We all want our pet dogs to live as long as possible, but the fact of the matter is that on average, certain dog breeds live longer than others. This might be a consideration when choosing a dog breed and it is therefore useful information to know before hand.
Life expectancy figures are based on averages. Actually the average lifespan of any dog whether purebred or of indetermine descent is between 10 to 12 years of age. The average life span of the North American or European dog is 12.8 years. This is a large increase in life span over the past 100 years and is mostly attributable to better food and better medical care. Within this 12.8 year average for all dogs is a large range of life spans where certain breeds live longer and certain breeds live less long. In general, larger dogs live shorter lives than smaller dogs. This is due to the fact that the bodies of larger dogs must work harder (are more stressed) than the bodies of smaller dogs. That said, the life expectancy of any one dog in particular is ALSO determined by the stresses in its life (both physical and psychological), what it eats and how well it is taken care of.
For example an Irish Wolfhound has a lifespan that is on average between 6 and 7 years of age whereas a toy poodle or Lhasa Apso is going to have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years of age. As with people certain individual dogs may exceed their breed’s average life expectancy and others will fall short.
How old is my dog compared to me?
The terms “dog years” and “human years” are frequently used when describing the age of a dog. For example “human years” represent a strict calendar basis (365 days) and a “dog year” to be the equivalent portion of a dog’s lifetime, as a calendar year would be for a human being.Under this system, a 6-year-old dog would be described as having an age of 6 human years or 40–50 (depending on the breed) dog years.
They are several misconceptions about the aging of our pets:
No one formula for dog-to-human age conversion is scientifically agreed on, although within fairly close limits they show great similarities.
As a rough approximation, the human equivalent of a one-year-old dog is between about 10 and 15 years—a one-year-old dog or cat has generally reached its full growth and is sexually mature, although it might still be lanky and need to fill in a more mature musculature, similar to human teenagers. The second year is equivalent to about another 3 to 8 years in terms of physical and mental maturity, and each year thereafter is equivalent to only about 10 or 11 human years.
Emotional maturity occurs, as with humans, over an extended period of time and in stages. As in other areas, development of giant breeds is slightly delayed compared to other breeds, and, as with humans, there is a difference between adulthood and full maturity (compare humans age 20 and age 40 for example). In all but large breeds, sociosexual interest arises around 6–9 months, becoming emotionally adult around 15–18 months and fully mature around 3–4 years, although as with humans learning and refinement continue thereafter.
Small-breed dogs (such as small terriers) become geriatric at about 11 years; medium-breed dogs (such as springer spaniels) at 10 years; large-breed dogs (such as German Shepherd Dogs) at 8 years; and giant-breed dogs (such as Great Danes) at 7 years
No matter the dog, there are certain stages that all dogs will go through as they grow older. By recognizing these stages it will become easier to understand how your dog is aging and any special requirements to keep them as healthy and fit as possible.
For a dog that lives to the average of about 10 years:
0 – 2 years of age is the growth stage. This the period of time when the dog does its developing, both physically and mentally. While nutrition is important throughout the dog’s life, this is going to be the stage when it is going to have the most affect in laying a foundation for a healthy life. They should not be allowed to become fat as this will affect them later in life. Dogs in this age range should be given moderate exercise only. Hard exercise at this stage of a dog’s life particularly those that might be inclined to bone disease, such as hip dysplasia, puts undue strain on the joints and ligaments possibly causing damage later in life. This is also the stage when dogs learn their social skills, so training and socialization is very important now.
2 – 5 years of age can be considered the young adult stage. This is the period of life when the dog has finished its growing and is active and healthy. Its diet should be of a maintenance type.
5 – 8 years of age is the equivalent to middle age. The dog begins to slow down and minor health concerns may start to crop up such as mild arthritis or heart murmurs. At this stage diet should be watched as some dogs have a tendency to become overweight. A low calorie diet may be considered. They may have to be encouraged to exercise to keep fit.
8 plus is basically old age. As the dog ages through this period health problems, such as coronary disease, start to become an issue, with the dog requiring more veterinary care and medications. The dog will start to go grey and have a tendency to sleep more often. It will have more problems moving about, quite often be noticeably stiff when getting up. Hearing and eye sight can become diminished. More care to keep them warm and dry is required. Often dogs as they start getting to the end stage will need to be encouraged to eat.
Remember that our dogs are with us for only a short span compared to our lifetime and we should consider every day precious. And when the end of their life is near and the quality of life is no longer there, consider their needs over ours and allow them to go in dignity and with the minimum of pain. It is the most important act we can perform for our years of friendship.
Longest lived dogs?
The two longest living dogs on record, “Bluey” and “Chilla”, were Australian Cattle Dogs.This has prompted a study of the longevity of the Australian Cattle Dog to examine if the breed might have exceptional longevity. The 100-dog survey yielded a mean longevity of 13.41 years. The study concluded that while Australian Cattle Dogs are a healthy breed and do live on average almost a year longer than most dogs of other breeds in the same weight class, record ages such as Bluey’s or Chilla’s should be regarded as uncharacteristic exceptions rather than as indicators of common exceptional longevity for the entire breed.
Popular breeds average life expectancy
These figures are taken from a number of different sources, and will vary in accuracy according to the sample size. Number of dogs included for each breed varied from 30 to several hundred from all over the world. However general trends are reliable.