How to tell a dogs age: the 6 clues to look at

stop a dog barking too much (1) how to tell a dogs age

This guide outlines how to tell a dogs age by looking at the various factors about them.

Dogs are beloved companions that bring joy, happiness, and loyalty to our lives. But one question often lingers in the back of our minds: “How old is my dog?” 

While those who’ve had their dogs since puppyhood have an accurate gauge of age, those who’ve adopted an older dog are often given a rough estimate determined by the shelter veterinarian.

Besides – we all know dog years are different from human years when it comes to aging. Knowing how to tell a dogs age relative to human age is essential for providing the best care possible, from nutrition to exercise routines.

How to tell a dogs age: 6 clues

With this in mind, let’s take a look at six ways to determine your dog’s age:


The breed can offer a clue to how to tell a dogs age. Different breeds have different lifespans, and while not an exact science, knowing your dog’s breed can give you a general idea of its age. For example, larger breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiffs have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Poodles.

Some breeds may show signs of aging earlier than others. For example, breeds like Boxers and Bulldogs tend to develop grey hair and wrinkles at a younger age than other breeds. Knowing your dog’s breed can also help you anticipate any potential health issues with age.


As with breeds, smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. However, small breeds may age differently than larger breeds. For example, a small dog may develop dental problems earlier in life due to overcrowding of teeth, while larger dogs may experience joint problems as they age.

The size of your dog can help you with how to tell a dogs age — if they are still in their puppy phase or have entered their senior years. Puppies tend to be smaller, more playful, and energetic, while older dogs may be larger and less active.


The state of the teeth can provide valuable information about how to tell a dogs age. Puppies typically have all their baby teeth by six to eight weeks old, which they will start to lose around three to four months old. Most puppies will have their adult teeth fully grown by six months old.

If your dog has all its adult teeth, they are likely at least six months old. However, as dogs age, their teeth may show signs of wear and tear. Tartar buildup and yellowing teeth can indicate age, as can missing teeth. The condition of a dog’s teeth can also impact its overall health and quality of life.

Gray Hair

Like with humans, gray hair is one of the most obvious signs of aging in dogs. Still, the onset of gray hair can vary greatly depending on breed and genetics. Some dogs may start to show gray hairs as early as two to three years old, while others may not show any gray until they are well into their teens.

The location of gray hair can provide clues for how to tell a dogs age. Dogs may develop gray hairs around their muzzle, on their chest, or on their paws first. While gray hair is a helpful indicator of age, it should not be relied upon solely to determine a dog’s age.

Energy Level

A dog’s energy level can also offer insight into how to tell a dogs age. Puppies tend to be more active and playful, while older dogs may slow down and become more sedentary.

Health and the environment can also impact a dog’s energy level. A bored or lacking stimulation may become lethargic, while a dog with underlying health issues may experience decreased energy.

A dog’s activity level may change as they age, but it is important to note that some dogs may maintain their energetic personalities well into their senior years. Regular exercise and playtime can also help maintain a dog’s energy level and overall health.

Health Issues

While not a foolproof method, certain health issues can give clues about how to tell a dog’s age. For example, seniors may develop cataracts, hearing loss, or arthritis, while younger dogs may be more prone to conditions like hip dysplasia or allergies.

Regular vet check-ups can help determine a dog’s age and identify potential health issues. Knowing your dog’s health history and past medical issues can provide an understanding of their age.


Determining how to tell a dog’s age can be challenging, but understanding your dog’s physical traits and health can provide valuable insight into its age and overall well-being.

Remember, knowing your dog’s age is just one aspect of understanding and caring for your furry companion. No matter their age, every dog deserves love, attention, and proper care to ensure a happy and healthy life.