Explaining Dog Years to a Five Year-Old

“Am I older than Doc, Mum?”  T asks.

“No.  Doc is older than you.”  I reply

She gives me a puzzled look.  We got Doc when she was about three years old and Doc was just, if I’m not mistaken over eight-weeks-old.

I once thought that you add eight years after the dog turns two.  Apparently I was wrong.  It’s 10.5 years per human year for the first two years.  Then it becomes four dog years per human year for each year after that.  So if the online calculator is right, we got Doc when he was about 11.25 dog-years old.  In doggie years though, that age is still a pup.  But since he’s turned two recently, again if that is correct, he is now 25-years-old and is now a fully grown adult dog.  Not a “teenager” as I thought he was. How is that even possible, especially since most of the time he still acts like a pup?  Calculation also varies and depends on the size and breed of the dog.

How do you explain all that to a five-year-old?

You can’t.  I still find all that mind-boggling.

So all I said was “Dogs are different from us. Dog years are different from human years. They age faster than us”.

“Is that why Malibu is an old lady and will die soon?”  She asked.

I tell her that yes, Mali is old, but very healthy and hopefully she’ll still be around the next time we visit.

What about you?

How old is your dog?

Click here if you want to try the dog-age-calculator.

Filed under Little Pets

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.


  1. ortsofsorts

    Great information! I was always confused about “dog years”, but with the online calculator it appears that my Chihuahua is 24 and my German Shepherd is 40! Nice to know!

    • I know, it’s a bit disconcerting isn’t it? That they are that old, especially if yours is like ours, like a pup most of the time!

  2. ersatzexpat

    Doc is such a sweetie!

    It is a mind boggling concept particularly because of the size variation on top of everything else. Our old girl is 14 now – probably about 85-90 I would imagine. She is very creaky but still affectionate. Our younger girl is just 2 and still a teenager behaviour wise.

    From all the dogs we have had we noticed that they became ‘adult’ when they were about 3 years old.

    • That’s good to know… Doc only has a year to go to act like an ‘adult’ dog, even though technically he is now one. Then again, all dogs are different. Sigh.

  3. Our girl is 19 years old, according to that chart. I wondered why she was slamming doors and rolling her eyes at me. Ungrateful teenager.

    I like to keep it simple at home. I have a hard enough time remembering my children’s ages (and names, for that matter) without having to work out how old the dog is. It’s scary when you realise how quickly animals mature though.

    Beautiful Spidergirl and pup. xx

  4. chickenruby

    wow thank you for explaining it to me also, although i did have to use the calculator to work it out. In Dog years Bob is 5 and a large mixed breed, which makes him 40. I always thought 1 human year was equivalent to 7 dog years, meaning Bob was only 35

    • That’s what I thought too… Well I thought ut was 8. Mixed breeds are supposed to outlive the ones that have a pure breed. This should work in favor of Doc and Bob.

  5. lisaslife1970

    I didn’t realise the calculations had got so refined! Having said that, Stella comes out at 82 which is about bang on the old 7 years rule considering she’s almost 12! She’s truly my darling old lady 🙂

  6. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?

    wahhhhhhhhhh!!! My dog is 48 and considered a Senior dog 🙁 🙁 🙁 I knew he was older, and he is 8, but they live 10-18 years!!! He’s still young. I just know he is!

  7. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    I never realised that dog years were quite so complicated and depend on the breed of dog. As a child I just thought that each year for us was about seven years for our dog which seemed to work out about right. I can imagine it must be quite a difficult concept for a child to understand.

  8. Stella Lee (@Purfylle)

    I remember checking out several online calculators and them all giving radically different answers for those first couple of years. They do all seam to agree on the 4 years for after that. I think 2 year old dogs are still rather impetuous and full of sillyness like young humans in that age group where they would ‘sow their wild oats’. It’s when they are 3 that they start to settle down into being all grown up I think.

  9. Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault

    Gulp – Saari is a mixed bred large dog of 8 human years making her 61 canine years. It’s difficult to imagine her being that human age as she is still so agile and young looking. I think I prefer the method we used to use where it was 7 dog years for each human year – that would make her 42. Interesting post and thanks for adding it to #AnimalTales

    • I prefer that one too. But hey, isn’t age supposed to be just a number? All that matters is that our furry family members are healthy and happy 😉

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