Lifespan of Canine Breeds

When it comes to canine lifespans, bigger is not better. In fact, it's far worse. Small dogs have much longer lifespans than giant canines, in some cases living twice as long. Whatever type of dog you have, remember the old adage: "There's only one thing wrong with dogs -- they don't live long enough."


Weight, Not Height

When thinking in terms of size and breed longevity, consider the weight, not the height. Although some of the tallest breeds are also among the heaviest, some shorter dogs can also weigh quite a bit. As a general rule, the heavier the dog, the shorter its life will be. Although that rule refers to breeds, your dog will likely live longer if kept at a healthy weight for his size. Don't let him become obese.


According to the website PetMD, approximately 40 percent of small breeds live more than 10 years, but that's true of only 13 percent of giant breeds. Expect a medium-sized dog, weighing about 50 pounds, to live to the age of 12.

Longest Lifespans

Small, non-brachycephalic breeds are your best bet for canine longevity. Brachycephalic means "short head," so these dogs might not live as long because of breathing problems. Long-lived breeds -- 15 years and up -- include the toy and miniature poodle, Boston and Yorkshire terrier, Mexican hairless, miniature schnauzer, Maltese and Pomeranian.

Shortest Lifespans

Irish wolfhounds generally don't reach their seventh birthday, while that age is the limit for the Bernese mountain dog. Great Danes and bull mastiffs typically die off after age 8, while the Rhodesian ridgeback, Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher, Scottish deerhound and flat-coated retriever often pass away at age 9.

By Jane Meggitt

About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.