Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Which Dogs Live Longest?

The biggest factors that determine your dog’s life span.
By Sandy Eckstein
WebMD Pet Health Feature

The joy of dog ownership is always tempered by one thing -- our beloved pets don't live as long as we do.

But finding dogs with the longest life expectancy isn't as easy as it sounds.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Excessive Shedding in Dogs

Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season-many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.

Read the Excessive Shedding in Dogs article > >

 "All dog breeds are the same species, yet they age at very different rates," says David Waters, DVM, PhD, professor and associate director of the Purdue University Center on Aging. "We still don't understand why."

The rare Mexican breed, the Xoloitzcuintle, has a life span of 15 to 20 years, for example, while the Irish Wolfhound has an estimated 6- to 8-year life expectancy.

There is one concrete piece of advice experts can give people looking for a dog breed with a long life span: think small.

Size Matters

Nearly 40% of small breed dogs live longer than 10 years, but only 13% of giant breed dogs live that long. The average 50-pound dog will live 10 to 12 years. But giant breeds such as great Danes or deerhounds are elderly at 6 to 8 years.

Kimberly Greer, PhD, co-authored a study that showed dogs weighing less than 30 pounds lived the longest. The study analyzed data from more than 700 dogs in 77 breeds.

"It's the weight, not the height, that matters," Greer says. "Some dogs are short, like the English bulldog, but can still weigh 60 or 70 pounds. They wouldn't be considered small breed dogs."

Mark Stickney, DVM, director of General Surgery Services at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, says although it's not unusual to see a 17-year-old miniature poodle, a 12-year-old Labrador retriever is considered old, and any dog in the giant breeds -- dogs weighing more than 100 pounds -- is considered geriatric at 6 to 7 years.

"Generally speaking, the larger your dog is, the less time it will live," Stickney says.

Male vs. Female

Steven N. Austad, PhD, a professor and researcher on aging at the department of cellular and structural biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, says that, besides looking at small dogs, people looking for the longest-lived dogs also should look at mixed breed dogs and females.

"Female dogs tend to live a bit longer, although it's not as pronounced as it is with humans," Austad says.

Health Issues in Purebreds

Many purebred dogs come with a laundry list of health issues that can cut into their life spans. Some issues are specific to just one breed, while others can be a problem in many breeds.

"Mutts haven't gone through the inbreeding," Austad says, "so they should live longer, or at least be healthier than purebred dogs."

Cancer is very common in dogs, and some breeds, such as boxers, golden retrievers, and Rottweilers, have unusually high rates of cancer. It's been estimated that as many as a third of all Bernese mountain dogs die of cancer.

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow