So you’ve decided to get a dog.  Maybe you are on your own and would like a companion or perhaps you’d like to add a puppy that will hopefully grow up alongside your children.  Dogs are family and when your dog passes away it’s like losing a family member. We all want them to live forever so how do you pick a breed that will have a long lifespan?

Studies have determined that a dog’s DNA or genetic makeup has the greatest effect on its longevity.   Other factors include its diet, if they are spayed or neutered, and weight. Banfield Pet Hospital conducted a study in 2013 which concluded that a dog’s weight greatly determines their longevity, in fact, smaller dogs lived 39 percent longer than giant breeds.  In their study, dogs that weighed under 19 pounds lived on average 11.3 years while medium/large dogs weighing 20-50 pounds lived 10.8 years. Giant dogs over 90 pounds lived to the eight year mark. 

Beyond these general factors, are there certain breeds that typically live longer lifespans than others?  The answer is yes and the majority are smaller dogs. The American Kennel Club estimates are a bit rosier. Smaller dogs can live 15-16 years. Medium and large dogs typically live 10-13 years while giant breeds, like a mastiff, live 7-8 years on average. 

Here are five dog breeds, mostly smaller dogs with the longest lifespans, for you to consider:    

  • Chihuahua: As one of the smallest breeds, weights vary between 3-6 pounds, Chihuahua is the fourth-most popular dog breed by registrations and can live up to 20 years.  They are known for their big personalities, agility, obedience, and make good watchdogs.
  • Mexican Hairless Dog: The breed Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short, is a hairless breed of dog which also has a coated variety. The breed is known for its intelligence, even-temper, and playfulness. Sizes include toy (10-15 pounds), miniature (15-30 pounds), and standard (30-55 pounds). They also enjoy a lifespan up to 20 years.
  • Papillon: The Papillon is also called the Continental Toy Spaniel. These small friendly dogs are known for their butterfly like fringed hair on their ears and their weight is between 7-10 pounds. They are intelligent and energetic and have a lifespan up to 17 years. 
  • Dachshund: Known as the sausage dog or wiener dog, the Dachshund is a hound famous for their short legs and long body. Sizes are miniature (11 pounds or under) and standard (16-32 pounds). They are known to be smart and spunky while also making good watchdogs.  Dachshunds lifespans range from 12-16 years.     
  • Australian Cattle Dog: As a larger breed in the list (30-35 pounds) Australian Cattle Dogs have a lifespan of 12-16 years though some have lived much longer. In fact, one Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey owns the Guinness World Record for oldest dog at 29 years 5 months! This breed is known to be alert and playful while protective of their family.

Though we are focusing on purebred dogs, it’s interesting to add that “mutts” who have at least two breeds or more, tend to have the least health problems and live longer than most of their purebred counterparts (10-13 years). Purebreds sometimes carry specific genes that cause illnesses not found in cross breed dogs.

While longevity is an important factor in deciding on your new family member, it’s also important to consider temperament and physical activity requirements of the breed. Whether you decide to purchase one of these smaller purebreds or adopt a “mutt”, their longevity will enable them to be a treasured member of your family for many years of love and companionship.  

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