It’s often said that the age of dogs can be better understood by multiplying their age, in human years, by seven. But is that really true? With hundreds of dog breeds ranging from tiny Teacup Poodles to giant Great Danes, there simply cannot be a one-size-fits-all calculation for aging.
1A study led by Dr. Kate Creevy of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has honed in on just how much size and breed affect canine aging.
The study found that larger canines have a much higher chance of dying from cancer than their smaller cousins. They are also more likely to succumb to intestinal diseases and musculoskeletal problems.
Along the same lines, certain breeds just aren’t as hearty as others. English Bulldogs are at an especially high risk of respiratory crisis. Golden Retrievers and Boxers have extremely high cancer rates, often developing the disease quite young.
Dr. Creevy pointed out to the BBC that although small dogs have the aging advantage in later life, they tend to age faster in the first 2 years. They have a shortened adolescence and a longer adulthood, while very large dogs can take up to 2 years to reach full maturity, but may only live another 5 or 6 years.
Small dogs reach skeletal and reproductive maturity sooner than larger breeds. Once they’ve achieved those measures of adulthood they carry on to live longer.
Strangely, this phenomenon only appears in dogs. Dr. Creevy chocks it up to the fact that no other species has such a diverse range of sizes.