10 Longest Lived Dog Breeds

Yorkshire Terrier laying on hardwood floor Yorkshire Terrier Image by hj_west

Life would be sweeter if dogs lived longer. Dogs become important members of our families. We grow so closely attached to our dogs, and love them whole-heartedly, that it’s heartbreaking when a beloved dog dies. By knowing which breeds tend to live longest, we can expect to spend as many quality years with our dogs as possible. Here is a list of the top 10 commonly long lived dog breeds.

Yorkshire Terrier

Average life span 17-20 years

These tiny terriers are full of personality. Their temperament has been described as “sprightly, bold, confident, courageous, intelligent, independent, affectionate”. Of course, although it’s interesting and potentially useful to be aware of the tendencies of any breed, always take those descriptions with a grain of salt. Every dog is unique. Every dog is adaptable. More than anything else, your dog’s behaviour will reflect your patient and consistent training and guidance (or lack thereof). Yorkshire Terriers were bred to hunt rats in clothing mills in Yorkshire, England in the 1800’s. Show dogs weigh up a maximum of 7 pounds, but full grown pet Yorkies weigh anywhere between 4 and 15 pounds. Yorkshire Terriers are the 7th most popular dog breed according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The long coat of the Yorkshire Terrier requires regular brushing. They are moderately active and as with all dogs, they require daily walks outside to remain happy and healthy.

Chihuahua

Chihuahua laying in a persons hand looking to the right

Chihuahua
Image by Tommi Virtanen

Average life span 15-20 years

As the smallest breed of dog in the world, the average weight range for a Chihuahua is only 3 to 6 pounds. Their temperament is described as Lively, Devoted, Alert, Quick, Courageous. These little pooches originate from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Chihuahuas come in a wide variety of colours and have either a short coat or long coat. According to Wikipedia, ancient wheeled dog toys representing Chihuahuas “were found at Tres Zapotes in Veracruz, Mexico, which date to 100 AD., indirect evidence that the breed was in Mexico over 1400 years before the first Europeans arrived.” Although they are small and cute, Chihuahuas are often not recommended as pets in homes with small children. Chihuahuas may become overly protective of one person in the home and attempt to keep all other people and animals at a distance. This issue can only occur if the owner allows the dog to do so, and doesn’t correct the dog immediately and consistently when they behave inappropriately. Chihuahuas are the 28th most popular dog breed in the USA according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Pomeranian

Pomeranian laying down with plants in background

Pomeranian
Image by Thanate Tan

Average life span 12-16 years

Pomeranians are tiny and very fluffy with cute foxy faces. They weigh between 4 and 8 pounds. Poms are typically friendly, intelligent, bold, playful and lively. They tend to enjoy being the centre of attention. Being cute and smart, they can find clever ways to get what they want. They are active, animated and love commanding the attention of their humans. Pomeranians have a moderate to high energy level, and like all breeds, they need daily outdoor walks, plus play time romping in the yard or dashing about indoors. Pomeranians ranked 21st in the 2015 AKC registration statistics. Their long, double thick coat needs regular brushing and occasional bathing. They love to please and are very intelligent dogs. Pom Poms are generally energetic and respond well to training. They also have a reputation for barking excessively and for being dominant / aggressive if not well trained. The breed is named for Pomerania, a region in Central Europe which was formerly part of Germany. Pomeranians are dwarf German Spitz. Queen Victoria reigned for over 63 years, from 1837-1901. She had a tiny Pomeranian dog, named Turi. The popularity of the breed doubled during her reign. Her favourite pet Turi, was laid upon her deathbed as a last request. More recently, over the past 15 years, the breed has ranked in the top 20 most popular in the United States of America.

Dachshund

3 dachshunds standing on a look with different expressions

Dachshund
Image by Morning theft

Average life span 12-15 years

Dachshunds usually weigh between 16 – 33 pounds. They have short legs and long bodies. H. L. Mencken said, “A dachshund is a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long”. Due to their distinctive name and body shape, Dachshunds have acquired a lot of nick names: dox, doxies, sausage dogs, and wiener dogs.  The breed was originally developed to scent, chase, and flush out burrow-dwelling animals, such as badgers.  Their temperament is described as lively, playful, devoted, clever, stubborn, and courageous. They would have to be very courageous to tangle with badgers, who are well-known to be ferocious creatures. As one of the most popular dogs in the United States, Dachshunds ranked 10th in the 2012 AKC registration statistics.

Beagle

Beagal and beagal puppy smelling each other

Beagle
Image by Gianluca Annicchiarico

Average life span 12-15 years

Beagles tend to be curious, loving, happy, easygoing, friendly and companionable. At an average weight of 22 – 35 pounds, they are a medium size, and the largest dog on this list. Beagles are very active and require plenty of daily energetic exercise. Beagles were ranked as the 5th most popular dog in the 2015 AKC registration statistics. They were originally bred as scent hounds to hunt for hare and foxes.

Toy Poodle

Poodle laying on a couch looking expectant

Miniature Poodle
Image by Yasuhiko Ito

Average life span 12-15 years

Poodles are the 8th most popular dog breed according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Standard, miniature and toy poodles are all the same breed, but of varying sizes. They are described as proud, active and very intelligent dogs. The temperament of the Poodle is described as alert, faithful, active, intelligent, and trainable. Their coats are curly and hypoallergenic and require regular professional grooming. They are active dogs with a medium energy level, and are enthusiastic walkers, runners and swimmers.

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer on deck

Miniature Schnauzer
Image by Living in Monrovia

Average life span 12-15 years

Miniature Schnauzer ranked 16th in the 2015 AKC registration statistics. They are described as friendly, obedient and smart, with an alert, active disposition. Miniature Schnauzers tend to crave human companionship, so they are highly motivated to learn and easy to train. Their double coat requires regular grooming but sheds little. This breed was developed in Germany as a dog to hunt rats on farms. These days Miniature Schnauzers are just as likely to be city slickers, who have never heard of a rat, but instead spend their time frolicking playfully and inventing their own fun. They can make good watch dogs, who alert their humans with barking rather than biting. Miniature Schnauzers require an outlet for their energy, including plenty of dog walking. They can also be found enjoying competitions in dog agility trials, flyball, and tracking.

Maltese

Maltese sitting on a rock by the sea

Maltese
Image by Renzo Stanley

Average life span 12-15 years

Maltese tend to be gentle, charming, affectionate, eager, spritely and playful. Maltese only come in one colour – white. Daily cleaning is required to prevent tear-staining. They have a long straight coat of hypoallergenic, silky, white hair with no undercoat. They need daily brushing, in addition to regular grooming to prevent matting. On the upside, they shed very little to none at all. Maltese have a medium energy level and enjoy brisk walks outdoors, as well as indoor play and learning tricks. Maltese ranked 31st in the 2015 AKC registration statistics. Show dogs must weigh under 7 pounds, but pet Maltese may weigh up to 8 or 9 pounds. The breed originates from the central Mediterranean island nation of Malta, and the Greeks built tombs for their Maltese. According to Wikipedia, “the oldest record of this breed was found on a Greek amphora (dated to)… around 500 BC.”

Pug

Black pug looking into the camera

Pug
Image by e_haya

Average life span 12-15 years

Pugs are known to be charming, mischievous and loving. They are sturdy little dogs with big personalities. Pugs are ranked as the 33rd most popular dog breed of 2014 and 2015, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). They are one of the oldest known breeds of dog, originating in China before 400 BC. Pugs tend to be even tempered, comical, and very affectionate. They do shed, but their coats require little grooming, however their facial wrinkles need to be kept clean and dry. Their big eyes and very short noses are cute, but they are susceptible to eye injuries and breathing difficulties. They have a moderate energy level and are equally happy living in the city or countryside. A Pugs’ food and exercise must be regulated carefully to ensure they do not exceed approximately 14-18 pounds. Pugs have been touted as “the perfect apartment dog”, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular vigorous exercise. Sedentary Pugs are prone to obesity. Overfeeding any dog will reduce it’s health, happiness and life expectancy.

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso with tongue out sitting in green grass

Lhasa Apso
Image by Rachel Samanyi

Average life span 12-15 years

Lhasa Apsos originated in Tibet over 4000 years ago, and were bred to work as indoor monastery sentinel dogs for the Tibetan Buddhist monks. They are alert and possess a keen sense of hearing. The breed is known to be intelligent, independent, confident and comical. The ideal Lhasa temperament is to be mistrustful with strangers while being devoted to those closest to them, so careful, consistent socialization training is critical with pet Lhasa Apsos to prevent aggression toward visitors to your home. The coat of a Lhasa Apso is heavy, straight, hard, and dense. Their long coat requires weekly grooming. Lhasa Apso ranked 65th in the 2015 AKC registration statistics. They weigh between 14 to 18 pounds. Lhasa Apsos have a medium energy level and enjoy regular brisk walks, in addition to indoor clowning and cavorting.

Other dog breeds with long lifespans

You may have noticed that this list contains only smaller dogs. The sad truth is that larger dogs tend to live much shorter lives. For example, the life span of  Great Danes and Bernese Mountain dogs is only 6-8 years. Dogue de Bordeauxs, or French Mastiffs only live 5-8 years. In my opinion, that is far too short, especially considering that there are many other breeds of dogs that can live over twice as long. 

Keep in mind that many mixed breeds also have longer than normal life spans. Mixed breeds may avoid many of the chronic illnesses prevalent in their purebred cousins, due to the hybrid vigour inherent in keeping the genetic lines diluted. There are many mixed breeds that have become designated as”designer dogs”, but there are also many dogs which have bred without intention and are available at a shelter near you.

If you are open to adopting a dog who is truly in need of TLC and stable guidance in it’s life, please check your local shelters before contacting breeders. Remember that saving a life and doing a good deed is wonderful, but do NOT allow yourself to drown the dog in pity, or spoil it by not providing it with the same rules and love you would give any dog. Dogs are very intuitive and they respond to how we treat them. So rather than treating a rescued dog as if it’s pathetic, (which will make it feel sorry for itself) trust that with your regular training, exercise, and consistent care, your rescued dog will quickly adjust and learn to trust you and other humans in return.

There are also some rare dog breeds with much longer than average life spans, such as the Berger Picard, the Lancashire Heeler, and the Norwegian Lundehund – each of which enjoys an average 14 year lifespan.

Here’s wishing many years of happiness for you, and hoping your dog enjoys a long and healthy life!

 

Supporting you in providing a balanced & fulfilling life for your dog

Fluffy mixed breed with shades of brown looking at the camera with trees in the background.