The average lifespan of a dog is somewhere between 10 and 13 years. But there’s so much more to it than that! Dog breed, size, health, activity levels, and lifestyle; all can play a part in how many years you can expect to share with your canine companion.
In this article, we’re going to pull back the curtain on how doggy experts landed on the average lifespan of a dog. Plus, we’ll help you come up with a better estimate for your unique doggo. Lastly, we’ll provide some tips for making sure your pupper lives as long and healthy a life as possible.
Why is 10 to 13 years the accepted average lifespan of a dog?
Like any broad statistic, the average lifespan of a dog should be understood as a middle-of-the-road number. Some dogs enjoy an average lifespan of between 15 and 20 years old. Others may only reach about 8 to 10 years old.
Also, dogs within a specific breed can often exceed their expected lifespan. In our recent article, Longest Living Dog Breeds, we explored some amazing doggos who lived well into their 20s.
That is all to say that a pupper’s life expectancy might not line up with the overarching average lifespan of a dog. But, there are a few ways that you can get a better understanding of an individual dog’s expected lifespan.
Dog breed and expected lifespan
You’re probably familiar with the idea that small dogs tend to live longer than large ones. The average lifespan of a dog in the giant breed category, for example, is just 7 to 8 years. Dogs in the small breed category, on the other hand, have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Medium to large breed dogs typically land in the middle, with an average lifespan of around 10 to 13 years.
There is some variability within each group, of course. Australian Cattle Dogs, for instance, have a uniquely long lifespan for their size group, at 14 to 16 years. And sadly, there are some small breeds, like the British Bulldog and French Bulldog, who don’t have as long of a lifespan as their little dog counterparts.
We should also note that a study from 2018 suggests that purebred dogs may have a lower average life expectancy than mixed breed dogs. The study looked at the data from over 1,200 dogs in Hungary and found that the group of dogs who lived past 12 years old were more likely to be mixed breed. In addition, they found that in the unhealthy category, purebred dogs were likely to experience health problems at a younger age than the mixed breed dogs.
Before we conclude that mixed breed dogs have a longer average lifespan than purebred dogs, the truth isn’t so simple. In fact, another study from the University of California found that while there are some genetic disorders that are more common in purebred dogs, others, such as mast cell tumours and lymphoma, are equally prevalent in both groups.
And, as we’ll cover in just a moment, there are many other factors besides heredity that can affect the average lifespan of a dog.
How a healthy lifestyle can affect the average lifespan of a dog
As it turns out, taking your dog to the dog park isn’t just a way to keep them from bouncing off the walls at 3am. It’s also part of a routine that can lengthen the average lifespan of a dog. There are many elements that go into a dog’s healthy lifestyle. Some are obvious, and others may surprise you!
Finding the right level of exercise for your dog is an important first step in giving them a healthier lifestyle. Not only does exercise build heart health, but it also releases chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and endorphins, which can help lower anxiety.
On the one hand, training is an important way to make sure you always have control over your dog. This will lower the risk for injuries or stress that they might experience as a result of running away or getting into a fight with another dog or wild animal.
On the other hand, training is an amazing confidence-booster. Here’s why: A 2013 study suggests that dogs may see their Owners more as parents than masters. They feel most secure in the world when they can take direction and get feedback from their beloved caretakers. And in turn, this positive relationship with their Owner will allow your dog to socialise safely and enjoy better decision-making skills as they go through life.
So, by spending time training your pup, you can build their self-esteem.
- Mental stimulation
As it turns out, old dogs not only can learn new tricks, but they should! Mental stimulation of all kinds, from trick-training to exploring new places, are essential ways to keep your dog’s cognitive abilities sharp for years.
- Don’t forget about diet!
Exercise, training, and mental stimulation are wonderful, but your dog also needs a good diet. A diet rich in healthy fats, fresh protein, and dog-friendly veggies can give them the physical and mental boost they need to keep up a healthy lifestyle.
The flip side, of course, is that a healthy diet can also prevent your dog from dangerous weight gain. Obesity is a serious health risk and can even shorten your dog’s life by a matter of years. So make sure to feed them a diet that is as healthy for them as it is tasty!
- Dental health
We get it, no one wants to fight their doggo on the issue of daily toothbrushing. But, proper dental hygiene is a bigger factor in life expectancy than you might think.
Your dog should get regular teeth brushings from their favourite human as well as scheduled check-ups with their vet.
- Rest and recovery
Your pup needs to snooze! And it’s not just so that you can cuddle them up for a movie marathon. In fact, you should be as strict about rest and recovery as you are about every other factor. Without it, your pup will have a hard time paying attention during training sessions. This, in turn, could put them at a higher risk for injuries during exercise.
- Lower the stress
Remember that study we referenced about the average lifespan of a dog with a pedigree versus mixed breed background? Their research also found that traumatic events could significantly impact a dog’s life expectancy. Stress, anxiety, and traumatic events such as abuse or abandonment were found to shorten a dog’s expected lifespan.
Now, if you adopted a doggo with a difficult past, that doesn’t mean that they’re doomed to a short lifespan. But, you might want to take special care to ensure that they feel safe and protected to lower the effects of their previous trauma.
You can make small lifestyle changes so that your pupper can live longer!
By giving your dog a healthy lifestyle, you can give them the best chance to outlive the average lifespan of a dog!