Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Old is Mushroom?

The short answer: No one will ever know.

Mushroom: International Dog of Mystery

The long answer: We asked our vet earlier this month when we took her in for her shots. He said that while it was possible to tell a dog's age by their teeth as a puppy, the older a dog gets, the wider the range of ages. So the earliest estimate is usually the most accurate.

The earliest estimate of Mushroom's age came from a shelter in North Carolina and listed her birthday as October of 2010. Her intake date was sometime around June 2011. In November of 2011, she was rescued and arrived at her foster home in New Hampshire. Her foster mom estimated her birthday as February 18, 2011, and that is the date that is listed at the vet's office.

Based on the fact that Mushroom has had a litter, presumably before she entered the shelter, and the assumption that shelter workers would know the difference between a 4-month-old puppy and an 8-month-old puppy, it seems that the most believable estimate is that Mushroom was born around October 2010.

The vet also said, though, that it was rare to see a dog going grey at the age of 2 - his own dog started graying at 5. Add to that our personal observation that Mushroom is significantly calmer now than when she first entered our home, and the sometimes-true myth that dogs "click" into a calmer mode when they turn 3, and she may be even older than the shelter estimate.

To add to the confusion, the reason that Mushroom's foster mom estimated her to be younger was because she came from the South, where heartworm is widespread, and was only in the early stages of heartworm. So if she is significantly older, it may mean that she was previously someone's pet, even though the shelter took her in as a stray.

If only dogs could talk.

She'd just pester us with requests for food all the time

What do you wonder about your dog's past?


  1. we were lucky enough to know Trinity's actually birthday because she was born in her mom's forever home. But i always wonder about Kylie. The vet estimated 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 so I say 3. I don't know though cause she stil has her 'crazy' moments but than again she is a small chi/terrier mix. I think if Trinity was found as an older dog people would estimate her as a younger pup because of her boundless energy. I do think it's fun to guess though.

  2. Lucky thing beauty is ageless!!! She is definitely a beauty!

  3. Turk came to us around 6 months of age with a piece of his rib missing (you can feel it when you touch his rib cage). I've always been curious as to how that happened, but I'm also a bit afraid to find out that answer. So it's probably best I don't know. One thing is for sure though, Mushroom is adorable!

    Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie

  4. What a cute name - Mushroom. And what a lovely dog :)
    My dog looks very similar - black lab mixed with no idea what - don't care ! But I adopted him at 3 months. The vet estimated him to be even younger. I often wonder, what happened to him at that age (or before then) because he is very scared of unknown outdoors. Specially ones where he can't see wide open spaces. He is perfectly happy in a new untamed park with wide wide grasslands where he can run. Getting him out of the car to get to such a place, is a challenge :) But, we are working on it. He is WAY better now .. much more confident.