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The seven-dog-years-to-one-human-year rule does not apply to all dogs: For Great Danes, each human year would be approximately 26 years based on their life expectancy. An early example of this is an inscription at Westminster Abbey that dates back to the year 1268.
While scientists, veterinarians, and dog lovers have been trying to debunk the dog-years myth, it persists in books, news articles, and the popular imagination.
This one-size-fits-all rule makes a compelling way for people to track their dog’s development. Scientists and veterinarians aren’t sure as to why big dogs don’t live as long as smaller dogs.

Scientists believe the first two may be biased toward longer-living dogs, because owners who belong to clubs and buy insurance may spend more to prolong their dogs’ lives. Veterinary hospitals may also be biased toward a shorter lifespan because they tend to admit the toughest cases, not the healthiest dogs. We know that the typical lifespan of hundreds of canine breeds can range from 8 to 16 years. Scientists found the same results with other species; with rats, for instance, smaller ones outlived much larger rats. What we do know is that people have been trying to figure out a way to calculate dog years in human years since the 1200s.

Cassidy, curator of a biology museum at Washington State University, who in her spare time maintains an online compilation of dog-longevity studies. We have also observed that dogs grow quickly in the first couple of years, with bigger breeds aging faster.

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