Here at Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine, we are graced daily with the presence of Otis, our unofficial office dog. The pug is just over one year old.
Traditional dog-to-human age factoring would make Otis a rambunctious 7-year-old, but a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, places Otis’ age at 31.
The study, “quantitative translation of dog-to-human aging by conserved remodeling of epigenetic networks,” was recently published at bioRxiv, the Preprint Server for Biology.
The research team put science to work to more accurately determine a dog’s age in human years.
The researchers based their findings on a fairly new concept in aging research: Chemical changes to DNA, both in humans and dogs, according to Live Science. One such modification, the addition of methyl groups to specific DNA sequences, tracks human biological age. In layman’s terms, the older living beings get, the rate of methylation speeds up, according to Mental Floss. If you have time on your hands, the study’s results can be found at www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/829192v1.full.
It turns out other species – dogs, wolves, chimpanzees and mice – also seem to share this chemical modification to DNA as they get older, Science magazine reported.
The UC-San Diego team conducted its study on 104 Labrador retrievers, with an age range between 4 weeks and 16 years. They determined the dogs and humans have age-related chemical mutations, which were more apparent when comparing puppies to young humans and old dogs too old humans, Science reported.
The formula the scientists arrived at is 16 x ln (dog age) +31. In other words, your dog’s real age, multiplied by 16, with 31 added to the total, Science said.
If that’s too much drain on the brain to figure out, Science has a dog-age calculator at www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/here-s-better-way-convert-dog-years-human-years-scientists-say?. Go about two-thirds of the way down the page and enter your canine family member’s age. You’ll see a result that is equal to human years. For example:
- A 3-year-old Labrador retriever would be 48.6 years old in human years.
- A pup that reached the age of 9 would be equivalent to a human who was 66.2 years old.
- If fur baby (or teen) is 15, that translates into 74.3 human years.
This doesn’t mean Otis is necessarily 31 in human years. He might be if he were a Labrador retriever since that is the only breed the researchers observed. Different breeds have different rates of aging, and the equation might not apply to your fox terrier or German shepherd.