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How Old is My Dog?

How old is my dog?  Your author recently received an email from a young man saying he couldn’t afford to buy a hunting dog so he adopted a German shorthair pointer from a shelter.  The shelter told him they thought it was about one year old but not sure.  His email asked if I could give him a few tips on determining his new dog’s age.

We’ve all heard the formula that one human year equals seven dog years.  Dogs simply age much faster than humans.  That formula is an average. Small dogs are known to live longer than large dogs.  Small dogs tend to mature earlier and more quickly and large dogs mature more quickly when they’re older.  We have German short-hairs and they are known to live a long and healthy life; frequently reaching ages of 14 to 15.  We’ve had a Great Dane that was ancient at ten.

There are a few clues that will help a dog owner determine the general age of a dog.  If your dog’s eyes have a bluish cloud, he’s at least half way through his life expectancy.  Our older dog is nine and the bluish cloud is developing.  Graying hair around the muzzle is also a tell-tale sign of age.  Our older dog developed gray muzzle hair around the age of seven.

Your dog not running as fast as you think he should is a sign of age.  Younger bird dogs run like the wind…older dogs save their energy.  After running and resting, an older dog might be stiff and take longer to get up after a rest.  No different than humans, we all tire more quickly as we get older.

If you want to spend the extra money, a veterinarian can take x-rays and look at the bones and organs of a dog for clues about the dog’s age.  If you asked a veterinarian to assist you with determining the age of your dog, the first thing he’ll probably do is look at the teeth.  Teeth tell a story.  Here’s a guideline for determining age by the teeth.

A puppy usually has a full mouth of baby teeth by eight weeks.  By seven months, all the pup’s permanent teeth have developed and are visible and nice and white.  Teeth at the one to two year age are a little bit duller than puppy teeth and rear teeth may begin to yellow.  At the three to five year bracket, all teeth have some tartar build-up and need to be cleaned.  Wear may also begin to show.  At the five to ten year bracket, all teeth show wear, yellowing, tartar build-up and perhaps tooth or gum disease.  For ten to fifteen year old dogs, tooth disease is common, some teeth may be missing and all teeth show signs of wear.

If you ever have your eyes on a shelter dog with no papers, the above tips should help you determine the dog’s age.

Paul Fuller is a lifelong sportsman.  He’s been an outdoor writer since 1971. He’s the host and producer of the award winning Bird Dogs Afield TV show ( and produced the epic video Grouse, Guns & Dogs. Paul shot over his first German short-haired pointer in 1961.

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