How Long Does a Dog Live?

By Carole Ann

The life expectancy of dogs varies. Assuming that your dog is in good health, has routine veterinarian care and proper nutrition, the average lifespan is around 12 years. Many factors can influence how long your dog will live.

The Breed

Large breeds usually have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs, because their bodies have to work harder. For example, a St. Bernard may live 7 to 11 years, while a chihuahua can live 15 to 18 years.


Your dog could develop an illness that shortens her life. Parvo virus, distemper, Addison's disease, pyometra and Cushing's disease are all examples of treatable conditions that could ultimately be fatal.

Genetic Diseases

Your dog could have genetic factors that cause disease, such as diabetes, which could shorten his life expectancy. Tumors and cancer are problems that cannot be foreseen or prevented.

Accidents or Injuries

The risk of accidents or injuries is always present. You can "dog proof" your home by making sure your dog does not have access to toxins or items that can become lodged in her throat or block her intestines. Do not let your dog roam freely, since this increases her risk of being hit by a vehicle.

Proper Health Care

None of us can predict with any great accuracy how long a dog will live. You can help keep your dog healthy by taking her for regular physical examinations and keeping her vaccinations up to date. Proper nutrition and exercise can contribute to a long life.