November 15, 2019

Owning a dog can give you one of the most rewarding relationships of your life. Your dog is going to give you unconditional love and companionship. However people, unfortunately, live longer than dogs do, and for some potential dog owners, life expectancy needs to be taken into account before getting a puppy.

What Determines A Dog’s Lifespan?

There are a number of factors that can determine how long a dog can live. Owners can influence this by providing the right care and environment, but other factors are predetermined by genetics.

Breed

a group of dogs standing on a green table. All 5 dogs are different breeds and colors

The first factor in determining lifespan is the breed of the dog. Some breeds live longer than others. Small breed dogs tend to live longer than large breed dogs. In fact, one veterinary study found that dogs under 20 pounds could live up to around 20 years old, while dogs weighing 90 pounds or more generally lived until around 8 years old.

Some breeds are also predisposed to certain health ailments and illnesses, and these can impact how long a dog will live.

Environment

Environmental factors also affect a dog’s life expectancy. For one thing, indoor pets tend to live longer than outdoor pets. This is because living outside can expose the dog to extreme heat, frosts, and cold temperatures. They can also be exposed to other stresses, such as territorial stress. Stress can age a dog more quickly which can reduce his life expectancy.

Other environmental factors should also be considered, such as the dog’s exposure to toxins and chemicals. Dogs and other animals are much lower to the ground than we are, and they also spend a lot of their time sniffing the ground and air. This can mean that Fido is exposed to much more of the pollutants and residues than we are.

Dogs also lick themselves, which means that if there are any toxins or pollutants on his fur, he will ingest it. Ingesting these sorts of chemicals can cause illness, and can be fatal.

Care

A young Labrador retriever at the vet

The general care a dog receives will affect his life expectancy. This includes everything from feeding and grooming to his routine health care and exercise regime. Dogs who are fed good quality food, regularly groomed, routinely exercised and kept in generally good health will live longer than dogs who are not.

There is also some evidence that suggests that ensuring your dog has enough mental stimulation and an emotional connection with you can extend his life expectancy. Boredom and loneliness can place additional stress on a dog, which can reduce his lifespan.

Studies have also shown that giving your dog a good quality bed will help them to live a longer, healthier life. A dog that spends the majority of their time sleeping on the floor can begin to acquire problems in their joints and hip versus a dog that has a bed that aids in muscle and joint recovery.

Inbreeding Vs. Crossbreeding

Inbreeding can cause a host of problems, and a shorter life expectancy is only one of them. As the dog is getting genetic material from two related dogs, health problems can become exacerbated.

Crossbreeding is something entirely different. Crossbreeding is when two breeds of dog are mated to produce puppies. Crossbred dogs have fewer health problems than pedigree dogs, and inbred dogs. As a result of their more diverse genes, they tend to have a much longer lifespan as well.

Dog Years Vs Human Years

You may have heard that one human year is the equivalent of seven dog years, but it isn’t entirely true. Age calculations can depend on breeding, size, and weight.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed breed dogs can often have their average life spans measured using age calculations. As a general rule, the first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to 15 years of human life, the second year is equivalent to 9 years, and every year after that is equivalent to 5 years. However, giant breeds age faster, so their first year is equivalent to 12 years, their second year is equivalent to 10 years, and subsequent years are equivalent to 7 years.

Weight is also important for age calculations. Small breed dogs are 9.5kg or less, medium breed dogs are 9.6kg to 22kg, large breed dogs are 23kg to 40kg and giant breeds are over 40kg.

Dog Breeds with Longer Life Spans

A Red and white australian cattle dog

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are often cited as being the longest-lived breed of dog. In fact, there is a chihuahua on the Guinness World Records list of the longest living dogs. While Megabyte holds the record for longest-lived chihuahua at 20 years and 265 days, the average lifespan of a chihuahua is 15 - 18 years.

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dogs are medium-sized, high energy dogs. They have an average life expectancy of 13-16 years. However, the longest-lived dog on record at Guinness World Records is an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey. Bluey passed away at 29 years and 160 day

Dachshund

Dachshunds are small, fun-loving dogs. The oldest dachshund on record passed away at 21 years and 114 days. The average lifespan is 12 - 16 years.

Beagle

Beagles make fantastic family pets and have an average lifespan of 12 - 17 years. The longest-lived beagle lived to just under 28 years.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are incredible little dogs. They’re very popular, but they are high energy. They have an average lifespan of 13-15 years. The longest living Jack Russell Terrier lived to 20 years and 106 days.

Tips To Help Your Dog Live Longer

Regardless of your dog’s breeding, there are some things that you can do to help him live longer.

Healthy Diet

Feeding your dog a healthy diet can help your dog live longer. You should avoid any dog foods that contain ‘meat by-products’, excessive sodium, sugars, and any fillers that are not nutritionally necessary.

You should also make sure that you don’t overfeed your dog, and maintain a healthy weight. Overweight dogs can live an average of two years less than dogs with a healthy weight.

Spay/Neuter

Spaying or neutering your dog can increase his/her lifespan by up to three years. Neutering eliminates or lowers the risk of some illnesses and certain types of cancer. It can also help curb some unwanted behaviors and prevents unwanted litters of puppies. Some veterinarians recommend waiting until your dog is between 6 - 9 months before neutering, although others recommend neutering at 8 weeks.

Exercise

Regular exercise helps your dog maintain a healthy weight, but it also keeps his body and minds active. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise, so try walking off-leash games, or letting your dog have play dates with other dogs.

Regular Vet Checkups

Annual vet checkups are recommended for every dog, and as he enters his senior years, this should be increased to twice a year. Regular veterinary checks will help diagnose any potential health issues early and allow you to get advice from your vet to help keep your dog healthy.

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements can be helpful for some dogs, but you should always check with your vet before introducing something new to your dog. When buying a dietary supplement, make sure it’s high quality, doesn’t contain unnecessary ingredients, and comes from a reputable source.

Life expectancy can be part of your decision when getting a dog, however, finding a breed that is suitable for your lifestyle is much more important. Whichever dog you choose, you should keep him as healthy as possible, and he will love you for as long as he can. 


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Meet The Author

author karen porter

Karen Porter

Karen loves to write and is very fond of animals. She has grown up around animals her whole life and loves that she now gets the opportunity to combine her two favorite things together.