Researchers at the University of California have debunked the age-old myth that one dog year is equal to seven human years.
If you're one of many dog owners who still believe in the age-old myth that one dog year is equal to seven human years, then I'm sorry to inform you that it's incorrect. For decades, people have been inaccurately calculating their pet's age. Thanks to a new formula proposed by the researchers at the University of California, it's about to change. The experts claim that their method does a way better job of correctly calculating the human equivalent of your dog's age.
So, how did this come about? Apparently, researchers turned to a relatively new method called epigenetic clock, that determines a person's age by measuring specific changes that occur in their DNA. They compared the results of humans with those of animals (such as mice, dogs, chimpanzees, and wolves) showing similar changes or patterns. They then decided to adopt this same procedure to calculate the dog's age in human years. Now, the changes with the help of which experts evaluate the biological age of dogs and humans are a result of a chemical, methyl group which is developed in the DNA in patterns that match a dog's to a human's age.
"We already knew that dogs get the same diseases and functional declines of aging that humans do, and this work provides evidence that similar molecular changes are also occurring during aging," said biogerontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, Matt Kaeberlein, who was not involved in this study according to Science. This study was focused on Labrador retrievers. The patterns of changes over time in the DNA of 104 dogs (ranging from 4 weeks to 16 years) were examined. Then the results were compared to DNA from 320 humans aged between one and 103 years of age.
Following an extensive analysis, scientists found that dogs and humans exhibited similar age-related patterns in certain regions of the DNA. The similarity in patterns was observed between young dogs and young humans as well as old dogs and old humans. Furthermore, they reposted how life stages between dogs and humans seem to match. Based on their research they found how a 7-week-old puppy is equal to a 9-month-old human baby. The formula that was hence created also estimated the average lifespan of dogs and humans. The study revealed that a 12-year-old Labrador is equivalent to a 70-year-old human.
Although this was a massive leap in determining dogs' age with respect to human beings, an evolutionary biologist and aging expert at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Steve Austad expressed that he was not surprised by the results. Speaking to Science, Austad expressed that this technique could disclose far more interesting results if it's applied to issues like the different life spans among different dog breeds.
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