Losing a pet is one of the most difficult experiences that we as pet owners can go through, so of course, we want our dogs to live long and healthy lives.
But is it a good idea to invest in a mixed breed? Do they live longer than purebred dogs? Studies have shown that mixed-breed dogs tend to live longer than purebreds and that small breeds tend to live longer than large breeds.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the dog breeds with the longest lifespans and tips on keeping your dog with you for as long as you can.
Do Mixed Breed Dogs Live Longer Than Purebreds?
Purebred dogs tend to have a higher incidence of various genetic conditions, and mixed breeds aren’t as likely to inherit these conditions.
Humans have developed purebred dogs for centuries, breeding specific traits in and others out. However, this sometimes includes inbreeding, which can lead to passing on genes associated with serious health conditions.
Selective breeding can also inadvertently lead to breeding in health problems, such as the flat faces of Bulldogs and Pugs. These pushed-in noses cause significant breathing problems, but breeders still breed specifically for those aesthetically pleasing smushed faces.
However, if you breed a Pug with a Poodle to create a mixed dog, the offspring’s noses typically won’t be as much of an issue. This is one reason that mixed breeds tend to live longer.
A 2019 study found that “mixed breeds lived significantly longer than purebreds dogs.”1
The dog’s size was also considered, with giant breeds living, on average, fewer years than small dogs.
It’s also important to note that they found dogs generally lived longer if they were spayed or neutered and had proper veterinary care, including dental cleanings, throughout their lives.
Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?
It’s not entirely known why small dogs tend to live longer than their larger counterparts. But this recent 2023 study found that due to selective breeding, large breeds might have less defenses against developing cancer.2
Large and giant breeds also tend to suffer from joint issues, particularly arthritis, which makes it more difficult for them to move, potentially leading to less exercise.
When you take a look at the American Kennel Club’s website, you’ll definitely see the difference in lifespans of small to giant breeds. One of the smallest of breeds, the Chihuahua, has a lifespan of 14 to 16 years, while on the other end of the spectrum, the Mastiff has a lifespan of 6 to 10 years.
What Dog Breeds Are Known to Live the Longest?
As you might guess, most of the purebred dog breeds with the longest lifespans are small dogs. But there are a few medium-sized dogs on the list too.
- Affenpinscher: This small breed lives an average of 12 to 15 years. This is a flat-faced dog, though, so there may likely be breathing issues.
- Australian Cattle Dog: These medium-sized dogs are famous for living into their 20s but have an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years.
- Australian Shepherd: This is a medium-sized breed with a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
- Beagle: Beagles are medium in size and have a 10- to 15-year lifespan.
- Bichon Frise: These small dogs can live an average of 14 to 15 years. They are also considered an easier breed to live with if you have allergies.
- Boston Terrier: These dapper little dogs can live for 11 to 13 years. Their eyes need extra protection because they are a bit bug-eyed.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Cavs are gentle, smart dogs that can live 9 to 16 years.
- Chinese Crested: These almost hairless tiny dogs can live from 13 to 18 years.
- Dachshund: The famous “wiener dog” can live from 12 to 16 years of age.
- Lhasa Apso: This small but mighty Tibetan breed can live an average of 12 to 15 years.
- Maltese: These small white dogs might prove suitable for allergy sufferers and can live 12 to 15 years.
- Miniature Pinscher: Known as “Min Pins,” these small dogs can live about 12 to 16 years.
- Miniature Schnauzer: Schnauzers are known for their cute beards and eyebrows, and the miniature version has a 12- to 15-year lifespan.
- Papillon: Recognized for their glorious ears, the Papillon can live 14 to 16 years.
- Parson Russell Terrier: Also known as the Jack Russell, the Parson can live 12 to 15 years.
- Pomeranian: Poms are fluffy and spunky and can live for 12 to 16 years.
- Pug: Pugs are known for breathing issues but can live 12 to 15 years.
- Shetland Sheepdog: Affectionately known as Shelties, these miniature Collies can live 12 to 14 years.
- Shiba Inu: These popular medium-sized dogs from Japan can live for 13 to 16 years.
- Shih Tzu: A flat-faced breed, the Shih Tzu can live 10 to 18 years.
- Toy Poodle: The smallest version of the Poodle, the Toy can live 10 to 18 years.
- Yorkshire Terrier: Yorkies are small dogs that might work for allergy sufferers. They might also live 11 to 15 years.
The world’s oldest dog ever was a Rafeiro do Alentejo breed, which is a Portuguese herding dog. His name was Bobi, and he lived to be about 31.5 years but died in 2023. The title originally belonged to an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who lived to be almost 29.5 years old!
How to Help Your Dog Live Longer
The 2019 study should give you a few ideas for keeping your dog with you for as long as possible. One is keeping your dog at a healthy weight, since obesity can definitely lead to a shorter life. This means a healthy diet without too many treats and no table scraps. You must also ensure that they get enough exercise.
You should brush your dog’s teeth daily or at least two to three times a week. They should also receive professional dental cleaning from your vet.
Speaking of vets, always stay on top of bringing your dog in for annual wellness checks. These help spot and prevent any potential health issues from getting any worse.
While at the vet, you should ensure that they are up to date on their vaccinations and unless you’re a breeder, have your dog spayed or neutered.
While mixed-breeds might live longer than purebreds, this is not a guarantee. It’s essential that you feed a high-quality diet, give your dog plenty of exercise and regularly visit your vet.
Be sure to research breeds before deciding what kind of dog you want to add to your home. You should check not only how long they live but also if they would be a good fit for you and your family.
Bear in mind that when it comes to genetics, certain things are out of your control. But as long as you care for your dog the best that you can under your veterinarian’s guidance, you’ll help ensure their quality of life and overall health and wellness.
Featured Image Credit: Lelusy, Shutterstock