8 facts which can guide you in picking the longest-lived dog breeds

A recent study helps us understand which dog breeds are likely to live the longest. The first ‘fact’ to take note of is that dogs breeds with short snouts have shorter lifespans than those with long snouts.

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The reasons is that the flattened faces of, for example, the French the English bulldogs imports health problems which ultimately shortens the lifespan. The French is notorious for ill-health despite its popularity. Yesterday I was out walking and passed a man with a Frenchie. The poor dog was snuffling and rasping continually.

This has been recognised for some time but it has not stopped people adopting flat-faced dogs because they look interesting and people prioritise appearance over health. That, too, is an acknowledged fact.

In an article in The Times I have spotted six facts about dogs and dog breeds which will tell you which breed will live the longest.

The Times article is based on a study, the largest of its kind published in the journal Scientific Reports. It looked at nearly 600,000 pets across the country. I think it can be relied upon and should be very helpful to people who are thinking about buying a purebred dog or adopting a rescue dog from a shelter.

Snout length

Expanding on the finding mentioned in the first paragraph a dog with a long snout would be, for example, a whippet or a miniature dachshund. There are other breeds. Dogs with long snouts were the group with the highest average life expectancy at more than 13 years.

Flat faces

On the other end of the spectrum, those breds with the shortest lives were medium-sized dogs with flat-faces or flattened noses or snouts such as the English bulldog. These dogs had an average life span of just nine years.

Small breeds

There are other factors which impact on the lifespan of a dog. Another is that small breeds tend to outlast bigger ones. For example, the tiny Tibetan spaniel lives for, on average, 15.2 years. Another small dog breed, the Bolognese has a lifespan on average of 14.9 years. These are the second and third longest-lived dog breeds respectively.

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Logest lived

You want to know what the longest lived dog breed is, don’t you? Well according to the study it’s a breed with a medium-sized nose. They are thought to be a cross between the Welsh corgi and the Manchester terrier. They are called the Lancashire heeler and they have a median lifespan of 15.4 years. This, by the way, is around the median lifespan of the average domestic cat. Domestic cats live longer than domestic dogs.

Sex of the dog

Another factor worth considering is the sex of the dog. It makes a difference because females, according to this study, live for an average of 12.7 years compared with 12.4 years for males.

Purebreds live longer than non-purebreds

An interesting finding of this study is that purebred dogs i.e. the dog breeds, had an average lifespan of 12.7 years which is 0.7 years longer than a mongrel or crossbred dog. This goes against the grain and against one’s perceptions because it is believed that non-purebred dogs benefit from hybrid vigour or to put that another way better genetic diversity which improves health. Purebred animals suffer from a lack of genetic diversity because of artificial selection to ‘fix’ the appearance.

A proposed reason why purebred dogs live longer than non-purebred dogs is because they are looked after better. They are in better homes and get better treatment. More money is spent on them. They eat better food and so on.

Not all flat-faced dogs are short-lived

Another interesting finding is that not all flat-faced dogs were short lived. For example, the Tibetan mastiff has an average lifespan of 13.3 years. The Lhasa apso has an average lifespan of 12.5 years. But both these breeds belong to a different branch of the dog family than the familiar brachycephalic dogs i.e. those dogs with flat-faces. This may account for their longer lifespan.

Labrador and Cocker spaniel

The average life expectancy of two popular dog breeds were as follows: the Labrador has an average liespan of 13.1 years. Cocker spaniels lived on average for 13.3 years

The leading author of the study, Dr. Kirsten McMillan of the Dogs Trust charity said, in summing up the findings that “life expectancy varies between breed, body size, face shape and sex. For example, medium-sized, flat-based male dogs are nearly 3 times more likely to live shorter lives than small-sized, long-faced females.”

She believes that the findings are important in the debate on canine health. She wants the weaker groups to receive more research. There is an ongoing debate about the failure of dog associations to deal with poor health inbred into dogs because of suboptimal breeding practices.

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Remember, too, that common sense dictates that if a dog lives longer they will be healthier during their lives. This brings great benefits both to the dog and to the caregiver. I’m thinking mainly of the expense of looking after an ill dog. You will need to take out health insurance and go to the veterinarian more often. It all comes down to more expense and these days people want to limit expense especially in places like the UK which has become inordinately expensive.

2 thoughts on “8 facts which can guide you in picking the longest-lived dog breeds”

  1. I do know chihuahua’s can be very long lived. Mom’s 2 oldest lived to be 22 and 23. I’ve had several live 17 and 18 and 19. Two weeks ago I sent my boy Eli Manning over rainbow bridge just a few months short of 18, he went totally blind 2 years ago and deaf but this summer he began to have dementia. Staring at walls, getting lost in and outside the house. The vet even did a evaluation and agreed it was time. His momma was 19. Rarely for me for my chichi’s to die they make me euthanize them. I’m not for making them suffer because it’ll make me sad.

    • Great comment Tamara. Thanks. I love this kind of personal experience as it adds a lot to the article. It is good to know that the chihuahua can have a long life. The name is hard to spell though 😎.


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