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How Long Do Dogs Live? (Dog Lifespan)

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Last Updated: October, 2019

Typical lifespan of small dogs

Smaller dogs typically live to be 13 to 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 Dachshunds, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Schipperkes, Shelties, Welsh Corgis, many terriers, and many toy breeds (for example, the Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, etc.)


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.

question markIs there anything you can do to help your small dogs live not only a long life, but a HEALTHIER life?

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

Typical lifespan of giant or large bulky dogs

Giant breeds, unfortunately, have short lifespans. 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, the typical lifespan of the Irish Wolfhound is 6-8 years.
  • Typical lifespan of the Old English Mastiff, Great Dane, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Leonberger is 6-10 years.
  • Typical lifespan of the Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, and Bullmastiff is 7-9 years.
  • Typical lifespan of the Dogue de Bordeaux, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and St. Bernard is 8-10 years.
  • Typical lifespan of the Cane Corso, Great Pyrenees, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Scottish Deerhound is 8-11 years.

question markIs there anything you can do to help your giant dog live a longer, healthier life?

Yes! Click here to learn about keeping your giant dog healthier and longer-lived.

Typical lifespan of medium to large dogs

Most dogs in this size range live 10-13 years.


In certain medium to large breeds, there are serious INHERITED health problems that can drastically shorten their lifespan. In these breeds, many dogs only live 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 in middle age from cancer.
  • Many Doberman Pinschers die in middle age from heart disease.
  • Many German Shepherds die in middle age from severe joint diseases or autoimmune diseases.
  • Many Great Danes die in middle age from bloat.
  • Many Welsh Springer Spaniels die in middle age from epilepsy.
  • Many Chinese Shar-Peis die in middle age from amyloidosis.
  • And the list goes on.

question markIs 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. . .

  • 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.
  • 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)...... 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 and healthy 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 can help increase a dog's lifespan.

If you already have your dog, book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy will help you keep him healthy for a lifetime. Environmental health problems can be avoided by raising your dog in all the right ways.
If you don't yet have your dog, book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a dog with the best chance of growing up healthy. Many genetic health problems can be avoided if you know what to look for before you buy a puppy.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

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