Myth busted: One dog year not equivalent to seven human years


Your Labrador Retriever might be older and smarter than they’re letting on.

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Your Labrador Retriever might be older and smarter than they’re letting on.

The age-old belief that every one dog year is the same as seven human years has been debunked by scientists.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego found a one-year-old puppy is instead equivalent to a 30-year-old human.

By studying the methylation changes in the genetic data of 104 Labrador retrievers spanning a 16-year age range, researchers discovered the new ageing model. Methylation is able to change the activity of a DNA segment but doesn’t make any changes to its sequence.

The identified algorithm is: human age = 16 ln(dog_age) + 31.

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The authors of the study, published in Cell Systems, said the mathematical function showed “strong agreement between the approximate times at which dogs and humans experience common physiological milestones during both development and lifetime ageing”.

A one-year-old pup is equivalent to a 30-year-old human.

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A one-year-old pup is equivalent to a 30-year-old human.

For example, a four-year-old pup is similar to a 54-year-old human, while a 12-year-old Labrador retriever is similar to a 70-year-old.

Researchers compared the way methyl groups gather in parts of the human genome over time to how they behave in dog genomes.

It appears your puppy might be older and wiser than it lets on.

Further research of other breeds and species may be needed to address the various shortfalls of the study, namely its focus on just one dog breed.

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