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