For as long as I can remember, I was always told that for every year we humans age, it was like seven years for our furry companions. However, it may be that this ration isn’t necessarily correct. A new study, conducted at the California San Diego School of Medicine, has discovered that one “dog year” may not be the equivalent to seven “human years” as has always been thought.
As a result of the data collected, the researchers have been able to come up with a better equation for determining the means by which to compare the ages of humans to those of their furry companions.
In a press release on the study, the researchers offered: “Since the two species don’t age at the same rate over their lifespans, it turns out it’s not a perfectly linear comparison, as the 1:7 years rule of thumb would suggest.”
The scientists make use of a new formula, an "epigenetic clock," which is a method to determine the age of an organism by taking into account the different patterns in the aging of the organism. Through "epigenetic changes," clues can be found as to a genome's age, very much like when a person wrinkles.
The scientists focused their research on over 100 Labrador retrievers over the range of 16 years of age. What they found was that the canines aged rather quickly when they were young, but the rate of aging slowed down considerably when they got older.
This data showed that the initially believed 1:7 ratio was, in fact, wrong. With the fact that dogs age rather rapidly when they are young, in comparison to us humans, it is now believed that a one-year-old canine is equivalent in age to a 30-year-old human. It was also determined that a four-year-old canine is equal to 52 years old in a human. It was also determined that by seven years of age, a canine begins to slow down in aging.
This seems to be a more accurate depiction of the aging process for canines as a nine-month-old puppy capable of giving birth to pups. This is yet more evidence that the 1:7 ratio is quite a bit off. Although the data was collected from only one breed of canine, there is still more research that needs to be conducted. However, most researchers feel this new age determination will be able to be applied to almost any size and breed of canine.
Do you think that the 1:7 ratio of dog years to human years is, in fact, wrong?