As much as we don’t want to think about it, we will eventually have to learn to live without our dogs.
A dog's lifespan is naturally much less than ours, and it’s important that we help them to live their best lives while we are lucky enough to have them.
But what is the average dog lifespan, and how can we increase their longevity and their quality of life while they’re on this earth?
Join the WINPRO Pet team as we discuss everything you want to know about your pet, but are afraid to ask.
Lifespan Is a Guessing Game
As much as we wish that there was a way to scan your dog and know exactly how long they’re going to live, that science just isn’t there… yet, anyway.
The best that we can do is look at the average lifespan of the breeds of dogs that scientists have studied, and make some basic assumptions.
What we do know is that, overall, the average dog lifespan is around 10 - 13 years. For larger breed dogs, that number decreases by a few years (for instance, “giant” breed dogs live around eight years, maximum). Smaller dogs, on the other hand, can live longer than that average (potentially up to 16 years).
Here are a few of the more common breeds with their accepted average lifespan:
- Basset Hounds - 11 years
- Bernese Mountain Dog - 8 years
- Border Collie - 13 years
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi - 13 years
- Doberman - 10 years
- German Shepherd dogs - 10 years
- Golden Retriever - 12 years
- Great Dane - 7 years
- Jack Russell - 13 years
- Labrador Retriever - 12 years
- Maltese - 12 years
- Miniature Schnauzer - 12 years
- Pomeranian - 10 years
- Poodle - 12 years
- Pug - 11 years
- Saint Bernard - 8 years
- Shih Tzu - 13 years
- Toy Poodle - 12 years
- Yorkshire Terrier - 13 years
Keep in mind, this list is just for purebred dogs.
Longest Living Dog Breeds
When it comes to breeds with the longest of the dog lifespans, the conversation has to start with the chihuahua.
Compared to large dogs, smaller dogs have an edge due to a relatively low amount of genetic predispositions, which can help them live as long as 20 years! Dachshunds are similar, with the oldest known coming in at an impressive 21 years old.
Unfortunately, they are more prone to obesity and back problems, which can shorten their lifespan considerably. Pomeranians, Yorkies, Maltese, Shih Tzus, and Jack Russels make the list.
Medium breed dogs don’t get totally left out, though, as they can also generally live long lives. Shiba Inus can have quite a long lifespan, with an average life expectancy of around 15 years, similar to Australian Cattle Dogs. While they don’t live as long as small breed dogs, it really is the quality of life that matters and not necessarily how long they can live.
What About Mixed Breed Dogs?
So much of what we know about the average breed lifespan comes from studying purebred dog breeds. But what if you, like so many other people in the US, are the proud owner of a mixed breed dog?
While there isn’t really an exact science to it, you can make some basic assumptions about the average dog lifespan of your precious pet by taking their weight into account. If you have done a genetic test, or if you know the breeds that your dog has likely come from, that can help you make an educated guess.
Generally speaking, dogs that weigh in at under 20 lbs. live an average of 11 years, as do medium to large sized dogs (under 90 lbs.). Giant breed dogs, however, live an average of 8 years. That average continues to increase as the years go on, likely due to a focus on better, more efficient veterinary care.
What About “Dog Years”?
Most people have heard of the concept of measuring a dog’s life not in human years but in “dog years.” The general concept is that a single dog year is equal to seven human years.
Unfortunately, that isn’t a fact that is supported by actual science. It seems to be founded on the average dog lifespan years ago, which was a ratio of 7:1 (with humans averaging about 70 years, and dogs just 10), and was likely a marketing campaign instead of real, hard science to equate dog ages to humans.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has a slightly more complicated but science-based calculation.
For the average, medium sized dog, their first year of life is equal to 15 of ours, from infancy through early teens. Their next year is another nine human years, taking them to their early 20s. After that, each dog year is about five human years.
But do dog years really matter when it comes to a dog's lifespan? The answer is yes. Mostly, that guide can help you to understand when your dog may have advanced into the “senior” phase of their lives, which requires more care, understanding, and specific support to keep them as healthy, happy, and comfortable as they can be.
If humans are considered to be senior around 65 or 70 years old, the typical small dog would hit that around 12 or 13, while a giant breed dog would only be eight or nine.
Just because your dog has become a senior, doesn’t mean that you have to immediately prepare for the worst.
Now, more than ever, there are plenty of products out there to help keep them comfortable even in their advanced age. Urinary incontinence, arthritis, or hip pain doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your dog.
How Can You Help Potentially Extend Your Dog’s Lifespan?
Now, to the question you’re really here for! There really is no time that is long enough to get to enjoy our precious pets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work hard to keep them with us for as long as possible.
Besides spaying and neutering a pup at a relatively young age which can positively affect a dog’s lifespan, there are other steps you can take to increase the likelihood your pet will live a long and quality-filled life.
The number one factor that you have control of as a pet owner is your dog’s nutrition. A great place to start is with a trip to your veterinarian. Different breeds of dogs, different sizes of dogs, different activities and ages… all of these scenarios require a different, customized diet.
The right diet can also help to keep your dog at a healthy weight, which is important because obesity in dogs can lead to a whole host of other health conditions that can shorten their life. Supplements that help support your dog can and should be considered, too.
Exercise is also important… as long as you’re doing it in appropriate amounts. You don’t want to push your dog too hard, but some exercise is necessary every day to keep your dog both mentally and physically healthy.
As they get older, focus on helping them stay pain-free by changing up the types of exercise you do. You may even consider things like hydrotherapy or swimming in general, which allows them to get exercise without having to put as much pressure on their aging bones and joints.
Knowing the average lifespan of your dog can help you make good choices when it comes to taking care of them.
Although larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans compared to smaller breeds, there are steps you can take to ensure your companions live a quality life. While our dogs are never around as long as we’d like them to be, we can increase their quality of life so that every year counts.
After all, without them, where would we be? It’s one way that we can return the favor for all the unconditional love they give us.
WINPRO Pet understands the love between an owner and their pet, and wants to help you give your pet the best life… because they deserve it.