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How Long Do Dogs Live?

Updated Dec 13, 2022

Updated Dec 13, 2022

Home > Pet Insurance > How Long Do Dogs Live?

It’s hard to acknowledge that dogs have much shorter lives than humans, especially when they bring so much love and joy to our lives. However, this is a key part of dog ownership that pet parents must accept as soon as possible. While we may wish our dogs would live forever, knowing how long they’ll live can help us prepare for their needs when they’re seniors. Giving your dog the best care possible can also help increase its life span. 

Several factors will affect your dog’s life span, including genetics, breed, environment, and health care. Below, we’ll delve into how long dogs live and how you can support your dog’s health and help it have the happiest and longest life possible.

How Long Do Dogs Live?

On average, dogs live approximately 10 to 13 years. However, this will vary depending on its environment, breed, genetics, health care, and much more. 

Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs? 

Yorkshire terrier outside
Image Source: Canva

The largest creatures in the animal kingdom often live the longest, such as whales or elephants, which are some of the biggest and longest-living mammals. However, dogs tend to follow the opposite trend. 

Typically, small dog breeds live much longer than large dog breeds, often several years longer. At this time, scientists do not know why this happens. However, large dog breeds are theorized to develop more age-related diseases earlier in life, which may cause earlier deaths. Researchers believe this is because large dog breeds grow from puppies to adults quicker than smaller dogs, increasing their probability of abnormal cell growth and possible cancer formation. 

Here are the average life spans based on size:

  • Small dog breeds: On average, small breeds live 10 to 15 years, with some breeds, like Chihuahuas living up to 18 years. This category includes dogs like the Yorkshire terrier, Pomeranian, Jack Russell terrier, Shih Tzu, dachshund, and pug. 
  • Medium dog breeds: Most medium dog breeds live between 10 and 13 years. This category includes French bulldogs, Australian shepherds, border collies, poodles, Australian cattle dogs, and cocker spaniels. 
  • Large dog breeds: Most large breeds live between 10 to 12 years. Examples of large dog breeds include Newfoundlands, golden retrievers, German shepherds, rottweilers, labrador retrievers, and mastiffs. 
  • Giant dog breeds: Giant dogs, such as the Great Dane, Bernese mountain dog, and Irish wolfhound, have the shortest average life expectancy, typically between seven and 10 years. 

In short, the longest-living dog breeds are typically miniature or small dog breeds, such as the Maltese. These dogs tend to contract illnesses later in life, allowing them to live longer than their larger counterparts. However, there are many other factors that you can control about your dog’s life to help it increase its longevity. 

Another factor to consider is whether or not your dog is purebred or mixed-breed. It’s believed that mixed dog breeds live longer than purebred dogs because they have a larger genetic pool, which may help them avoid some genetic conditions in their gene pool. 

How to Extend Your Dog’s Life Span

Here are some of the top factors that affect your dog’s lifespan: 

  • Spaying/neutering: Spaying or neutering your dog can improve and promote a longer life span. Studies have shown that spayed or neutered dogs live longer because they typically have fewer behavioral issues and are less prone to degenerative diseases, traumatic or violent causes of death, and infections. Female dogs are also less prone to mammary cancer after being spayed. 
  • Regular health care: Vet checkups, vaccinations, and screenings can find health problems early and prevent your dog from contracting certain infections or viruses. 
  • Keeping your dog indoors: Indoor dogs are less prone to accidents, such as being hit by a car or attacked by another dog or predator. By keeping your dog inside, you’re decreasing its risk of dying prematurely from an accident. We also recommend microchipping your dog in case it breaks out of your home and gets lost. Microchipping increases your chances of your lost or stolen dog being reunited with you. 
  • Feed your pup a balanced diet. Healthy dog food choices that support your furry friend’s current life stage will support its health. 
  • Sign your dog up for pet insurance. Pet insurance reimburses you for covered vet expenses, such as treatment for cancer, broken bones, or diabetes. Wellness plans are available to help with routine care costs like vaccinations and checkups. Having a financial safety net like pet insurance will help you care for your dog and treat any health issues immediately without concern about being stuck with huge vet bills.
  • Monitor your dog’s weight. Obesity affects your dog’s longevity, quality of life, health, and ability to exercise. These factors can decrease its life span, making maintaining a healthy weight crucial. Help your pup stay at a healthy weight by providing it with plenty of exercise and healthy food in the correct portions. 

Closing Thoughts

two dogs eating at home
Image Source: Canva

All dog owners want their pups to live long lives. While we can’t change our dog’s breed or genetic predispositions, we can take proactive steps to have our furry friend regularly examined by the vet, vaccinated, and screened for medical conditions. Consult with your veterinarian about what your dog is most at risk of and ask what you can do to improve its health. Remember, a healthy lifestyle and plenty of love will help your dog have the best life possible.

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