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Dog Years : Human Years exchange rate downgraded slightly
May 24, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Where did the formula that a dog ages 7 years for every 1 human year come from? No one knows for sure, but the BBC, using data from the UK Kennel Club and US Veterinary Medical Database, have come up with a more accurate online dog years calculator. The truth about how dogs age is more fascinating, and less straightforward, than we thought.

While the calculator only works for pure breeds, cross breeds can expect to live an average of 1.22 years longer. Somewhat relatedly, researchers at the University of Georgia found that spayed and neutered pets live 1.5 years longer than unaltered pets (something which may also be true for humans).
posted by 2bucksplus (59 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bullshit, my dog is going to live forever, or at least as long as I do.
posted by COBRA! at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2013 [43 favorites]


YAY! My dogs are older than I am!

(I was catching up for a while).
posted by magstheaxe at 10:27 AM on May 24, 2013


Considering that the oldest dog living is currently 28, the 7x formula seems pretty bogus.

The calculator is a cool idea, but it seems like a lot of breeds are missing ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, that WP list of oldest dogs is a bit misleading. I would guess they are all cross-breeds.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2013


cross breeds can expect to live an average of 1.22 years longer.

Boy, you'd have thought the happy breeds would be the ones to live longer.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2013 [22 favorites]


Yeah, I straight up could have done without the life expectancy bit, but I'm rounding up by 15 years for the mixed breed and the getting her fixed early.
posted by Mooski at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2013


From what I've seen, it's the mean little poodles that live forever. Still trying to bite the mailman after thirteen years...
posted by Kevin Street at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dog is 15 and fucking adorable. Seriously, go look at that picture.
(1 year 1 month border terrier)
posted by phunniemee at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2013


Metafilter: it's the mean little poodles that live forever
posted by Outlawyr at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The calculator is a cool idea, but it seems like a lot of breeds are missing ...

But mine is on there, which is pretty awesome. Border terriers are super popular in the UK but are apparently the breed America forgot. They're left off of most lists I come across.

It's really too bad, they're fantastic little creatures. Proof.
posted by phunniemee at 10:46 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bullshit, my dog is going to live forever, or at least as long as I do.

*bows to pharaoh*
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way, the longest lived dogs I've seen are either: tiny, angry little poodles (that live on, I don't know, tea and biscuits maybe) in dusty old houses with senior citizens - or sheep dogs that get to live on actual farms, and run at least ten miles each day. (Usually in circles around the farmhouse.) Its like two different survival strategies: preservation in aspic, versus living one's life to the maximum. Both work pretty well.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I disapprove greatly of the failure to include Australian Shepherds (which live 12-15 years, btw) in this heavily Anglocentric list of dogs.

News flash, BBC: there are many, many breeds which did not originate in Britain.
posted by bearwife at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wow, it's not good to be a boxer or a bulldog.
posted by codacorolla at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2013


Pfffft. The sheer meanness that runs through my elderly tortie cat's veins guarantees that bitch is gonna outlive me and Shepherd, if we don't die mysteriously first.

(she is the most pretty and angry cat in existence)
posted by Kitteh at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


In veterinary medicine, people generally hate the whole "dog years" thing. It's much better to think of dogs as just having a 8-15 year lifespan, but people always want to know how old their old dog is in "dog years". It makes sense, as people want to understand their dog's age in numbers they can relate to, and few people can relate to 15 years old as being very elderly. So it's been a bit of a challenge, as the 7:1 thing has been known to be BS for years now. Perhaps this kind of calculator, with more breeds added and some way to calculate for general classes of mixed breeds will be a helpful tool for vets to explain geriatric care to their clients.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2013


For those of us that prefer the other side of the fence, pet-wise, here's a cat age calculator.
posted by doublesix at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Cat years calculator:

0-1: Kitten
1-whenever cat decides to die: adult cat
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2013 [28 favorites]


I live with a sizable pack, and I have raised quite a few dogs from pups and then lived with them until they got old and died. I'm not sure why, but the most interesting and weird years for me are the ones where you're about the same age for a while and then they get much older and you don't. It happens a lot later now than it did a coupla decades ago. I suppose in a coupla more decades, even if I transition into adopting a geriatric dog or three (which is the plan), there may come a dog I don't outlive. If so, hope I'm tasty.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't dogs mourn the loss of their masters, just like owners mourn the loss of their pets? Most likely the dog will guard its owner's body. Cats, on the other hand, are the ultimate pragmatists.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:07 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My Dachshund + Border Terrier mix operates on uncut joy and squeeeee. He's from the clouds and will live forever.
posted by basicchannel at 11:10 AM on May 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know a honest to god seventeen year old cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


My pit bull something something mix runs on bacon and belly rubs. She inhales treats and exhales awesome.
posted by Mooski at 11:17 AM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Whelk: I know a honest to god seventeen year old cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.

Oldest cat I've ever seen is 24, and my wife has seen a 26-year-old. She said it looked like a dusty skeleton.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know a honest to god seventeen year old cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.

My 15-year-old cat appears to live on pure sleaze.
posted by COBRA! at 11:27 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, are the human years "old" years or "new" years? 'Cause I keep hearing, "30 is the new 20," "60 is the new 40," etc.
posted by ogooglebar at 11:30 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't dogs mourn the loss of their masters, just like owners mourn the loss of their pets? Most likely the dog will guard its owner's body. Cats, on the other hand, are the ultimate pragmatists.

Hmmm.

Maybe the cats you've known have just been good judges of character?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Awww... Now there's a good cat. Pwditat rules.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2013


My mini dachshund is "82," then? Righto. I just hope when I'm her age the cats don't try to lick my eyes all day.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2013


Pwditat is the greatest cat name ever. I am passing it along to my Welshophile son who is considering a furry adoption.
posted by maggieb at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2013


Bow, wow, wow. Whose dog art thou?
I'm his Highness' dog at Kew.
Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?
--Alexander Pope
posted by smrtsch at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


but Pope and Kew don't even rhyme...!

man I just don't get modern poetry
posted by ook at 12:24 PM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


My Beagle-fuck-if-we-know mix is about to turn 14 and is in unnatural health. She runs more than any dog her age should and has bagged two bunnies and a bird this spring alone (she's learned to chase them into thick brambles at the back of the yard). I have never seen this activity level in a dog her age. I do take her with me as many places as I can and she goes on weekly hikes in the wilderness, so I think keeping her engaged helps. Seeing as i have yet to marry and have no kids her passing will likely be permanently damaging to me.
posted by sourwookie at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2013


Two months ago we had to put down our awesome dog. This calculator made me feel a little better about it, as he'd made it to 102.

still miss him.
posted by ambrosia at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Rock Steady: "Oldest cat I've ever seen is 24, and my wife has seen a 26-year-old. She said it looked like a dusty skeleton."

Yeah.. My old man easily made 17, though the last few months were difficult. Oldest of the current group is an active 15. All indoors, of course
posted by jgaiser at 12:37 PM on May 24, 2013


Dog Years Calculator useless. Does not have Pit bull/Labrador/Chihuahua mix.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:39 PM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know a honest to god seventeen year old cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.

Ah, I see you are familiar with my cat. You got her age wrong, but that's cool.
posted by Kitteh at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a sixteen year old cat who apparently made a deal with the devil when he was a year old that every time he pisses on someone's bed, he gets an extra month to live.
posted by KathrynT at 12:51 PM on May 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


KathrynT: "I have a sixteen year old cat who apparently made a deal with the devil when he was a year old that every time he pisses on someone's bed, he gets an extra month to live."

omg that explains so much
posted by Rock Steady at 1:03 PM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


My Australian Shepherd/Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix (approx 70 lbs) is sixteen and a half. I attribute his longevity partly to hybrid vigor and partly to the high-quality food we gave him for most of his life (these days, we buy whatever looks decent and is on sale, and buying a big bag always seems to be tempting fate). He doesn't seem to know when he has to go to the bathroom anymore, so you just have to take him out every 2-4 hours (even in the middle of the night) and he frequently goes on the carpet anyway (ugh, why does he not ever go on the linoleum or hardwood?). His back legs don't seem to work that well, and sometimes he ends up standing on the wrong sides of his feet. I can't tell if he can still hear. But he still has a great appetite, he still wags, and he still shows that he likes to be close to us. There doesn't seem to be that much wrong with him, really, considering how damn old he is. He still goes up and down stairs. He still gets up on couches and beds. He still begs for food.

We've kind of grown up with him. My spouse and I were 23 years old when we got him, just kids really, and now we're 38 and 39. We made some mistakes with him, not training him enough and such. We've moved with him 11 times, including 2 cross-country moves. He's been a part of our family ever since we've been a family. He was a ring-bearer at our wedding, when he was still a puppy (ring attached to collar, and we had a ring-bearer handler).

He was not a good dog, and of course part of that is the aforementioned lack of training. He was hyper and somewhat aggressive and could never be trusted around other dogs, cats, or kids. In fact he was mostly a pain in the ass, until about the age of 11 or so, when he finally mellowed out enough to be enjoyable to have around. We remarked more than once, when he was about 12, that we'd love to just freeze him at that age forever. Mellow, but not OLD.

The past year or two he has really gone downhill though. Last year we went away for a week and left him at a friend's house, and all of us were wondering if he'd die while we were away. A year later he's still here, though. Sometimes it feels like he is just going to keep on keepin on forever, and sometimes it's hard to tell if he's sleeping or dead.

Our son is 2 and a half. I suppose when the old dog finally leaves us, it will be the first time we will have to explain death to him. My husband went to the vet to buy some flea meds last week, and priced out euthanasia and cremation while he was there, just in case. I suppose I should probably also start perusing "how do you explain death to kids" AskMes soon.

Dogs teach us so damn much. They live just long enough to really become part of the family before they leave us.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


My aunt's cat made it to 21. My oldest current cat is an active 14 and a half. All outdoors of course. In fact, last week she decided to try tree climbing for the first time since I've known her.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:47 PM on May 24, 2013


The spayed/neutered = long life thing is actually controversial now, since there have been two or three recent studies showing that intact dogs live longer and are healthier. Here is one study, and here is another.
posted by biscotti at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"..... I suppose I should probably also start perusing "how do you explain death to kids" AskMes soon."


When mule jr was about four, one of our dogs died. I buried him on a hillside on the property. I had to explain to mule jr what happened, so I just told him, "Bowser died." Mule jr put his hand to his cheek for a moment, looked out the truck window at the passing scenery. I asked him if he knew what means the word: "dead."

"Yeah," says mule jr, "Broke, can't fix him."
posted by mule98J at 2:05 PM on May 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think everyone in the world already knows that "dog years" are just a super crude approximation. But I do enjoy playing around with the idea of "dog time":

The nearest star is 28 light dog-years away!
This computation takes 8ns. That's like 56 dog nanoseconds! Way too slow!
But I was only going 15 miles per dog-hour!
And time permeates our units of measurements! For instance, force is mass * distance / time2. So a dog Newton* would be 1/49 as much as a regular Newton... And that means dogs experience 1/49th the atmospheric pressure as we do!

* That doesn't sound like a cookie I would like.
posted by aubilenon at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


sourwookie and rabbitrabbit: Our now-white-muzzled old dude is 13, maybe older, and was a (literal) rescue a decade ago. I keep getting told he's close to the end of a big dog's lifespan--he's a mutt, German Shorthair Pointer and Lab--but they listen to his heart and pronounce him strong. All in the exercise and luck of the genes, I suppose. We walk and run with him daily, probably five miles minimum, and to our horror/amazement he can still occasionally get a jackrabbit. He sleeps a lot more now, and we're realistic about how long we can expect to have him, but other than being creaky in the morning he seems solid.

Two years ago our former vet advised against anesthesia to get a dental cleaning, strictly based on the animal's age. I went ahead and did it last week with a new vet. The dog will eventually die of something, but I don't want that something to be an easily preventable tooth infection!
posted by kenlayne at 2:23 PM on May 24, 2013


The truth about how dogs age is more fascinating, and less straightforward, than we thought.

Everything is.
posted by goethean at 2:36 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dang, my cat still jumps awfully high for a 60-year-old. Like, five feet straight up the wall, just 'cause.
posted by little cow make small moo at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2013


At around 10 years, the approximation and the calculator mostly agree!
posted by subdee at 3:42 PM on May 24, 2013


0-1: Kitten
1-whenever cat decides to die: adult cat


I think one of my cats is a bit behind the curve, then. And the other one, I hope is immortal.
posted by Foosnark at 4:09 PM on May 24, 2013


Dang, my cat still jumps awfully high for a 60-year-old. Like, five feet straight up the wall, just 'cause.

One reason why cats "slow down" is arthritis. I've now got mine on glucosamine-treats, but wish I'd known to do so 5 years ago.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2013


I suppose when the old dog finally leaves us, it will be the first time we will have to explain death to him.

We put down our Sheppard, Tyson, a little over a year ago amid some circumstances that sound similar to what you describe. I think things had progressed further than what you described - the knuckling over was with every step. He couldn't support his own weight to go to the bathroom. He fell over when he walked on wood floors, and assisting him up and down stairs was no longer sufficient - he had to be carried. My son was 3 and 1/4 at the time. My daughter was 8 months. We called a friend to watch the kids.

We told our son to give Tyson a big hug, that we were going to go to the vet. We set him up with something fun, and we loaded both dogs into the car. It was a quiet ride, my wife went without her seat belt (very unlike her), but she wanted to sit with him and pat him. It was the right thing to do.

The vets ran some tests for us, gave us the 'its not a simple fix' line, and then we stood at a crossroads with many choices - Do we go for a $10K doggie MRI to see if they could treat what was going on? If we did that, then it would be anywhere from $4K to $55K additional funds for treating cancer - with no guarantee that the dog would respond to the treatment. Option 2 was to give him a steroid which *might* improve his quality of life, but he could only take that 30 days on 60 days off, meaning that we would get to potentially watch our dog recover and then fall back into the same disarray when the steroids stopped working. That seemed cruel. Option 3 was to just take him home and ride it out. That seemed like a good plan since he was cognitively all there; however, we'd been having progressively worse days and reality was he was going to quickly become miserable (and potentially dangerous to those around him if he got overly confused - not good with small kids.) We took the 4th choice, with Nanuk in the room with us. We sung to him, we hugged him, we played with him - and then that was it.

When we got home, we sat him down and we told him that Tyson didn't come home. We told him that Tyson was sick - not sick like mommy and daddy and he would get - a different kind of sick. We told him that the Vet couldn't make him better. We told him that Tyson wasn't alive anymore - but that he was still alive in all of our hearts. For a couple of days it was apparent that he didn't totally get it, but then one day he said that his heart hurt - and that he was missing Ty. Every once in a while - even last week - my son will say that he misses Ty.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:07 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The calculator doesn't factor in smoking. They tell me that smoking cuts your life by ten years. I mentioned this to my dog recently and now he's down to 1/7th pack a day.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:33 PM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Time for pop science madlibs!

Where did [piece of common knowledge] come from? No one knows for sure, but [prestigious media organization] using data from the [group that studies stuff like this] and [another one] have come up with a more accurate [picture of the phenomenon]. The truth about [this topic] is more fascinating, and less straightforward, than we thought.
posted by officer_fred at 5:40 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: I know a honest to god seventeen year old cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.

Oldest cat I've ever seen is 24, and my wife has seen a 26-year-old. She said it looked like a dusty skeleton.


My mother had two cats (mother and daughter) live to past 20. The mother cat was as sweet as she was the day she adopted our family, but simultaneously mean and crochety. She would still take swipes at the daughter cat if the daughter cat deigned to cross her path. The younger cat was mostly dandruff when she had to be put down. (I had to wash her once, and I was afraid she'd disappear Cousin Itt style.)
posted by gjc at 6:26 PM on May 24, 2013


My husband had to put his very, very old cat (estimated 23-25 years) Duncan down a few months after I moved in. She was a little decrepit, but very sweet, not spiteful at all.

We waited a few months, then went to the shelter to fill the kitty-sized hole Duncan left, and came home with two much younger cats, that I'm pretty sure are gonna live forever.
posted by Fig at 9:10 PM on May 24, 2013


According to the calculator my dog is the equivalent of 28 years old. If so, my dog must be a hipster living out the sort of extended adolescence you only encounter in New York Times trend pieces.

Because seriously, I love him, but he is one petulant motherfucker.

He also passes out on the floor a lot.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obligatory petulant dog photo I missed the edit window on.
posted by Sara C. at 9:59 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


phunniemee: "The calculator is a cool idea, but it seems like a lot of breeds are missing ...

But mine is on there, which is pretty awesome. Border terriers are super popular in the UK but are apparently the breed America forgot. They're left off of most lists I come across.

It's really too bad, they're fantastic little creatures. Proof.
"

Holy shit! Those are some beautiful terriers. I miss my dear departed Cairn Terrier. She lived to be 16.5 years. Then again, I equally miss my dear departed beagle, the awesome genius mutt, and the Shetland Sheepdog as well. Best damn friends I've ever had! Now I haz a sad.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:09 PM on May 24, 2013


... it looked like a dusty skeleton.

... cat was mostly dandruff ...


Yes, The Cat That Will Not Die looks like something out of an Egyptian tomb. Why is it the only cat whose company I've never really enjoyed has lived 26 years?

...cat that seems to survive sorely on spite.

She lives to crap right next to the cat box. This is why she has had her heated cat bed in the garage for the last 25 3/4 years.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:56 PM on May 27, 2013


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