Human-to-dog age comparisons: Stop multiplying by 7!

Human-to-dog age comparisons: Stop multiplying by 7!

September 19, 2020

Who hasn’t heard that one human year is equivalent to 7 years of canine life? It’s a simple—and widely-believed—calculation which turns out to be wrong. In a recent study published in the journal Cell Systems, scientists from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), University of California (UC) San Diego, UC Davis and the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the progression of aging in dogs and people by studying epigenetic changes associated with specific life stages, including infancy, youth, puberty and adulthood. Researchers studied the methylation patterns of 104 dogs (mostly Labrador Retrievers) aged between 4 weeks and 16 years, and 320 people aged 1 to 103. Their findings? Yes, there is a correlation between age in dogs and humans but, no, it’s not linear. In developmental terms, an 8-week-old dog (a Lab, to be specific) is, for instance, comparable to a 9-month-old baby; in terms of age, a one-year-old Lab is like a 30-year-old person; and the 12-year average lifespan of a Lab is equivalent to a human life expectancy of 70 years. So, if you’re exasperated by your puppy’s antics, don’t worry, it’s a phase that’s going to pass fast. Very fast. (Steven Rourke)

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