Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

How Long Do Dogs Live? (Dog Lifespan)

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014

Typical lifespan of small dogs

Smaller dogs typically live to 14 or 15 years old. Smaller dogs generally live longer than large dogs because they don't suffer as many serious skeletal and cardiovascular diseases as larger dogs do.

  • The bones and joints of smaller dogs don't need to support as much weight, so don't break down as quickly.
  • Their heart doesn't need to pump blood through a large body, so doesn't wear out as quickly.
  • Smaller dogs have proportionately fewer growth hormones than larger dogs, and studies suggest that growth hormones may shorten life.

Examples of long-lived breeds include Welsh Corgis, Dachshunds, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Schipperkes, Shelties, many terriers, and many toy breeds such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, Miniature Pinschers (Min Pins), Pomeranians, Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and the Bichon Frise.


Smaller breeds are not necessarily HEALTHY throughout their longer life. On the contrary, many small breeds are vulnerable to a long list of health problems. It's just that their particular health problems tend to affect their QUALITY of life, rather than its length.

Is there anything you can do to make small dogs less likely to develop health problems – so that they live not only a long life, but a HEALTHIER one?

Yes. Click here to learn about keeping your small dog healthy and long-lived.

Typical lifespan of giant or large bulky dogs

Giant breeds, unfortunately, have short lifespanes. They are rambunctious puppies/teenagers for their first three years. Then dignified adults for a couple of years. Then their bones and joints break down, their heart weakens, or they develop cancer. Giant breeds are elderly at six or seven, and gone by age ten. Not all individuals, of course, but the majority.

For example, typical lifespan for the Irish Wolfhound is 6-8 years.

Typical lifespan for the Old English Mastiff, Great Dane, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Leonberger is 6-10 years.

Typical lifespan for the Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, and Bullmastiff is 7-9 years.

Typical lifespan for the Dogue de Bordeaux, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and St. Bernard is 8-10 years.

Typical lifespan for the Cane Corso, Great Pyrenees, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Scottish Deerhound is 8-11 years.

Is there anything you can do to lengthen the lifespan of giant breeds?

Yes. Click here to learn about keeping your giant dog as healthy and long-lived as possible.

Typical lifespan of medium to large dogs

Most dogs in this size range live 10-13 years. But in some medium to large breeds, serious health problems are so common that it can be difficult to find an individual that you can count on remaining healthy for a normal lifetime. Many dogs in these particular breeds are lucky to make it to 6 or 7 years old. Here are a few examples of medium to large breeds with potentially short lives:

  • Many Golden Retrievers and Boxers die early from cancer.
  • Many Doberman Pinschers die early from heart disease.
  • Many German Shepherds die early from joint diseases.
  • Many Great Danes and Akitas die early from bloat.
  • Many Welsh Springer Spaniels die early from epilepsy.
  • Many Chinese Shar-Peis die early from amyloidosis.
  • And the list goes on.

Is there anything you can do to lengthen the lifespan of medium to large breeds and protect them from some of these health problems?

Yes. See below.

To find a healthy dog and KEEP him healthy. . .

  1. You need to avoid GENETIC health problems. Your dog inherits these health problems from his parents. When you're looking for a dog, there are ways to tell whether he is likely to have inherited a serious health problem, or not. You need to know how to do this before you go looking for a dog.
  2. You need to avoid ENVIRONMENTAL health problems. Your dog's health is affected by everything he puts in his mouth (food, water, chew toys), everything he breathes (fragrances, cigarette smoke, chemical fumes), everything you put into or onto his body (vaccinations, medications, ointiments, sprays, cleaning products on your floor) . . . in other words, virtually everything your dog comes in contact with can affect his health, for better or for worse. Many things you wouldn't even think of cause health problems in dogs. If you want a long-lived dog, you need to know how to raise your dog so that all of these environmental problems are avoided.

    Two of my best dog books will help you.
Book cover

Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a dog with the best chance of growing up healthy. Genetic health problems can be avoided if you know what to look for before you buy a puppy. read more
Book cover

11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy will help you keep your dog healthy for a lifetime. Environmental health problems can be avoided by raising your dog in all the right ways. read more