Why do some dog breeds live longer than others?
You don’t want to even think about the day your cherished pooch is no longer by your side and crosses over the rainbow bridge. It’s better to focus on the here and now and give your dog a healthy and happy life. But if you’re wondering where your own pup stands or you’re thinking about getting a specific type of dog, it’s good information to have. The bottom line: Size might matter when it comes to the longest dog life spans. “There is a trend across mammals in general that smaller mammals live longer lives,” says veterinarian Dr Catherine Lenox. “There isn’t a clear reason for this veterinarian it might have something to do with the animal’s metabolism veterinarian but it does seem to be true for dogs as well.” Yet, other factors not relevant to size, such as poor genetics, unforeseen accidents, not getting enough exercise, and sudden illness, impact how long a dog lives, too.
According to Dr Lenox, the following 20 dog breeds will live up to 15 years or even longer. While this is by no means an all-inclusive list and there’s no guarantee that every dog noted here will live for this long, there are things you can do to help your dog live the longest, healthiest life possible. “Be proactive about preventive care, manage medical conditions with your veterinarian as needed, keep your dog in normal body condition (not too heavy and not too thin), and feed a high-quality complete and balanced diet without too many treats,” advises Dr Lenox. Now that we have that squared away, let’s see the cute pups!
Can you imagine waking up to this adorable face for the next 15 years? Year after year, the infatuation grows when you live with a Bichon. These dogs are curious, peppy, happy, eager to please, and fun to be around – they seem to be on a mission to make everyone they meet smile. “Bichon Frises enjoy being the center of attention,” says veterinarian Dr Callie Harris. With their cheerful attitude and sweet face, we certainly wouldn’t mind the Bichon commanding our attention. You know what else gets our attention? Puppies!
This rugged, rough-and-tumble cutie loves the outdoors and everything in it. With its distinctive “otter head,” this gutsy and fearless woofer lives life to the fullest. “Border Terriers have a surprising ability to jump high and run fast due to the size of their legs, which are longer than most other small terriers,” says Dr. Harris. These pups, who have some of the longest dog life spans and live between 12 and 15 years, get along with other dogs and are well suited for kiddos. They excel at tracking, agility courses, and digging, which may not be such a great thing unless you’re looking for lost treasure in your backyard.
These tiny puppies pack a lot of sass and stubbornness (or shall we say confidence) in their adorable 2.5-kilo bodies. For pet parents searching for a devoted one-person dog, the Chihuahua will be at your side for around 14 to 16 years. They love excursions on the town in a doggy purse, but just make sure you keep them warm. Because of their small size, they can’t retain body heat – even if they gain a few kilos, which Chihuahuas are prone to do. Another fun fact: They are known for having the biggest brain in the dog world. “There’s been research that shows Chihuahuas have the largest brain-to-body weight ratio of all dog breeds,” says Dr Harris.
The Chinese Crested is one of the few breeds often described as “cat-like” because, like cats, they’re fond of sitting in high places. They’re not going to jump up on a counter, but they’ll perch on the back of the sofa or the arm of a chair. Like a lot of cats, they also have longevity going for them and can live up to 18 years. That means you’ll get to pick out a new sweater for them every year, as the Chinese Crested hairless version will be most comfortable in a sweater to keep them warm, notes Dr Harris.
Coton de Tulear
If you’re going to be living with the Coton de Tulear for the next 15 to 19 years, you’d better learn how to pronounce this breed’s name correctly. By the way, it’s pronounced KO-Tone-dih-TOO-lay-ARE – and make sure to say it with a French accent! According to Colleen Demling-Riley, a dog behaviourist for Dogtopia, old lore has it that the Coton de Tulear originated from a group of small white pups that swam ashore after a shipwreck in Madagascar. With that kind of tenacity, it’s no wonder they are the official dog of Madagascar. “These sweet and loyal dogs bond strongly to their families and love going everywhere with them,” says Demling-Riley.
Call them hot dog dogs – they don’t mind because Dachshunds are lapping up more love and popularity these days. They come in three varieties and sizes (miniature and standard in smooth, long, and wire coat). Maybe it’s their independence and bold curiosity that keeps them enjoying life for up to 16 years. According to Guinness World Records, one miniature Dachshund named Funny actually lived for a whopping 21 years and 178 days! What doesn’t help a Dachshund’s longevity, however, is their love for eating. “Being just a few kilos overweight can pose a risk for their short legs and long backs,” notes Dr Harris. “Because of that, they are at risk for lower-back injury often referred to as IVDD – intervertebral disk disease.” If you want your dog to have the longest life span possible, make sure to avoid these foods that could give your dog heart disease.
A true conversationalist, the Finnish Spitz will talk your ear off if you let them. “Not shy to tell the whole world about their opinions, the Finnish Spitz is known to bark at other pups and people and loves to ‘chat’ about how they feel,” says Demling-Riley. In Finland, these dogs are often called “barking bird dogs” for their ability to track and hunt birds. At home, their independence and funny personalities will keep you entertained all day long, says Demling-Riley. And if you relish the lively and fun days of puppyhood, the Finnish is slow to mature – reaching adulthood at about three years. And with a life span of 13 to 15 years, you’ll have someone to keep you company for a long time. Wish you could decipher what your dog is saying?
Happy, outgoing, and friendly to humans and furry friends alike, “the Havanese is ‘the person’ commanding the room in any party you’ve ever walked into,” says Demling-Riley. If those attributes weren’t enough, these dogs can be the life of the party for up to 16 years. It should come as no surprise that this happy-go-lucky doggo lands at the number 24 spot for most popular AKC breeds. With such a cheerful disposition and affectionate nature, it’s no wonder the Havanese is an ideal therapy dog, too.
Light on their feet and light as a feather, the Italian Greyhound can live up to 15 years. These dogs might not appear cuddly with their delicate, slender bodies and fine-boned legs, but they actually love to snuggle by you and are quite clingy. Yet, they’re cool with sharing their heart with other family members, dogs, and strangers they meet. As far as sighthounds go, they’re smaller in size than the Greyhound but just as agile and fast, Dr Harris says. Let them run and jump to build strong bones, but be mindful of their activity. “Be careful with these dogs, as they have a tendency to break bones easily,” she adds.
Whether a Maltese is donning a floor-length glossy coat for the show ring or sporting a puppy cut, you can’t help but be smitten with these fluffy little puppers. “Dressed in all white, their larger-than-life personality is so much bigger than their two- to three-kilo body,” says Demling-Riley. “[But because of] their small stature, families should make sure they can keep a wee pup safe and happy on a day-to-day basis.” With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, you’ve got lots of days to hang out with this charming pup. Known for being perfectly proportioned, Maltese were fashion accessories for the lady aristocrats of the Roman Empire. You might see those expressive eyes peeking out of a woman’s sleeve or bosom in paintings depicting that time.
“Contrary to popular belief, the Min Pin is not the ‘mini’ version of the Doberman Pinscher,” explains Demling-Riley. “However, they do share a common trait – they both have a huge and outgoing personality.” They also resemble a Doberman Pinscher with their pointy ears and bobbed tail, and the coats of some Min Pins are black and tan like the Dobie. But the Min Pin is cool in its own right. It lives longer, for starters – 12 to 16 years – and then there’s that swagger. There’s no mistaking the cocky high-stepping walk of the Min Pin! It’s all good, though, because back at home, this dog is a playful and enthusiastic companion.
A Papillon gives off a foo-foo air with its polished appearance, but behind those spirited eyes lies a hardy and playful pup. “With a personality as large as their ears, Papillons tend to be the party pup in the room,” says Demling-Riley. “The breed thrives in social settings and excels at agility, obedience, public manners, and even retrieving.” They adapt to warm or cool climates and can be happy in the city or the country, and they’re happy to play with toys indoors or chase squirrels in the backyard. Maybe being content in all scenarios is what helps the Papillon live up to 16 years.
Not only do Poms rank high among pups with the longest dog life spans (they can live up to 16 years), but they also retain their fox-like adorableness well into their senior years. Like many breeds of the spitz family, “Pomeranians are full of energy and fiercely loyal,” Dr Harris says. Their spitz genes also give them loads of snuggle-worthy floof, giving them a heftier appearance, but Poms weigh less than three kilos and are only about 25 centimetres tall. Their pint-size stature doesn’t alter their confidence, though. They strut their stuff like a confident big dog and can be a little cocky and aggressive. But when they’re with their humans, they’re all warm and friendly.
On the other hand, here’s how to know if your dog is secretly in need of some alone time.
Poodles come in three delightful sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. The toy is just 25 centimetres tall and is light as a feather, weighing about 2.5 kilos. Poodles – of all varieties – were the number one dog breed from 1960 to 1982. Today they rank seven on the AKC’s popular breed chart. Their continued popularity is no secret. Poodles are hopelessly devoted to their families and friendly to strangers, other dogs, and pets. Not to mention, they’ll be a loyal companion for 12 to 14 years. Plus, they’re wicked smart. “Poodles are highly intelligent dogs, and they tend to be extremely intuitive,” says Dr Harris. Did we mention how smart these little whippersnappers are?
Legend has it that the Rat Terrier got its name from US President Teddy Roosevelt, who had a mixed terrier breed that helped combat the rat infestation in the White House. Yet “rat” hardly seems appropriate for this dog with an adorable and friendly face. Still, it is a feisty and stubborn canine. “A true terrier breed, these opinionated pups need to know ‘why’ they should listen before they actually respond,” says Demling-Riley. “Consistent boundaries, obedience training, and positive reinforcement ensure they reach their full potential.” And since they can live 12 to 18 years, they have plenty of time to reach that full potential.
When you live with a Shih Tzu, it’s a long-lasting mutual love affair that will last 10 to 18 years. “Shih Tzus are great family dogs. They love to be loved and give it back very easily,” says Dr Harris. That could be why they’re the 20th most popular dog breed on the annual AKC list. Or maybe it’s because they’re oh-so-snuggly as lap dogs and have endearing, sweet expressions you could get lost in for days. Take them out for a walk and they’ll charm everyone they meet in human or furry form.
West Highland White Terrier
It’s a pretty big name for a little dog that hails from Scotland. Like most small dogs, the Westie has a big personality, with a touch of stubbornness and admirable independence…except for when you call them and they ignore you. But all is forgiven when that irresistibly cute face comes back to boop you in the nose. Demling-Riley says they adapt well to most living situations, but they do best with children over 10 years of age. You can’t blame a pooch who doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for a kid pulling on their tail or messing with their floof.
Since 1995, Yorkies have been a top 10 breed, according to the AKC. And it’s easy to see why so many people are smitten with these adorable nuggets. They have a long list of admirable qualities – including a life expectancy of 11 to 15 years. “They make excellent ‘purse’ dogs,” Dr Harris says, averaging three kilos and 20 centimetres tall. Like many terriers, Yorkies are spunky, lively, and at times mischievous. They are also eager to please and extremely food motivated, adds Dr Harris. Maybe that’s why they learn new tricks so easily. But they tend to get bored quickly and come up with their own form of entertainment – like hiding your socks.
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