Woof you believe it — New scientific discovery reveals new formula to find dog’s human age

By: Hannah Sang

While regular civilians are still pondering about what to do during quarantine, scientists have recently discovered a new method of calculation to find a dog’s human age. Suddenly, a family puppy can be countless years older than people ever expected.

Scientists recently conducted and then published a new study on the journal Cell Systems about a dog’s human age. Trey Ideker is the study’s senior author and a professor of genetics at the University of California. The new findings calculate that a five-year-old dog would be approximately 60 years old in human years.

“Puppies age super quickly. By the time a dog is a year old, at a molecular level, he’s much more like a 30-year-old human. Retrospectively, we did know these things. It didn’t make any sense that the equivalent to a 7-year-old human would be able to have puppies,” said Ideker.

Ideker and his colleagues have also discovered that dogs have methylation marks or methyl groups that change at different stages of growth. They can also be used to find an animal’s biological age. Ideker also says that his research team can quantify the methylation marks across dogs and humans on the molecular level, but are still trying to figure out its exact meaning.

To find an accurate equation of human and dog age comparisons, Ideker and his colleagues studied the DNA of 104 Labrador Retriever puppies ranging from just five weeks to 16 years old. After comparing data and DNA, scientists said that the natural logarithm of a dog’s age multiplied by 16 and added with 31 would be the human age.

Using the equation, a one-year-old dog would already be 31 years old. According to the graph “how a dog translates to human years” from Cell Systems, a three-year-old dog would be 49 years old, a 7-year-old dog would be 62 years old, and so forth. A dog’s aging starts to slow down over the years, so an 8-year-old dog would only be 64 years old.

Being a specialist in veterinary genetics, pediatrics, and reproduction at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Margaret Casal agrees with the results of the equation. She says they match the behaviors in some of her dog patients. “It will be interesting to look at different breeds," Casal said. "We know that some smaller breeds live longer and some larger ones don’t live quite as long.”

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