Have you found a puppy or got it from a dog shelter, but don’t know the exact age of your new friend? Let’s discuss why it’s important to know how old the pet is and how to determine a canine’s age.
Why Do You Need to Know How Old a Dog Is
Knowing the exact or at least approximate age of your pet is needed for finding the right approach to taking care of him. Many essential care items depend on age. For example:
- Sterilization. If you are not going to breed puppies, then it is better for your pet’s health to undergo sterilization. But the surgery at too young or too old age is harmful. So, you need to determine the age of your puppy to know when it’s time to get him/her sterilized. The best time for the surgery is 6-8 months. Operation is dangerous for old dogs (8-9 years).
- Right diet choice. Dogs of different ages have various needs. So, you should know the approximate age of your pet to set up his diet in the right way.
- Vaccination. It is very important to inoculate a dog from dangerous diseases at the right age.
Gradations of the Dog Ages
Until what age are canines considered puppies and at what age can you call your pet old? The life of dogs is divided into four periods:
- Puppies — under 2 months (8 weeks).
- Juniors (teenagers) — from 2 months until 1,5 years (18 months).
- Adults — from 1,5 years.
- Old dogs — from 8-9 years for small and middle breeds, from 5-6 years for large and giant breeds.
How to Tell How Old a Dog Is
The only sure sign to determine the age of a canine is the number and state of teeth. Examining the jaws allows you to find out the exact age of a puppy or the approximate age of an adult dog. You can find below a detailed description of teeth peculiarities in the canines of different ages.
Under 2 weeks
There are no teeth in the shout at all. Newborn puppies don’t have teeth. So, if you have found a tiny puppy with no teeth you can be sure that he is no more than 2 weeks old.
Fangs begin to teethe. These are oblong conical teeth placed on the sides between the incisors (the frontest teeth) and premolars (side teeth). There are 4 of them (2 on the upper jaw and 2 on the lower one).
While in humans, incisors teethe primarily, in dogs, fangs begin to grow first of all.
4 weeks (1 month)
Incisors (the front teeth) can be seen. These teeth begin to grow after fangs. There are 12 of them (6 on the upper jaw and the same number on the lower one). Thus, in 4-week puppies, you can see 16 teeth (12 incisors and 4 fangs).
Side teeth are appearing. The teeth placed sider than front teeth and fangs begin to grow on average in 5 weeks. Thus, if you see the full set of baby teeth in the shout (28 ones: 14 on the upper jaw and 14 on the lower one) you can be sure that the pup has already turned 5 weeks.
Baby teeth begin to be replaced by permanent ones. At the age of 2-4 months, front baby teeth are replaced by permanent ones.
Side teeth are replaced at this age. So, if side baby teeth start to fall out in a dog, you may be sure that he is definitely older than 3 months.
Baby fangs fall out and permanent ones begin to grow. This type of teeth is replaced in the last turn. So, if permanent fangs are growing in your pet you can tell with great precision that he has already turned half a year.
Molars grow. These are the sidest teeth that can’t be found in puppies. They are not in a set of baby teeth but are in a set of permanent ones. There are 42 permanent teeth in dogs (20 on the upper jaw and 22 on the lower one).
So, if you have counted 28 teeth in a dog’s shout, this means that these are baby ones and a pup is under 6-8 months for sure. But if there are 42 of them then a dog has already a full set of permanent teeth that can be seen only in canines of 8-9 months.
Under 12 months (1 year)
The dogs under one year have snow-white shiny teeth with small tubercles in the form of a trident (they are intended for biting out parasites from the fur). They are in most cases in a perfect state at this age.
But after one year age-related changes occur with the dogs’ teeth. The tubercles begin to erase and the state of enamel worsens. The level of erosion depends on several factors except for age. For example, diet, living conditions, general state of health, etc. So, determining a dog’s age with great precision is impossible after one year. But the approximate age defining is still possible.
Age changes in the dog teeth
The following of them can help to define the age of a canine:
- 2 years — the tubercles on lower front teeth begin to erase.
- 4 years — teeth enamel loses its gloss, so teeth become mat. Also, the tubercles on the upper front teeth are erased at this age.
- 5 years — the state of enamel worsens even more and teeth get a dull yellowish tint. Fangs become not that sharp as in young dogs.
- 6 years — front teeth may become curved.
- 8-9 years — an erosion of all teeth is very clearly visible.
- 10 years and older — such long-livers often lose their teeth.
What to Do if I Can’t Examine Dog’s Teeth
If you can’t make a dog show his teeth to you then you can ask a vet to look at them. It is quite easy for a specialist to determine a dog’s age by examining his teeth. The procedure will take just a few minutes. And you will know how old your pet is to be able to take the best and the rightest care about him.
Other Signs for Determining the Pet’s Age
They are much less sure and don’t let you tell accurately how old a dog is. So we will just take a quick look at them:
- Musculature. When a pet is young, he has tight muscles. You can feel them when you cuddle him. And old dogs’ musculature becomes flabby with age.
- Fur. In puppies and juniors, it is thinner and softer, while in adult dogs it is often thick and coarse.
- Activeness. Low activeness may be the sign of old age. But also it may be the symptom of many various illnesses.