How Old is Your Pet - Really?
Just how old is your dog really? More than likely you know the dogs age in years, or at least have an approximation of its age, but do you really have any idea how old it may be- chronologically speaking?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the old “seven year theory”. You know, the system where each year of a dog or cats life is the equivalent of 7 of ours. An example of this thinking would be that a 1 year old dog would be the age and developmental equal of a 7 year old person. Now just how many 7 year old kids do you know that are sexually mature -and able to reproduce? A cat or dog is much more likely to have a litter when it is one year or younger, or at the other extreme,ten years or older, than is a human who is under the age of seven or over the age of seventy!
This system was simple- but too simple. Many people today may still use these calculations when coming to some idea of their pets chronological age. Still, due to examples like the one above you can see why this most simple of systems is not accepted today.
In the early 1950’s a French veterinarian, Monsieur LeBeau, formulated another system to address this problem. In LeBeau’s system, a dog/cat of 1 year in age became the equivalent of a 15 year old person- due to the onset of puberty in each species. The second year of a dog/cats life became the equivalent of a 24 year old person- someone/ something that has reached full maturity. After two, each year of an animals life would equal 4 years of human life.
Pop quiz time! Just how old would a 6 year old cat “really” be using this newer system? According to the LeBeau theory, the dog/cat would be the equivalent of a 40 year old person. Remember, 24+ (4*4)= 40. How about a 10 year old dog? If you came up with 56 then you were correct!
It is interesting to note that dogs and cats move up this newer age scale at the same rate until they reach the age of 14. At that time the rates begin to differ between dogs and cats compared in human age terminology. This chart would work quite well for a dog or cat having an average life expectancy(ALE) of 14 years. As we all know, oftentimes animals,as do people, may exceed the ALE which would call for further refinement of this age formula.
For this we need to be aware of something called the maximum life span(MLS). Basically, the average life expectancy is the amount of years a person, animal, etc. may reasonably expect to live. The MLS on the other hand, is the genetically based maximum age beyond which no member of that species may live.
Now, with that in mind, consider this addendum to the first age chart. A human maximum life span is close to 110 years. A cats maximum life span is around the mid-30’s, while a dogs maximum life span is around 29.
So, just how do you calculate a cat or dogs age who lives past the 14 year mark? In this event, each year of life past 14 for a dog would equal 2 1/2 human years, and only 2 for a cat.
Due to recent research it has been found that many times an animal may live past his ALE when given improved care, activity, social and psychological stimulation. If we examine the oldest living dogs on record, we can begin to see that most had a regular moderate exercise program that included differing levels of psychological and social stimulation.
Currently, the oldest living dog on record worked as a herding dog in Australia(29 years old). The runner-up, a mere 27 years of age, was a Lab who lived in the home of a game keeper in England. Other famous notables include Higgins, the terrier on Petticoat Junction and the Beverly Hillbillies(20); Pal, the collie who started the role of Lassie(18);and,last but certainly not least, Rin Tin Tin, movie star and German Shepherd who lived to be at least 16 years of age.
The following charts will show you just how LeBeaux theories work when determining the age of your pet. We hope this material is of help to you in the future.