A new study from UCSD came out this past week sharing data that indicates a 4 year old labrador is comparable to a 52 year old human which supports dogs may be seniors earlier then we thought!

You may have heard about it in the media here.

In the study, researchers from UCSD compared aging markers in human DNA to labrador retriever DNA. The aging markers they used (the addition of methyl groups which accumulates on our DNA as mammals get older) are considered pretty reliable in determining human time clocks.

How does it apply to senior dogs?

The first thing this study found was that dogs age faster than us in the early years and slow down later. The study further found that based on these markers:

-4 year old labrador is similar to a 52 year old human and
-6.5 to 7 year old labrador is similar to a 60-65 year old human.

This last point is interesting because this is about when we start considering ourselves ‘senior citizens.’

While we certainly need more research on this, having data that suggest this as a timeline for Labradors is helpful. Applying this study to other breeds: Boston Terriers, Great Danes, etc. would be valuable for us.

The good news is that the findings are similar to what we’ve suspected all along for senior dogs and has actually helped me make slight adjustments to the age I consider certain dogs seniors.

Under my free resources I include a basic chart for how I determine if a dog is a senior or not but keep in mind, opinions may vary slightly on this and that’s okay.

This chart is completely based on my clinical experience and history of working with senior dogs but I have found it pretty accurate when considering factors like their age, age related diseases, breed, genetics and more.

Hope you find this helpful friends! If you enjoyed this blog then we hope you join other Dog Parents like you and transform from concerned to 'in-the-know' dog parent with our one-of-a-kind vet created courses. Learn more about creating a healthier life for your aging dog, by checking out our free resources and top-rated Longer Living Dog Mini Course for Pet Parents. Your dog will thank you.


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