Is Your Dog A Senior Yet?

11 YEAR OLD DOBERMAN WITH GREY HAIRWhy do dogs have such short lives?

Maybe you’ve heard the quote about the boy, who had witnessed the death of his dog, and wisely answers this sad question.  His response was this,

“Why do dogs have such short lives?”

“People are born so they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

“Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

This quote about senior dogs is so lovely and comforting as we see our pets slow down and grow old. It’s a sad time imagining that the end of a wonderful relationship is getting near.

So how long do Dobermans live?

11 year old dog with grey hair

My Doberman Zoe is now 11 years old. The average life expectancy for Dobermans is 10 years. She is obviously old, with grey hairs around her muzzle, poor teeth, and arthritis in her legs. It also seems like she has lost some of the twinkle in her eyes.

I once wished she would be calmer and settle down. But now that she lays around most of the time, I wish for those days she had lots of energy and playfulness.  My dog is a senior, no doubt about it.

But my other Doberman, Dagan, he is 8 years old and I don’t see obvious signs of old age. Is he a senior?

Is An 8-year-old Doberman A Senior?

senior doberman wearing eye glasses

You can find lots of dog-to-human age calculators online. But depending on the calculator, when I typed in my dogs’ stats, I got different results. It turns out, there is no agreed scientific formula for determining dog to human age. But these calculators can give you a rough estimate. For a dog age calculator to give a good estimate of dog years to human years, it needs to consider the dogs’ age, size, weight, and breed.

What age is old for most dogs?

According to the UC Davis Book of Dogs,

  • small-breed dogs (such as small terriers) become seniors at about 11 years
  • medium-breed dogs (such as larger spaniels) at 10 years
  • large-breed dogs (such as German Shepherd Dogs) at 8 years
  • giant-breed dogs (such as Great Danes) at 7 years.

And Wikipedia states that the common American “mutt”, has an average life expectancy of 13 years.

Just as lifestyle factors affect whether humans age well or not, the same happens with dogs. Things like diet, exercise, stress, and environmental toxins will affect how your dog ages. It’s generally accepted that large dogs age faster than smaller dogs.  Dobermans can be considered old starting as early as age 6.

So it looks like I have two senior Dobermans in my house.  Now the question is, how do I care for a geriatric dog. 

How to make old dogs more comfortable?

Knowing that I have senior dogs, I expect to see certain senior dog behaviors. It’s normal for seniors to sleep more, have trouble getting up, and maybe have incontinence. And I’ll want to be on the lookout for more serious health problems like dental issues, vision problems, arthritis, or lumps.  A lump and bump check is especially important for the Doberman breed. 

Help your senior dog with these tips:

  • Be more attentive on walks. Are they limping or moving too slow? Maybe you need to shorten the walk.
  • Are they more sensitive to the cold? A senior dog with thinning hair or who has lost weight might need a winter sweater.
  • Are they having trouble getting up? Talk to your vet about supplements for joint stiffness or arthritis. 
  • Make their sleeping space more comfortable. Avoid placing their bed in noisy or drafty areas and consider buying an orthopedic bed or a heating pad.
  • Talk to your vet about changing their food. Depending on whether they are gaining weight or losing weight, you may need to change the amount or brand. Also, moisten their food to soften it and make it easier to chew. Sometimes dogs have teeth issues and don’t show signs to let you know.
  • Give them more bathroom breaks outside, especially if they are now having pee accidents in the house.
  • Prevent hazards like slippery floors.  You may need to buy slip-proof mats or you might want to try dog toenail grips.  Toe grips are a new product to me and I’m curious how well they work. 
  • Senior-proof your home just in case your dog is losing his vision. Remove things he can trip on but keep the room layout the same so that it’s still familiar. Also if you suspect your dog is having trouble seeing in the dark, consider getting motion-sensing lights. 
  • Try to keep them mentally stimulated with toys or activities to exercise their brain.
  • Consider buying a dog ramp or dog steps to make getting into a car easier.
  • Older dogs may need help walking up or downstairs. Dobermans are not easy to pick up. To help support their weight you can get a dog lifting harness, or you can try using a towel wrapped under the hips/belly to assist. towel to help dog walk up down stairs

Did I miss any other tips for caring for a senior Doberman?

dog age to human age chart

5 thoughts on “Is Your Dog A Senior Yet?”

  1. My Doberman will be 12 years old this July. he is still very active but he has now fallen twice and been unable to get up. he has a sensitive stomach so joint supplements are difficult, he doesn’t like to eat in general so weight is difficult. he’s super energetic and always wants to play however he does not know his limits. he takes a while to get up and stretching is an adjustment for him. i give him massages and help him whenever I can but i wont lie its stressful. he refuses nail trimming and slips on the tile a lot. he wants to go upstairs but has fallen down THANKFULLY was caught by my mom. I’m he also cant have hard chew toys due to his teeth so gets bored easily. he’s stubborn and so loveable. i got him an orthopedic bed and it has definitely helped but I do want to do more for him

  2. My doberman is an 11 year old neutered male. He has a considerable amount of energy, still loves to run and play. Surprisingly he is still a fast runner considering he’s 11. he’s always begging for more attention and still gets the zoomies. His face has gotten a bit grey and his eyebrows are greying too. He’s a black and tan American dobie. His hips have started to be bit wobbly and he’s fallen a few times. I got him an orthopedic bed to help with that. His teeth are not in the best condition. we had to remove a tooth a few years ago because it was rotten and abscessed. He’s always has tummy problems and he has to eat prescription dog food like he’s always had to. I found that getting his food wet with 1 1/2 cups of warm water and mixing it in well until its soggy gets him to eat. I highly recommend if you have a senior dog you do that. Its much easier on the teeth and easier to digest as its softer. I’ve found that older dogs don’t chew their food as well. It takes about 10 minuets to prepare his food but I don’t mind. He gobbles it up so fast and licks his bowl clean, he’s never enjoyed his regular dog food as much as that before. I give his massages every day to help with soreness and stiffness and now he has his own blanket so he doesn’t get cold and stiff. He still loves doing training and learns really really fast. When most people see him they think he’s a puppy(he’s a rescue, his tail was docked but his ears were floppy. he was a bit too old to be cropped when we adopted him) He’s a total cuddle bug and its like having a little horse in the house. He’s very petite, 62 pounds. Like I said he’s never liked food, however he’s still very strong. Honestly I think he’ll live to be 12 or 13. I hope 14 but that’s probably not super realistic.

  3. My doberman is a neatured male he will be 11 years old in 7 weeks
    He has no grey hairs is slim, but he has a n unexplained problem with diareah, investigations for the cause are still going on.

    • my Doberman also has stomach problems. he’s had them since we’ve gotten him. it almost killed him once but the vet was able to make him better. he’s 11 years old but in really good shape. I recommend you work on getting him prescription dog food, don’t let him get at table scraps. try putting him in a crate at night if he has been having accidents, its more unlikely to happen in a crate. talk to your vet about food and medication. hope that helps

    • my Doberman has stomach issues as well. we have to feed him a special food and stick with that. i recommend consulting your vet and making sure you don’t feed him any human food and limit wet food. I feel like Dobermans are prone to sensitivity of the stomach


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