Dog Life Stages

  • By:

    Alina Andreeva
    Alina Andreeva

    Author: Alina Andreeva

    Alina Andreeva is a writer, editor, and pet-lover. She has published over 20 articles on how to care for pets properly. Alina has been writing articles for 3 years, so she has considerable experience in this niche. Her natural curiosity helps her to expand her knowledge and learn new pet care life hacks, which will make your life much easier.

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  • Updated on: 22/05/2020

If you have a loyal furry companion living in your home, chances are that you have probably wondered about his or her lifecycle and how dogs develop in general. If you have ever heard of the term “dog years”, you probably have an idea that dog’s developmental cycles are different from that of humans.

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What are the Life Stages of a Dog?

With variations according to breeds, the average life span of a dog is around 12 years. Similar to that of humans, dogs have four developmental stages they go through in their lives. These four developmental stages can come at different times as this varies according to the breed, size and dog’s quality of life (including nutrition, exercise and amount of care taken).

The first stage is that of a mere puppy (which is equivalent to the human infant and toddler). In the first few weeks of puppyhood, puppies are generally attached to their mothers as she is the one to fulfill their every need (just as human infants are attached to their mothers). As they grow older, puppies begin to become more independent, learning the ways of being a dog.

The second stage is that of adolescence. During this stage, the dog goes through a dog version of puberty, which will include hormones being at their peak, growing into the adult size and showing mood swings if not spayed/neutered. Smaller dogs generally reach adolescence faster than bigger dogs.

The next stage is that of adulthood and once again, smaller dogs will reach this stage faster than bigger sized dogs. Dogs become completely independent these days, no longer requiring your constant attention and it becomes easier for them to entertain themselves.

The last stage is that of old age. During this stage, dogs will become less active and more relaxed. Unlike the previous two stages, larger dogs reach this stage faster than smaller sized dogs. Dogs become more lethargic at this stage and they may start to eat less and sleep more. They move more slowly and will no longer be as active and alert as previous stages. Also, dogs in their old age are more susceptible to getting ill or diseased.

How Long is a Dog Still a Puppy?

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This can definitely vary according to various different aspects, particularly the size and breed of the puppy. Generally, the rule of thumb is that a dog remains a puppy until he or she is 6 to 18 months old. Larger sized dogs generally remain puppies longer than smaller sized dogs (as they mature at faster rates). Some experts report that dogs stay puppies for the first 2 years of their lives. However, this may vary from expert to expert and dog to dog.

The aging process of your dog can greatly depend on aspects of your dog’s life, like how long he or she lived with their mother, whether he or she gets enough exercise to help with growth, how well-nourished your dog is its size, gender and even breed.

There are some signs that you can look out for that would indicate that your dog is no longer a puppy, including:

  • Changes in his or her behavior, especially when it comes to the destructive chewing that once kept your puppy occupied for hours at a time (this decreases with time).
  • Acting more like a teenager as the hormones begin to kick in and this may be problematic if your dog is not spayed or neutered on time.
  • Going into heat and becoming sexually mature (but different signs will be observed in male and female dogs).
  • Fewer accidents when it comes to urinating and pooping as your dog will be able to hold their bladder with better muscular strength.
  • A decrease in appetite, but this will not happen all at once; it will be more of a gradual process as your dog’s calorific requirements will change with the changing structure of their body.
  • Losing puppy teeth, which any doggy dentist can tell you will be a difficult time as your dog may experience pain, but you can counter this with the use of dental dog treats and other pet oral care utensils.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to get Bigger?

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Again, this depends on the dog’s breed and lifestyle. On average, it takes most breeds around 2 years to reach their complete size. However, there are cases in which this will not happen (which may be caused by the dog’s lifestyle). Also, it is important to note that smaller sized dogs reach their full size faster than bigger breeds (this is because they have less growth to do than bigger breeds of dogs).

Dogs generally require a proper nutritious diet to ensure that they grow properly. Thus, it is important to ensure that your dog is not neglected and gets everything he or she needs to grow healthily.

Smaller breeds that are expected to grow to a maximum of 30 pounds (unless overweight) will take around 10 to 12 months to reach their complete size. Medium-sized breeds that are expected to grow to around 80 pounds generally take about 12 to 16 months to grow to their complete size. Larger breeds that grow to be over 80 pounds take between 18 months and 2 years to reach their complete size. While this may seem like a great variation, there are actually individual differences between dogs as well. Dogs have (while rarely) grown to weigh larger than their breed’s expected index and this is purely caused by the dog’s lifestyle circumstances.

Some neglected dogs and puppies face harsher consequences when it comes to their growth and malnourishment, a lack of exercise and little care can be the cause for them reaching their maximum size at a slower pace than other dogs of the same breed. So, it is crucial to ensure that your dog is provided with the proper care, nurturance and environment needed to encourage growth.

At What Age are Dogs Most Active?

Dogs are known for being very hyperactive pets, with lots of energy and a need for constant attention from their owners and those around them. However, there is a particular age at which a dogs’ energy level reaches the peak. While energy levels are dependent on the age of the dog, they are also dependent on what the breed, size and condition of your dog is.

Generally, all dogs are the most active when they are puppies because it is during this time that they are naturally curious about their surroundings and very enthusiastic about life. It is likely that dogs of all sizes and breeds will want to run around, play, catch butterflies and use all of their energy during puppyhood.

However, bigger sized dogs often keep showing the same amount of energy well through their adolescence (especially if the dog has not been spayed or neutered). Some breeds of dogs are naturally hyperactive (like Huskies, Terriers and Retrievers) and they may remain energetic in adulthood as well. Only teacup sized dogs show a consistent decrease in their energy levels as they mature (becoming significantly less active by the time they reach adulthood).

The dog’s appetite and dietary intake also has a huge impact on energy levels. Usually, when your dog is a puppy, he or she will display a ravenous appetite, often asking for double portion sizes. This calorific intake is why puppies are the most active at this stage. As your dog grows older, their appetite also decreases and they may prefer to stick to a schedule when it comes to their routine instead of constantly wanting to play (as it was during puppyhood).

Is 8 Years Old for a Dog?

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Dogs age differently than humans do and they definitely become geriatric or senior much faster. Depending on the breed and size of your dog, he or she can become geriatric anywhere between 5 and 10 years of age. For most larger sized breeds, 8 years of age is well into their senior years, but, at the same time, 8 years of age for smaller sized (teacup) breeds is still quite young and within the stage of adulthood.

Interestingly enough, while smaller breeds of dogs go through the puppyhood, adolescences and adulthood stages at a faster rate than bigger dog breeds, they are actually slower at aging than their larger sized counterparts.

Also, if you provide your dog with an ideal and healthy lifestyle, chances are that 8 years will not be too old for your dog. A healthy lifestyle would include a proper diet that fulfills your dog’s nutritional needs, a proper exercise that would allow for your dog to have a healthy senior life.

Some of the signs of aging you might start noticing in your dog include a diminished strength of certain senses (especially sight and hearing); anxiety or jumpiness, slower movements caused by pain in joints; an inability to burn calories the way he or she used to and even confusion or inability to pay attention.

Final Thoughts

You may want your dog to remain a puppy forever, especially since puppies are extremely adorable. However, everyone needs to grow up and you should definitely enjoy every minute of your dog’s development that you can. Provide your dog with a good home to ensure that your furry friend remains a happy and healthy dog.

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