It’s so true how quickly dogs age – it’s almost sad to see them age so fast. One moment, they are playing in your lap, and the next moment, they are just old. As per a new study comparing little and big canines, it was found that dogs quickly age in terms of their mental health as well. 

Hungarian researchers found out that age-related decline begins at seven to eight years of age in really big dogs, as compared to ten to eleven years in relatively smaller dogs. 

However, dogs that are big in size decline gradually as compared to their pint-sized friends. Big dogs usually maintain their mental health quality for a much longer time period and are typically accompanied by a much smaller degree of decline in terms of age.

Research Overview:

Borbála Turcsán, the first study author who is a vital part of ELTE Eötvös Loránd University’s Senior Family Dog Project in Budapest, Hungary, said, “For those who want a smaller-sized dog but do not want to risk severe mental health problems in old age or want a larger-sized dog but do not want to risk physical health problems at 7 to 8 years of age, we recommend a dog from the [22- to 66-pound] size range.”

In the University’s news release, Turcsan also explained, “Based on our results, these dogs have a longer health span relative to their expected life span than their smaller and larger counterparts.

Depending on data collected from 15 thousand dogs, large dogs commonly live up to seven years, while smaller dogs live about the age of fourteen. Moreover, it was found that purebred dogs tend to have relatively shorter lives as compared to mixed breeds. 

At the same time, the researchers also investigated how behavioral as well as cognitive or mental changes begin and how quickly they actually progress. Additionally, they also checked the dog body sizes as well as the purebred status in connection with similar age-related changes. 

What they came across is that both cognitive and behavioral aging in most dogs start when they are in the 10-1/2 years age bracket. However, once aging starts, how quickly it makes progress entirely depends on the actual body size. 

Moreover, any dog weighing over 66 pounds will experience age-related decline relatively earlier. 

It’s All About The Size:

Turcsán also talked about the importance of size. He said, “Larger dogs experience a physical breakdown at an earlier age, and the accumulating illnesses and degradation in sensory functions leads to ‘old-age behaviors’ long before their mental decline would begin.

Dogs that weigh about fourteen pounds have a 4 times higher rate of mental and cognitive decline during old age as compared to leather dogs. 

Dogs with long noses, like Greyhounds, have a much higher risk of experiencing mental decline during old age as compared to dogs with any other type of head shapes, as well as mixed breeds. 

The study authors also noted that most dog owners begin to think about their dogs entering old age when they turn size, regardless of their purebred status or even size, for that matter. 

The head of the Senior Family Dog Project, Enikő Kubinyi, said, “Owners consider their dogs ‘old’ four to five years earlier than would be expected from behavioral data. This may be due to graying and barely noticeable changes.

Recently, the study was released in a journal called GeroScience.

Additional Reading:

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Barsha Bhattacharya
Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.

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