Yuna’s 5th Birthday! The Middle Age, and How Old Is Considered Old For A Dog?

December 25th, 2018. Last Updated April 11th, 2020

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An adorable dog who has just turned five years old poses in front of her scrumptious birthday cake!

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Yuna, my yellow Lab rescue and star of this website, recently turned five. To me, that feels really weird to say.

For one, that’s because today Yuna has doubled her life expectancy in a way–I wrote a more personal post here explaining why.

But also, just the number five. Is that a big number for a dog? Statistically, Labradors live up to 10 to 14 years of age on average.

So technically, Yuna is entering her middle age years. That’s also assuming the rescue estimated her age correctly, which might not be the case. She could be much older than five for all we know.

Anyways, we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk about dog years and what to expect for a dog entering the middle age. Of course, since it’s still Yuna’s birthday, we’ll share some of the festivities at the end as well!

A closeup of a dog's snout at she sniffs the area.
A beautiful snoot if I've ever seen one!

What’s That In Human Years?

People often say that one dog year is approximately seven human years. If we went by that estimate, Yuna would be 35.

This conversion generally works to get a rough estimate of how old your dog is. But to make this more accurate, there’s one factor that influences age above all: size.

One of the more interesting phenomena in nature is that larger species tend to live longer. Examples are aplenty: the blue whale lives a long life of 80-90 years, whereas a fruitfly roams the Earth (or just your kitchen) for a measly 40-50 days.

However, just as interesting is the fact that smaller animals within a species tend to live the longest. Scientists say this may be because smaller animals have slower metabolisms. Also, larger animals tend to grow faster, making abnormal developments like tumors more likely to spring up earlier in the life cycle.

This explains why Chihuahuas tend to outlive Great Danes. Because dogs encompass such a wide range of size, life expectancy also varies wildly from breed to breed!

If we take size into account, the chart looks more like this:

A handy conversion chart that converts dog years to human years, helping you figure out how old (or young!) your dog really is.
How young is your dog?

How Old Is Considered Old For A Dog?

By this new and improved chart, Yuna is about 40 years old in human years, which should be considered middle-age.

Is this considered old? Definitely not! She still has a couple more years before achieving senior status.

So how old is considered old for a dog? The answer isn’t so cut and dried. I mean, even humans disagree when senior status officially begins (is it 55? 60? 65?).

We’ll use the benchmark of about 55 human years. Building off the chart from earlier, your dog is probably considered a senior canine citizen at these ages:

  • Toy to small dogs (i.e. Chihuahua): around 9-10 years
  • Small to medium dogs (i.e. Corgi, Border Collie): around 8-9 years
  • Medium to large dogs (i.e. Australian Shepherd, Golden Retriever): around 7-8 years
  • Large to giant dogs (i.e. Great Dane): around 6-7 years

What To Expect In Your Dog's Middle Ages

If your dog is within about 2 years of that senior citizen mark, they’re in their middle age. At this stage in their lives, you may start to notice some slight behavioral changes, including:

  • No more boundless puppy energy: more time spent resting
  • Slower metabolism; you may need to cut back food, or change diets
  • Being somewhat less triggered by external stimuli
  • Responding slower to commands, moving slower in general
  • Less motivated by food rewards; training new commands can take longer

Of course, it’ll vary from dog to dog. Some dogs will never outgrow their desire to bark at the delivery man.

As for Yuna, well, she is already very lazy and mellow when she’s indoors. But the moment she steps outside, she reveals her inner puppy.

It’s always great to see, but I expect it to slowly wane over the next few years. All the more reason to cherish it now, and let her express herself more often.

Yuna's 5th Birthday Celebration

I booked Yuna a special reservation to chow down on my “gourmet” cooking.

Dinner was sort of breakfast-themed. I made a simple egg omelette with some cheddar cheese and spinach. I padded the bottom of the bowl with plain boiled ground turkey, and topped it off with some fresh berries.

A delicate omelette dinner, complete with spinach, cheddar cheese, ground turkey, and topped with raspberries.

Super easy to make, and Yuna destroyed it! We’ll probably have a recipe out for it soon.

And of course, as is tradition now, Yuna got a slice of her beautiful Barkday cake from our local Seattle Barkery.

A yellow Lab sniffing and licking a beautiful peanut butter birthday cake for dogs.

Conclusion

Hopefully now you’ve got a better idea for how “old” your dog really is! But hey, no need to get overly anxious about a number.

No matter what stage of life your dog is in, I’m sure you can find different, unique ways to rediscover their puppy side.

Happy 5th to Yuna, and may all your furry friends live a happy, healthy, and long life.

Be sure to follow Yuna on Instagram and Pinterest for more Yuna updates and dog care tips!

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