How Long Is A Normal Dog Lifespan?

A dog with long lifespan shows greying around the muzzle

How long is a dog lifespan? It almost doesn’t bear thinking about. A dog’s life is far too short. There are few things lovelier than the knowing look in the eyes of a grey-muzzled dog.

1. A dog lifespan is a blip in time

Dogs’ lives are six to twelve times shorter than ours. It’s a recipe for heartache. 

2. The mongrel advantage

Pure bred dogs suffer from health problems earlier, and generally die younger than mixed breeds. It’s known as hybrid vigor in dogs. In-breeding produces genetic weaknesses that cross-breed dogs don’t have. 

3. Dog with shortest lifespan?

Some breeds live much longer than others. Whereas a French mastiff gets a brief five-year window, a miniature poodle can be by your side for more than 14 years. Jack Russells and whippets also enjoy long lives.

4. What dog has longest lifespan? 

In general, smaller dogs live longer than large ones. Take Chihuahuas, for example. This diminutive pooch is often considered the longest lived breed, capable of reaching an impressive 16 years or more.  

5. Fear cuts short a dog’s lifespan

One study found dogs with a fear of strangers died significantly earlier than well-adjusted pups. It doesn’t take much to see how the stress of living with anxiety could cause ill-health.

6. Less food means a longer life

15-year study of Labradors found feeding less food didn’t slow the onset of ageing. But it did increase the length of life. I’ll take it. 

7. 11 years, one month = the average dog lifespan

A 1999 study of 3000 British dogs discovered that the mean age at death (for all breeds, from all causes) was 11 years, one month. 

A mere 8 per cent of dogs lived beyond 15 years. 

By contrast, 64 per cent died of disease, or were put down as a result of disease.

8. What do most dogs die from?

Many illnesses that curtail the lives of dogs are the canine equivalents of human diseases. Cancer, for instance. Or obesity. It’s hardly surprising, given how closely the two species live together. 

Dogs and humans evolved alongside one another, intertwined. Both species, for instance, underwent natural selection with the advent of modern agriculture. Evolution favored dogs and humans who were able to adapt from their hunter-gatherer existence and develop the ability to digest the starch-rich diets that came with the new way of life. 

In modern times, dogs and humans share the same environment and lifestyle. We are exposed to the same pollutants and household chemicals. 

For better or worse (mostly worse so far), humans are responsible for the dietary choices of both species. Homo sapiens have been terrible at eating healthily. Unfortunately, we make the same mistakes with our pets.

It’s a bit old now but this study looked at the leading cause of death in dogs of 82 different breeds over 20 years. 

9. Lifespan for dog by breed

Check out the average lifespan of dog breeds in this dog life expectancy chart

Beagle                                   12 years

Bernese mountain dog    7 years

Boxer                                      8 years 

Bulldog                                  6 years

Cocker spaniel                     10 years

German shepherd                9 years

Golden retriever                   12 years

Great Dane                             6 years

Irish wolfhound                     6 years

Labrador                                 12 years

Mastiff                                      6 years

Miniature poodle                  14 years

Pug                                           10 years

Rottweiler                                9 years

Standard poodle                   11 years

10. The kibble-fed dog’s lifespan

Keep in mind that expectations around dog lifespans are all drawn, inevitably, from the general dog population.

What does this mean? 

It means we’re talking about lifespans achieved by predominantly kibble fed dogs. In other words, it’s a bit like saying: how long do humans live when you feed them fast food every day of their lives? 

In conclusion: How to make your dog live longer

Rather than lament how short your dog’s life might be, be proactive. Controlling what you can control is how to help your dog live longer. 

Above all, do your research on dog nutrition. Consider carefully whether highly processed food is the healthiest option. After all, as for humans, what you put in your dog’s body daily is the single most powerful determinant of his long term health. 

More reading

Mucus in dog’s poop: Why it’s not always a bad sign

Neutering: Why the old advice is wrong