What Are Top Factors in Dog Lifespan?

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You can do some quick research and find out the average dog life expectancy – which, by the way, is 10 – 11 years. Also, studies show that only 20% of dogs live past their 14th birthday with fewer than 10% making it to their 15th birthday. However, it’s worth knowing the many facts behind this. Further, do small dogs or large dogs live longer? Do we know what other things contribute to dog lifespan? 

There are many factors influencing how long your dog could live. Our team of avid dog lovers spent countless hours researching to answer these questions. It became clear genetics (specific breed, purebred vs crossbred & size) was the top factor but other factors such as early neutering or spaying, care, and diet also play a role. Let’s dig into this more.

For Dogs, One Size Does Not Fit All…

Simply put, size is a major factor in dog life expectancy.  What you may not know is that smaller dogs tend to significantly outlive larger dogs.  For instance, the Irish Wolf Hound (roughly 115 pounds full grown) has an average lifespan of 5 – 7 years while a Jack Russell Terrier (averaging only 15 pounds) can live up to 16 years or more. Larger dogs, put more strain on their bodies and age more rapidly.  

Average Dog Lifespan of Some Common Breeds

Small Dogs

BreedAverage Lifespan
Chihuahua14 – 18 years
Daschund12 – 14 years
Maltese12 – 14 years
Pekingese12 – 15 years
Pomeranian 12 – 16 years

Medium Dogs

BreedAverage Lifespan
American Fox Hound10 – 13 years
Bassett Hound 11 – 14 years
Beagle12 – 14 years
Border Collie10 – 14 years
English Springer Spaniel10 – 14 years

Large Dogs

BreedAverage Lifespan
Doberman Pinscher10 – 12 years
Great Dane7 – 10 years
Rottweiler8 – 11 years
St. Bernard8 – 10 years
Tibetian Mastiff11 – 14 years

The table below provides the expected dog life expectancy of many additional breeds (listed alphabetically).

BreedAverage Lifespan
Affenpinscher12 – 14 years
Afghan Hound12 – 14 years
African Boerboels9 – 11 years
Airedale Terrier10 – 13 years
Akbash10 – 11 years
Akita10 – 13 years
Alaskan Malamute10 – 13 years
American Bulldog12 – 14 years
American Eskimo Dog12 – 14 years
American Staffordshire Terrier12 – 14 years
American Water Spaniel10 – 12 years
Anatolian Shepherd Dog10 – 13 years
Australian Cattle Dog10 – 13 years
Australian Shepherd12 – 15 years
Australian Silky Terrier11 – 14 years
Australian Terrier12 – 14 years
Basenji12 – 14 years
Bearded Collie12 – 14 years
Beauceron10 – 12 years
Bedlington Terrier12 – 14 years
Belgian Malinois10 – 12 years
Belgian Shepherd Dog10 – 12 years
Belgian Tervuren10 – 12 years
Bernese Mountain Dog6 – 9 years
Bichon Frise12 – 15 years
Black and Tan Coonhound10 – 12 years
Black Russian Terrier10 – 11 years
Bloodhound10 – 12 years
Border Terrier12 – 15 years
Borzoi10 – 12 years
Bouvier des Flandres10 – 12 years
Boxer8 – 10 years
Briard10 – 12 years
Brittany12 – 13 years
Brussels Griffon12 – 15 years
Bull Terrier11 – 14 years
Bullmastiff8 – 10 years
Cairn Terrier12 – 14 years
Canaan Dog12 – 13 years
Cardigan Welsh Corgi12 – 14 years
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel9 – 14 years
Chesapeake Bay Retriever10 – 13 years
Chinese Crested13 – 15 years
Chinese Shar-Pei8 – 10 years
Chow Chow8 – 12 years
Clumber Spaniel10 – 12 years
Cocker Spaniel12 – 15 years
Cockapoo14 – 18 years
Collie8 – 12 years
Curly-Coated Retriever8 – 12 years
Dalmatian12 – 14 years
Dandie Dinmont Terrier11 – 13 years
Dogue de Bordeaux5 – 7 years
English Bulldogs8 – 12 years
English Cocker Spaniels12 – 14 years
English Foxhound10 – 13 years
English Setter10 – 12 years
English Toy Spaniel10 – 12 years
Field Spaniel12 – 14 years
Finnish Spitz12 – 14 years
Flat-Coated Retriever10 – 13 years
Fox Terrier (Smooth & Wire)10 – 13 years
French Bulldog9 – 11 years
German Pinscher12 – 15 years
German Shepherd 10 – 12 years
German Shorthaired Pointer12 – 14 years
German Wirehaired Pointer12 – 14 years
Giant Schnauzer10 – 12 years
Glen of Imaal Terrier10 – 14 years
Golden Retriever10 – 13 years
Gordon Setter10 – 12 years
Great Pyrenees10 – 12 years
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog10 – 12 years
Greyhound10 – 13 years
Harrier12 – 14 years
Havanese12 – 14 years
Hungarian Vizsla10 – 14 years
Ibizan Hound12 – 14 years
Irish Setter12 – 14 years
Irish Terrier12 – 15 years
Irish Water Spaniel10 – 13 years
Irish Wolfhound5 – 7 years
Italian Greyhound12 – 15 years
Japanese Chin12 – 14 years
Keeshond12 – 14 years
Kerry Blue Terrier12 – 15 years
Komondor10 – 12 years
Kuvasz9 – 12 years
Labrador Retriever10 – 12 years
Lakeland Terrier12 – 16 years
Lhasa Apso12 – 14 years
Löwchen13 – 15 years
Manchester Terrier15 – 16 years
Mastiff9 – 11 years
Miniature Bull Terrier11 – 14 years
Miniature Pinscher12 – 14 years
Miniature Poodle12 – 14 years
Miniature Schnauzer12 – 14 years
Neapolitan Mastiff8 – 10 years
Newfoundland8 – 10 years
Norfolk Terrier13 – 15 years
Norwegian Buhunds11 – 13 years
Norwegian Elkhound10 – 12 years
Norwich Terrier13 – 15 years
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever11 – 13 years
Old English Sheepdog10 – 12 years
Otterhound10 – 13 years
Papillon12 – 15 years
Parson Russell Terrier13 – 15 years
Pembroke Welsh Corgi11 – 13 years
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen11 – 14 years
Pharaoh Hound11 – 14 years
Pit Bull12 – 14 years
Plott11 – 13 years
Pointer11 – 15 years
Polish Lowland Sheepdog10 – 14 years
Poodle (Standard)12 – 15 years
Portuguese Water Dog10 – 14 years
Pug12 – 15 years
Puli10 – 15 years
Rhodesian Ridgeback10 – 12 years
Saluki12 – 14 years
Samoyed10 – 12 years
Schipperke13 – 15 years
Scottish Deerhound7 – 9 years
Scottish Terrier11 – 13 years
Sealyham Terrier11 – 13 years
Shetland Sheepdog12 – 14 years
Shiba Inu12 – 15 years
Shih Tzu11 – 14 years
Siberian Husky11 – 13 years
Silky Terrier11 – 14 years
Skye Terrier12 – 14 years
Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier12 – 14 years
Spinone Italiano12 – 14 years
Staffordshire Bull Terrier12 – 14 years
Standard Schnauzer12 – 14 years
Sussex Spaniel11 – 13 years
Tibetan Terrier12 – 15 years
Toy Fox Terrier13 – 14 years
Toy Manchester Terrier14 – 16 years
Toy Poodle12 – 14 years
Treeing Walker Coonhound12 – 14 years
Vizsla10 – 14 years
Weimaraner10 – 13 years
Welsh Springer Spaniel12 – 15 years
Welsh Terrier12 – 14 years
West Highland White Terrier12 – 14 years
Whippet12 – 15 years
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon12 – 14 years
Yorkshire Terrier14 – 16 years

Breed-Specific Issues 

Despite dog size being a major factor in dog life expectancy there are also several breed-specific issues that can affect dogs regardless of size.  For example, four well-known flat-faced breeds French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs and American Bulldogs have several life-limiting disorders. Some health issues these breeds encounter include breathing problems, spinal disease, and difficulty in giving birth. The rapid rise in popularity of these breeds also has negatively impacted their life expectancies since more puppies can die younger. 

In another example, Golden Retrievers have an exceedingly high rate of cancer, which has led to a study to help reveal why so many Golden Retrievers suffer from cancer. Cancer is a leading cause of death of large breed dogs overall. 

Purebred vs Crossbred

Another interesting fact is that crossbred dogs have a longer life expectancy than purebreds. This is because purebred and inbred dogs tend to have the risk of developing diseases and conditions that could have been passed down through the generations.  These health advantages that crossbred dogs have is called hybrid vigor.

It’s a good idea to check the family history when purchasing a puppy from a breeder. The lower the percentage of the COI (coefficient of inbreeding), the less inbreeding there will be, which hopefully means fewer possible health problems and a longer dog life expectancy.

Spayed or Neutered

Spaying and neutering a puppy at a fairly young age can positively affect a dog’s lifespan. Most studies recommend surgical sterilization before five months of age for small breed dogs and 12-15 months for larger breed house dogs. Studies suggest that these surgeries can help reduce the risk of some types of cancer – especially cancers affecting the ovaries, breast, and testicles.

Care and Extending Dog Lifespan

There is no doubt that care can positively increase dog life expectancy. A dog with a nutritious diet, proper dental care, and exercise can live longer than one without. Also, taking your furry companion to annual wellness exams at the vet and getting proper shots can result in a healthy dog with a longer lifespan.  

It’s worth noting here that 34 percent of adult dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Research suggests that obese dogs live 2 years less than dogs at a healthy weight. Obesity puts stress on the musculoskeletal system, leading to osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc disease, and increases their risk of developing diabetes and pancreatitis. Obesity can also lead to cardiac and respiratory conditions. 

Last, creating a low-stress environment and avoiding suspect dietary products and supplements can help extend dog life longevity.

Signs of Dog Aging 

What to look out for as your dog ages:

  • Cloudy Eyes/Vision Problems  A general deterioration of vision and cloudy haze over the dog’s eyes.
  • Frequent Urination – Increased frequency of urination often indicates kidney-related issues, which usually affect elderly dogs.
  • Confusion – A change in behavior, which generally includes short-tempered nature, dementia and confusion.
  • Difficulty Getting Up – Health issues such as arthritis, hip dysplasia is common among elderly dogs, which often make it difficult for them to get up.
  • Weight Gain/Loss – Due to a change in the metabolism, thyroid-related issues, or dietary insufficiency elderly dogs can become overweight or underweight.
  • General Tiredness – Much like humans, elderly dogs increasingly become tired frequently with age. They are often reluctant to play and run around.
  • Fatty Lumps – Elderly dogs often develop fatty lumps on their skin called lipomas. These are benign and painless tumors that usually affect old dogs.
  • Frequent and Deeper Sleep – Elderly dogs can spend a lot of time sleeping. Often unresponsive to sounds and disturbances they usually experience deeper sleep.

To Sum It All Up

Outside of genetics (specific breed, purebred vs crossbred & size) there are many things that can extend your dog’s lifespan.  Making sure your furry friend has a proper diet, exercise, good care (vet visits and dental care), avoiding questionable dietary products/supplements, and maintaining a low-stress environment can all positively impact dog lifespan.

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Mother of three children and avid dog lover. I've had several dogs over the years including Border Collies, Pomeranians and Shih Tzus. We absolutely love our current Shih Tzu Fiona and I'm consumed with learning about all dog breeds, dog fitness and discovering new dog wellness tips!

2 thoughts on “What Are Top Factors in Dog Lifespan?”

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