Your dog goes through several stages in its life, and knowing what to expect from each one can lead to a better understanding of its nature. Here we are going to discuss the life cycle of dogs and what to expect in each one. The rate at which your dog ages varies depending on the quality of care, nutrition, and genetics. The four main stages are puppy, junior, adult, and senior, but there are others too.
The Life Cycle of Dogs
Tiny pups: 0 to 3 weeks
Newborns are blind and deaf. They develop sight and hearing in the first few weeks, but at birth, they rely only on scent. Newborn puppies are also unable to regulate their body temperature, which is why you should ensure they are not too hot or cold. Approaching the three-week stage, they start to move more and become interested in their surroundings.
Weaning: 3 weeks to 6 months
From around four weeks onwards, the pups are weaned. However, they should remain with their mother for at least eight weeks before going to a new owner. House training can begin at the puppy stage, and they should also be given any appropriate vaccinations. Littermates will play fight and learn from their mother.
Playtime: 6 months to 2 years
Cheeky and mischievous, junior dogs are very receptive to learning but need lots of walks and attention. Their hormones will also start to affect their behaviour, and you need to decide at this stage whether to spay or neuter your junior dog. If this isn’t done, you may notice a lack of attention to your commands. The female dogs will come in to heat, and the male dogs will more interested in sniffing everywhere and marking their territory with urine.
Maturity: 2 to 7 years
Dogs usually calm down when they reach adulthood. They will no longer have the puppy urges to bite and chew everything within sight. They still love to run and play, but their energy is slightly more manageable. Mental stimulation is necessary, and this can be a great period to join agility classes and add more advanced training.
Lifecycle of a Female Dog
Breeding years: 2 to 11 years
Bitches can mature from six months and, if left unspayed, will come into season once or twice a year (depending on the breed) for life. Some larger breeds may take up to two years to attain sexual maturity. The female dog will undergo several physiological changes due to her reproductive hormones. This will indicate she is ready for mating and is capable of carrying a litter, usually comprising four to six pups.
New litters: 2 to 11 years
Gestation for dogs is around nine to ten weeks. Surprisingly the embryo’s heartbeat can be heard as soon as seven days after it attaches to the mother’s uterus. Unless you intend to breed your dog, spaying and neutering are essential to prevent unwanted litters. This involves the removal of the testicles of male dogs and the removal of the ovaries in female dogs.
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Teaching pups: 2 to 11 years
Puppies stay with their mother until they’re eight weeks old when they’re then ready to go to their forever homes. The mother dog will teach her puppies life lessons, and if they are taken away too early, they may exhibit behaviour problems. Most notably, they will have a lack of confidence and be wary of new situations. They may also develop an overly strong attachment to their new owner and panic when left alone.
Older Dogs: Senior vs Geriatric
Old age: 7 to 10 years
A senior dog is still active and playful but may have a little less energy and require less exercise and a different diet. Their appearance will change, and you may notice your dog developing a grey muzzle. A senior dog will need more sleep and could develop dental or joint problems. Regular visits to a vet are necessary at this stage.
Life expectancy: 10+ years
Lifespan is highly breed-dependent, with crossbreeds and mutts having higher life expectancies than many pedigree dog breeds. As your dog reaches the end stages of life, you will notice a gradual decline in its physical and mental abilities. Caring for a geriatric dog requires focus on preventative measures rather than waiting for a problem to develop. Advancements in the field of veterinary medicine mean that your dog can remain healthy for a more extended period than you may think.
When considering the life cycle of dogs, it can be seen that it is a more complex subject than you may have realised. However, as your dog passes through each phase, you will grow closer together. Below, you will find a discussion on dog anatomy to help you really understand your furry friend.
Dog Anatomy (What You Need to Know)
Dogs are amazingly adaptable animals, with some superpower skills, which they evolved for hunting and pack life. Here’s what you really need to know about the anatomy of your dog.
- Nose: Dogs are all super sniffers. Their most vital sense is smell, and this is thanks to having 300 million olfactory receptors. Humans have a mere six million.
- Teeth: Tiny, needle-like puppy teeth are replaced by more prominent adult teeth that are adapted for tearing meat.
- Paws: Featuring tough pads and non-retractable claws, dogs walk on their four toes and have a fifth “dewclaw” slightly further up the foot.
- Ears: Dogs have excellent hearing, which is helped by the enhanced musculature around their ears. This allows them to Manoeuvre their ear flaps (or “pinna”) expertly in order to home in on sounds.
- Skeleton: Supported by an agile frame, dogs have “floating” shoulder blades, an adaptation that allows them to be fantastic runners.
- Digestion: It’s no secret that dogs can eat plenty of disgusting things. Be aware of what your furry friend is eating and monitor their digestive health.
- Tail: Your dog’s tail serves as an excellent rudder for high-speed fetching and chasing; it’s also essential for communicating mood to other dogs as well as to us humans.
- Fur: Different breeds of dogs have very different coats of fur. Some breeds have a dense undercoat for warmth, whereas others have wiry, short hair. There’s also a considerable variation in breed markings.
I hope you enjoyed my article on the life cycle of dogs and learned something new about dog anatomy. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please add them below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.