How Long Dogs Live & Tips for a Longer, Healthier Life

Find out what the average lifespans are for common dog breeds and what factors can help you keep your dog with you as long as possible.

Updated January 23, 2024
Old dog enjoys being petted by a young boy

How long is my dog going to be with me? That's what many dog lovers want to know. It's a basic question that affects all dog owners, new and old, and the answer is one that differs greatly among breeds. Most experts agree that smaller breeds typically have a longer lifespan than large breeds of dogs, but as with everything in life, there are exceptions to every rule.

Larger Dog Breeds Tend to Have Shorter Lifespans

Many of the large-breed dogs have a life expectancy of about six to ten years. Giant, large, and bulky breeds of dogs typically have the shortest lifespans.

These breeds include:

These breeds, more so than any other size dog, tend to age quickly as they progress from rambunctious, energetic puppies into docile adults in a matter of about three years. After the third year, they can start showing signs of fatigue, bone disease, a weakened heart, and, in some cases, cancer.

Dogs Breeds With the Shortest Lifespans

The breeds most commonly associated with the shortest lifespans include:

  • Irish wolfhounds
  • Great danes
  • Bernese mountain dogs
  • Bloodhounds
  • Bullmastiffs

These breeds are considered elderly by age six, and it's somewhat rare for them to live beyond eight years.

Small and Medium Dog Breeds Tend to Live Longer

Small to medium-sized dogs, both pure-bred and mixed, have a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years in most cases, although many will live to 16 or beyond if their owners take good care of them. Generally speaking, toy breeds and terrier breeds often live well into their teens if they are fed a proper diet and receive regular, routine veterinary care.

Senior woman with her dog

Smaller dogs live longer than larger dogs because of the speed at which large dogs grow. This growth acceleration can lead to dogs aging faster than smaller dogs. Diseases like cancer affect medium- to large-sized dogs sooner in their lifespan compared to small dogs.

The average lifespans of some of the most popular dog breeds are:

How Can You Help Your Dog Live Longer?

If you're wondering how long your dog has left to live, it's important to realize that a wide variety of factors beyond size can impact lifespan expectations.


Certain breeds of dogs are susceptible to hereditary diseases and health conditions that can impact their health and, ultimately, their lifespan. For example, great danes, standard poodles, German shepherds, and akitas are at higher risk of dying from bloat. Chinese shar-peis are prone to developing amyloidosis, and cavaliers and doberman pinschers are often victims of early-onset heart disease.

Owners can help improve a dog's chances of living beyond their expectancy if they learn about the health risks associated with the breed(s) and adjust their lifestyle to suit the dog's needs. For example, it's wiser to avoid strenuous activity with breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia. Although x-raying the joints will show how well an individual dog's ball and sockets are formed, avoiding unnecessary stress may prevent arthritis from setting in. Light exercise should be enough to keep such breeds moving well.

Related: Do Mixed-Breed Dogs Live Longer?


Another factor that can affect the lifespan of a dog is how it is cared for. Dogs that are kept outside all year may possibly have a shorter lifespan than dogs that are kept inside the house. The constant stress of exposure to the elements, regardless of the type of shelter provided, can wear a dog down long before their time.

Outside dogs are also at risk of developing diseases or health maladies that may go undetected by their owners since they're not in as close contact with them as they would be with an indoor dog. Likewise, outside dogs are more likely to suffer from flea and tick infestations, which can take a tremendous toll on a dog's health.

Need to Know

Insufficient food and water also affect a dog in cases where forgetful owners become neglectful, and this is regardless of whether a dog is kept inside or outside.

High-Quality Food and Exercise

If your dog has high-quality food and daily exercise, they're more likely to live longer than a dog of a similar size and breed that does not. 

Airedale terrier running

The World's Oldest Dog

The dog that holds the record for world's oldest dog is an Australian cattle dog named Bluey. Bluey lived to the ripe old age of 29-1/2. However, many believe a dog named Maggie was the oldest dog, but her owner did not have the paperwork to back up his claim. Maggie was an Australian kelpie who lived until the age of 30.

Related: Meet the World's Oldest Dogs

Healthiest Dog Breeds

If you're searching for the healthiest dog breeds, we've compiled 10 that made the list, including:

What many of these breeds have in common is that they are all active and ready to exercise at any given point in time. They've also been around long enough for scientists to develop tests to screen for genetic conditions, so they aren't passed on to future generations.

Related: The Healthiest Dog Breeds That Make Excellent Pets

Mixed-Breed Dogs

Research has shown mixed-breed dogs have fewer incidences of genetically-related disorders but no significant differences overall in terms of health between mixed-breed and purebred dogs. However, inbred purebred dogs can suffer from significantly more health problems because of poor breeding practices.

Need to Know

Inbred dogs generally have a shorter lifespan than average due to a higher occurrence of health issues, although the exact life expectancy varies with each dog and litter.

Cats' Vs. Dogs' Lifespan

Cats appear to live longer than dogs, but they generally live similar lifespans to small-size and toy dogs. The typical cat lives about 14–15 years. It's theorized that one reason cats appear to live longer is that there is far less variation among cat breeds compared to dogs.

Woman Holding Cat And Dog At Home

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Dog

An emotional connection with its owner is a vital ingredient in every dog's lifespan. Dogs have a need to bond with their owners. If they don't receive the emotional connection they crave, their health can suffer. Of course, feeding your dog high-quality food, giving them plenty of fresh water to drink, providing regular veterinary visits, and maintaining their hygiene are all essential to giving your dog the life they deserve. If you can provide these basic requirements, they will go a long way toward maximizing your dog's lifespan.

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How Long Dogs Live & Tips for a Longer, Healthier Life