Even with dogs, the hourglass of life eventually runs out

The life constellation of dogs is similar to that of horses. Small breeds of horses like ponies grow older than their larger counterparts. On average, dogs live 12 to 15 years. How long dogs live depends, among other things, on their size.

How long do dogs live

The age of the dog, like that of the human being, depends on numerous influences. These lie in the habitus of the animal itself and in its environment. Moreover, special components such as good husbandry, health care, good genetics, food and others can help to prolong the life of dogs.

What influences the life expectancy of dogs?

Various factors influence the life expectancy of a dog. Already by the purposeful professional selection or the rather coincidental mating of potent animals, the lifetime of the puppies and later adult dogs is influenced to a greater or lesser extent.

Samoyed family in the garden. Inscription reads: Already pregnancy and puppyhood lays the foundation for a long dog life.
Already the pregnancy and puppy period lays the foundation for a long dog life.

Furthermore, quadrupeds die younger if they have a poor constitution or live in an environment that is unfavorable for them. In Germany, the dogs are doing relatively well. Therefore, in most cases, dog lovers can look forward to a long life for their furry paws.

Average life expectancy and what it means for you

You have to accept that your pet is aging, even if it’s hard. This can be unexpectedly early. Or at a surprisingly late date.

Responsible dog lovers take this into account ready when deciding to purchase:

  • Am I too old for a puppy?
  • Who will take care of my dog if I become ill due to old age?
  • Is a young dog or puppy worth it for dog lovers in their old age?
  • Can I care for an old dog in a species-appropriate way?
  • Will a young dog or an older dog suit me?
  • Do I want a long-lived breed, a short-lived breed, or a mixed breed?
  • Do I buy from the breeder or find another place to go?
  • Do I want a big dog or a small dog?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before choosing a dog in the context of life expectancy.

Overview of the life expectancy of dogs

The regular age of dogs can vary. Exact data are not available, especially for mixes. The body weight is taken as the basis for an approximate allocation. The average dog age for mixed breeds is between 7 and 14 years.

How old do dogs usually get?

In the case of pedigree dogs, a statistical survey regarding life expectancy is much easier. For the various breeds of dogs are usually organized in associations and are supervised by experts.

With these animals you can assume an age from 12 to 17 years.

Boxer lying comfortably on the sofa. Caption reads: It's not hard to feed your senior dog in an age-appropriate way, allowing him to enjoy a pleasant retirement.
Responsibly bred dogs grow old in good health.

The collection of data makes it clear that small breeds and mixed breeds are more long-lived than large dog breeds.

Small dogs vs. large dog breeds

The age of dogs varies enormously. Small-sized dogs reach an age of about 14 to 17 years. In contrast, dogs of medium stature live about 11 to 14 years. The life expectancy of large four-legged friends is decreasing significantly. It is a maximum of 10 years. Of course, there are exceptions that grow much older.

In order to prolong the life of dogs of all breeds, breeders are urged to consider the size of the animals as secondary (no breeding for excessive size and bulkiness). The guideline here should be the breeding standards regarding the breed specifications. Under this condition, the life expectancy of many dogs can be extended from the outset. Then lovers do not have to say goodbye to their faithful companions so early.

What is the maximum age a dog can live?

In this context, too, you can only rely on experts’ estimates and any data. Highly aged dogs are rare. Most senior dogs pass away at 18 or 19 years of age. Especially interesting is the extreme discrepancy between the life expectancy of large and small furry noses and depending on the breed.

Why do large breeds not live so long?

According to recent research, the rapid aging of large animals has to do with the fact that cell division occurs faster than in small dogs. This often results in highly metastatic tumors and rapidly spreading cancerous tumors. Incurable diseases like these put a premature end to a dog’s life.

At this point, however, the affected dogs often already show the first signs of age. So the body size of dogs like Great Dane or Wolfhound does not reflect the lifespan.

A Great Dane sleeping on her side on a sofa. Label reads: Very large dog breeds like Great Danes do not live as long as small dog breeds on average.
Very large dog breeds, such as Great Danes, do not live as long on average as small dog breeds.

If small dogs such as Dachshunds or Chihuahuas die from tumors or cancer, they are usually mostly young or in early adulthood.

Unlike small dogs, large breeds age precipitously at a certain stage of life. Which period (assumed to be adulthood) this is, no exact findings are available yet. But this also has an impact on their health.

Dogs live differently – life expectancy by breed

As mentioned above, one factor for health even in old age is breed.

But which dog breeds become the oldest?

In the meantime, it has become clear that not one specific breed alone basically reaches a high age. For example, with a purebred Chihuahua, you can expect it to be 17 years old. In second place are the dachshunds with a maximum of 16 years. The bright Jack Russell Terriers and Maltese easily keep up at 16.

Under optimal housing conditions with a balanced diet, adequate exercise and the right disposition of your pelt nose of course.

Happy Appenzeller mountain dog on a meadow with ball in his mouth. Inscription reads: Care, nutrition and preventive health care lead to a happy, long dog life.
Care, nutrition and preventive health care lead to a happy, long dog life.

Do mixed breeds live longer?

Evolutionary experts and researchers still have to work intensively on one phenomenon. There is a question to be answered as to why mixed breeds in particular are more long-lived than pedigree dogs.

One answer is that the diversity of genes, DNA, is still much broader than in pedigree animals.

Breeding vs. street mix

For the club breeding mainly animals are selected, which already come from a breeding or a breeding line. This narrows the gene pool. The mating always takes place with one and the same stud dog for a longer period of time. Thus, many puppies receive a low spectrum of genes.

Breeders must therefore be extremely careful that the puppies do not get any hereditary diseases or genetic defects through “overbreeding” or torture breeding. The goal of breeding should always be health and avoidance of diseases.

Interesting in this regard is the topic of inbreeding depression, which is current for example in some cat breeds such as Maine Coons. Responsible breeders of pedigree dogs do not mate without genetic testing and only with controlled inbreeding (prior determination of the inbreeding coefficient).

How old do mixed breed dogs live?

Mixed breed dogs can enjoy their canine lives up to 19 years of age, and in rare cases, up to 20 years. Mixed breed dogs are also more resistant and robust. They pass on this characteristic to their offspring.

Pedigree dogs with poor constitution and even hereditary diseases such as patellar luxation, hip dysplasia sometimes even come into breeding. As sad examples can be mentioned here:

If such a puppy is mated later on, the life expectancy of its offspring can decrease considerably (mating of weak puppies without genetic test of the parents often at multipliers without club).

Life expectancy by size

Body size plays a crucial role in how old your dog will live on average. And how many human years a dog year counts.

How old do small dogs get?

Dogs with a small body stature and weight under 15 kg may well live 10 to 15 years. If a Yorkshire Terrier counts 19 years, a human would be an old man of 96 years.

Portrait of a Yorkshire Terrier with typical coat color. Label reads: Small dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers live longer on average than very large ones.
Small dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers live longer on average than very large ones.

Why does a big dog not live as long as a small one?

At this point, research again gives you a solid explanation. Evolutionary biologists attribute these age variations to forced growth. There are complicated physiological processes involved in this process that have not been uncovered at this time.

Curious age marathon – How old will the oldest dog breed?

Dogs of small breeds such as Chihuahua, West Highland or Jack Russell Terrier and Miniature Spitz live especially long. This is followed by breeds such as Maltese, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Rehpinscher and Tibetan Spaniel.

The oldest dogs in the world turn this rule on its head: an Australian Kelpie female did not go over the rainbow into doggie paradise until she was 30 years old. She thus replaced the previous leader, an Australian Cattle Dog. He lived to be just under 29 1/2 years old, earning him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Both animals belonged to the breeds of large and medium stature and lived to be much older than the average 12 to 15 years.

When dogs age

Large dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers or Dalmatians age more rapidly than small ones. Mixed breed dogs age slower than purebreds.

The aging of the dog is called the regression phase. It is characterized by a variety of progressive abnormalities. These characteristics are based on a decrease in physiological processes and an inexorable aging process of the cells. In addition, the formation of new young cells is increasingly delayed (slowed cell division rhythms).

When is a dog old?

Your faithful companion is a senior citizen when, on average, he has completed three-quarters of his total lifetime.

Is a dog already old at the age of 7?

There is no rule of thumb to answer this question. To estimate this, a conversion to human years helps. This depends on whether it is a large, medium or small four-legged dog, a pedigree dog from a high-quality breeding or a real mixed breed.

If you have an animal companion that could live up to 10 years according to its breed and constitution, it would already be a senior at the age of 7.

Black mongrel dog lies with his head on a stone
Old dogs gray with dignity and radiate peace.

Signs of the aging process

This section is about the question “How can I tell that my dog is getting old”? and about the signs of old age.

Physical signs

Visually, you can see the advancing age of your dog by the graying of the hair. The coat loses color, gray hairs begin to sprout around the muzzle and ears.

The coat becomes thinning, it may look lackluster or shaggy. The eyes no longer shine as clearly. The overall physique appears less toned and muscular.

Movement can be restricted and health can be affected.

Behavioral changes

Seniors show declining activity and responsiveness. They are less efficient, sleep longer and more often. Interest in otherwise exciting games is waning. Walks become longer. Or shorter, if the movement is difficult.

Deviations from daily routines present enormous difficulties for the dog. Aging dogs have a harder time getting used to new things. They require much more time for grooming, loosening and eating. Don’t be surprised if your geriatric dog becomes a bit headstrong or even demented.

Health condition

Aging dogs, like aging people, are susceptible to disease. These can occur on all organ systems. Typical is a decrease in vision, joint wear, deafness and tumors.

As with human seniors, you need to pay special attention to your dog senior’s body weight and adapted exercise.

Brown dog runs with mistress on leash over various tree trunks and branches to train coordination
Controlled climbing over poles promotes joint mobility, muscle strength and concentration even in old dogs.

How old is my dog in human years?

As a rule of thumb, a dog’s year is comparable to about 7 human years of life. However, this information is only true for medium-sized breeds such as Collie, Poodle, Border Collie or Beagle. And it also only gives you an overview when your dog is already an adult.

If you want accurate data, use the Dog Human Years Calculator Dog Human Years Calculator or look up a chart that shows dog years in human years. From these listings, you can determine approximately how many human years 13 years means for a dog. And whether 15 years is old for him.

Factors influencing the age of the quadrupeds

This section is synonymous with how to ensure a long and fulfilling life with your dog.

You have many options to increase their dog’s lifespan. Playing a role:

  • The diet and the optimal weight
  • Exercise and exercise as needed
  • Adjusted mental workload
  • The timing of a castration
  • The health care (veterinarian, physiotherapy, …)
  • Mouth and body hygiene
  • A low-stress, species-appropriate husbandry
  • Modern dog training

Watch your dog so you can tell when he’s aging. Then his needs change and you can meet them perfectly.

Shadow image of a lying dog kissing a sitting mistress in front of a sunset. The inscription reads: True love between dog and mistress.
True love between dog and mistress fulfills all dog needs even in old age.

What do you learn from this information about how long dogs live?

It depends on the housing conditions, diet and various other factors. Small breeds have a higher life expectancy. But the decisive factor is always the individual, individual dog.

The record loves at incredible 30 dog years.

And if you follow all these tips, your dog doesn’t have to inevitably lose quality of life despite aging. It’s up to you. Show your dog every day that you like him and give him your affection.

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