What Is The Life Expectancy of Dogs?

September 24, 2018
The breed or mix, size of a dog, and the care they've received during their life can influence how long their life expectancy.

When adopting a dog, people sometimes automatically wonder about how long they’re expected to live. It’s only natural to desire that your pet will live with you for several years. However, death is part of the natural life cycle of all animals. Therefore, focusing on enjoying every moment with your furry companion is what’s truly important. So, continue reading to take a look at factors that affect the life expectancy of a dog.

Is it possible to estimate a dog’s life expectancy?

Trying to predict a dog’s life expectancy is no simple task. You need to consider several factors, such as their health, genetics, family-tree, breed, and size.

Therefore, in order to calculate how long a dog will live, you first need to consider its quality of life. How healthy the animal is, its environment, nutrition, and any preventative medicine are all factors that directly affect a dog’s life expectancy.

Since each dog is unique, their bodies can have special traits. Therefore, some dogs can exceed all expectations regarding their lifespan.

One of the clearest examples of this is Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who lived for 29 years. The life expectancy of his breed is around 13 to 15 years. To this day, Bluey holds the world record for the oldest dog that ever lived.

A dog lying down on a blanket

No matter what, it’s impossible to predict how long a dog will live. The average life expectancy of a dog breed can be estimated by considering its genes, biology, and metabolism. However, even when calculating lifespan, you still should remember that the average expectancy can vary depending on the living conditions of each dog.

Average Life Expectancy Based on Breed

In general, small or medium-sized dogs usually live longer than larger dogs. The life expectancy of smaller dogs, such as the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso is between 17 to 20 years. And many of these dogs can exceed this life expectancy.

In regard to medium-sized dogs, such as the Shar-pei, Chow Chow, and Australian Cattle Dogs, the average lifespan is between 13 to 15 years. In larger breeds, such as Rottweilers or Golden Retrievers, the life expectancy is only about 10 to 13 years. For giant dogs, like Newfoundlands or St. Bernards, they live an average of 8 to 11 years.

Is it true that mixed-breed dogs live longer?

There is a widespread belief that mixed-breed dogs are healthier and live longer than purebreds. In fact, most mixed-breed dogs have remarkable stamina and can live for many years.

Purebred dogs have undergone very selective processes to standardize their breed. The main objective was and still is to reinforce or emphasize certain physical attributes or instinctive abilities.

Mixed-breed dogs

Through breeding, the dogs are becoming more and more “perfect” according to standards established by purebred societies. Unfortunately, many breeders resort to inbreeding related dogs to maintain the “purity” of the lineage.

Inbreeding and the effect on life expectancy

This practice of inbreeding purebreds has unfortunate consequences for the health of the offspring. Malformations, weakened immune systems, fertility problems, degenerative diseases, learning disabilities… These are just some of the many disorders associated with inbreeding dogs.

On the other hand, mixed-breed dogs have not been inbred. They have greater genetic diversity. Therefore, they are not typically predisposed to develop hereditary or degenerative diseases that affect most breeds.

This is one of the main reasons that mixed-breed dogs usually live longer than purebreds. However, being healthier and more resilient doesn’t mean they don’t need to be taken care of to help maintain their health.

Like any breed, mixed-breed dogs should get be given proper preventive medication throughout their lives. It’s necessary to run veterinarian check-ups every six months to have them get proper vaccinations and treatments for parasites.

A balanced diet, daily physical activity, and proper mental stimulation are also important for a dog’s quality of life. Likewise, regardless of the breed or size of your dog, love and dedication are key to a long life expectancy.