While there might not be a very accurate method of how to tell how old your dog is, it is possible to get an estimate.
That is, it is possible to find out what developmental stage (puppyhood, adulthood and old age) your dog is in by checking some parts of their body.
And it is really important to know this because dogs’ needs change from one developmental stage to another.
Knowing what stage your dog is on will help you be better prepared to support them.
Of all the body parts you could check, your dog’s teeth will probably provide you as close an estimate as possible, especially if said teeth are non existent.
If you’ve adopted a young dog that doesn’t have any teeth at all, it is pretty easy to tell that your dog is a puppy.
And seeing as dogs do not start teething until about 8 weeks, you can be sure that your dog isn’t up to 8 weeks old, yet.
However, if your dog already has teeth, it becomes a little bit more difficult to tell by their teeth.
This is because, dogs develop differently and while there are general developmental expectations, there are a lot of exemptions.
That said, your dog’s permanent teeth will probably start growing in when they are around 3 months old and would have completely grown in around 7 months old.
This, however, could differ, especially considering that small dog breeds mature faster but age slower than their large breed counterparts.
So, while they will reach adulthood quicker than large dogs, they will get to old age slower than their large dog counterparts.
As a result, a small dog might get all their adult teeth quicker than a large breed dog.
That said, generally, till about the age of 1, dogs’ teeth will remain as white as they were when they came out.
However, from age 1, you might begin to notice some tartar build up, especially on the back teeth.
Nonetheless, this depends on a number of circumstances, chief of which is when your dog got all their adult teeth.
However, some dogs might actually start to have some tartar build up earlier than others, depending on genetics and what they’ve been eating.
So, basically tartar build up on your dog’s teeth could either be indicative of adulthood or tooth decay.
The older a dog gets, the cloudier their eyes get. This is probably lenticular sclerosis and while your dog’s pupils might look opaque, lenticular sclerosis usually does not affect eye sight, at least not terribly.
That said, do not confuse this for cataract. With cataract, you’ll notice a milky white substance on your dog’s pupil and this usually affects their vision.
However, if you are not sure of what is what, take your dog to the vet.
Much like humans begin to grey as they get into old age, dogs grey too. You’d usually start to notice the greying around their snout and their eyes.
However (there is usually an however), much like with adults, there are dogs who start to grey really early. And there are even those who are born with white hair around those areas.
So, while the coat thing might be able to tell you what developmental stage your dog is in, you can’t be sure of its accuracy.
So, What Then?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is pretty difficult to accurately tell how old a dog is.
One thing you can do, though, in addition to the other checks we mentioned, is to track your dog’s developmental progress.
That is, from the time you brought in your dog, have there been any significant changes in them? If there haven’t, your dog is probably at the peak of their adulthood.
Adulthood lasts for between 3 to 5 years or even more in smaller dogs. So, if your dog hasn’t changed much yet, they are probably there.
For the other developmental stages, you’ll know when you begin to notice the changes.
What If I Still Can’t Figure It Out?
Your veterinarian is your best bet. In fact, when you first bring in your dog, you ought to take them to the vet. And during this period, your vet might be able to help you figure out how old they are.
And even if they can’t you’ll just have to pay attention to your dog and report any changes your dog experiences to your vet immediately.