1 Dog year equals 7 human years? Researchers disagree

1 dog year equals 7 human years? Researchers disagree

The widely accepted rule of thumb for the age of dogs, according to which one year corresponds to about seven human years, is considered to be quite wrong by us researchers.

According to genetic analyses, four-legged friends do not age at a consistently faster rate than their masters, write trey ideker of the university of california san diego and his team in the journal "cell systems". Instead, young dogs age particularly quickly compared to humans, but later the aging process slows down.

Instead of the simple 7-year rule of thumb, the researchers propose a slightly more complicated formula based on their studies of 104 labrador retrievers: "human age = 16 ln(dog age) + 31.". This is a so-called logarithmic function. If you want to calculate with the formula yourself, you should have a calculator with the key "ln" (natural logarithm) at hand. According to this, a one year old dog would not be comparable to a seven but to a 31 year old human, a four year old dog to a 53 year old human. At nine, a dog had reached the comparable human age of 66 years.

In their analysis, the researchers focused on tiny changes in the dna. These numerous DNA methylations occur in both humans and dogs. The methylations form certain patterns in the hereditary material, which allow to conclude on the life phase of an individual. The researchers took advantage of this and established a connection between the age-dependent patterns in dogs and those in humans. From their results they derived the new formula.

It’s important to better understand the aging process in dogs, ideker said, according to a university press release. For example, veterinarians often still use the old 7-year rule of thumb and make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions based on it.

But there needs to be more research, the researchers write. Thus, the new formula was developed only on the basis of the studied labrador retriever. For other breeds of dogs that have a lower or higher life expectancy, the formula could be different.

He now sees his own dog with different eyes, ideker said. "I have a six-year-old dog. She still goes jogging with me, but I realize now that maybe she’s not quite as young as I thought she was."


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