How Long Will Your Dog Live?

The average North American and European dog today will live about 12.8 years, a significant increase over the last 100 years due to improved living conditions and medical care. However, dogs still have significantly shorter lifespans than humans. Estimating potential lifespan is an important concern in choosing a dog that's right for your family, and in properly taking care of your dog to maximize his or her longevity.

Estimating Lifespan according to Your Dog's Breed

Generally speaking, smaller breeds live 1.5 times longer than do larger breeds, due to physical stresses placed on larger dogs. Female dogs generally live two years longer than male dogs, too. If owners are forewarned that a particular breed will not live as long as another, they can take pro-active measures in preparing themselves and family members emotionally for any eventualities concerning a breed's shorter life expectancy.

The following list, compiled by the American Kennel Club, includes breed and average life expectancy:

  • Labrador Retriever (12.5 years)
  • Yorkshire Terrier (14 years)
  • German Shepherd Dog (11 years)
  • Golden Retriever (12 years)
  • Beagle (13 years)
  • Boxer (10.5 years)
  • Dachshund (15.5 years)
  • Bulldog (7 years)
  • Poodle (12 years Standard) (15 years Miniature)
  • Shih Tzu (13 years)
  • Miniature Schnauzer (14 years)
  • Chihuahua (13.5)
  • Pomeranian (15 years)
  • Rottweiler (10 years)
  • Pug (13.5 years)
  • German Shorthaired Pointer (13 years)
  • Boston Terrier (13 years)
  • Doberman Pinscher (10 years)
  • Shetland Sheepdog (13.5 years)
  • Maltese (14 years)
  • Cocker Spaniel (12 years)
  • Great Dane (8.5 years)
  • Siberian Husky (12 years)
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi (13 years)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (10 years)

A Common Misconception about Calculating "Dog Years"

A popular misconception is that one "dog year" equals seven "people years" in terms of age, leading many to erroneously calculate life expectancy by multiplying 7 times their dog's chronological age. In reality, dogs age much faster than people do, especially during the first two years; however, the statistical gap closes as a dog ages. An improved method of estimation equates the first dog year with 15 people years, and the second dog year with 24 people years. After two years of age, an increase of one dog year would equate to roughly four people years. Calculations based on these values should be more accurate.

Longevity in Dogs a Function of More than Statistics

The answer to the question "how long will my dog live?" is more than just a number. Like people, dogs pass through three basic life stages-youth, middle age and old age, exhibiting behavior and health characteristics of each. You can monitor where your dog falls on that continuum in order to provide age-appropriate care, and perhaps lengthen your dog's lifespan. You can increase the probability your dog will live longer by doing the following:

  • Spaying and neutering your dog, which prevents cancer and other diseases of the reproductive organs
  • Providing high-quality, nutritional dog food
  • Insuring your dog gets plenty of exercise, which prevents obesity and associated life-threatening conditions
  • Caring for your dog in a warm and nurturing environment, which enhances mental health that in turns enhances physical well-being
  • Staying current on your dog's vaccinations
  • Faithfully following your dog's dental health regimen, which prevents decay that can cause heart disease

Remember: Different breeds age at different rates and in different ways, too. You should talk to your vet about breed-specific characteristics that could shorten or lengthen your dog's lifespan.