We often reference the age of a dog by the ‘rule of paw’ which would estimate that one human year equals 7 years for a dog. However, this is not strictly accurate, more like guidelines on how long do dogs live and how it relates to humans.
Many people want to have an estimation of how long their furry best friend will live for, getting an idea of how long they will live for can help us understand their life stages as well as how long we can expect them to be around and a part of our lives.
Humans live longer than dogs do, and one of the hardest parts of dog ownership is knowing that one day we will have to say goodbye. Sadly, it is a painful but unavoidable part of life, and while we may wish our furry friends could live forever, knowing the general lifespan of our dogs can help us to prepare for what they will need from us as seniors. Helping us understand how to best care for them in their later years, thus extending their life as long as possible.
Several factors can contribute to the lifespan length of a dog, and these are some of the things we will look into today, as well as the average lifespan of dogs with the longest and shortest lifespans.
How long do dogs live on average?
The average lifespan of a dog is between 10 and 13 years, however, breed, size, and health all affect this. Some dogs could make it into their 20s, where others may not live far past a decade old.
There is no sure-fire way to pinpoint exactly how long you can expect your dog to live for, although your veterinarian can give you an idea. Knowing the average lifespan for your specific breed of dog can also help you plan ahead, and give you an idea on how long you can expect your dog to live.
For example, one of the longest living dogs in the world is an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who lived to be 29 years old. But Bernese Mountain Dogs have a much shorter typical life span of 5 to 7 years on average. The average lifespan of all dogs is a very vague idea, as breed has a lot more to do with the typical lifespan of a dog.
Factors that influence a dogs’ lifespan
There are many things that can influence how long a dog will live. Of course, we cannot ignore that genetics will affect lifespan for dogs, much like it can do for humans as well. But there are plenty of other factors that will contribute to life span, some of which you may not expect to be influential factors.
You may not think that size is a deciding factor in lifespan, however, the larger the dog is, the shorter their life expectancy will be. Larger dogs will typically not live as long as smaller dogs.
Larger dogs do not live as long as smaller dogs simply because they age more quickly, and this is because they grow faster. This is more likely to lead to earlier incidences of tumors and other abnormal tissue developments, such as cancer. It is also possible that it can lead to abnormal developments that can result in physical conditions that may impact their overall health.
Inbreeding Vs crossbreeding
Both inbreeding and crossbreeding can affect the lifespan of a dog.
Inbreeding alone can cause drastic and very real problems. In every dog population, there is an abundance of rare recessive mutations that have travelled down the breed. These mutations are rarely problematic for out bred dogs as they almost always inherit one working copy, however, for inbred dogs this can cause a problem. If a female dog is mated with her male pup, then the mother will pass on 50% of her genome to each pup, thus each rare recessive mutation carried has a 50% chance of being transmitted. In the case that she is mated with her pup, then this could make the chance an extra 25% (totaling 75%) of inheriting two bad mutation copies.
When this happens, it is more likely that the resulting pup will end up having a mutation and is more likely to suffer with their health, thus decreasing their lifespan.
On the other hand, crossbred dogs tend to live longer on average than purebred dogs, typically by about a year. It is believed that crossbreeds do have a lower chance of inheriting congenital diseases, and that in theory, you could ‘breed out’ the defective gene, although this only works if you can trace its history and parentage.
Much like we do, dogs need care for fulfilling lives. A good diet, plenty of exercise, companionship, vet visits, and keeping them in a good environment are all factors that will help in extending their life.
Happiness and physical health are all imperative for any living animal to have as long a life as possible.
Let’s look a little more into what this means, and what you can do to care for your dog a little extra that will extend their life.
Although unpleasant, spaying/ neutering your dog can help in warding off certain life-threatening diseases, and it can potentially increase the lifespan of your dog by a good one to three years. The simplistic medical procedure required for spaying and neutering can keep multiple severe health issues at bay, such as; testicular cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, and prostrated problems as well.
Food and exercise
One more thing that matters is food and exercise, much like us, a dog needs to have a proper diet and needs plenty of exercise. Good food and plenty of exercise will keep your dog happy as well as healthy.
This means eliminating any overfeeding, if you thought that giving your dog just a ‘little more’ won’t hurt them, you are wrong. Just a bit extra each day can easily lead to obesity, and this can make dogs susceptible to heart disease, as well as other life-threatening conditions too. One example of how this can directly correlate with lifespan is that Labradors that were fed 20% less, actually lived an average of two years longer than dogs who were given more food.
Similarly, you should also ensure that your dog gets enough exercise. If you are unsure about how much exercise your dog needs, then speak to your veterinarian to find out what they need, as some dogs will require a lot more than others. A good bit of exercise each day will keep their heart healthy and will assist in boosting their immunity as well.
Similar to this, never buy questionable dietary products or supplements for your dog. If your dog needs these, ask the vet for recommendations or buy them from reputable pet care companies. The wrong supplements and dietary products can actually do more harm than good, so it is best that these be avoided. And remember, if in doubt, speak to your vet.
Keeping your dog’s teeth healthy
We keep our teeth healthy and clean, so why shouldn’t we do the same for our dogs too? Poor dental health in dogs can potentially release harmful bacteria into their bloodstream. You should maintain a proper dental care routine for your pup. You can get dog dental sets with toothpaste and brush, and there are also a plethora of dog dental hygiene sticks and treats you can use that will help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy even if they hate having their teeth brushed and cleaned.
Regular veterinary checkups
We take our cars in for checkups, why shouldn’t we do the same for our dogs too? Taking your dog to see the vet regularly can help to catch out any early signs of illnesses, and doing so can be the difference between life and death in many situations. Taking your dog to see the vet at least once every 6 months for a doggie MOT, can work wonders.
Avoid a stressful environment
Stress is a killer, in humans, in dogs and in all animals. Stress can shorten the lifespan, and it has physical effects on the body that can weaken us and compromise our immune system. Keep your dog protected from any factors that have the potential to cause any panic or stress for them. Keeping your dog happy and calm will reduce the release of stress hormones and therefore help boost immunity too. No stress means healthier and a longer life.
How to boost your dogs’ immunity
Immunity is very important in sustaining a long lifespan, and there are plenty of factors that will influence this.
High quality and natural dog food
The most important part of boosting your dogs’ immunity is providing them with a diet full of nutrients. Adequate nutrition is the primary part of a high quality diet, and it is essential to maintain your dog’s immune system. Antioxidants play a major part in maintaining your pets’ health. What are antioxidants? They are vitamins and minerals in foods that counteract free radicals.
High quality dog foods will contain antioxidants, but if your dog is not getting enough these are available in supplements, and there are some treats that you can give your dog as well that can help, it is ideal to speak to your vet about this if you are considering adding supplements or antioxidant treats into your dogs diet.
Another thing that can help is natural dog food, natural foods will typically contain all the nutrition your dogs need. Processed foods, while cheaper, usually do not contain all the right things that your dog needs. While natural foods are typically more expensive, they are often much better for your dog.
Here are some things you can consider adding to your dog’s diet.
Coconut oil has a plethora of health benefits, some of these include; the prevention of skin-related issues, digestive aids, lowers the chances of diabetes. Virgin coconut oil supplements can also be great for application on skin rashes and dry spots.
Fish oil is genius. It is available in both natural and supplementary forms, and both of these are known to improve heart health and boost immunity too. Aside from the immunity-boosting factors, fish oil can also help in combating inflammations, and it can add a healthy and glamorous shine to your dog’s coat too.
Not many will be aware of this, but curd is a fantastic source of probiotics, which can keep your dog’s gastrointestinal system in tip-top condition. Yogurt is also a fantastic source of calcium as well. While we may like the sweetened and flavored varieties of our diet, it is better to get your dog an unflavored and unsweetened version. Never give them a sweetened or flavored version, those are for you and not for your dog.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are fantastic for their cartilage rebuilding properties. These are fantastic for joint health and are brilliant as preventative joint care supplements. Always check these out before you buy, and only purchase from reputable manufacturers in pet care, and remember, if in doubt, ask the vet for assistance and recommendations.
Dog Age Calculator
We all want to know how long our furry friends will be with us, and the ambiguity of knowing their expected age range can be torturous. Thankfully, though, dog age calculators do exist. Of course, you could ask your vet for assistance, but sometimes it is just easier to try and use online resources to figure it out for yourself.
How to calculate your dog’s age in human years
Calculating your dog’s age in human years is not always easy. Of course, you could use the rule of paw and say that for every 1 year for you, your dog has aged 7 years, but the accuracy of this will depend entirely on what breed of dog you have.
For some dogs, they may be similar to a 9-year-old human when they are just a few months old, similar to a 30-year-old human at a year old, similar to a 50-year-old human at 4 years old, and similar to a 66-year-old human at 9 years old. For some bigger dogs, this could be accurate, however, for a smaller dog, with a longer life span, this could be very different.
Using an age calculator to anticipate your dog’s age is useful, with age calculators for your dog, a majority of these will look at the breed of your dog as well as their age in human years. For example, if you had a 12-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, you could put this information into an age calculator and find out that your dog is the equivalent of 75 years old (or thereabouts) and is considered to be a senior.
Try this out for yourself!
Dog breeds with the longest lifespan
We mentioned how smaller dogs tend to live longer than bigger dogs. So, let’s have a look at some of the dogs with the longest lifespans, and find out how true it is that smaller dogs have longer lives.
Despite their bad reputation, the chihuahua is one of the dog breeds that amazingly live the longest. Many chihuahuas actually survive beyond 15 years, some can even live to reach two decades old. Even these tiny dogs do, however, require plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and plenty of training. They are generally healthy, which helps contribute to their longer lives, but this breed of dog is still prone to possible heart and eye problems.
The average life expectancy of these dogs is from 12 to 20 years.
The dog with the second-highest life expectancy is the totally adorable dachshund. It is not uncommon to meet a dachshund over 15 years of age. There is even a Guinness World Record for the longest living dachshund, which was set by a dog named Chanel who lived to be 21 years old, passing away, sadly, in 2009. However, despite how these dogs do have long life expectancies, they are susceptible to age-related health problems, especially back issues, which can be made worse by obesity.
The average life expectancy of these dogs is from 12 to 16 years.
Toy Poodles are brilliant family pets, they are sassy, and intelligent, and they are the third-longest living dog out there. They may look like they might be a bit lethargic, but they do need plenty of mental stimulation as they have avidly busy minds. If you meet a toy poodle, it is very possible that they could reach 18 years old. However, these dogs are prone to orthopedic issues, as well as having the potential for eye disorders too.
Nonetheless, the average life expectancy for this dog is 10 to 18 years of age.
Jack Russell Terrier
They’re loud, they’re proud, and they will bark at anything they don’t like. Jack Russell Terriers are another small breed that will often live up to being 16 years old. According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest ever Jack Russell was named Willie, who passed away in 2014 at 20 years old! These dogs were bred for working, and they have that drive and energy to this day, as anyone who owns one has probably started to notice.
These dogs have an average life expectancy of 13 to 18 years old.
Yorkshire Terriers are popular and intelligent, and as a toy breed, they are great for families, although they are not exactly total lapdogs. They are loyal and affectionate to their families, but they do have cliché terrier traits. This means strong guarding instincts and avidly vocal nature. It is not uncommon to find a Yorkie to live for 15 or more years.
Yorkies will typically have a life expectancy of 13 to 16 years old.
Shiba Inus are medium-sized dogs, they have a long lifespan, typically reaching 16 years or more. They are very strong-willed and can be a bit aloof, so they are not always to everyone’s taste. However, if you do get a Shiba Inu then they are quite healthy, although they can be prone to allergies in some cases.
Shiba Inus will typically live 13 to 16 years.
Small, fluffy, and adorable. Pomeranians are known for being friendly, but sometimes a bit bossy, as anyone who has one will know. They are loyal, however, and they may even take on the role of a pocket-sized guard dog. Despite how they can be a bit feisty, if you train them consistently then you can turn them into fantastic family pets that could live up to 16 years!
Pomeranians can live from 12 to 16 years.
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dog/ Blue Heeler, has a long lifespan in comparison to other dogs of its size. The longest living dog was an Australian Cattle Dog with an impressive 29-year-long life. These dogs can commonly live to be 16 years or more, and they are fantastic working dogs, with a high work drive. They thrive in active homes, in dog sports, on farms and ranches.
Australian Cattle Dogs will typically live 12 to 16 years.
Shih Tzus are both friendly and adaptable dogs. They can commonly live to be 15 or older. Shih Tzus were bred to be companions and do not require much exercise, a short walk and playtime will suit them just fine. They do have long coats which require much brushing or regular clipping. They are a breed that is generally healthy, although they can have orthopedic problems and eye issues.
Shih Tzus generally live 10 to 16 years.
Maltese are great dogs, they are amazingly healthy, and they can live to be 15 or older. They love company and affection, so they are super cuddly and will be your own personal minion. However, their love for affection and companionship does mean that they are prone to separation anxiety should they be left alone for sustained periods of time.
Otherwise, these dogs can live for 12 to 15 years.
Dog breeds with the shortest lifespan
Now that we have seen which dogs have the longest lifespan, let’s have a look at the dogs who have the shortest lifespan.
French Mastiffs have one of the shortest lifespans of all dogs, at only 5 to 8 years. They are big dogs, ranging from 23 to 27 inches tall, and 99lbs or more. They are considered to be working dogs, however, in families, they are affectionate, loyal, and courageous. Furthermore, they are great dogs to have in your family.
French Mastiffs will live for 5 to 8 years.
Great Danes, or as we know them, Scooby-Doo dogs! These are very gentle giants, but they do not live so long, often only living for 6 to 8 years. Their primary health issue is bloat, which can often be deadly, it causes a dog’s stomach to become twisted and cuts off the blood supply to their other organs.
Despite how bloat is a condition found throughout the breed, bloat can be prevented to a point with proper diet and care.
Great Danes live 6 to 8 years.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs used to have a much better life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, however, it has decreased to only 6 to 8 years. Why is this? Sadly, these dogs are very susceptible to cancer. Sadly, they also suffer from bloat and heart issues, both of which can be fatal. It is so sad, but their health issues are the main reason for the low life expectancy.
Bernese Mountain Dogs live 6 to 8 years.
Things get a little better with Irish Wolfhounds, as they will typically live 6 to 10 years. This is still not a great life expectancy, though. This breed is susceptible to bone cancer, as well as von Willebrand’s disease, bloat, lymphoma, and hyperthyroidism.
Heart disease can also lead to the death of this breed, so sadly their many health issues can be their downfall here.
Irish Wolfhounds live 6 to 10 years on average.
These dogs can live 8 to 9 years and have many of the same health issues that affect the other large breeds, including bloat and cancer.
These dogs are also prone to bone disease and a neurological disease known as polyneuropathy.
LeonBergers live 8 to 9 years.
These dogs are brachycephalic and suffer from breathing problems, especially in high temperatures. They are susceptible to various conditions that can shorten their lifespan, including bloat, heart disease, and bone cancer. However, their average lifespan is 8 to 10 years. With one of these dogs, regular vet check-ups can help to lengthen their lifespan as much as possible.
These dogs live 8 to 10 years.
These dogs also have a typical life expectancy of 8 to 10 years. Although they are not a brachycephalic breed, they can also get health problems in hot temperatures thanks to their big coats.
They are also prone to bloat, and heart failure, which is often hereditary in nature. These dogs are also known to be sensitive to anesthesia too.
Newfoundlands typically live 8 to 10 years.
Similar to the others, Rotties have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years as well. They are prone to bone cancer, and you should always get them vaccinated early- they are more susceptible to parvovirus than other breeds. This is a contagious and fatal disease that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite.
Rottweilers typically live 8 to 10 years.
English bulldogs have quite a few health problems, however, this all depends on how they have been bred. Otherwise, they can live a good 8 to 10 years.
They are a brachycephalic breed and have issues with heat, as a majority of short-nosed breeds usually do. They can often have compromised immune systems, and they are in danger of disappearing completely due to the health complications of inbreeding.
English Bulldogs typically live 8 to 10 years.
Saint Bernard’s are one of the largest dogs, and they come with a plethora of health issues such as heart disease, epilepsy, and cancer, as well as bloating- hence they require smaller meals more often instead of spaced out big meals.
Saint Bernard’s typically live 8 to 10 years.
As another large dog, you can expect these dogs to suffer from the same traditional health issues as others; such as cancer and bloat. These dogs will otherwise live a typical 8 to 10 years.
They often suffer from heart problems as well, and also liver shunt disease. This is a condition that is avoidable with responsible breeding, though.
These dogs live 8 to 10 years.
Bull Mastiffs too live for around 8 to 10 years. They have a load of health issues that can affect their lifespan though, including; bloat, heart disease, cancer, and so on… some of these are hereditary to the breed.
Bull Mastiffs live 8 to 10 years.
These dogs can live from 8 to 11 years. Their breeding has caused some heart problems and has also made them more brachycephalic, as well as giving them more skin folds.
Shar-pei lives an average of 8 to 11 years.
A deep-chested dog that needs intermittent feeding throughout the day to prevent bloat. As well as this, they need periodic cardiac exams.
Bloodhounds will typically live 9 to 10 years.
Basset hounds are a smaller breed that have an average of 8 to 12 years. Inbreeding has caused an issue for these dogs, creating issues with bloat, immunodeficiency, and obesity.
Basset Hounds live 8 to 12 years on average.
We all want to know how long our pups will be with us. Our dogs are members of our families, and we love having them around. The thought of losing them is horrible, but knowing when we might, can prepare us for the eventuality. You can always prolong your dogs’ life with good food, exercise, care, and more. We can’t make them live forever, but we can certainly do our best to try.