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Apparently, we’ve been calculating doggie years all wrong

Researchers find new formula for tracking dogs’ age

A dog looks up.
A dog looks up.

Calculating how old our dog is has been the same our entire lives, right? Take the number of years he or she has been alive, multiply it by seven and you’ve got the “doggie years.”

However, researchers have come up with a new calculation, and it has some actual science behind it.

As humans, during our lifetime, our DNA creates what is known as an epigenetic clock, according to ScienceMag.org, and a certain modification to specific DNA sequences tracks our biological age.

Because dogs have epigenetic clocks as well, they all — no matter the breed — follow a similar developmental trajectory: They reach puberty around 10 months and die before the age of 20. They also live in the same environments and can receive similar health care as humans.

So geneticist Trey Ideker, of the University of California, San Diego, along with colleagues, scanned particular DNA patterns in genomes of 104 dogs, between the ages of 4 weeks to 16 years. He focused his study on Labrador retrievers.

Analysis showed the dogs tested have similar age-related changes as humans — specifically when comparing young dogs and young humans or old dogs and older humans.

But after the research team used the rate of particular changes in dogs to match the human epigenetic clock, they found converting to the actual age of the dog to “doggie years” is somewhat more complex than simply multiplying by seven.

The new formula takes the natural logarithm of the dog’s real age, multiplies it by 16, then adds 31.

In case that sounds a little bit like gibberish, here’s how you can get your pup’s age on a calculator (because you’ll need one):

If your dog is 7 years old (like mine), this is the calculation you’ll input: (ln7)x16+31=62.1

Calculating "doggie years."
Calculating "doggie years."

Or you can just use this handy calculator:

Spoiler alert: If your furry friend is 10 or younger, he or she is a bit older in doggie years than we’ve all been thinking for quite some time. If he or she is a senior pup, they’re younger than we’ve been thinking.

For example, at 7 years old, we could’ve assumed my dog was 49 -- that is, using the old-fashioned way of calculating doggie years. Just the same, at 11 years old, you might have thought your pup was 77, but with our new way of calculating, he’s more like 69.

It’s worth mentioning, again, that the research was done on Labrador retrievers. Having said that, researchers have noted that because some dogs have different life expectancies, this rate may change, depending on the breed.

Still, it’s kind of fun to get a glimpse at how old our dog might really be in doggie years. 🐶


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