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Published: Feb 23, 2024 4 min read

When you make the decision to add a furry friend to be a part of your family, one of the main questions some dog owners could have is how long they will have them for. A dog’s age can vary on a number of factors, including its size and breed. But how long exactly do dogs live and how do these traits figure into it? Let’s learn more about the realistic lifespans of dogs and what to expect from different breeds.

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Factors that influence how long dogs live

Although life expectancy in dogs is not an exact science and the underlying causes that influence a dog’s lifespan are not fully understood, these are some of the major factors that determine how long a dog will live.


Small dogs live, on average, longer than their medium and large counterparts. This is measured by how big they are when they reach adult size. Smaller breeds usually live 10-15 years, with medium breeds living on average 10 to 13 years and larger breeds living an average of 8 to 13 years. This accelerated aging process could have something to do with how quickly a giant breed dog has to grow to reach its adult size compared to a smaller breed.


Apart from size, breed is the biggest determining factor on how long dogs live on average. A pomeranian, for example, lives four years longer than a pug on average, despite being similarly sized dogs. Each breed also carries with it genetic predispositions to certain diseases and conditions that can influence how long a dog will live. This is something breeders pay attention to when determining a dog’s potential health issues.

Mixed-breed dogs, often called mongrels or mutts, generally live to be 13 years old on average. This number can vary wildly depending on the genetic composition of the dog and its upbringing. However, mutts generally avoid many of the health problems associated with dogs that have been bred for a particular purpose. For this reason, mixed-breed dogs live longer on average than similarly sized purebred dogs.


Although the ideal diet for dogs is debatable, it has been noted in studies made by the Dog Aging Project that dogs that feed once a day live long and are in better health than dogs that feed multiple times a day. Although senior dogs are usually fed specialized dog food, dogs with nontraditional diets have been known to have lived upwards of 20 years.

The list above does not include other factors that may influence a dog’s overall lifespan, such as a healthy weight and lifestyle, the frequency of check-ups and vaccinations, and the quality of veterinary medicine it gets.

Here’s an assortment of dog’s life spans on average, by breed:

  • Border collie: 13 years
  • Great Dane: 8 years
  • German Shepherd: 10 years
  • Irish Wolfhound: 6 years
  • Yorkshire terrier: 12-15 years
  • Australian shepherd: 12-15 years
  • Bernese Mountain Dog: 7 years
  • Golden retriever: 12 years
  • Jack Russell Terrier: 12-14 years

How long do dogs live FAQs

What is the longest living dog breed?

The chihuahua and the Boston Terrier, both smaller dogs, have average lifespans of 15 years. However, some specimens of larger dogs, such as Australian Cattle Dogs, poodles and labrador retrievers have been known to live up to 20 years.

What is the oldest dog to have ever lived?

Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo livestock guard dog, is the dog with the longest life to have ever been recorded, breaking its average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years by living 31 years and 165 days.

Do neutered or spayed dogs live longer?

Female dogs that have been spayed appear to have the longest life expectancy, while male dogs that have been neutered have shorter lifespans than male dogs that haven’t been neutered.

How long is a dog year?

Contrary to the popular belief that a dog year is equal to seven human years, it is now acknowledged that in terms of physical maturity, the first year in a dog’s life equates to 15 human years, the second year equates to 9 human years and each subsequent year is about 5 human years.

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