We now own a 16-year-old dog. We adopted him from a shelter when he was 3 1/2.
He might even be a little bit older than that. We really don’t know. But as of this month, he’s at least 16.
One of my family members jokes that he’s now old enough to drive. That’s a scary thought, since he’s not as sharp as he used to be.
His hearing is gone. His eyesight isn’t great. I know that for a fact. If I drop a piece of food on the floor, he isn’t all over it, like he used to be. At one time, he’d shoot across the room to get it. Now, I have to tap my foot near the piece of food. This tells him that something good is available.
His senes of smell is great. If I’m cooking meat, it will wake him up from a deep sleep, several rooms away. He likes to sleep a lot. But we don’t always let him. (More on this later.)
However, I think he’s doing great for his age. Just the fact that he’s alive is a big accomplishment. He’s a Cocker Spaniel. The average age span is 12 to 15 years. He’s definitely exceeded that.
He’s now 16 in calender years. But just how old is that in dog years?
A 16 Year Old Dog is How Old in Human Years?
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There are varying estimates as to what the equivalent of 16 calender years for a dog translates into human years. Safe to say, he’s very old.
I’ve often heard that one dog year is the same as seven human years, in terms of aging. But I doubt this is true. One thing that throws this calculation off is size.
Small dogs tend to age slower, and live longer than large breeds. So there’s a huge difference between 16 years for a chihuahua, versus a Mastiff.
How Old is a 16 Year Old Dog in Human Years?
Because of the varying estimates, I decided to settle on the information provided by the authority site WebMD. it notes that “dogs mature more quickly early on.” So a one-year-old dog is roughly the same age as a 15-year-old human.
So according to the calculation by WebMD, my medium-size dog is now the equivalent of 87 human years. If he were smaller, he’d only be about 80 years.
However, if he were a Great Dane, he’d be really old, about 120 years in human years. Chances are, he wouldn’t be alive.
How Dogs Age Compared to Human Years
The WebMD article also noted that small breeds don’t begin to slow down until around age 10. He didn’t see much difference with our dog until he was about 12 or so.
That’s when it became very apparent we could no longer feed him grain-based kibble. He simply wasn’t thriving on this type of diet. That’s when we decided to switch him to a high-quality grain-free kibble made from bison, vegetables and fruits.
This kibble is similar to what dogs would eat in the wild. Did you know that dogs are genetically the same as wolves? They can breed with wolves and they share the same DNA. I find that amazing when I look at my docile Cocker Spaniel, who loves to seek out the most comfortable spot in the house.
Human Equivalent of 16 Dog Years
Like older humans, our dog is also slowing down. Left to his own devices, he would eat as much as possible, and sleep as much as we could. We don’t let him.
Instead, we sort of make him “work” for his evening meal. This means we walks around the house for a couple of hours at night, instead of just sleeping. He sleeps a lot in the day. There’s not much I can do about it. Because I work during the day.
Since I work at home, I try to take him for a mid-day walk. However, other than that, he likes to sleep.
He awakens for his evening meal around 5 pm. But he usually doesn’t succeed in getting it until around 7 or 8 pm.
Some people might think this is cruel. But I believe it’s one of the reasons he’s still with us. Because if we fed him on demand, he’d probably just go back to sleep. In the end, lack of activity would do him in.
For More Reading
You may also be interested in the story of how we thought our dog was going to die two years ago. Thankfully, we didn’t “put him to sleep” too soon.