Just how old is your chihuahua? When I look at Minnie, I just see the goofy fluff ball she is, and Prince and Macy are still called the puppies even though they are 4. But based on the current system of ageing, 7 dog years for 1 human year Minnie is in her fifties and the Prince and Macy are 28. Mika is an octogenarian at 84.

A new study from the University of California suggests we need to apply a different module and the aging process for our dog’s.

The study involved characterizing the methylation patterns in 104 Labrador retrievers across their lifespan, from puppies to older dogs. It’s an interesting research piece but I can’t lie I did get Chatty G to summarise it for me!

Working out your dogs age.

So according to the research dog age more in year one and two. A one-year-old dog is around 15, which is when they reach puberty. This fits with behaviour changes in a dog as they go from the cute, biddable puppy and can start to present the same challenging behaviour that teenage humans do. By the age of two, the average dog is around 24-25. Working this backwards a nine-week-old puppy is at the same developmental age as a nine-month-old and both will be teething at this age.

Five not seven years

Then the model changes the ageing measurement to five years to each human year. However, these is no such thing as an average dog. Different breeds have very different lifespans a Great Dane lives for around 7 years and a Chihuahua can live to 18- 20 years. So, they must have different genetics associated with aging. To be fair, looking at the data of the life expectancy of dogs, both Great Danes and Chihuahuas both seem to be outliers.

Smaller dogs live longer

In general, smaller dogs live longer than larger dogs and have less of a predilection to cancer. The size to life expectancy of dogs seems to be a flip of the natural state of things in the animal kingdom in general where smaller animals have a shorter life. Think mouse to elephant.

Not all about breed genetics

The life expectancy of your dog is not just driven by breed genetics, but environmental factors. Epigenetics is how environmental factors can affect our dogs DNA and how well they age. Factors like diet, exposure to toxins, stress, and fitness.

It seems obvious, but a dog that is the correct weight, has a fresh, species appropriate diet, is fit and happy is likely to live longer than a dog that is overweight and eating dry processed diets like dry kibble (there is no such thing as good kibble). Reduce the toxin burden by stopping unnecessary vaccinations, flea and tick treatments is also key.

So how old is your chihuahua?

This is not as simple as adding up how many human years your chihuahua has lived and multiplying it by seven or five. So many factors are at play. Your dog’s environment, including diet and lifestyle will have a positive or negative affect on how old your chihuahua really is under the hood!

Turn back the ageing clock

Being overweight takes around 4 human years off a dog’s life and can lead to a range of chronic health issues that mean a dog ages badly and faster.  Arthritis, heart disease, dementia and cancer are linked to obesity.

But the good news is you can turn back the ageing clock in our dogs and it’s never too late to make positive change.

If you are interested in diet and fitness for your Chihuahua, we have a module dedicated to nutrition and diet. This module provides a wealth of information, with balanced homemade recipes to a structured diet plan designed to transform your Chihuahua from a “chubby chi” to a “slinky chi.”

Enrol your chihuahua in Chihuahua School for all chihuahua training, fitness and health.