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Your Dog Has a Mid-Life Crisis When They Hit This Age, Study Finds

Your canine companion might not buy a Porsche or dye their hair, but here's how their mid-life crisis looks.

Most people tend to change as they move through the different phases of life. How humans view the world once we get older evolves, and new research out of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, shows that we're not alone in that; our canine companions do the same. The new study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Oct. 14, tested 217 border collies from six months to 15 years old, looking at certain personality traits. The researchers studied how adventurous the dogs were, how much they liked to run around, and how excited they were by new experiences. The results showed that pups, just like humans, change in the way they behave as they age. But it turns out age three is a pivotal one—that's when dogs go through their mid-life crisis of sorts. Read on to find out why, and for the latest celeb dog to get acquainted with, meet Jennifer Aniston's Adorable New Rescue Puppy, Who Has the Classiest Name.

Dogs stop caring about new experiences at age three.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The study tested dogs' curiosity and interest in new experiences by allowing each pup to explore a room they had never seen before while their owner stood in the middle ignoring them. They also put a self-moving toy that made noise in the room and let them interact with it for a minute. What they found was that "the novelty-seeking trait didn't change much in early life, but then, when the dogs were three, their curiosity about novel objects and situations started to decline," NBC News reports.

Whether you see it as a mid-life crisis or maybe just realizing the world is a tougher place than originally believed, results showed that the experience of becoming less curious about our surroundings and new experiences is one that canines and humans share. In the case of dogs, this begins at three years old—which is about the equivalent to the beginning of middle age for humans. And for another vital update that could affect your dog, The FDA Just Recalled 21 Popular Dog Foods for This Terrifying Reason.

Dogs' problem-solving skills improve until they're six years old.

A happy woman enjoys spending time with her Golden Retriever outdoors in a Los Angeles county park in California on a sunny day. She cuddles her beloved pet.

The study also tested how quickly dogs could learn the solution to simple problems by hiding a piece of sausage inside a canister with a lid, then showing them how to remove the lid to find the treat. The dog then had one minute to find the food. Similar to human babies, this ability improved with age until they were about six years old, when it plateaued. And for news pup owners need to know, check out Petco Just Took This Controversial Product Off Its Shelves.

Dog's sociability and frustration tolerance stays the same as they age.

Woman in woods with dog

To test frustration levels, the researchers tied a piece of sausage on a string and swung it in front of the dogs' noses just out of reach for one minute. However, this experiment yielded results that experts did not expect. "Something that was surprising to me is that dogs don't seem to get particularly more intolerant of frustration as they get older," Katherine Houpt, MD, professor emeritus at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told NBC News.

The results also found that social dogs remained social throughout their entire lives, while solitary pups rarely became significantly more overtly social as they aged. And if you're thinking of bringing a canine companion into your life, check out The 50 Most Popular Dog Breeds in America.

But their activity levels decrease with age.

Senior dog smiling at public park

One thing that didn't surprise experts was how energetic dogs behaved as they got older. Again, results pointed to something that humans and canines seem to share. "Dogs get less active with age, and that should give hope to the people who have puppies that are too active," Houpt said. "And while they become less oriented to problem-solving and novelty-seeking as they get older, they remain obedient and social, which is probably the most important thing for owners," she concluded. And if you love pups who've been around the block, you'll love these 30 Photos That Prove Why Senior Dogs Are the Best.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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