Dec 13, 2012

How Long Will My Dog Live?

How long will my dog live

How Long Will My Dog Live?

When asked the question "How long will my dog live?" I never really know what to say. I would like to say "forever," but we all know, unfortunately, that's not how life works.

Two of my dogs, Xuxa and Xander, are a new breed type - Alaskan Klee Kais. The breed has only been in development for about 25 years. This short history indicates that the dogs should live for about 12-14 years on average.

My other two dogs, Pearl and Gidget, are a mother and daughter. They are best described by the high-falutin' term "mixed breed." We think there is a lot of Chihuahua, Dachshund and Feist terrier in their make up.

The average life expectancy of mixed breed dogs is about 12 years.

People argue that mixed breeds are healthier than pure bred dogs. This simply is not true. It's all about genetics, no matter the breed.

I know of pure bred Irish wolfhounds that are 12 years old. Their life expectancy is only 6.2 years.

A poorly bred dog is a poorly bred dog, even if it's a mutt.

The general rule of thumb, though, is that the larger the breed of dog, the faster it will age.

Rather than focus on the age of the dog. I much prefer to try and judge the dog's "stage of life."

A young pup will have what seems to be endless amounts of energy. Everything is a toy, and you are expected to be throwing it at all times.

Middle age comes for most dogs around the 4 to 5 year mark. The rambunctious pup has now settled into a routine. They like nothing more than to be taken for a nice ride in the car, to go for a long walk or hike, or just to be curled up next to you on the couch.

Then, just like us, dogs will slow down. They get that old grey muzzle, those old grey eyes. Lumps and bumps appear. It gets harder for them to get up and down the stairs. Running turns to walking and the roughhousing is gone, replaced with lots of sleeping.

Be aware of the role you play in your dog's health. Are you feeding the best food you can afford? Poor quality food can lead to all sorts of problems. Allergies, ear infections, and skin conditions caused by skimping on the food can take a toll on your dog's wellbeing. Regular grooming - trimming the nails, cleaning the teeth, and brushing the coat - keeps your dog in a much healthier state. Let's not forget to exercise our dogs properly, as well. Healthier, happier dogs generally live longer.

It's up to you to spot the signs of aging and take appropriate actions. Be proactive. Prevention is the key. Early detection of any problem will lead to a better outcome.

So when I am asked in the future, "How long will my dog live?" I think I should just be honest and say "I don't know." And while trying not to sound like a sap, I would remind them that it's not really about how long your dog lives, but the quality of their lives while they are here with us.

Your dog will give you years of unconditional love and companionship. Anyone that has lost a dog knows that their lives, no matter how long, are never long enough. Make the most of the time you have.

Love a dog, and you will be rewarded tenfold.


For you data-minded types:

The old rule that one dog year is the equivalent of seven human years is in fact, not accurate. The chart below shows it much better.

AgeUp to 20 lbs21–50 lbs51–90 lbsOver 90 lbs

Blue indicates senior and red indicates geriatric. Chart developed by Dr. Fred L. Metzger, DVM, State College, PA. Courtesy of Pfizer Animal Health.

The following is a list of the most popular dogs in 2008, according to the AKC and their average life expectancy.
  1. Labrador Retriever (12.5 years)
  2. Yorkshire Terrier (14 years)
  3. German Shepherd Dog (11 years)
  4. Golden Retriever (12 years)
  5. Beagle (13 years)
  6. Boxer (10.5 years)
  7. Dachshund (15.5 years)
  8. Bulldog (7 years)
  9. Poodle (12 years Standard) (15 years Miniature)
  10. Shih Tzu (13 years)
  11. Miniature Schnauzer (14 years)
  12. Chihuahua (13.5)
  13. Pomeranian (15 years)
  14. Rottweiler (10 years)
  15. Pug (13.5 years)
  16. German Shorthaired Pointer (13 years)
  17. Boston Terrier (13 years)
  18. Doberman Pinscher (10 years)
  19. Shetland Sheepdog (13.5 years)
  20. Maltese (14 years)
  21. Cocker Spaniel (12 years)
  22. Great Dane (8.5 years)
  23. Siberian Husky (12 years)
  24. Pembroke Welsh Corgi (13 years)
  25. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (10 years)

Read more: Average Dog Life Span by Breed - VetInfo


  1. Excellent, informative article. My Dalmatian lived to be almost 16. Breeding, genetics and one's willingness to pay for quality veterinary care are all factors. In my opinion, if you can't afford the bills, or aren't willing to make sacrifices because of them, you shouldn't have a pet!

  2. Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.

  3. Wow! This is a very comprehensive list about how long dogs live for and what good charts too! Thanks for this great article!
    Oh! There's this company called Emotional Pet Support that also has a very relevant article that can also help everyone find out how long dogs or Emotional Support dogs live for if anyone is interested: