Help Your Dog Live Longer

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016

group of purebred dogs

How long do dogs live? Typically about 12 years, but ranging from 8-16 years.

The life expectancy of the average dog is about 12 years, with a typical range of 8-16 years.

However....your individual dog might not be average. If so, whether he will live to the lower end of the 8-16 range, or the higher end, depends on a number of factors:

  1. Has he inherited genes for a long life?
  2. Has he inherited genes for life-threatening health problems?
  3. How "inbred" is he? A high degree of inbreeding (many of the same relatives on both sides of his family tree) can shorten a dog's lifespan.

If you already have your dog, obviously you can't do anything about the three things in the list above. But there is a fourth factor that you DO have control over:

  1. How he is raised and cared for.

So let's talk about that fourth factor. Tell me a few things about your dog and about how you are currently caring for him.

Then I will tell you whether you're doing absolutely everything you can do to help him live the longest life possible..... or whether there are some things you might do differently that could make a big difference in how long your dog lives and also how healthy he remains for the rest of his life.

Remember, no one can predict the future of any living creature. But just as you can do things in your own life that affect your health and lifespan (for better or for worse), you can also do things in your dog's life that can make a similar difference.

Let's try to make a difference in the right direction for him!

Dog Lifespan Quiz

Dog Lifespan Quiz

Please answer every question!

1. First, what size is your dog?

(If your dog is a puppy, estimate the ADULT size.)

Less than 10 pounds
10-30 lbs
30-50 lbs
50-80 lbs
over 80 lbs

2. Is your dog

crossbreed/mixed breed

3. IF YOUR DOG IS PUREBRED, select your dog's breed.

4. What gender is your dog? Please select male or female, AND tell me whether your dog is spayed/neutered or not.


How old was your dog when he was neutered?
He is not neutered
He was less than 9 months old
He was 9-12 months
He was 12-15 months
He was over 15 months old
He is neutered but I don't know when it was done


How old was your dog when she was spayed?
She is not spayed
She was less than 9 months old
She was 9-12 months old
She was 12-15 months old
She was 15-30 months old
She was over 30 months old
She is spayed but I don't know when it was done

5. What is your dog eating? (You can check more than one box.)

Dry kibble
Canned food
Homemade (cooked)
Raw food

6. Does your dog receive booster shots every year?

Yes (or will receive, when old enough)

7. Is your dog on heartworm preventative every year?

Yes (or will be, when old enough)
Not needed in my area

8. Does your dog have access to areas where there are ticks?


9. Does your dog chew on rawhide, pig's ears, cow hooves, cornstarch bones, or anything similar from the pet store?


10. Do you exercise your dog by taking him jogging, or running beside your bike?


11. Is your dog ever outside without a leash or fence?


12. How often do you leave your dog outside (even in your fenced yard) without a person watching him or her?


13. How well does your dog obey the "Come" command (even if there are distractions like other people or dogs or squirrels)?

Always – 100% reliable
Most of the time
Maybe half the time
Less than half the time

14. What kinds of veterinary treatments does your dog have access to, if necessary?

conventional treatments (drugs, medications, surgery)
alternative treatments (herbal, acupuncture, chiropractic)
Both conventional and alternative
Don't know

15. Where does your dog usually ride in the car?

Loose in the front or back seat
Held on lap or arms
Buckled in with a harness/seatbelt
In a crate or carrier which is buckled to the seat
In a crate or carrier which is not buckled to the seat
In the back of a pickup

16. Does your dog eat any chocolate, raisins, or grapes?


17. Is your dog overweight?

Now, be honest! Many owners assessing their dog's weight have the same blind spot they have for their own weight. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, but most won't admit it. Similarly, many people don't recognize that their dog is.... ahem.... fat.

  • Get your dog standing directly in front of you and facing you. Look down at his back. You should see an hourglass shape – wider across his ribs, narrower across his "waist" (called the loin in dogs), and wider again across his hindquarters. With longhaired dogs, you'll have to feel with your hands. What you don't want to see is a "sausage shape" that doesn't vary in width.
  • Now crouch down to his level and look at him from the side (his profile). His tummy and groin (where the male and female parts are located) should be tucked up into his body, at least a little bit. It certainly shouldn't sag down.

Yes, I admit that my dog is overweight
OK, my dog is a little overweight
Nope, my dog is not overweight at all

18. Finally, what is your dog's name?