Dogs with the shortest lifespans: Top 10 shortest living dog breeds

Dogs love to play, jump, run, and eat, but few things bring them more joy than the basics in life. Some of them, though, will experience these simple joys far less than others. These are the shortest living dog breeds.

Some dogs live significantly shorter lives than others. Why could that be?
Some dogs live significantly shorter lives than others. Why could that be?  © Unsplash/Sébastien L

Every dog has the ability, potential, and chance to lead a fruitful life full of love, good food, happiness, and play.

Sadly, though, many of those same doggos will never get the time to achieve all their dreams and sing all their songs.

On account of their size and the heritage of their breed, many pups live lives that are far too short.

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These ten dog breeds are particularly troubled in this regard, so we have decided to present you with a dog guide to help you with any adoption decisions you may be about to make. What are the top ten dogs with the shortest lifespans? Let's take a long look.

Top 10 dogs with the shortest lifespans

Dog life expectancy is something considered rather unequal, and for good reason.

Many breeds, often those that have had their genes aggressively altered by humans, live short and unpleasant lives on account of their breed characteristics. Others live short lives simply because their bodies are too big to keep up with their hearts.

Whatever the reasoning behind their short lifespans, these ten dog breeds have been chosen based on their contributions to dog-kind. While they live short lives, they all have a cultural significance equivalent to even the longest living dog breeds.

Bernese mountain dogs are incredibly sweet doggos, but they don't live very long.
Bernese mountain dogs are incredibly sweet doggos, but they don't live very long.  © Unsplash/Jorge Alcala

10. Bernese mountain dog

A gorgeous and sweet canine, the Bernese mountain dog is anything but ordinary. Sadly, with a lifespan of only about 7-10 years, it's one of the shortest-living dogs in the world.

Likely on account of its size and history as a dog used to save mountain climbers from their precarious fates, these big and fluffy wonders might be easy to train and love – but only for a short while.

9. Saint Bernard

Is there anything cuter than a Saint Bernard puppy?
Is there anything cuter than a Saint Bernard puppy?  © Unsplash/Bruce Warrington

A similar dog to the Bernese mountain pooch, Saint Bernards rarely fail to live up to their hype in terms of looks and fluffiness.

Their puppies are some of the sweetest around, growing quickly into giant doggos famous for their floppy ears and endlessly lovable smiles.

Sadly, though, the Saint Bernard only lives for an average of 8-10 years, putting them on the shorter side in terms of life expectancy.

8. Rottweiler

Rottweilers are sort of menacing dogs, and pretty short-lived.
Rottweilers are sort of menacing dogs, and pretty short-lived.  © Unsplash/Joash Viriah

Many people are scared of the Rottweiler, largely on account of its domineering look and frightful bark.

They are bulky creatures, often thick with muscle and brawn, but also very short-lived, with only a lifespan of around 7-10 years.

Despite their short lives and fearsome aesthetic, they are still some of the most beloved and popular doggos in America and beyond.

7. Borzoi

Borzois are interesting dogs, but often not the best pick for a family pet.
Borzois are interesting dogs, but often not the best pick for a family pet.  © Unsplash/Karolina Wv

When we wrote about the Borzoi in our dog breed in profile, what struck us most was how fascinating these dogs are.

With a rich history and a lot to give, these relatively rare but remarkably regal dogs are incredibly agile, fit, and interesting.

Sadly, though, they usually only live for about 9-10 years, making them liable to die young.

6. Bulldog

Bulldogs often have serious trouble breathing due to their signature wrinkles.
Bulldogs often have serious trouble breathing due to their signature wrinkles.  © Unsplash/BP Miller

Bulldogs are famous for often being quite dangerous, but also for living very short lives on account of genetic factors that put them at a disadvantage when compared to other dog breeds.

Due to the way that their face and neck is shaped, bulldogs have a lot of trouble breathing. This makes it not so surprising that they only live for about 8-10 years before wandering off over the rainbow bridge.

5. Great dane

Great Danes are interesting and very large, but sadly lead short lives.
Great Danes are interesting and very large, but sadly lead short lives.  © Unsplash/Tobias A. Müller

While not every Great Dane leads a short life, the majority of them are only around for about 8-10 years.

This puts them in contrast to other dogs, especially smaller ones, that can push nearly twice that in life expectancy.

Still, the Great Dane has a lot to give in its own right and shouldn't be overlooked when more experienced dog owners are thinking about adoption.

4. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs have all the troublesome traits of the bulldog and the mastiff.
Bullmastiffs have all the troublesome traits of the bulldog and the mastiff.  © Unsplash/Albert Dávid

Bullmastiffs are strange and gruff creatures, but have hearts of gold.

While very primal and certainly dangerous to unassuming owners, children, and the like, these beautiful dogs deserve our sympathy and respect.

Regrettably, for dogs so strong and brawny, the bullmastiff has a short lifespan of only about 7-10 years.

3. Greyhound

If they aren't killed for human entertainment, Greyhounds rarely live long.
If they aren't killed for human entertainment, Greyhounds rarely live long.  © Unsplash/Mark Galer

The plight of the greyhound is more than just a short life expectancy of only about 10 or so years, but also their regular use as a racing dog.

Such sports are extremely dangerous for these canine companions and often result in premature death, sickness, injury, and a great deal of mental anguish and anxiety.

Greyhound racing is incredibly unethical and, like horse-based sports, should be looked at with serious scrutiny by policymakers.

2. Newfoundland

Newfoundlands are remarkably beautiful doggos, but they have a very short lifespan.
Newfoundlands are remarkably beautiful doggos, but they have a very short lifespan.  © Unsplash/Ticka Kao

Another big and brooding doggo in the same the vein of the Bernese mountain dog and Saint Bernard, the Newfoundland is a gorgeous and fluffy fellow.

With a loving and kind temperament, eyes that stare into your own with compassionate and playful glee, and an endlessly boopable nose, it's a surefire shame that these dogs only live for an average of 8-10 years.

1. French bulldog

French bulldogs are very popular, and very short-lived.
French bulldogs are very popular, and very short-lived.  © Unsplash/Karsten Winegeart

Suffering from many of the same afflictions as other bulldogs, the French bulldog is a smaller pooch with an equally small life expectancy.

These beautiful miniature bullies only live for around ten years and often get overlooked on lists bemoaning short-lived overly-bred dog breeds.

They're kind and funny animals with a great sense of humor and a lot of happiness – it's just a shame that they likely won't make it past twelve.

There are many ethical concerns about adopting the shortest living dog breeds, but not how you'd think

It's a widely known fact that many short-lived dog breeds are indicative of a breeding system so corrupted by "progress" and "innovation" that it has forgotten about basic humanity. The dogs that live the shortest often live the most uncomfortable and disadvantaged lives experienced by canine-kind. As a result, it's no surprise that many urge prospective owners to avoid them.

Yet, in many cases, this is not the reality we should all strive towards. It is indisputable that you should never adopt dogs directly from the breeder – you are literally giving money to the guy who made your dog so unhappy! But if you find such a dog at an animal shelter, they are some of the pups that most need your help and should be prioritized.

Bulldogs and the like are often overlooked at animal shelters, making them difficult to adopt out (resulting, in some cases, in them getting put down). If you give these dogs a little bit of your love, it can help make their short lives the happiest possible.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Sébastien L

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