german shepherd dog lying on wooden table outdoors

It can be easy to tell if your dog is a puppy, however, it becomes far more difficult to determine how old your dog is once they are mature and fully grown. Although there is no definite way to tell how old your dog is, there are certain factors that you can look at to get a good indication as to whether your dog is within a certain age range.

It is also easier to tell if a dog is in their senior years because it will start to show the typical signs of aging such as grey fur, lower activity levels, or health issues. Whether you are trying to determine the age of a new dog you adopted, or are curious about purchasing a dog that has no history behind how old it could be, the article below may be able to help!

The 6 Ways to Tell A Dogs Age

1. Fur Condition

As dogs begin to get older and reach the age of 6–8, their fur condition will start to deteriorate. It is also common for dogs to start growing grey fur in between their normal fur color. This is a classic sign of aging, however, if your dog breed naturally has white fur, it can be difficult to tell when they are going grey. It is also possible for dogs to go grey early if they are in a stressful environment for a long time, but this will rarely happen if they are still in their young years between 1 and 3 years of age.

Grey or white fur may start to appear on their chest, back, or haunches. Some dogs will also develop small grey or white fur on their head and neck. This is most likely to occur when a dog is over the age of seven. Older dogs may have also lost the general shine and softness of their old coat, which can also be seen as a dog starts to age from a puppy with soft fur to an adult coat.

japanese chin dog standing on grass
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2. Health Issues

Older dogs typically over the age of 8 years old will begin to develop health issues. This could be obesity, arthritis, or certain gum diseases. You will find that your dog doesn’t seem to be in the best shape, as painful conditions such as arthritis can slow your canine companion down. Once a dog is over 10 years of age, they are seniors, and their health conditions may become more distinctive because it has progressed over the years.

Another common health issue senior dogs face will be tumors, which can either be benign or cancerous. Fatty deposits such as lipomas on your dog’s neck, back, or legs are also common as they begin to enter their senior years.

3. Teeth and Gum Condition

One possible way to determine the approximate age range your dog is in is to check their teeth and gums. Puppies will still have sharp teeth that will fall out and be replaced with adult teeth. If a puppy is below the age of 4 weeks old, it will not have any teeth at all. Once they grow their first set of teeth, they will be very sharp and needle-like.

Once they reach a year old, your dog will have lost their puppy teeth and they will be replaced with less sharp and more defined permanent teeth. As your dogs’ permanent teeth go through chewing different items throughout their lifetime and eating certain foods, their teeth will begin to gather tarter and take on a yellow appearance. You may also find that your dogs’ gums are less healthy. In some cases, middle-aged dogs around 5–10 years of age will be missing some teeth either from general wear and tear or from gum disease, which can weaken their teeth.

4. Hearing and Vision

Dogs who are aging into their senior years may experience vision and hearing loss. Some dogs who are in their late senior years from 10 upwards may even begin going completely deaf or blind.

Cataracts are a common condition that affects old dogs’ eyes and makes the eyeball appear to be milky and clouded, which also affects their sight. Older dogs will also have more difficulty hearing you and may even accidentally walk into things or not hear noises around the house as well as they used to.

Dogs generally have good hearing, so if a dog is struggling to hear you call them even from a small distance away, they could be losing their hearing. Dogs who have their vision affected or completely lost are usually over about 10 years of age. You will need to keep their environment simple and avoid moving their food and water bowl along with their beds around as this can confuse them—they will primarily rely on their smell and muscle memory to find their way around.

close up of an old dog with cloudy eyes
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5. Mobility and Activity Levels

Just like humans, as a dog starts to age, it will be much less active than it once was. In a dog’s prime years and when they are a puppy, they will be much more active and have no difficulty running around, playing with toys, being full of energy, and showing no issues with their mobility unless they have a certain condition that affects their mobility from a young age.

As a dog reaches their later stages in life, their energy and mobility will start to deteriorate, and they will not be as active as they once were. This can either be from obesity or arthritis which are common conditions that affect older dogs, or they will not feel the bouts of energy they once did when they were puppies and young adults.

You may notice that your dog is stiffer, and their joints are not as flexible, especially once they reach their senior years. This can mean your dog will take longer to get up in the mornings and they will spend more time resting than you would expect a younger puppy to.

6. Get A Professional Opinion

If you are struggling to tell the age of your dog, you can always consult with your dog’s veterinarian to get their professional opinion on how old they think your dog could be approximately in age. Your dog’s veterinarian can look at their health status, vision, hearing, joint mobility, and dental condition to help you get a better idea of how old your dog could be.

At the same time, the veterinarian will be conducting a health check which is always important for your dog to get, and the number of health checks they get a year will increase the older they get.


Keep in mind that these are only some common ways to get an approximate age of your dog, but it is not always guaranteed that these ways will give you a definite age of how old your dog is, usually only what age spans they are going through, such as a puppy, young adult, adult, aging adult, or senior. The rate your dog ages will depend on their breed, lifespan, diet, and activity. Some dogs will begin showing signs of aging earlier than usual, whereas others will show aging in their late senior years.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay