It's not easy being a dog except maybe those rare breeds that have been around forever. The pug, bulldog, dachshund, and chihuahua all look cute and seem harmless enough at first glance, but take one behind the barn and they'll growl and snap if someone tries to mess with their food bowl.
Yet even these tough guys were once puppies and just as vulnerable as any other human infant. In fact, some of them had no choice in growing up so quickly because they were bred specifically for physical strength and endurance.
The same goes for almost every other dog on this planet. A dog is an animal and age can be difficult to determine. There are many factors to consider when determining a dog's age, including his breed, size, weight, gender, general health, and environment.
Knowing a few simple facts about your pet will help you make better decisions for him, like when it comes time to get him neutered or spayed. But what exactly does it mean to "figure out" your dog's age? Is there really such a thing as a perfect dog? Not quite. Here, we'll discuss how to learn more about your canine friend through observation, experience, and knowledge of the breed he belongs to.
We've compiled a list of several key questions and considerations regarding how we know our dogs and why it matters for both you and Fido. We'll start by looking at how you might determine your dog's breed.
Determining the Breed of Your Dog
You may already know your dog best, which could help you narrow down his exact breed. If you're still unsure, here are some common characteristics shared by certain breeds.
? Ears erect, standing straight up
? Coat short and smooth
? Body lean
? Head square
? Legs slightly sloping
? Movement free and agile
? Shedding hair from front and rear paws
? Bite strong
These traits aren't necessarily exclusive to any specific breed, but rather are characteristics commonly found across various types of dogs. These general similarities occur regardless of whether the dog is a large or small breed, fully grown or young.
If you haven't yet decided on a particular breed, though, try visiting a local shelter or rescue group to see which type of dog would fit into your lifestyle the best. Many shelters house a variety of different breeds, allowing you to choose a pet based on your own preferences and needs. Rescue groups tend to focus on specific breeds, however, since their main goal is to match pets with people who want only a certain type of dog.
Once you've narrowed your selection down to a possible breed, read on to find out what else you should know before deciding on a dog. Your veterinarian should be able to tell you the approximate age of your dog. This can vary depending on the breed, considering each breed has its own life span.
Health Considerations When Determining Your Dogs' Age
There are also some obvious differences between humans and dogs namely, they don't share the same basic body structure. While human bodies consist primarily of water, dogs are made up mostly of muscle mass. Additionally, dogs generally live longer than humans, making it harder to judge their true age.
One way veterinarians estimate the age of dogs is by examining teeth. Teeth continue to erupt throughout a dog's lifetime, so the amount of teeth present is indicative of his age. However, dental examinations alone won't always give you accurate results, especially with older dogs. It's important to remember that dental development doesn't follow the same pattern among breeds. For instance, German shepherds retain their molars until much later in life than Pomeranians.
Other ways to determine a dog's age include measuring height, circumference, and girth. Height refers to the distance from the ground to the highest point on your dog's skull. Girth, meanwhile, measures the diameter of your dog's torso.
To measure the circumference, wrap a tape measure loosely around your dog's midsection, then subtract half an inch (about 1 centimeter) to account for the tail. These measurements will provide an idea of your dog's overall size, but keep in mind that they fluctuate according to breed and activity level.
In addition to taking your dog's measurements, you should also pay attention to his coat. Older dogs tend to shed less fur, while younger ones usually have thicker coats. Hair coloration can also indicate a dog's age. White hairs are generally associated with older dogs, while black hairs indicate a younger dog. Brown hairs are typically seen in mixed-breed dogs.
Now that you understand a little bit more about how to figure out your dog's age, let's explore other areas where age plays a role. Some experts argue that choosing a female dog over a male reduces aggression and allows the owner to control behavior better. Others claim that males provide companionship and protect their owners during emergency situations.
Age Factors That Affect How You Care for Your Dog
Whether you decide to go with a male or female dog, it's wise to consider your dog's age when selecting a name. Younger dogs tend to bond more closely with their owners, whereas mature animals often prefer playing outside with other dogs.
Just as children develop differently, so do dogs. Some adult dogs may exhibit symptoms similar to dementia, while others may become aggressive due to old injuries or neglect.
Older dogs are also prone to develop conditions related to aging, such as arthritis, hip problems, and cataracts. Because of this, it's crucial to monitor your dog's overall health. Don't forget to consult your vet regularly for advice on proper diet and exercise regimens.
As far as caring for your dog's emotional well-being, older dogs require more socialization than puppies. They need opportunities to play with other animals or interact with strangers in order to feel comfortable. Since they may have difficulty remembering new things, older dogs sometimes benefit from cognitive stimulation therapy, which can improve memory function.
Finally, it's important to note that although dogs do reach an age where they can no longer perform certain tasks, they can still participate in activities beyond what most humans would consider appropriate.
For example, a retired race car driver might enjoy owning an overweight Great Dane that enjoys sleeping in bed with him after a long day's work. Or perhaps you'd like your pooch to accompany you on hikes instead of sitting at home watching TV.
Regardless of breed, your elderly pet deserves love and affection. After all, it's not healthy for your pup to spend too much time with one person while ignoring everyone else in the household. And, if you plan to euthanize your dog when he reaches a certain age, don't worry. Most vets recommend giving your dog a dignified death via injection or overdose of medication.