The Age Old Old Age Dog Dilemma
“Your dog is so cute, how old is she?”
How many of you can relate to hearing that phrase uttered within seconds of meeting someone new? Perhaps you are the person doing the uttering?
We don’t ask fellow human beings how old they are within moments of meeting them, so what then, exactly is the fascination with a dog’s age?
The age-old adage that one year of a dog’s life is the equivalent of seven years to a human. We now this not to be true. There is even an online conversion scale to help determine your dog’s true human age.
Of course, a dog’s genes, breed , size, emotional factors, and existing health conditions will all affect his or her longevity. According to Dr. Marty Becker, the first year of a dog’s life gets him over the first hurdle of adolescence. The second year brings him closer to full adult physical maturity, but mental maturity ma y still be blooming. At this point, aging depends on the specific dog. So while a Great Dane, he says, might be a senior at age seven, a Chihuahua will be a senior at age 11 and up.
Bottom line: Every dog develops and ages at his or her own rate.
Why Do We Ask a Dog’s Age?
For dog mom, Devri King of Lindsborg, Kansas, most of the dog parents she meets have the same connection with their dog as she does. “I just find it heartwarming to know how long the furkkid/dog parent have been together,” she says. “It’s nice to hear the age they adopted/rescued their dog.”
June Myers, of Oklahoma, tells folks she meets how old her dog, Buster is. “I am proud of how young he looks to be at 15-1/2,” Myers beams. “For puppies, I might ask their age, but for the most part if people want me to know how old their dog is, they tell me.”
How to Reply
For some pet parents, asking a dog’s age sets us back a bit. Do you find that folks ask how old your dog is and perhaps a little twinge erupts in the pit of your stomach? Here’s a scenario that might help next time around:
What they say: “How old’s your dog?”
What you say: “Ten [or anything deemed ‘old’ in this society].”
They return: “Wow, that old.” Or, my personal favorite: “He’s a senior citizen.”
You say back: “He still thinks he’s a puppy and in my heart, he’ll always be one.” (I stopped saying, “She won’t tell me even though I card her every time she wants a shot of whiskey in her water bowl.”)
If snark isn’t quite your thing, you can forego that last comment.
We are a curious society in general. Social media contributes to our overall candor and dropping of the previous curtain of limits. We are more vocal. We see pets in stores like PetSmart and we are curious and we want to bond, compare, contrast, and see if our pet measures up.
Asking People Their Age
When is the last time you asked someone how old they are? For me, unless the person doing the asking is a bartender or carding me for a specific legal reason, age is off limits. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from asking each other and talking among themselves.
Question: Do you ask about a dog’s age when you meet a stranger and his or her dog? Does it bother you if someone asks you your dog’s age?
I don’t care if someone asks. But then I don’t care if someone asks me my age (I’m 37 I think). I actually prefer them to ask over getting the weird comments like “Aww, he’s a senior!” to 3-year-old Mort while he’s leaping around like a maniac, just because he has some white on his muzzle (which he started getting at 1.5 years old).
I think I’ll go with the whiskey comment, and pour me a shot while I’m at it. 🙂
(I should add, I’d follow the whiskey comment, which I think is funny!, with “oh, he’s 3 – how old is yours?”)
One of the things I love most about having a dog is striking up conversations with other people – Mort is a great ice breaker. I’d prefer the grey muzzle comment any day of the week over no conversation at all.
I don’t mind if someone asks my dogs age. I take great pride in the fact Daphne is nearing 16 yrs! It’s kind of like when you see someone with a baby and you ask how old. Oh what, my dogs are my babies!!
I don’t mind at all when people ask how old my dogs are. I think they’re just making conversation. The funny thing is one of my dogs has had silvery gray fur mixed in his coat since he was a puppy. So when people ask how old he is (now he’s 4), they’re always surprised at his age. They expect gray to equal old.
Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats
I actually often do ask with pups; typically not with adult dogs. I don’t really care when people ask me my dogs’ age I consider it part of the owner mingling small talk. Not that many one can ask about a dog. Name, age … Asking about food is way more controversial than asking about age … Can’t ask where they go to school or what they do for living …
I think people ask dog’ sage because they want to show interest and don’t know what else to ask.
Mom sometimes asks how old a dog is if they are especially playful or seemingly old. More than anything it is just to try to get a handle on how different dogs/breeds behave at different ages. We get asked our ages a lot. Mom often volunteers that Bailie is one since she is usually off the wall wild, and Katie is so very slow these days, people ask about her age all the time. We don’t mind at all. Now if someone asks Mom’s age, that is a different story…she prefers to give the “feels like” age, not the real age!
I sometimes ask about a dogs age, but it’s meant as a compliment. For example a bouncing dog that looks like a senior but doesn’t act the part, mostly i’m curious and then follow up with “how do you keep him/her so healthy?” 🙂
It’s always fun to have a dog conversation, and what Emma said, “get a handle on how different dogs/breeds behave at different ages.” Is always interesting.
I don’t mind when people ask about my pups age. I like the whiskey comment!
Don’t really mind being asked – proud of my seniors. I’ve asked on occasion…mostly just curiosity.
I never really thought of that. I suppose it is a bit odd that people always ask a dogs age!
I love that dog age calculator, thanks for sharing!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
I will ask on occasion. It doesn’t bother me if someone asks how old Bentley is though. What does make me furious is when people tell me he is overweight, a lot bigger than they thought, or that he doesn’t miss many meals. I am planning a post on insulting my dog. LOL ☺
It never occurred to me that people would be offended about asking a dog’s age. Nor has it ever offended me when people ask mine. What would bother me is if they replied, “Wow, that’s old!”
That’s usually how they respond. Completely rude. I’ve had people tell me that since my dog was 6 years old. People in their 70’s, telling me my 6 year old dog was old. Completely rude and offensive. I give it back to them now.
All the time and not bothered at all. Many just can’t believe that Sugar is 13 yrs old. I’m proud to respond that Sugar is a senior dog and enjoying life. Golden Woofs
People always ask me my age because I am small. You’d be surprised how many people think I am a puppy. My Momma hates telling my age because it is a constant reminder how short life is for dogs. In fact, she’s sad just typing this now.
The older he gets… the more I hate it. I actually found this article because I was wondering if anyone else felt the same. A couple days ago some Lady had the nerve to give me advice on how to handle the end of his life (he is very healthy and has more energy than most dogs I know even though he’s in the double digits). I find myself giving his feels like age now more often, the same like I do mine