Life Expectancy of Dog Breeds: A Spotlight on Scientific Studies

By Richard Gray

The life expectancy of a dog breed is a big consideration for you when you are choosing a pup to join you on life’s journey. Having a dog in your life can be a big emotional commitment for many, and also a commitment of time and your energy for the duration of your dog’s life. We all want our dog to enjoy a happy and healthy lifetime. There are certain basic things you can do to give your chosen breed the best chance of a long and healthful life: 

  • Maintain a nutritious diet that provides your dog with vitamins and minerals, and avoid feeding toxic foods. For more information on foods toxic to dogs, see our article What Foods Can Dogs Not Eat?
  • Feed your dog food that is free of artificial additives and chemicals.
  • Homemade dog food can be an option and it is proven to have contributed to an increased lifespan of nearly three years.
  • Provide the regular exercise requirements for your chosen breed.
  • Take your dog to a veterinarian, even if he’s healthy, at least once a year for a check-up. As your dog grows older it’s a good idea to visit every six months.

In this post, we are going to concentrate on the latest scientific research to analyze the life expectancy of dog breeds and breed groups.

There has been interesting new evidence and insights on life expectancy of dog breeds from the Royal Veterinary College ‘VetCompass’ recent study Life tables of annual life expectancy and mortality for companion dogs in the United Kingdom. The study analyzes data from 30,563 dogs taken over a four-and-a-half-year period. [1]

The Jack Russel terrier has the highest life expectancy in the RVC VetCompass study

The study confirms the conventional thinking that larger dogs live shorter lives than toy and smaller dogs. Another finding is that low life expectancy also indicates greater health issues. The study advises owners to consider this point before deciding on a breed.

This new study uses a novel approach using dog life tables that indicate the expected mortality rates at different years. For instance, in all of the 18 breeds (and a crossbreed) in the study, when a dog reaches 1.5 years of age it has a greater life expectancy than when it was born. This is based on evidence that a dog’s ‘immune system takes approximately one year for full maturity’, which means the ‘probability of death may be higher in infancy.’ 

A particular case in point is the popular French Bulldog. The RVC VetCompass study shows the French Bulldog with the lowest life expectancy of the pure 18 breeds at 4.5 years at birth. But after the age of 1.5 years, this increases to a life expectancy of 10-11 years! This can be attributed to high health risks in early life of ‘Flat-faced breeds’ or brachycephalic breeds. Among these are American bulldogs, English bulldogs and pugs. These health risks include breathing problems associated with the short snout. This may be a reason for you to think carefully before getting a ‘flat faced’ breed.

The American Kennel Club survey of Most Popular breeds of 2022 for the first time lists the French Bulldog as the most popular breed in the US. 

Here is the AKC latest list of the top 10 most popular breeds. In this table we have added the life expectancy of dog breeds for each of these breeds based on our research from scientific sources.

      Breed and Average Life Expectancy

  1. French Bulldog =  10-11 years
  2. Labrador Retrievers = 12 years
  3. Golden Retrievers = 10-12 years
  4. German Shepard = 10.3 years
  5. Poodles = 12-16 years
  6. Bulldogs = 9-11 years
  7. Rottweiler = 9.5 years
  8. Beagle = 12-13 years
  9. Dachshunds = 10-11 years
  10. German Shorthaired Pointer = 10-12 years

More Information to Consider on These Popular Breeds

  1. French Bulldog
Flat faced breeds like the Frenchie may suffer high health risks in infancy

The extremely popular French Bulldog’s expected lifespan after the age of 1.5 years is 10-11 years according to the Royal Veterinary College VetCompass study of 229 Frenchies studied. The greatest age of a single dog was 11 years old. [2]

  1. Labrador Retriever
Chocolate coloured varieties have a lower life expectancy

The Labrador Retriever has an average life expectancy of 12 years according to a 2018 VetCompass study of 33,320 dogs. [3]

This study did highlight that chocolate coloured retrievers had a lower life expectancy at 10.7 years. Chocolate retrievers suffered more with skin and ear diseases. Ottis Erna is a disorder of the ear canal. Dermatitis is almost twice as high in chocolate retrievers than in black and golden.

  1. Golden Retriever
Buy your pup from a reputed breeder

They have a projected life span of 10-12 years. Be sure to buy your pup from a reputed breeder to minimize the chances of the following genetic medical problems. They can be prone to genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism and ear and skin disorders. [4]

  1. German Shepard
Females have a longer life expectancy than males

A 2017 VetCompass study shows that the overall expected age is 10.3 years. Females are expected to live longer by 1.4 years. Females were recorded at 11.1 years in the study and males 9.7 years. [5]

The difference in life expectancy could be a consideration for you when buying your pup. Adult males were heavier and more prone to aggressive behavior according to the study.

  1. Poodles
Standard varieties have a shorter life expectancy

They are the number 5 most popular breed in the USA and their expected life span is between 12 -16 years. The median age (or average age) of the Miniature was 14.2 years in the VetCompass study. Toy poodles have a similar median age at around 15 years and are expected to live in the 12-16 year bracket. Standard poodles, the larger variety, have a slightly shorter range at 12-15 years. [6]

  1. Bulldogs
Bulldogs are susceptible to health risks in early life

Included are American and English Bulldogs who come at the bottom end of the VetCompass 2022 dog breed life expectancy table. Like the French bulldog, both breeds have a low expectancy at age 0-1.5 years. 

The American bulldog is 7.79 years old and the English is 7.39. At 1.5 years the expectancy for the American is 10-11 years and the English is 9-10 years. The oldest American bulldog lived to 12 years and the English lived to 13 years in the study. [7]

  1. Rottweiler
The female rottweiler has a longer life expectancy

In a National Library of Medicine survey of 5321 rottweilers attending veterinary clinics the average life age was 9.5 years. This was lower for males at 8.7 years. In comparison to females, the male was significantly heavier (48.5 kg compared to 41.5 kg). 

The tendency towards aggressive behavior was also higher in males (9.36% versus 5.47%). Although lower in aggression than males, neutered females showed more aggression than entire females ( 7.5% versus 3.1%).

 Males were more likely to have acute skin infections (4.05% versus 1.67%). All of these points may be a consideration when choosing your pup. [8]

  1. Beagle
The oldest Beagle lived to 14 in the study

This universally popular and playful family dog has a high life expectancy of 12-13 years. According to the 2022 VetCompass study they have an expectancy of 9.85 at birth rising to 12-13 years when they reach 1.5 years old. Of 172 beagles, the oldest lived to 14 years in the study. [9]

  1. Dachshund
The larger Dachshund had a longer life expectancy than the smaller

The VetCompass study examined raw data of 76 standard and 103 Miniature Dachshunds. It revealed that the standard Dachshund expected life expectancy was 11.2 years. The miniature Dachshund was 10.2 years. 

Surprisingly, the data shows a higher life expectancy for the larger variety of Dachshund. The raw data shows more suspected Miniature Dachshund deaths by euthanasia due to back disease IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) in early life between 5-8 years. [10]

  1. German Shorthaired Pointer
Be sure to get your pup from a reputed breeder

This energetic medium sized breed lives on average 10-12 years. Be careful to select your pup from a recognized breeder and be aware of the genetic health problems that may occur and are made worse by inbreeding.

 Hip and elbow dysplasia are two such inherited issues that can progress to arthritis. The eye disease, progressive retinal atrophy, is another genetic condition. A reputed breeder should provide a DNA screen test to show the defective PRA gene is not present in your pup. [11, 12]

More Important Information for You on the Life Expectancy of Dog Breeds from the VetCompass Scientific Study 2022

The 18 Breeds and Crossbreed 

       

1. Jack Russel Terrier:

life expectancy at age 0 = 12.72,

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs= 14-15 yrs

last age in life table = 19 yrs

2. Yorkshire Terrier:

life expectancy at age 0 =12.54

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=14-15

last age in life table= 18 yrs

3. Border Collie:

life expectancy at age 0 =12.10

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=13-14

last age in life table= 17 yrs

4. Springer Spaniel:

life expectancy at age 0 =11.92

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=12-13

last age in life table= 16 yrs

5. Crossbreed:

life expectancy at age 0 =1.82

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=14-15

last age in life table= 19 yrs

6. Labrador Retriever:

life expectancy at age 0 =11.77

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=12-13

last age in life table=16 yrs

7. Staffordshire Bull Terrier:

life expectancy at age 0 =11.33

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=13-14

last age in life table=18 yrs

8. Cocker Spaniel :

life expectancy at age 0 =11.31

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=12-13

last age in life table=16 yrs

9. Shitzu:

life expectancy at age 0 =11.05

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs= 13-14

last age in life table= 17 yrs

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

life expectancy at age 0 =10.45

expectancy at 1.5 yrs=11-12

last age in life table=15 yrs

11. German Shepherd:

life expectancy at age 0 =10.16

expectancy at 1.5 yrs= 11-12

last age in life table=15 yrs

12. Boxer:

life expectancy at age 0 =10.04

expectancy at 1.5 yrs=10-11

last age in life table=15 yrs

13. Beagle:

life expectancy at age 0 = 9.85

expectancy at 1.5 yrs=12-13

last age in life table=14 yrs

14. Husky:

life expectancy at age 0 = 9.53

expectancy at 1.5 yrs=12-13

last age in life table= 14 yrs

15. Chihuahua:

life expectancy at age 0 = 7.91

expectancy at 1.5 yrs=15-16

last age in life table= 16 yrs

16. American Bulldog:

life expectancy at age 0 = 7.79

expectancy at 1.5 yrs= 10-11

last age in life table=12 yrs

17. Pug:

life expectancy at age 0 = 7.65

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=11-12

last age in life table=13 yrs

18. English Bulldog :

life expectancy at age 0 = 7.39

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs= 9-10

last age in life table= 13 yrs

19. French Bulldog :

life expectancy at age 0 = 4.53

life expectancy at 1.5 yrs=10-11

last age in life table= 11 yrs

Kennel Club Breed Group Findings

The Study found in the Kennel Club breed groups, that the Terrier group had the longest life expectancy of dog breeds at age 0 at 12.0 years. This was followed by the Gun dog group at 7 years, the Pastoral group at 11.2 years, the Hound group at 10.7 years, the Toy group at 10.7 years, and the Utility group at 10.1 years. Working dogs had the shortest life expectancy with a life expectancy of 9.14.

Gender

The average life expectancy at age 0 for male dogs is 11.07 years. Female dogs showed nearly a four month higher life expectancy at 11.41.

Male & Female Neutered and Non-Neutred 

Male and female neutered dogs had a longer life expectancy at age 0 compared to non-neutered dogs. In the supplementary tables, female neutered life expectancy was at 11.98 and non-neutered at 10.5;  Males neutered life expectancy was at 11.49 and non-neutered at 10.58. [13]

The study observes that veterinarians often recommend earlier neutering for females. This may be a factor in the longer life expectancy of the female. Neutering is linked to a reduction in the risk of tumors in reproductive organs. But it is linked to an increase in the risk of other health issues, including joint disorders.

Final Thoughts

Life table studies can benefit potential dog owners, particularly when making a decision to buy a pup based on the life expectancy of the breed. These types of studies can more accurately inform dog owners of the possible medical care needs of breeds at different ages and when they may need to make difficult end of life decisions. 

Source

Kendy Tzu-Yun Teng, Dave C. Brodelt, Camilla Pegram, David B. Church, & Dan G, O’Neill “Life tables of annual life expectancy and mortality for companion dogs in the United Kingdom”, Scientific Reports 12, Article number: 6415 (2022), 28 April 2022, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10341-6

What to do next

 An important consideration when selecting a breed is to find out about the behavior of that particular dog. Another factor is breeds that are prone to aggressive behavior and what to do to control it. Check out our posts Dog Behavior and How To Stop Aggressive Dog Behavior.

FAQ

What is the oldest dog?

A Portugese dog named Bobi was awarded the title of oldest dog on February 1 2023 by the Guinness World Records. Bobi celebrated his 31st birthday on May 11th 2023. Many happy returns, Bobi!

What can I do to help my dog live longer?

1. Feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet.
2. Provide regular dental care.
3. Keep your dog active with the right amount of exercise recommended for the breed.
4. Provide mental stimulation.
5. Make sure your dog has regular veterinary consultations.
6. Consider giving supplements, especially to an older dog.
7. Give your dog lots of love and attention.

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