Your 1-year-old Labrador is 31-human-years-old

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 28, 2020 / comments

[Cris Alarcon, YuMOVE]

I read the study results to Sherri and she said, "Says Who!"

"We all know for every one human year a dog ages 7 years, right? 
WRONG. By the time the average Labrador Retriever is 1 they are the equivalent of 31 in human years!"

Dog owners are keenly aware that our beloved four-legged friend ages faster than we do, but by how much? Take the age of your dog and multiply it by seven and voila, that’s how old your dog is in human years, right? Not so fast, according to new research by geneticist Trey Ideker, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues.

While organizations such as the American Medical Veterinary Association have previously debunked the 7-year myth, calculating that a 1-year-old dog is about 15 in human years, Dr. Ideker and his colleagues have come up with a new calculation that suggests dogs are even older than 15 by the time they hit their first birthday. Their preliminary research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and was published on bioRvix, suggests that a 1-year-old dog is actually 31 in human years.

The new method of calculating a dog’s age is based on changes made to human and dog DNA over time, or methylation, according to the study. Using targeted sequencing, the team characterized the methylomes of 104 Labrador retrievers spanning a 16-year age range, and then compared it to the methylation in humans.

The researchers found that “the canine epigenome progresses through a series of conserved biological states which align with major physiological changes in humans, occurring in the same sequence but at different chronological timepoints during each species’ lifespan.”

Simply put, dog and human life stages match up, especially when comparing young dogs and young humans or senior dogs and senior humans, but overall, methylation changes in dogs occur faster than humans. Dogs also seem to age faster than humans when they are young, but more slowly as they age. In fact, puppies grow up so quickly within their first year of life that they are equivalent to 31 in human years.

Based on these findings, the researchers came up with the formula:

16 ln(dog’s age) + 31 = a dog’s age in human years

Multiply the natural logarithm (ln) of the dog’s age by 16, and then add 31.

(Don’t have a calculator with natural logarithms? Check out this dog age calculator found on ScienceMag.org.)

Using this new formula, my 5-year-old German shepherd isn’t 35 in human years, but instead 56.8, and my 8-year-old Boston terrier mix is 64.3 in human years. Although, their rambunctious and playful behavior goes to show that age really is just a number. The researchers did note, however, that different breeds exhibiting varying lifespans could yield different calculations. 

In the end, dog owners want the best for their four-legged friends no matter what their age. We see this as consumer awareness hits new heights when it comes to the importance of quality nutrition and proactive and preventive care for pets. And pet specialty retailers who both promote this awareness and provide the foods, supplements and other resources to keep our pets healthy, will help our furry friends continue to live longer and healthier lives.

Thanks to British pet supplement brand YuMove for making us aware of the study. YuMove has created a video showing how a dog’s age progression works using the study’s new formula. Click here to watch.