A lot of dog enthusiasts pick their four-legged friends for their unique personalities or because of positive experiences with certain breeds. Yet, more and more people are focusing on selecting the healthiest dog breeds with the goal of enjoying precious moments together for as long as possible. In most cases, the healthiest dog breeds exhibit high levels of activity and vitality, regardless of their size. These breeds often owe their robust health to careful and responsible breeding practices, where breeders conduct thorough screenings for genetic conditions.
Related: How Long Do Dogs Live?
Healthiest Small Dog Breeds
It's pretty common to see smaller dog breeds living longer than the big ones, but there are a few small breeds that really take the cake for being super healthy and living longer than others. A lot of it comes down to their genes, how well they're bred, and getting the right kind of care, which all add up to them living longer lives than similar breeds.
Chihuahuas are so small that they're actually known as a toy breed (weighing 5–6 pounds on average). Most small dogs are known to live longer than their larger counterparts, but this breed takes that to a new level. Their average lifespan is about 12 years, but many have been known to live up to 20. Reputable breeders screen for heart disease, patella conditions, and ophthalmic diseases.
Chihuahuas are prone to obesity so it's important to portion their food appropriately each day.
The havanese breed has been known to be a loving companion for many years. They're generally healthy, with a long lifespan spanning over 14 years. Responsible breeders screen for patellar luxation, heart murmurs, and eye disorders. Your breeder may also recommend an annual eye exam to check for progressive retinal atrophy.
The havanese is the only dog breed native to Cuba.
The bichon frise is a small dog with tons of energy. Fortunately, their small size means they use up more energy to go just as far as a large dog breed. They're known to be playful and loving as a companion breed, and they often live to be 14–15 years old. Their main health issue is diabetes mellitus, which affects their blood sugar levels, but with the right medicine and care, it can be managed well, and they can live a long, healthy life.
Healthiest Medium Dog Breeds
If you're looking for a medium-sized dog who is known to be generally healthy, you're in luck. These medium-sized breeds, thanks to their active lifestyles, often enjoy longer, healthier lives with the right care and nutrition.
If you're looking for a long-living hound dog, look no further. The beagle's average lifespan ranges between 10 and 15 years. They enjoy pretty much everything you do, whether it's going for a hike, wandering along the shoreline of a beach, or chilling on the couch.
Beagles will eat any time they get the chance, and their noses will guide them to the dinner plate, so keep an eye out.
The border collie is a hardy and healthy dog breed. Reputable breeders perform hip and ophthalmologist evaluations before pups are in the picture to ensure they're not passed down. Aside from these conditions, there's one more condition to be aware of: collie eye anomaly, which is inherited and may cause blindness. In most cases, their average lifespan is between 12 and 14 years.
The basenji has been around for ages, and they've even been found in ancient Egypt. The only condition they're prone to tends to be Fanconi syndrome, a kidney and urinary tract disorder. Fortunately, responsible breeders screen for this with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to prevent passing this condition on to future generations.
Greyhounds are robust dogs known to be the fastest dogs in the world, which is why they're often associated with racing. They have an average lifespan of 11–12 years, which is pretty high for a medium-sized dog breed. They're not really prone to any conditions aside from the regular ones associated with large-breed dogs. Musculoskeletal conditions or neurological conditions can develop in greyhounds, but medication can usually help out with those.
Responsible greyhound breeders screen for cardiac and eye issues to ensure they're kept out of the gene pool.
The aussie, AKA Australian shepherd, has tons of energy, which means they get a lot of exercise on a regular basis. This is thought to contribute to their long life span. Aussies who are kept active are more likely to maintain higher levels of health. Their average lifespan ranges from 12-15 years, but some have been known to live up to 18 years.
German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer is an active breed commonly chosen in the hunting community. They're known as GSPs by those of us in the dog world and have the right amount of both speed and stamina to keep up with their hunting companions. Although generally healthy, they are prone to conditions found in many medium and large breeds, including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and bloat.
The GSP's average lifespan is 13 years which is impressive given their size.
The shiba inu is a fun breed with a big personality. They're incredibly intelligent and prefer to stay active whenever possible. Although generally healthy, they do sometimes develop arthritis as they get older. They typically live 12–15 years on average, but some shibas have surpassed the age of 16.
Healthiest Large Dog Breeds
Large dog breeds usually have a lifespan ranging from 7 to 9 years, but the breeds mentioned below defy this average, often living up to 12 years. This extended lifespan is quite remarkable for dogs of a larger size, as they generally have shorter life expectancies due to various health challenges associated with their size.
Old English Sheepdog
The old English sheepdog isn't a super popular dog, but they should be. With their adorable shaggy coat and love of people, these dogs enjoy a long list of activities regardless of the weather. There is one condition they're prone to, known as exercise-induced collapse, which happens when they're pushed too hard. But responsible breeders always test for this condition before breeding their dogs. Aside from that, they typically live between 10 and 12 years. That's pretty long for a big breed.
Anatolian shepherds can be intimidating to many dog owners due to their giant body stature. But that's what you expect from a dog that was bred to guard their homes. Even though they're absolutely huge, they're usually pretty calm and good with people, as long as they're socialized early on.
Surprisingly, unlike most other giant breeds, the anatolian shepherd isn't genetically prone to hip dysplasia or bloat. The only condition they seem to be prone to is entropion, which occurs when the eyelids invert. This is an easy fix if they do develop it, often fully recovering following surgery. Due to their lack of health problems, this breed lives 11–13 years on average.
To keep the incidence of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia low in their population, they should still be screened before being bred.
Reputable poodle breeders screen for hip dysplasia and eye disorders, which can help with your pet's longevity. This active dog breed, with a lifespan of over 12 years, makes a wonderful companion animal. And they're hypoallergenic, so they're a good choice for dog lovers with allergies.
The poodle comes in three sizes, including the standard, miniature, and toy poodle.
Why Some Dog Breeds Are Healthier Than Others
Every breeding pair undergoes detailed health assessments and tests as part of a responsible breeding program. Breeders carry out these specific tests to identify and prevent health issues from being passed on to future generations. For example, breeds known for hip problems are carefully screened — those with a high likelihood of passing on these issues to their offspring are not bred. This proactive approach helps maintain and improve the breed's health as a whole, so the negative traits can be stopped in their tracks.
Then, there are some breeds that are inherently healthier, with a lower risk for genetic disorders. These breeds, due to their unique genetic makeup, tend to pass on fewer health problems to future generations. This natural strength contributes to the overall longevity of these breeds, making them a preferred choice for pet parents looking for healthy pups.
Longest-Living Dog Breeds
A handful of dogs have been known to live to unbelievable ages. These breeds are known to be healthier than others in the same weight class. Although scientists aren't completely certain of the reason for this, some have presented the theory of chromosomes having a huge role in longevity (aside from environmental factors like nutrition and care level).
Blue heelers have amazed scientists and dog lovers alike with their longevity. If you've been digging deep into the dog world, you may have heard of a dog named Bluey. She is in the Guiness Book of World Records for living to the ripe old age of 29.
Related: Blue Heeler Facts & Fun Trivia
Rafiero do Alentejo
In October 2023, there was a dog that beat Bluey as the longest-lived breed in the world. Bobi, a rafeiro do alentejo, lived to be 31 years old. This dog breed is well-known for their spectacular health. The only risk they're known to be a part of is hip dysplasia. And that can be screened to keep the chances low.
If you're considering this dog breed, it's important to learn about them extensively beforehand. The rafeiro do alentejo is a wonderful guard dog known for bravery and calmness, but they're not a dog breed that should be adopted by beginners.
Related: Meet the World's Oldest Dogs
The healthiest dog breeds typically live a long life, and some companion animals may live over 15 years. The reason is simple. A reputable breeder with an excellent breeding program screens the parents for health conditions. Certain breeds are known to be extremely or generally healthy, with few genetic health issues.