How long do dogs live? All about dogs' life expectancy

There are many dogs in the world, each living and experiencing different challenges. Your perfect pooch might have a longer or shorter lifespan based on its breed and health. Here's what you need to know.

How long do dogs usually live for?
How long do dogs usually live for?  © Unsplash/Karsten Winegeart

Dogs come in many different shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, but one of the most important aspects of a dog's identity is its breed.

The breed of a dog has a direct relationship with its lifespan and life expectancy and, as a result, it's an important aspect in the decision-making process when you're looking to adopt.

In this dog guide, TAG24 will take a look at dog life expectancy. How long is a dog's lifespan, what breeds live longer or shorter, and what are the factors that influence that the length of a dog's life?

Drunk dog owner has hilarious reaction to her pooch's mess
Dogs Drunk dog owner has hilarious reaction to her pooch's mess

Let's take a look.

What is the average lifespan of a dog?

On average, a healthy dog will live between ten and thirteen years, though it is somewhat dependent on the breed. While bigger doggos often live shorter lives than smaller dogs, both can suffer from early death if they develop health issues or other congenital abnormalities. Even dog anxiety can play a factor in your perfect pooch's life expectancy.

The American Kennel Club is the most authoritative source on all things dogs in the US, and even they have admitted to being a little "baffled" as to why small dogs generally live longer than bigger dogs. It's generally believed that it's because their bigger bodies put more strain on vital organs like the heart, but this goes against the pre-established fact that large animals like elephants and whales are some of the longest living creatures on Earth.

Whatever scientists discover in the future, the facts won't change. While dogs generally live for only a little over a decade, some smaller canine companions like the Chihuahua can reach seventeen, or even twenty years of age.

What impacts dog life expectancy?

There are many things that impact upon a dog's life expectancy, but it mostly comes down to predisposed and developed health conditions and - of course - the breed and size of the pup in question. As mentioned, it's not entirely clear why big dogs live shorter lives than small dogs, but we do know about the other factors that impact their lifespans.

Here are the main impacts upon a dog's life expectancy:

  • Breed: Related to size, the breed of the dog also opens it up to health predispositions. For example, bulldogs and pugs both have trouble breathing due to genetic traits. Other dogs will be predisposed to different diseases, or physical illnesses like arthritis.
  • Size: One of the most important things that influence a dog's life expectancy is its size. It's not really known why this is exactly, but it is theorized that it has something to do with pressure put on the dog's heart by the large body and heavy weight.
  • Health testing and screening: If a dog is adopted by a family that cannot, for whatever reason, get it regularly health tested and screened for different diseases, it is likely to live an overall shorter life than other doggos.
  • Diseases: Cancer is a leading cause of death in larger dogs in particular, but other things like congenital diseases, infectious diseases, and inherited issues can also greatly reduce a dog's lifespan no matter its breed.
  • Traumatic experiences: Dog anxiety is a leading cause of early death, as is the canine version of post-traumatic stress. If you have a rescue dog then this can be a problem, as it can be caused by anything from car accidents, to fights with other dogs, to abuse at the hands of former owners.

Dogs that are predisposed to health issues, no matter their size, are more likely to die young. As such, if this fits a description of your dog, you should make sure to get it tested and checked out on a very regular basis.

No home remedies: When it comes to matters of dog health, there are no home remedies. This is a sure-fire way to cause early death in your dog, and could be considered animal cruelty or neglect in many circumstances. If your dog is clearly in need of help, take it to the veterinarian.

Bigger dogs often have shorter lifespans.
Bigger dogs often have shorter lifespans.  © Unsplash/Richard Brutyo

Dogs with shortest lifespan

Larger dogs dominate any list of short-lived doggos. These breeds might be loving and well-kept, but for whatever genetic or bodily reason, they are less likely to live for a particularly long time. Sadly, many of these doggos are remarkably sweet and loving, and you'd never want to see them dying young.

Here are a few of the shortest-living dogs in the world:

  • Mastiff
  • Bulldog
  • Saint Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Bernese mountain dog
  • Borzoi
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Irish wolfhound
  • Bullmastiff

As a result of whatever factors influence their fate, these few pups will usually live shorter lives than their peers. It's therefore up to the owner to make sure that the life they live is as wonderful as they can possibly make it.

Longest living dog breeds

Small dogs might be annoying, but they life way longer.
Small dogs might be annoying, but they life way longer.  © Unsplash/Justin Veenema

The oldest dog in the world was once a small little doggo named Pebbles who sadly passed away back in 2022. It met the stereotype of small dogs living far longer than big dogs and confirmed that it was more than just a myth.

In fact, most of the oldest living dogs in the world are all remarkably little things.

Here are a few of the longest living dog breeds in the world:

  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund
  • Australian cattle dog
  • Beagle
  • Maltese
  • Chow Chow
  • Pug
  • Cockapoo
  • Toy poodle
  • Shih Tzu
  • Golden retriever
  • Border collie

Interestingly, the golden retriever, Australian cattle dog, and border collie are all up there on the list as well. It's worth noting that they are medium-sized dogs, neither small nor particularly large. Perhaps this is why they have found themselves living not quite as long as the Chihuahua, but far longer than others.

Whatever the truth, if you're looking for a dog that'll be around for 20 years, it's best to get a cat instead. Alternatively, adopting a smaller dog may be the way to go.

Your dog's life expectancy and lifespan depends on its treatment

The length of your dog's life isn't all about its breed and any health issues it may have accumulated along the way. It's also about how you have treated it, the food that it consistently eats, how much exercise it gets, whether it gets enough sleep, and the levels of anxiety that it regularly has to contend with.

As a result, if you want your dog to live a long and fruitful life, this can be achieved if you feed it well, walk it regularly, and foster a calm and caring environment in which it can live.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Karsten Winegeart

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