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Which Dogs Live Longest?

The biggest factors that determine your dog’s life span.

Health Issues in Purebreds continued...

Cancer is the most common cause of death in older dogs, and nearly 42% of dogs die of some form of cancer. When considering a purebred dog, experts say, it's a good idea to see what kinds of illnesses run in the breed. Many larger-breed dogs, such as Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and Dobermans, can suffer from hip dysplasia, which can make a dog so lame it has to be put down.

Flat-faced dogs such as Pugs and Shih Tzus, known as brachycephalic dogs, are prone to breathing issues that can cause overheating and even death. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a heart condition called mitral valve disease, and Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to recurrent ear and eye infections.

Other common medical problems that crop up as dogs age include kidney and heart disease as well as various structural issues, including bone and muscle ailments.

Pet owners looking for dog breeds with long life spans should find a small breed dog they like, research the breed's health issues, and then find a good breeder who doesn't have those problems in their bloodline, Stickney advises.

But getting good stock is only part of the battle.

"Owners can play a big part in increasing their pet's life span," Stickney says. "Good nutrition, proper exercise, not letting pets become obese, and good care, including regular veterinary care, will help pets live healthier, longer lives."

Dog Life Span: How Popular Breeds Stack Up

Here is a list of the American Kennel Club's 20 most popular dog breeds from 2008 and their average life span, according to The World Atlas of Dog Breeds.

Labrador retriever -- 10 to 14 years

Yorkshire terrier -- 12 to 15 years

German Shepherd -- 10 to 14 years

Golden retriever -- 10 to 12 years

Beagles -- 12 to 14 years

Boxers -- 11 to 14 years

Dachshunds -- 12 to 14 years

Bulldogs -- 10 to 12 years

Poodles -- 10 to 15 years

Shih Tzu -- 11 to 15 years

Miniature Schnauzers -- 15 years or more

Chihuahuas -- 15 years or more

Pomeranians -- 13 to 15 years

Rottweilers -- 10 to 12 years

Pugs -- 12 to 15 years

German shorthaired pointers -- 12 to 15 years

Boston terriers -- about 15 years

Doberman Pinschers -- 10 to 12 years

Shetland Sheepdogs -- 12 to 14 years

Maltese -- 15 years or more

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Reviewed on December 16, 2009

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