All mammals, men and dogs alike, go through the same stages of development: birth, childhood, youth, puberty, adulthood and death. Phases that appear on DNA.
No, it is not enough to multiply Rex’s age by seven to determine his age in human years. According to a study published in the journal Cells Systems, the true ratio for determining age « human » of a dog evolves over time, announced Thursday, July 9, the American Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers analyzed the evolution of dog genomes during their life and generated a new formula for calculating their old age. According to her, an eight-week-old puppy is about the age of a nine-month-old human baby, both of which are in the developmental stage when teeth grow. At one year old, he is already thirty. A 6 year old dog meanwhile the equivalent of 60 years in human years, according to the formula. A Labrador has a life expectancy of 12 years on average, which corresponds to 70 years, the global human life expectancy.
All mammals, men and dogs alike, go through the same stages of development: birth, childhood, youth, puberty, adulthood and death. Scientists have identified chemical marks on DNA corresponding to these different stages of life. This area of research is called epigenetics. Molecules called methyl groups attach to part of the DNA, causing it to tilt into a certain position and pushing it towards the next phase of its development.
« For me, it’s like when you look at someone’s face and try to guess their age based on their wrinkles, gray hair or other characteristics »says Trey Ideker of the University of San Diego, who led the study. With his colleagues, he studied this chemical methylation process in 104 retriever labradors, whose ages ranged from a few weeks to 16 years. It was then compared to the methylation process in humans and thus generated a complex formula to adequately calculate the man / dog age. « I like to run my dog while running, and I have more empathy for him who is 6 years old now », assures Trey Ideker, indicating that his pet is in fact a valiant sixty-something.
NIH scientist Elain Ostrander and co-author of the study notes that the study was conducted with labradors, but that further research could include breeds of dogs with longer and shorter life expectancies. The epigenetic clock can notably help veterinarians in their decisions regarding the diagnosis and treatment of animals, concludes the team of scientists.