Pups Reach Middle Age at Two: Scientists Debunk Seven Dog Years Equal a Human Year Myth
French bulldog (Image courtesy: AFP Relaxnews)
Can't stop thinking of your dog as a pupper even after a couple of years? New research shows that it's probably older than you.
Debunking age old myths about dogs ageing seven years for every human year, scientists have found that dogs hurtle into middle age in the very first two years of their lives but age slower than humans as they reach maturity.
This means dogs can be considered "middle-aged" after just two years, contrary to the belief that a puppy grows seven dog years for each human year of 365 days that it lives.
Scientists at the University of California studies 104 Labradors aged four weeks to 16 years to reach their hypothesis. The study found that by the age of three, a dog is closer to the age of a 50-year-old human.
But despite the quick leaps dogs take in early years, their ageing is relatively slower in later years. At ten years, a dog is likely to be as old as a 68-year-old human.
Biological age of animals as well as humans can be tracked by studying DNA which bears the markers of age as an organism grows biologically older. Dog DNA contains molecular methyl groups which they imbibe as they age. Scientists studied ageing in dogs by by analyzing the methylation of their DNA to study the "epigenetic changes" that age caused in them.
While "epigenetic changes" occur at a steady and uniform rate in humans, the observations in dog DNA could greatly change the veterinarian perspective of dog health and research. According to earlier notion, a 2 year old dog was considered equivalent to a 14-year-old human teenager. However, according to the latest findings, scientists deem the human age of a two-year-old dog as 40 years.