What is the Average Lifespan of a Dog?

The average lifespan of a dog can vary from breed to breed as well as from dog to dog. Some breeds tend to live longer than others while some breeds have a relatively short lifespan, at least compared to other dogs. Just like humans, no one can predict how long a dog will live.

In addition to breed type, good health, a safe and clean living environment, regular wellness exams, preventative care, proper diet and nutrition, plenty of clean water, and how much activity your dog enjoys each day all plays a role in their healthy and longevity. A dog’s gender can also play a role in a dog’s lifespan too, believe it or not.

Of course, even with the best living conditions and care, there is no guarantee your dog will live to be an old timer. There are certain things in life that simply can’t be foreseen, including things like major illness and trauma. It’s hard to think about losing your beloved canine someday, but it’s a reality all pet owners have to eventually face if they take on the commitment of canine companionship. We will almost always outlive our dogs.

Size Matters When Estimating a Dog’s Average Lifespan

One thing to keep in mind that makes predicting a dog’s average lifespan even harder, is the prevalence of so many mixed breeds now out there. You can’t just rely on the numbers for one breed type, since your dog may be a blend of several breeds with varying average lifespans. If you have a mixed breed dog, you will have to roughly estimate your dog’s potential lifespan based on his weight. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs.

The bigger the dog, the shorter their lives. It’s thought that small dogs may live 11 years or more, while medium to large dogs may live up to 11 years or so. The larger they are, the more that number may shrink, with dogs over 90 pounds averaging even less than 11 years.

This discrepancy is something that has confounded experts for a long time. Contrary to other large animals in the animal kingdom, in dogs, a bigger size does not equal a longer lifespan. Whereas mammals like whales and elephants live an exceptionally long time for their size and mammals like rats barely make it as long as 2 years.

If you think in terms of humans, the same rule tends to apply. People that are smaller and carry less weight around, often outlive people that carry around a lot of excess weight for their frame, because overweight people experience more health issues. A dog’s life is very different from a human’s in many ways. Dogs life shorter lifespans, their growth and sexual maturity happens at an accelerated rate, and even their pregnancies are much shorter than a human pregnancy, clocking in at only 2 months long.

That’s one reason larger dogs are thought to have shorter lives than smaller dogs, because they grow so quickly from puppies into “adults.” It’s speculated that the fast rate of growth may also accelerate the development of diseases related to age, and increase a dog’s potential for experiencing abnormal cell growth. Abnormal cell growth often winds up progressing into canine cancer. In many cases, cancer is a death sentence for a dog, no matter their age.

Average Lifespans for Small-Sized Dogs

Most experts seem to agree that the average span of life for small breed dogs is roughly 10-15 years. Of course, there are some breeds and individual dogs that live even longer than that, sometimes even up into their 20s. Even the shortest lifespan of smaller breed dogs will often exceed the lifespan of larger breed dogs. This is why smaller dogs are often chosen for companionship, especially with older adults and seniors. Not only are they easier to take on walks and care for, they live longer as well.

Keep in mind that teacup and toy breeds may actually have a shorter lifespan than other small dogs, simply because they are bred down to be such a small size, which can open them up to a variety of health issues they wouldn’t normally have to face as a small dog. In fact, there are many reputable breeders who now refuse to breed a dog smaller than 4 pounds, largely because of the increased risk of health problems the dog may face.

Some of the small breeds with long lifespans include Terriers,Yorkshire Terriers, Russell Terriers, Manchester Terriers, and Lakeland Terriers, Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers, and Rat Terriers all live on average between 13-15 years or more. Small breeds like Dachshunds, Maltese, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, English Toy Spaniels, and the Chinese Crested all live an average lifespan of 12-17 years. Meanwhile, Toy Poodles, Pekingnese, and Pugs may live an average lifespan of 11-13 years.

Average Lifespans for Medium-Sized Dogs

Medium-sized dogs have a longer lifespan than larger dogs as well, although as with any size or breed, no one can predict how long your dog will live. Averages and estimates are just that, averages and estimates. Weight seems to be one of the biggest factors in determining how long a dog may live, with some studies showing that dogs that are slightly underweight may actually live longer than their more plump counterparts, even if they are the same breed and age. Small and toy breeds usually clock in at 20 pounds or less, but medium-sized breeds usually weigh anywhere from 20-50 pounds.

Anything over 50 pounds is considered a large breed dog. If a dog is over 90 pounds they are considered a “giant” breed. Boxers, Pit Bulls, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Standard Poodles, and Chow Chows are all medium-breed dogs with an average lifespan ranging from 10-15 years. The same goes for breeds like Australian Shepherds, Whippets, Chinese Shar-Pei, French Bulldogs, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Pulis, and Welsh Springer Spaniels, all averaging a lifespan anywhere from 10-15 years in length.

Average Lifespans for Large and Giant-Sized Dogs

Obviously, the larger the dog, the more they weigh. The more they weigh, the shorter their lifespan will likely be. Large breed dogs like Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Giant Schnauzers, Newfoundlands, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Scottish Deerhounds, and German Shepherds can be expected to average anywhere from 10-12 years of life.