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How Long Do Dogs Live: The Life Expectancy of Your Pet

How long do dogs live? That’s not exactly the question you’ll be asking when you’re raising your new puppy, but as your dog begins to age, it’s important that owners confront the mortality of their dogs - because doing so can help to increase the average lifespan of a dog.

Like humans and all other animals, our pet dogs have their own dog lifespan. Dog years to human years are an unfortunately one-sided ratio, and our pet dogs have much shorter life spans than we do. 

Life expectancy depends on breed and size, but most importantly, dogs that live the longest are dogs that are cared for by their owners. In this article, we pose the question ‘How long do dogs live for?’, and explore average lifespan and how you can extend the life of your pet. 

How long do dogs live on average? 

The longest dog lifespan in the world is thought to have been a staggeringly huge 30 years, claimed by a dog named Maggie who lived in Australia and passed away in 2016. In dog to human years, this would have made Maggie well over 130 years old!

Australian dogs seem to have an incredibly large dog lifespan because the Guinness World Records claims a dog named Bluey (also from Australia) as the world’s longest living dog. Bluey passed away in 1939, aged 29 years and 5 months!

Maggie was a Kelpie, and Bluey was an Australian Cattle Dog, but their lifespans are on the extreme side of the spectrum!

Most dog owners can expect their pet dog to live for at least 8 years, but with an average of 10-12 years being the normal expectancy. On the longer side, dogs can leave up to 16, 17, or even 18 years if well cared for.

However, this life span really does vary dramatically. The average age of a dog when they pass away depends on a number of factors, with the following being the most contributing:

  • Breed
  • Size
  • Health and fitness
  • Underlying medical conditions

While factors such as health and fitness can be controlled by the owner, important factors such as the breed of your pet and their size can’t be influenced. 

How long do small dogs live?

Size is one of the biggest factors when it comes to life expectancy. While the Australian dogs we mentioned are exceptions (being medium-sized dogs), on average, the longest living dogs are smaller dogs. 

Small dogs include the likes of toy poodles, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds. These are dogs that are fewer than 22 pounds in weight and often less than 18 inches in height. 

A Chihuahua lifespan averages in at 16 years, a Pug lifespan is 15 years, a Maltese lifespan is also 15, while a Shih Tzu lifespan is around 16 and a half years. Compared to other breeds, the life expectancy of small dogs can be several years longer. 

The longest living dog breed (on average) is thought to be the Yorkshire Terrier, one of the smallest dogs in the world. Yorkshire Terriers have an average lifespan of 18 years. 

How long do medium-sized dogs live?

Medium dogs weigh up to around 50 pounds and include many popular family dog breeds such as Spaniels and Collies. Our two long-living Australian dogs would have been classed as medium-sized dogs. 

On average, medium-sized dogs can expect to live shorter lives than their smaller cousins. A pitbull’s lifespan is around 12 years old, as is that of a Spaniel or a Collie. 

Many medium-sized dogs aren’t purebred, and if you’re wondering how long mixed breed dogs live for, then it’s often longer than pure breeds. Pure breeding can be detrimental to the dog, as genes for inherited diseases are likely to be passed on. Pure dog breed life expectancies can therefore be significantly lower!

How long do big dogs live for? 

The average lifespan of larger breeds of dogs is lower than medium or small-sized dog breeds. Larger dogs, on average, live for around 12 years, but this can be less depending on the breed.

A German Shepherd lifespan, a Labrador lifespan, and a Golden Retriever lifespan average out around at 12 years. However, much larger dog breeds, such as a Great Dane or Bernese, can have much lower lifespans (8 to 10 years).

Extremely large dogs are often predisposed to conditions that shorten their lifespan, while large dogs are more likely to experience degenerative diseases than smaller ones due to their size and weight. 

How to increase the life expectancy of your pet dog

Life expectancy isn’t just down to breeding and size, though, and any dog that leads a comfortable yet healthy lifestyle is likely to have a longer life. 

There are several ways to extend the lifespan of your pet dog, including the following:

Healthy diet

A healthy diet is the best way to extend the lifespan of your pet dog. Dogs are prone to diseases such as obesity or diabetes if they are continually fed the wrong foods, and these contribute to other conditions that can cause early death.

Owners should also combine a healthy diet with regular exercise. This keeps your pet fit and strong and helps to work off any extra calories they might be consuming. 

Avoiding injuries 

A guaranteed way to extend the lifespan of your pet dog is by avoiding injuries. We aren’t just talking about accidents, but prolonged injuries caused by overexertion or sprains from jumping up and down onto beds or sofas.

One way to combat these types of injuries is to set up a bed ramp for your pet dogs. This helps to avoid injuries to the back legs, which are increasingly common as dogs get older. 

Spaying and neutering 

Spaying of females and neutering of males is a proven way to not only limit the number of new puppies running around town but to extend the lifespan of dogs too. 

The process actually reduces the chance of certain cancers while reducing the risk of infection from diseases. 

Regular check-ups at the vet

Your vet is best qualified to diagnose illnesses, injuries, or degenerative diseases that could affect the lifespan of your pet dog. 

It’s imperative that owners take their pets in for regular (annual) check-ups to ensure that their dog is fit and healthy. If you suspect your dog might be in pain or may have caught an illness or have a problem, then it’s best to see a vet right away. 

Dogs aren’t invincible, but catching and treating problems early on can dramatically extend life expectancy. 

How long do dogs live: Conclusion

While the longest living dog breeds can live up to 18 years, most dog owners should be realistic about the lifespan of their pet. Above 10 years old, and your pet dog should be treated as a member of the older generation and given the added care (and respect!) that they need to be comfortable. 

The average lifetime of a dog depends not on just their breed, but on the individual themselves, their general health, underlying conditions, and importantly, the care they receive from their owners. 

Improve your dogs life expectancy through a good diet, regular exercise, and regular check-ups with the vet. Why not bookmark our ‘How long do dogs live?’, and give your pet dogs the life expectancy they deserve?

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