How to Successfully Determine a Dog’s Age

Most of the time, you know the age of your dog.

Especially if you’ve had them since they were a playful little puppy.

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But if you’re the wonderful kind of person that gets a dog from a shelter, it might not be so easy.

Shelters don’t always have enough data to know how old a dog is. Here’s our guide to figuring out your dog’s age.

Why is it so important to know my dog’s age?

Whether your dog is 5 or 6 might not seem like a big deal.

But it’s actually very important to know how old he is.
Whatever your dog’s age, he’s susceptible to illnesses.

Of course, your vet is happy to give him vaccines.

But a dog’s age is important; your vet needs to know what illnesses he’s likely to get.

If you know your dog is old, you can make life easier for him.

For example, an older dog may have trouble getting upstairs.

You can prevent him from getting tired by making sure his basket and toys are downstairs.

Follow our tips to know your dog’s age.

Does my dog’s breed tell me anything?

You have to be aware of breed varieties. This is an important factor in determining your dog’s age.

Bigger breeds like Great Danes don’t live very long and are judged old by age 7.

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Smaller dogs, such as Chihuahuas, can reach 18 years old.

Knowing this will help you understand whether your dog is considered ‘old’ or not.

What does my dog’s condition tell me about his age?

Sometimes it’s actually very simple to tell your dog’s age.

Young dogs are generally more athletic. They will be fit and have more muscle tone.

Middle-aged dogs will probably gain more weight.

But an older dog will actually lose weight. Their muscle tone will decrease.

They’ll become less active, sleeping more, and their metabolism will start to slow down.

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Sadly your dog is likely to start suffering more from pain in their bones or muscles.

Your poor boy might even have arthritis, which can cause their body to ache.

Will my dog’s condition always tell me how old he is?

No, not all the time.

Some dogs are born with congenital conditions leading to arthritis even from a young age. But this is quite rare.

Usually, if your dog has arthritis, it’s a safe bet they’re an older dog.

Does my dog’s behavior tell me his age?

Your dog’s behavior won’t tell you his exact age.

But it might help you know if he’s an older dog or a younger one.

During their first two years, dogs are usually really energetic and active.

If you have a dog that won’t stop zooming around the garden, they’re likely to be young.

After this age, their energy will start to decline.

You can tell if your dog’s older in other ways. A sweet older dog might not have the same strength or fitness they used to.

Jumping or going upstairs might be difficult, leading to accidents and injuries.

Like humans, dogs can suffer from memory problems. They could become forgetful or confused. This can lead to depression.

It’s important to watch for these signs. You can help your dog if you understand the problems they’re going through.

So if my dog’s slow, that means he’s older, right?

Usually, yes. But you have to know other reasons he might not be very active.

Illnesses such as hypothyroidism can cause your dog to be less mobile.

This could make your beautiful middle-aged boy might appear to be an older dog.

A checkup with the vet should be a priority. Knowing your dog is healthy makes it a lot easier to tell their age.

Does my dog’s teeth tell me his age?

Looking at your dog’s teeth is a great way of telling how they are.

Dogs have two sets of teeth, like humans. A puppy’s first set of teeth start growing between 3 and 6 weeks.

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Adult teeth start appearing between 12 and 16 weeks in the front.

Their back teeth don’t start appearing until 16 to 24 weeks. Yep, this is their teenage years!

If your dog still has his first set, he’s very young.

Estimating becomes harder when they get their adult teeth.

Clean teeth can be a sign you have a young dog. But it depends on if your dog has had access to dental care.

Owners that don’t look after their dogs will see tartar and plague even on younger dogs.

A 15-year-old dog might have better teeth than a 5-year-old!

A way of telling if your dog is older is checking for broken teeth.

If you see a lot of them, it’s safe to assume your dog is older.

Does your dog’s breath smell? Like, really smell?

Well, that’s another sign that you have an older dog.

If your vet finds your dog has gum disease or tooth problems, it’s another sign they’re older.

So my dog’s teeth will DEFINITELY tell me his age?

It’s very likely. But again, a lot of things vary with your dog’s teeth.

Your dog’s breed, background, and diet can vary.

This affects his teeth, and you can get your dog’s age wrong.

If my dog’s fur is gray, he’s old, right?

If you see a dog with gray fur around their face, you’ll assume they are an old dog. But that’s not a guarantee.

Human hair can become gray at an early age (sadly for some of us).

It’s the same with dogs. Their fur can start going gray from an early age too.

Golden Retrievers owners can start finding gray in their fur from as early as 4 or 5 years old.

Recent research has shown that anxiety can cause a dog to go gray prematurely (as with us all).

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Another behavior trait that leads to dogs going gray is impulsive behavior, manifested through destructiveness.

Destructive dog owners will see this a lot!

Finally, some dogs such as Whippets, Poodles, or Italian Greyhounds already have gray fur.

Grey fur isn’t a safe bet for guessing age.


A combination of looking at your dog’s behavior and condition will give you a good idea of your dog’s age.

You can always seek advice from a vet if you need to. If you have any questions, leave a comment below!

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