Why Do Dogs Age Faster Than Humans?
[The Truth Explained]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Many people are aware that dog years and human years are not equivalent. There is a ratio of human years to dog years that is used to calculate how old your dog is in human years. Each dog year is equivalent to 4 to 7 human years. 

Large dogs will always age faster than smaller dogs, so if you have a large dog, each of your human years is more like seven dog years. Small dogs can live into their late teens quite frequently, while big dogs are often quite old at ten. 

The kind of care and exercise and food that you give your dog can significantly impact their lifespan, but there are still some limitations to the age that your dog will reach, especially if they belong to one of the larger breeds.

Why Do Dogs Age Faster Than Humans?

Dogs age more quickly than humans because they have a higher metabolism and their bodies have to work harder to keep their organs healthy all day long. Dogs also have a different genetic makeup than humans, making their hearts beat faster than a human’s and increasing the wear and tear on their bodies much greater.

Do Both Dogs and Cats Age Faster Than Humans?

Cats and dogs both age faster than humans due to the demands of keeping their bodies healthy. The hearts of both cats and dogs beat much faster than a human’s, and many cats can be considered elderly after 12 human years. 

Many cats age at the same rate as small dogs, while some larger dog breeds will age much faster than most cat breeds. Cats often struggle with worn-out kidneys, while older dogs will struggle with heart conditions as well as aging joints.

Which Breeds of Dogs Age Faster Than Others?

Large and giant dog breeds often have shorter lifespans than small or toy breeds. This is a very generalized statement as each dog’s life will have unique health challenges that they have to face as they get older, and not all small dogs or all big dogs will reach the maximum potential for their breed’s active lifespan.

The dog breeds that have the shortest lifespan are:

  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Labs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Mastiff breeds

Any dog that fits into the large or giant category can experience hip and back issues and heart problems that can lead to a shorter lifespan than a small dog like a chihuahua. That being said, many small breed dogs have their own health challenges that can greatly impact their lifespan.

What Are Common Health Struggles For Older Dogs?

There are some common health conditions that older dogs experience. If you have a small dog, these ailments will show up in their teens, while larger breeds might start to experience these ailments when they are 6 or 7.

  • Hearing and Vision Loss

This is a common problem for older dogs, but many of them do quite well so long as they are still living in a home that they are familiar with. This familiarity can help them to make their way around objects and through rooms from memory when they can’t hear or see very well.

  • Hip Problems

This is often a problem that is mainly associated with large breed dogs. Many dogs with joint issues can experience a lot of improvement through supportive joint supplements and altered exercise plans.


  • Heart Problems

This problem is a risk for all dog breeds, and heart conditions can be tough to treat. There are medications that can help your dog be more comfortable.

  • Obesity

This is usually an issue that can be avoided, and most elderly dogs should be put on the proper diet to prevent damage to their joints and stress on their heart. Obesity is common but avoidable.

  • Cancer

Unfortunately, many dog breeds are prone to cancer once they reach a certain age. Cancer can respond to treatment in some instances, but it is usually hard to treat in dogs.

Dogs Do Age Faster Than Humans But Good Care is a Must

Even though dogs do age faster than humans, you can prevent them from aging so quickly and struggling with health conditions by providing them with a complete and healthy diet. You can also make sure to have your large dog on a joint supplement, and you can try to prevent them from jumping onto tall things too often.

Always make sure to take your dog to the vet if you have concerns about your dog’s health. Catching health concerns early can make all the difference in managing them for the long run. 

Your canine companion might age faster than you would like, but you can make sure that they have the longest, healthiest life possible with you on their team.