The Age Old Question
“Multiply your dog’s age by 7 to find out how old they are in human years” is a sentence that most dog lovers have heard before. Turns out, it’s not that simple. New research done at the University of California, San Diego is debunking the 7:1 ratio.
Like humans, dogs (and other animals) have what is known as an epigenetic clock. Our epigenetic clocks tick away based on the changes that our DNA undergo throughout our lifetime. The older you are, the more you’ve exposed your DNA to disease, different lifestyle choices and inherited genetics. Tracking this DNA methylation is how scientists can calculate average life expectancy in humans.
Trey Ideker of the University of California, San Diego set out to find out how dog’s epigenetic clocks compare to humans. “All dogs—no matter the breed—follow a similar developmental trajectory, reaching puberty around 10 months and dying before age 20. But to increase their chances of finding genetic factors associated with aging, Ideker’s team focused on a single breed: Labrador retrievers” (sciencemag.org).
Ideker’s research revealed that on the molecular level, dogs and humans age similarly. While this may not come as a big surprise, Ideker and other’s research into how dog’s age can help us find out how to keep our four legged friends healthier for longer. Interested in being part of the science? Check out The Dog Aging Project to learn more about one of the most ambitious canine health studies in the world.
P.S. - The new formula for calculating dog years is approximately 16 ln(dog age) + 31. Need help with what that equals? Us too.
Visit this article from Science Magazine to read more and use the age calculator to determine how old your dog is in human years.
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