Your Dog May Be Way Older Than You Thought

Hate to poop on your dog's birthday party, but you might have gotten your best friend's age wrong for pretty much all of its life, according to ScienceAlert. Maybe your dog didn't know either, or it was too polite to tell you, but the traditional idea of dog years is deeply flawed. Multiplying the number of calendar years your dog has been alive by seven doesn't give a sense of how old your pup is relative to a person. 

Then again, the notion that you should measure an animal's age differently just because it has a different average lifespan than you seems strange to begin with. ScienceAlert offers the somewhat comforting justification that "we like to contextualize our animal companions' ageing against our own lives; if nothing else, it helps us to relate to them." But how is that really relating? Like, whenyour dog is 45, does it suddenly have an urge to hump expensive motorcycles because of its midlife crisis?

Maybe you can claim it's not relating but relativity, like when Einstein said that if one of two identical twins zips through space at the speed of light during a lengthy round-trip to a star, upon returning to Earth, the space twin will be younger. Maybe you were just calculating your dog's age at the speed of lightheartedness while munching on space-cakes. But if you were multiplying your dog's calendar years by seven, you weren't high enough, which is downright a-paw-ling. So what is the right way to calculate your dog's age? 

Your dog's days are re-numbered

ScienceAlert notes that canine "lifespans can vary wildly: from 6-7 years for some large breeds such as mastiffs to as many as 17-18 years for dogs such as chihuahuas." However, they mature in similar ways. So researchers decided to look at the DNA changes that occur in dogs during a process called methylation, which can be used to calculate age in humans. 

The researchers determined that if you multiply the natural logarithm of your dog's age in years by 16, then add 31, you'll get your dog's age in human years. For instance, based on the traditional concept of dog years, a 5 year old pooch would be 35 years old in human years. But based on the researchers' method, it would be 56.8 years old, relatively speaking.