Living Life to the Full – The Best Dog Breeds with Long Lifespans

Living Life to the Full – The Best Dog Breeds with Long Lifespans

One of the toughest facts about dog ownership is that your beloved pet has a much shorter lifespan than you, with the average maximum age of today’s dogs put at between 10 and 13 years. But due to several factors including genetics and size, some dogs can live longer, while others don’t live so long.

While how you care for and nurture your beloved pet can help them to have a long and happy life, their breed type also makes a difference. We look at 10 dog breeds that are known to have long lifespans.

Why Do Some Dog Breeds Live Longer than Others?

When it comes to the average age lifespan of dogs in general, you can expect between 10 and 13 years. However, research by the American Kennel Club has indicated that the average lifespan of larger dogs is around 7-10 years, while for small dogs, the average longest life can be between 13-16 years.

This means genetics has a key role to play when it comes to how long a dog will tend to live. Larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans because as they grow faster. This accelerated growth means they age quicker, and so have a shorter maximum life span. The fast growth of a large dog can also put them at risk of age-related diseases such as cancer and arthritis and other serious genetic illnesses which can shorten average life spans.

Meanwhile smaller dogs, especially the tiny breeds, age much more slowly and are not so quickly vulnerable to certain health conditions that can be age limiting.

What You Can Do to Extend the Lifespan of Your Dog

Even if your pet is a dog breed with an average, or less than average, life span, there are things you can do to ensure they live their longest, healthiest, and happiest life. These include:

  • Always feed them a nutritious, healthy diet
  • Avoid over-feeding to ensure your pooch is not carrying excess weight
  • Provide regular physical and mental exercise and stimulation appropriate to their breed
  • Ensure they have their regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and worming programs
  • Take care of their dental health
  • Show them plenty of love, affection, and care

10 of the Longest Living Dog Breeds

If longevity with your pet is your priority, then there are many long-lived breeds you can choose from. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Toy Poodle

happy white poodle playing outdoors with a toy

Average lifespan: 10 – 18 years

This mini bundle of fluff may look cute, but the Toy Poodle is also long-living, with an impressive potential lifespan of up to 18 years. Popular with many families and individuals thanks to the breed’s low shedding as well as its affectionate and fun nature, the Toy Poodle is also the longest living of all the Poodle breeds.

As energetic dogs, this toy breed needs plenty of stimulation, however, as they have a sassy, intelligent mind. But equally, Toy Poodles love nothing better than to snuggle up with their favorite humans.

Toy Poodles are known to be generally a healthy breed; however, they are prone to eye disorders as well as some orthopedic problems later in life.

2. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier dog stands sideways in summer - conformation

Average lifespan: 13 – 16 years

A small breed with a big attitude to life, the Jack Russell Terrier is renowned for its long lifespan. In fact, the world’s oldest Jack Russell, Charlie, reached the grand old age of 23 before passing in 2019. And one thing is sure, this little dog breed certainly lives each of its years to the full.

Bred for working – they are used to drive prey out from the ground – Jack Russell Terriers also retain their energy and enthusiasm for a life well into their old age. This means humans need to keep them exercised and occupied to bring out their best.

Hardy and playful dogs, there are a few conditions this breed is more susceptible to, including Cushing’s disease, ligament, and skin issues. The Jack Russell can also be prone to separation anxiety and certainly like to have their voice heard!

3. Australian Cattle Dog

Cute Australian cattle dog standing with its front paws on the rocks against the background of a city park

Average lifespan: 12 – 16 years

Also known as the Blue Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized breed that has an average life expectancy of up to 16 years. But then this breed – along with the other long-living Oz breed, the Australian Shepherd – is bred for high energy and active working life.

Generally smart, these obedient dogs have a strong work ethic and so this active breed will suit a family who loves an outdoor lifestyle. As work-oriented dogs, they can demand plenty of exercise and stimulation well into their golden years. This means you should ensure he has plenty of opportunities to get out and about as he enjoys his old age. Known to be a generally healthy dog breed, the Blue Heeler can be prone to a few health issues, including hip and elbow dysplasia which could slow him down as he gets older.

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu dog with long groomed hair, outdoor portrait in grass

Average lifespan: 10 – 16 years

Originating in 7th Century Tibet, the Shih Tzu’s name means ‘little lion dog’ but his attitude is more laid-back and loving than fierce. The super-friendly Shih Tzu was bred to be a companion animal and he loves to do his job. This means he only needs short daily walks but requires plenty of fuss and attention.

Small in stature – this elegant breed grows to no more than 11 inches in height – he is a bundle of fluff that needs regular grooming and clipping to keep looking his best. And with a decent lifespan of up to 16 years, the generally healthy Shih Tzu dogs can, however, be prone to hip and eye issues, especially in their older age.

5. Cockapoo

Brown Cockapoo side outdoors autumn fall colours

Average lifespan: 10 – 16 years

While not a pure breed – this is a gorgeous cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle – the Cockapoo is another long-lived breed capable of living up to 16 years. When it comes to genetics, it seems it takes its longevity from its Poodle side as the Cocker’s average lifespan is a couple of years less.

A good choice for families where allergies are present, the Cockapoo has an adorable temperament that also makes them a great family pet and is ideal as a best friend for children. Super-smart as well as loveable`, they also work well as therapy dogs.

Generally, healthy dogs, ear infections, cataracts, liver disease and hip dysplasia are among the main health concerns that can affect the Cockapoo. So always use a reputable breeder when buying a Cockapoo pup to ensure it is in the best of health.

6. Yorkshire Terrier

Cute Old Yorkshire Terrier Sitting In Green Grass With Dry Dandelions

Average lifespan: 13 – 16 years

One of the most popular toy breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier is a spirited pup that is not always contented to just be a lapdog. This mini fluffball is big in personality, thanks to its terrier traits. And this means they are energetic, vocal, and possess strong guarding instincts for their size.

The Yorkie is also very trainable and has a switched-on brain, meaning this tiny terror could become the boss of the house! But these self-confident dogs make up for their sass with a love for affection, meaning you’ll get plenty of mini cuddles with this adorable little dog.

With a dog life expectancy of 16 years, sometimes longer, Yorkshire Terriers are purebred so vulnerable to certain health conditions such as patellar luxation and retinal atrophy. But with daily walks, good nutrition, and plenty of fuss and attention, there’s every chance this little pooch will live well into old age.

7. Maltese

Portrait of beautiful dog breeds

Average lifespan: 12 – 15 years

The Maltese are an ancient dog breed that can be traced back two millennia to Greece where they were prized companions for the wealthy. This companion role continues today as they thrive on one-to-one love and attention. With their long, silky coat and expressive eyes, this toy breed is also good for people with allergies, and their playfulness and ability to learn tricks will entertain the kids.

However, this desire for attention means this loyal breed can be prone to separation anxiety. And their high energy levels for their size – especially Maltese pups – mean they can become destructive and excessively vocal if left to get bored. With females tending to live longer than males, the Maltese are generally healthy although patellar luxation, retinal atrophy, and hypoglycemia are some conditions to keep an eye out for.

8. Chihuahua

Chihuahua Girl looks nice in Nature

Average lifespan: 12 – 20 years

The pint-sized Chihuahua is one of the longest-lived dog breeds with it perfectly possible for some to live up to 20 years.  The official dog of Mexico, the Chis, as they are affectionately known, will quickly win a permanent place in your heart. Smart, curious, and sparky, the Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in our guide but has a large personality that will make his presence in your family know.

Despite their size, these tiny, happy dogs require plenty of daily exercise and playtime, as well as mental stimulation to prevent them from getting bored. The Chihuahua also needs good basic training, so he knows his boundaries. In return, you get a super-loving dog that enjoys generally good health, although they can be prone to heart and eye problems, especially as they get older.

9. Beagle

dog Beagle on a walk early in the morning at sunrise

Average lifespan: 10 – 15 years

With their gentle, curious, and comedic personality, the Beagle is considered one of the best family dogs and make wonderful furry friends for both children and adults. And the good thing about having a Beagle as a family pet is that there is a good chance they will live a long life, with an average dog lifespan of up to 15 years. In fact, the oldest known Beagle, Butch from Virginia, lived to the ripe old age of 27!

With their hound heritage, the Beagle has boundless energy and loves the rough and tough of family play. But as they are scent-driven, they do have a tendency to roam, so you do need to ensure you have an enclosed space to keep them secure and safe. They can also be a bit on the stubborn side when it comes to training, but the effort it worth it for this loyal and largely healthy breed.

10. Shiba Inu

Portrait of Beautiful and happy shiba inu dog sitting on the grass in the forest in autumn.

Average lifespan: 13 – 16 years

As well as one of the longest lifespan dog breeds, the Japanese Shiba Inu is also one of the world’s oldest. A smaller version of the large Akita, the Shiba Inu is a Spitz-type breed that resembles a cuddly fox. But while they may look like a toy, the Shiba has an aloof personality. These dogs also tend to be strong-willed so need an experienced home to bring out their softer side.

That said, this breed is quiet, easily house trained and loyal, and loves nothing more than to spend time with his special human. These devoted dogs are also very active so be prepared to provide plenty of exercise and playtime to ensure they remain healthy. A sturdy little dog, the Shiba Inu is generally robust as a breed. Just watch out for certain issues, such as hypothyroidism, epilepsy, and retinal atrophy, that the breed can be prone to.

Related Post: How to Calculate Dog Years to Human Years


  1. 10 ways to help your dog live longer  American Kennel Club

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