The short answer to ‘how long do dogs live’ is not long enough! The heartache of bringing a dog, or any pet for that matter, into your life as a friend, companion and member of the family is that their lives are too short. Even if they out live the breed expectations, time moves too quickly and before long they are a senior citizen.
Although individual breeds list their particular life expectancy in breed profiles, the old adage that dogs age seven years for our one fits most dogs between forty and eighty pounds. Dogs less than forty pounds age at a rate more like five years per one of ours and giant breeds age at a rate of nine years per human year.
An easy rule of thumb is the small dogs live longer then large dogs, and this usually continues to be true within a breed and even within a specific litter. Although picking the runt of a litter does not always guarantee you the easiest pup to raise, it does often guarantee you the longest living companion!
How Long do Small Dogs Live?
The life expectancy of small dogs ranges widely depending on the overall health of the breed. Due to the popularity of the breed or specific health concerns, many small dog are not living as long as they did in the past.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an example of a small breed of dog that suffers from a myriad of ailments that shorten their life expectancy exponentially. The leading cause of death in these wonderful dogs is a condition called heart mitral valve disease (MVD). This terminal condition affects around half of all Cavs by the time they are five years old and almost all of them by the time they are only ten years old. Life expectancy for Cavaliers is between nine and fourteen years that when compared to the twelve to sixteen years of the same weight Miniature Poodle is far too short.
On average, the life expectancy of a healthy small breed or mixed breed dog is between twelve and eighteen years.
How Long do Medium to Large Sized Dogs Live?
The life expectancy of medium sized dogs is harder to nail down to a range because of the many variable in what is considered a medium or large breed as well as the many health concerns developing in these breeds.
A healthy medium to large sized dog will live between ten and fifteen years. Many of the sporting or hunting breeds live long healthy lives with proper exercise but much like the Cavaliers, the popular breeds have developed often terminal health conditions that are adversely affecting the overall life expectancy of the breed.
Golden retrievers, one of the most popular breeds in the world, are having a hard time with cancer in recent years. Rarely do you hear of one living past the age of ten and if they do live longer, they seem to be aging faster then breeds of comparable size and activity levels. German Shepherds are another large breed that is in trouble. Hip dysplasia riddles the breed, causing premature aging and a life expectancy of ten.
On the other hand, Greyhounds, Standard Poodles, Irish Setters, German Shorthaired Pointers, Border Collies and Afghan Hounds often live an active life right up to their death between eleven and fourteen years of age.
How Long do Giant Sized Dogs Live?
The gentle giants are the heartbreakers of the dog world. The bigger the breed combined with how large an individual dog is within a breed often tells us how long that dog will live. Irish Wolfhounds live six to eight years, Great Danes live an average of eight years and Mastiffs are lucky to reach nine years old. Add to these breeds any medical problems and that number shrinks even more.
When deciding on what breed of dog best suites your needs and lifestyle, how long the dog lives is an important consideration. With dogs that are to be trained as a search and rescue dogs, police dogs and Seeing Eye or hearing dogs, choosing a breed that has a long life expectancy only makes sense. However, how long a dog lives is important if you have children as well or if you plan to train the dog for dog sports as well. Often how long dogs live goes hand in hand with overall health so breeds that live longer then average for their size will probably be a generally healthy breed.
No matter what, we love our dogs and whether they are with us for many years or just many memories, they live in our hearts forever.