The average dog lifespan
The average life span of a dog is about 10-13 years.
If this seems like far too short a time to love your furry friend, well, you’d be right. But also keep in mind that human years and dog years aren’t equivalent.
While people have long gone by the theory that seven human years equal one dog year, researchers from the American Veterinary Medical Association say that the actual calculation is a bit more complicated.
This is how dog years compare to human years:
Childhood and adolescence: The first year of a dog’s life equals about 15 human years.
Reaching adulthood: The second year of a dog’s life is equal to about nine human years.
Aging as an adult: Every subsequent dog year is equal to about five human years.
What determines a dog’s lifespan?
A dog’s overall life expectancy depends on quite a few factors, including their size, breed, health and environment.
For some dogs, being born flat-faced will present problems from birth through their senior years. For others, how their dog owner feeds them makes all the difference.
Let’s take a closer look at what impacts your dog’s lifespan.
Breed and size
Small dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs, but scientists aren’t sure why that is. Some researchers theorize that larger dogs experience accelerated growth and aging. This may lead to accelerated abnormal cell growth linked to cancer.
Because dog breed and stature are closely linked, some dog breeds are more likely to live longer than others. For instance, the average lifespan of a Chihuahua, one of the smallest dog breeds, is 15-17 years. The much larger Great Dane only lives an average of 8-10 years.
Inbreeding vs. crossbreeding
Previous studies show that inbreeding can decrease a dog’s lifespan. For every 1% increase in inbreeding, a dog stands to live approximately 26 days less. This is probably because inbred dogs are more likely to have developmental and health-related issues, such as hip dysplasia in German shepherds and breathing problems in bulldogs.
Crossbreeding, where two different dog breeds mate and reproduce, can have the opposite effect on average life expectancy. Many crossbreeds live longer than purebreds, likely because the mates were chosen because they exhibited favorable features that promote longevity and didn’t show signs of breed-related diseases.
According to the National Library of Medicine, dogs within a normal weight range live longer than obese dogs, with a median increase of six months to 2.5 years. Since weight is inarguably tied to diet, it stands to reason that dogs with a more balanced daily diet may live longer.
Exercise and play
Regular exercise can help combat canine obesity, but it can also help pets feel more engaged. Incorporating indoor and outdoor play into your dog’s daily routine could help extend their lifespan.
Dogs that live in financially stable homes within stable neighborhoods tend to fare better than dogs living in less-than-ideal environments. Friendship is also a factor. Dogs that live in groups or with at least one other furry companion have better health outcomes than those who live alone with their humans.
Access to regular health care is important. From routine dental care to urgent appointments needed to assess acute or life-threatening conditions (such as broken leg or pneumonia), getting your dog to the vet can save their life. Having pet insurance can make veterinary care more accessible, especially if you’re worried about financial concerns standing between your canine buddy and their overall well-being.
How long do small dogs live?
The average life expectancy for small dogs, such as spaniels and terriers is about 10-15 years, but some can live to 18 years or beyond.
Here are some examples of small dog breeds and their typical lifespans:
Manchester Terrier: 12-14 years
Yorkshire Terrier: 12-15 years
English Toy Spaniel: 13-15 years
Rat Terrier: 13-15 years
Pomeranian: 14-16 years
Chinese Crested: 15-17 years
How long do medium-sized dogs live?
Medium-sized dogs live an average of 10-13 years.
Here’s a look at some expected lifespans for popular medium-sized dog breeds:
English Bulldog: 8-10 years
Boxer: 10-12 years
Chow Chow: 11-13 years
French Bulldog: 11-13 years
Chinese Shar-Pei: 12-14 years
Poodle: 12-14 years
Border Collie: 12-15 years
Welsh Springer Spaniel: 13-15 years
Cocker Spaniel: 13-15 years
How long do large dogs live?
With an average expectancy of about 10-12 years, large dog breeds have a shorter lifespan than small- and medium-sized dogs.
Here are some large dog breeds along with their average lifespans:
Bernese Mountain Dog: 7-10 years
Irish Wolfhound: 8-10 years
Newfoundland: 10-12 years
Rottweiler: 10-12 years
Akita: 11-15 years
How long do giant dogs live?
Giant dogs have the lowest estimated longevity of all breeds, with an average lifespan of 8-10 years.
Giant breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club include:
Mastiff: 6-10 years
Great Dane: 8-10 years
Dogue de Bordeaux: 9-11 years
St. Bernard: 10-12 years
Common causes of early death in dogs
With a few exceptions, the most common causes of early death in dogs are very similar to common causes of early death in humans.
Some common factors include:
- Trauma (such as from a car accident)
- Congenital disorders
- Infectious diseases
Dogs are also susceptible to more malicious influences, like predator attacks or poisoning.
Purebred dogs may experience health issues due to disease present at birth. Aortic stenosis, skin conditions and bloat aren’t exactly common, but they can lead to a lower life expectancy.
Which breeds live the longest and the shortest?
Smaller dog breeds live the longest, including Chihuahuas (14-16 years), shih tzus (10-18 years) and dachshunds (12-16 years).
Larger breeds have a shorter average life expectancy, including Scottish deerhounds (8-11 years), bullmastiffs (7-8 years) and Bernese mountain dogs (7-10 years).
Mixed-breed dogs tend to live longer than their purebred counterparts, especially if they’re intentionally crossbred to preserve coveted traits. For example, a breeder might mate a male dog from a long line of healthy show dogs with a female dog that also exhibits optimal health and key characteristics of her breed.
Are dogs living longer in general?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average life expectancy of dogs increased from 10.5 years to 11.8 years between 2002 and 2016.
Experts believe at least some of that increase is due to owners thinking about their pets less like objects and more like invaluable family members.
With that shift comes a growing investment in high-quality food, toys and environmental improvements like pet nannies and plush dog beds. Pet insurance can also ensure that all health needs are met promptly and thoroughly.
How to extend your dog’s life expectancy
You can’t control longevity factors like your dog’s size or breed, but you can control what you feed your dog, how much exercise they get, whether they have four-legged companions to play with and if they see a veterinarian and doggy dentist regularly.
Here are some ways you can help your dog live a healthy and happy life: