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Question about Determining Age and other questions (long sorry)

Discussion in 'Boxer Anatomy and Physiology' started by ladyluck_t, Oct 4, 2005.

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  1. ladyluck_t

    ladyluck_t Boxer Insane

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    Since working with my local rescue, we have been called upon to put an age to some of the incoming dogs. I have been using the things that I noticed from my girl while watching her grow up to help narrow down the age of an incoming dog. And was thinking this morning that I really have no firm idea about the truth of my observations. So, I wanted to ask a couple of questions to the boxer experts on here to verify my guesses. I do understand that unless we know for sure the birthdate of the dog that we are just guessing ;) I just want to make sure that I am at least in the ballpark and making the right assumptions. (the ages listed are just generalizations, an easy way to break up the age differences)

    Birth - 9mo's : These are usually easy to spot, they are significantly smaller and "puppyish" in looks. We dont usually get these guys into rescue unless it is through a pregnant momma.
    9 mo's -1 yr. : Most of these dogs are determined by their behavior traits and a certain "puppy" look to their face
    1yr - 2 yr : These dogs tend to have a lanky (leggy) appearance, their faces seem more "adult" looking, and their chests have deepened toward the ground
    2yr - 4yr : These dogs usually have gained the girth in their chests, they appear filled out and have a distinct adult appearance to their faces
    4 yr - 6yr : These dogs appear to be adults, they start getting a few "grey" hairs on the sides of the muzzles but are still quite playfull
    6yr - 8 yr : These dogs have distinct greying in face, appear a little more laid back (sedate), you see slower movements when getting up/down, and they act a little more reserved.

    Another question that I have has to do with breeding pairs. I would like to be able to tell if a dog has been bred when we take them in (if possible). Are there either physical or behavioral cues?
    Males: Is it possible to tell if a male has been used as a stud dog or has bred at any time. From what I can tell, if they are intact and over 6mo's it is a good possibility, but that there is no way to tell. Am I correct?
    Females: WIth my own dog, she was spayed at 6mo's, her nipples have never grown since then (i.e. they are nearly non-existent) I can tell if a female has recently nursed, the nipples as well as the skin around the area is distended significantly. Some of the females we get in have varying degrees of distended nipples, is this related directly to nursing or could it be a late spaying?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. boxer

    boxer Boxer Insane

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    Well, if a dog is below about 18 months, it should be fairly evident because the growth plates won't have closed yet. And the younger the dog, the larger the "growth bumps" on the forelegs will be (which is the most obvious sign of immaturity).

    Not too sure about the grey as a reliable sign though. Some dogs start to get grey hairs as early as 3-4 years old, while others won't have any until 8-10 years of age. Rather like people, it really varies.

    From middle age onward, again like people (lol), dogs do have a tendancy to lose their waist a bit. But the same effect can be brought on by whelping a litter (in the case of a bitch). Dogs that aren't allowed to become overweight and that are properly exercised will also show less signs of coarsening with age (though it's less likely that you'd get such a well cared-for individual in a rescue without documentation of it's past, I guess).

    Lastly, there's no obvious way to tell if a male has been used for breeding. Nor a bitch, unless it was recent or very frequent. Some bitches will develop extremely large nipples after only one heat cycle - and they will never shrink back to their previous size (and this is without ever being bred). A bitch with a very saggy undercarriage, however, is likely to have whelped several litters.
     
  3. ladyluck_t

    ladyluck_t Boxer Insane

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    Thanks Debbie!
    I havent really paid much attention to the growth plates. But I am sure when I notice the "puppyish" looks of the dog I am inadvertently noticing them. I have less trouble gauging the young ones (under 1 yr) I can usually gage whether the dog is under 2 by the girth of the chest, but we have had some narrow chested kids through our rescue.
    The biggest trouble are the ones from 1yr to 8yrs :D which is 90% of the ones we get in rescue.
    Most of our rescues are not having that "middle age bulge" problem at all :( mainly because they are not being taken care of properly. Which could also trigger premature greying from what I have read. Guess we will stick with the case by case basis. :) never could find the easy way out of anything, no matter how hard I try :rolleyes:

    :) Thanks again
     
  4. boxerchick12

    boxerchick12 Banned

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    Thanks, guys, this will help me, too. I have the same thing, I always try to look at teeth, too. But, that's also difficult to judge, because you don't know what kind of care they've had before. I will definitely be printing this out and keeping it!
     
  5. Rufust

    Rufust Boxer Pal

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    Wow, you read my mind. I was going to post this same question today. I have a foster right now that they say is about 6 months old but he doesn't look like a puppy in the face to us at all. I know all boxers grow at different rates and some will be lanky while others are more beefy. The foster is pretty short and stocky. Feels like a very silly question, but how exactly do you check the growth plates?
     
  6. gmacleod

    gmacleod Elusive Moderator Staff Member

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    Growth plates are the soft areas at the ends of the long bones - that expand (lengthen) as the dog grows. And while they're still soft, there is usually a lump. The easiest ones to see are those on the front legs - where the long bones of the forelegs meet the pastern. There is a lump at the joint. Here's a pictorial of the boxer skeleton, so you can see the place I mean: http://www.americanboxerclub.org/boxerst12.html

    And here are a few pictures of Henri as a pup and growing up where you can clearly see the lumps, and watch them diminishing. If you were to browse through the puppy gallery, then take a look at pics of the same pups as they age, I'm sure you'd find plenty more examples.

    Aged 4.5 months, growth bumps prominant:
    Aged 5 months, bumps equally prominant - different viewpoint:
    Aged 11 months, bumps still noticeable:
    Nearly 2 years - bumps are gone:
     
  7. Dempseysmama

    Dempseysmama Boxer Insane

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    Thank you so much for asking this. I guess it's true, what one thinks is dumb, another is wondering the same thing. I was just looking at Dempsey(4 months) this morning thinking that particular spot on his front legs looks abnormal and was going to ask my vet to make sure it was of no worry. Now I don't have to. Thank you, Gmacleod.
     
  8. Checkers

    Checkers Boxer Insane

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    Hmm I so wish there was some full proof way of knowing. Id love to know how old Lily is, but I just have no idea at all.

    Some scientist needs to come up with a cellular/molecular whose-a-whatsit that tells age. Nobel prize winning stuff that would be :D
     
  9. Rufust

    Rufust Boxer Pal

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    Wow, thanks Gmacleod, that was a very clear and concise explanation. Now I know exactly what to look for. The pics really helped. Thanks!!! :)
     
  10. ladyluck_t

    ladyluck_t Boxer Insane

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    Thanks for the help! And I just have to add that Henry is down right GEORGOUS! :D give him a big hug from us guys in NM, USA
     
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