m currently fostering has the teeth of a senior and is only 3! People and diet are to blame.
I adopted a Vizsla 10 years ago, and today I am caring for her in very old age. She had white on her muzzle and brows then. I think she is about 14. She’s been a great, loyal friend but I know the inevitable is not far in the future.
Ann M. McHughsays:
Most of the observations are valid, but I disagree with the white/ggray hairs on the muzzle. I have a breed, Keeshond, that develop ‘milk mouth’ at an early age in some ‘lines’. Doing rescue I have seen many shelters use only the ‘milk mouth’ to determine age of the dog, doing a disservice to the dog. And of course all bets are off with white dogs!
Agree with you Ann. Black Labs who have been under a bit of stress can acquire early gray hairs. Also, hard chewers who wear their teeth down get the “curse of the old age” in shelters. It’s only fair to give full disclosure to potential adopters but I think the “experts” should also be willing to admit that they are only making an educated guess to those non-experts who look up to them.