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How Long Do Dogs Live? Understanding the Canine Lifespan


  • The average dog lives about 10-13 years.
  • Your dog’s life expectancy depends on several factors, including size, breed, diet, dental hygiene and environment.
  • Small dogs live the longest, while large and giant dog breeds have shorter life expectancies.
  • You can help your canine live longer by feeding them well, investing in their health and ensuring they have plenty of playtime.
  • A good way to invest in their health is to seek regular vet care. To help make this more affordable, we recommend taking out a pet insurance policy. Try using a comparison tool to compare multiple policies and find the right one for you and your dog.

Dogs usually live 10 to 13 years, but there’s more to their lives than meets the eye.

To unveil this complexity, we’ll delve into the multifaceted world of factors that shape dogs’ lifespans, from genetics and size to nutrition and care practices.

We’ll cover:

Hopefully, this will help to enhance your dog’s well-being and extend your time together.

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:

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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.

Health care

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:



Like humans, all dogs have some common dietary needs and some unique ones as well. It’s typically a good idea to avoid dog food that lists by-products and sugar among the first few ingredients. Beyond that, some dogs may benefit from a raw diet, and others may need special kibbles crafted with a health issue in mind. Consult your vet if you’re not sure what food is best for your furry companion.

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Dental hygiene

Did you know that your pet is susceptible to gum disease and plaque? Regular teeth brushing and routine dental visits can help, especially if your dog is a breed like the Chinese Shar-Pei that has lots of mouth folds and gum pockets that make them prone to dental concerns.

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An active dog is a happy dog, although there are limits, of course. Go on walks, head to the dog park or just race your pet around the dining room. Whatever you have time for works, but if your day is often taken up by work and other obligations, it may be worthwhile to hire a dog walker or to look into doggy daycare to ensure that your pet gets plenty of attention and movement.

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Regular vet visits

This can help your dog live longer by catching problems early, giving personalized care, guiding on nutrition and health, and building a strong owner-vet relationship for consistent care. To help cover the cost of vet bills, we recommend taking out a dog insurance policy.

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If you are considering taking out a pet insurance policy to help cover regular vet visits, these guides can help you decide which plan to purchase:

We also recommend using a comparison tool . This way, you can compare multiple quotes at once to find the best policy for your dog and your budget.

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Dog lifespan FAQs

Which dog breed has the longest life expectancy?

Chihuahuas have one of the longest life expectancies of any dog with an average lifespan of 14-16 years.

Do mutts or purebreds tend to live longer?

Mutts or crossbreed dogs tend to live longer than purebreds, especially if those purebreds are the result of dangerous inbreeding.

Do small dogs live longer than large dogs?

Small dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds, perhaps because those larger breeds experience accelerated aging and are more susceptible to age-related diseases.

What age is considered old for a dog?

Old age is relative depending on the size of your dog. Small breeds reach the doggy equivalent of retirement age around age 11 or 12. That benchmark is around 10 years for medium dogs, around eight years for larger-sized dogs and just seven years for giant breeds.

Can a dog live 20 years?

Some dogs can live as long as 20 years, or even longer, although this is more likely with small and medium breeds than it would be for a large or giant breed.

What is the record for the oldest dog ever?

The world’s longest-living dog is a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo named Bobi who turned 30 in May 2023.

Alana Musselman
Alana Musselman Finance Expert

Alana Musselman is a versatile storyteller with over a decade of experience writing for diverse industries. Her writing has been featured on prestigious brands such as WW (Weight Watchers), Amazon, and Penta.