Every dog owner is aware that dogs age differently than humans; that is that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years. Reality is not as clear and the origins of this myth are quite vague. Some say it was a marketing strategy to educate the public on how fast dogs age compared to a human, and encourage dog-owners to take their pets to the vet.

We can certainly say that dogs live less than humans, and if the myth were true it would mean that when a dog is ten years old it would be seventy years old in human years. Dogs tend to reach sexual maturity very early on in their life, while humans tend to reach it at later stage. If a particular dog reaches sexual maturity after a year, the human counterpart would become sexually active at the tender age of seven.  However, this very simple ratio, does not really reflect reality. The average life span of dogs depends on the type of breed, as larger breeds tend to pass away well before the smaller ones. The ratio of one dog year equal to seven years tends to get even more complicated when one factors in breed, as there are some breeds that show different aging ratios within the same-sized dog.

For all the dog owners out there who are determined to calculate their dog’s age, even though it is not a simple case of multiplication, it is still possible to do so. This can be done by determining the dog’s mass and have an idea of the dog’s breed. This will give a better indication than the oversimplification of the 7:1 ratio, although it might take dog years for this myth to go away.