We all wish our favorite dogs could live forever, but no matter how well we take care of them, that just doesn't happen. However, some dogs do have a longer life expectancy than other dogs. It's hard to pinpoint how long a dog will live because there are many factors that go into each individual's dog's magical lives. One thing that influences the average lifespan of a dog is size.
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Scientists have long known that small dogs have a longer life expectancy than large dogs, which is something that is not true in other parts of the mammalian world. For instance, elephants and whales, the largest of mammals, live very long lives. A 2013 study in journal The American Naturalist concluded simply that large dogs age more quickly. There are dogs of all sizes though, that have long lives, including some large dogs that have a longer average lifespan than many small dogs. Here's a list of the 10 longest living dog breeds, including 5 of the shortest living dog breeds.
1. Chihuahua - 15 to 17 years
The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world, and is also at the top of the list for the longest lived. The AKC says that the Chihuahua can live 14 to 16 years, although some sources say 15 to 17 years. One of the reasons these sassy little dogs live so long is because they are not prone to any serious genetic conditions that shorten their lives.
2. Chinese Crested - 13 to 18 years
The Chinese crested is considered a good dog for allergy sufferers because of their general lack of hair. The AKC gives a rather long lifespan for these dogs of 13 to 18 years. The Chinese crested is energetic and playful, and just a little bigger, at 13 inches tall and up to 8 pounds, than the Chihuahua, which usually tops out at 8 inches and 6 pounds.
3. Australian Shepherd - 12 to 15 years
If you don't love the Aussie for its intense, piercing blue eyes and loyal personality, love it for its energetic, long lifespan. Of the medium dog breeds, the Australian shepherd lives for 12 to 15 years, says the Australian Shepherd Club of America, which was established as the parent club for the breed in 1957. As their name suggests, Australian shepherds were bred to be working farm dogs. Since they like to herd, they will appreciate having a job to do where their intelligence and aptitude for training can be taken advantage of.
4. Cocker Spaniel - 13 to 15 years
Look for the cute curly haired cocker spaniel to have an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years according to the AKC, although the American Spaniel Club puts the average lifespan of a cocker at 12 years. Either way, that's many years in which to enjoy this dog, who seems to want nothing more than a loving master to please throughout the day. The smallest member of the sporting group of dogs, spaniels were said to originate in Spain, where for centuries these dogs helped hunters track down birds. Their name "cocker," says the AKC, came from their specialization in a type of bird known as a woodcock. Since they are such good trackers, they make great dogs for agility or other training goals.
5. Welsh Springer Spaniel - 13 to 15 years
These medium-sized dogs were bred for distance and stamina, as another of the sporting dogs who were a hunter's closest companion. They are intelligent and eager to please, and live 12 to 15 years according to the AKC. As you might expect from a dog bred specifically to accompany a hunter, of you have a Welsh springer spaniel don't be surprised if they follow you from room to room.
6. Belgian Malinois - 14 to 16 years
A male Belgian Malinois can weigh up tp 20 pounds more than his female counterpart. These high-energy herders can live from 14 to 16 years. The AKC says the intelligence and desire to work and please that these dogs usually represent is so often underappreciated or overlooked. These dogs need exercise, and plenty of it, so if you're looking for a jogging partner or hiking pal, this hardworker may be the companion you've been waiting for.
7. Giant Schnauzer - 12 to 15 years
The AKC says the giant schnauzer and miniature schnauzers live for 12 to 15 years while the standard schnauzer lives for 13 to 16. One thing they all have in common is their distinctive eyebrows, mustache, and whiskers, giving them an intelligent yet slightly ruffled appearance. Their dense, wiry coat needs a fair bit of regular grooming, so keep that in mind if you choose one of these dapper guys. As with so many of the strong, larger dogs, the giant schnauzer was developed as a working dog. This one was developed in the Alps to help drive cattle. Without a significant amount of exercise and companionship, or at the very least another large dog to play with, you'll likely end up with a bored schnauzer on your hands.
8. Rottweiler - 9 to 10 years
The Rottweiler is a dog with an ancient pedigree. They were descended from dogs used by the Romans to drive cattle. In the years following the collapse of the Roman Empire, many of Rome's dog drivers ended up in the German town of Rottweil, where the early ancestors of these dogs became the breeding stock for the dogs we love today. The American Rottweiler Club says these dogs can be good family dogs where they can take on the roles of both protector and playmate. Their size and strength, however, can be difficult for small children to keep up with — a full-grown Rottweiler can easily known an adult down. And — also because of their size and strength — they need early and ongoing training to keep them manageable. The AKC used to list their lifespan as 10 to 12 years, although it has recently been revised to 9 to 10. That's still a lot of years to enjoy this loyal companion.
9. Akita - 10 to 13 years
If you have the space and the lifestyle to accommodate an Akita, then you could have 10 to 13 years to enjoy this dog, which the AKC says is "profoundly loyal." The Akita is a powerful, elegant, and strong dog with a Japanese lineage dating back to the early 17th century in the Akita prefecture of northern Japan. Owning Akitas was once allowed only by the imperial family members, who could take advantage of these dogs and their ability to track and capture big game such as wild boar, deer, and even bears (much more common in Japan centuries ago). The Akita Club of America says Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita into the United States in 1937.
10. Pug - 13 to 15 years
Among smaller dogs, the pug is one that can be your constant companion for 13 to 15 years. Pugs were bred in China for nothing more than to be amusing companions that enjoyed constant pampering. To boot, they are said to have a stubborn streak, can't be counted on to obey your commands, and expect to get attention pretty much all of the time, says the Pug Dog Club of America. If you seek a dog with its own identity who will give you a challenge from time to time, the pug may be the one you seek. When a pug and beagle are bred, the result is a puggle, which inherits the long-lived characteristics (and the stubborn, fun personality!) from both of its parents.
11. Dachshund - 13 to 15 years
The Dachshund, which is not much bigger than the Chihuahua at 8 to 9 inches tall for a standard and 5 to 6 inches tall for a miniature, has a similar life expectancy of 12 to 16 years. One of the most easily recognizable dog breeds, the many years of the Dachshund's long lives can be filled with lots of time in laps and looking out the window. Their short legs aren't made for too much running or climbing, but they can still be counted on to play endless games and to work hard at being a great watchdog. They are independent and a bit stubborn, but if you like a Dachshund, chances are you'll love it.
12. Yorkshire Terrier - 11 to 15 years
These small (about 7 pounds) terriers have the reputation of being lapdogs, but before that, they were bred to hunt small vermin. While they might not be used to working much anymore, they do make great watchdogs — it might be fair to say that kind of work doesn't mess up their fin silky hair! The terrier is highly trainable and high energy. This dog may want to do more than it actually can however . . . although they aren't prone to too many dangerous genetic conditions that shorten its lives, they are prone to having a dislocated kneecap. To that end, it's best if the little Yorki doesn't do too much jumping, especially in the early years of its 11- to 15-year life expectancy.
5 of the shortest living dog breeds
Sadly, it's believed that since larger dogs grow faster, one of the tradeoffs of their size is a shorter lifespan. accelerated growth of larger dogs is thought to cause an array of health problems. The aforementioned study in The American Naturalist journal determined that for every increase of 4.4 pounds of body weight, a dog's lifespan decreases by 1 month. Don't let that sway you from picking out one of these largest dog breeds though, as you'll never have a more loving and loyal companion for the years that you do have them. Here are 5 of the shortest living dog breeds, according to the AKC.
- Great Dane: 7 to 10 years
- Bernese Mountain Dog: 7 to 10 years
- Mastiff: 6 to 10 years
- Irish Wolfhound: 6 to 8 years
- St. Bernard - 8 to 10 years
- The American Naturalist: The Size-Life Span Trade-off Decomposed: Why Large Dogs Die Young
- American Kennel Club: Chihuahua
- American Kennel Club: Chinese Crested
- Animal Health Center: Chinese Crested
- American Kennel Club: Australian Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd Club of America: Is An Aussie Right for You?
- American Kennel Club: Cocker Spaniel
- American Spaniel Club: Choosing a Cocker
- American Kennel Club: Welsh Springer Spaniel
- American Kennel Club: Belgian Malinois
- American Kennel Club: Giant Schnauzer
- American Kennel Club: Rottweiler
- American Rottweiler Club: Owning a Rottweiler
- American Kennel Club: Akita
- Akita Club of America: Breed History
- American Kennel Club: Pug
- Pug Dog Club of America: Get To Know The Pug
- American Kennel Club: Dachshund
- American Kennel Club: Great Dane
- American Kennel Club: Bernese Mountain Dog
- American Kennel Club: Mastiff
- American Kennel Club: Irish Wolfhound
- American Kennel Club: St. Bernard