Why do dogs have short lives? There are multiple elements that contribute to the life span of dogs. The type of breed, lifestyle, and size is crucial and needs to be considered. Additionally, regular visits to a vet and dental health are equally important.

The expected life span for a human is 79 years old. Exercise, age, and genetic makeup of course play a tremendous role in a person’s life span.

Why Do Dogs Live Short Lives
In my situation, my beloved Basset Hound, Copper is 7 years old in dog years so that makes him age 49 in human years. For every dog year, you multiply that number by 7 to equal human years.

Wow, and has time flown by. I was also asking myself why dogs have short lives compared to humans?

Join me and let’s discuss this common question in detail…

What 5 Key Factors Shorten A Dogs Life Span?

The lifespan issue has made many pet owners including myself wonder why dogs have short lives. Here are some of the contributing factors I have discovered:

1) Size Of The Dog

Smaller dog breeds have a longer lifespan than large dog breeds. It is believed that larger dogs tend to overwork their heart and other vital organs.

These organs tend to wear out after some time, and it could be the possible cause of their short lifespan. Hence, it is advisable to take large dog breeds for a regular check-up.

The examination and diagnosis from a professional vet will help to determine the worn-out organ. Immediate treatment will commence and extend the lifespan of your canine pal.

2) Dog Breed

Many domesticated dogs have been cross-bred several times by humans. The intention is to come up with a dog breed that suits their taste and preferences.

The cross-breeding results in genetic composition interference. Hence, making some dog breeds highly susceptible to certain illnesses.

Nature tends to pick up the strongest breed over the weakest breed. Strong dog breeds have the hardest genes that can withstand extreme environmental changes.

However, many pet owners end up choosing dogs based on looks rather than strength. This short-sightedness can be the reason a dog to have a shortened life.

3) Lack Of A Healthy Lifestyle

The living environment tends to play a crucial role as far as lifespan is concerned. The harsh environment will probably reduce the lifespan of your canine friend.

I recommend giving your furry friend a balanced diet, exercise, and regular check-up to a vet. This type of lifestyle will help to improve the lifespan of your dog.

Besides that, ensure the hygiene of the dog surrounding is top-notch. It will help prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases.

4) Problems With Dental Health

Poor dental care tend to experience health complications that shorten how long a dog lives. The oral bacteria tend to enter the bloodstream to cause kidney, heart, and liver failure.

I would recommend following proper dental care of your canine friend. This will help to increase their lifespan due to reduce the risk of health problems.

How Long Do Dogs Live On Average?

Dogs tend to offer unconditional love and companionship to their owners. It is the reason why many pet parents would want to have their furry friends around as long as possible.

However, dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan than humans and this tends to be so cruel seeing your pooch succumb to death.

But death is inevitable. The good news is that advancement in veterinary medicine has helped to improve the dog’s lifespan.

So, how long do dogs live on average? It ranges from 10 to 13 years. But as noted above, depends on the breed, size, and care.

Some dog breeds tend to live longer than other breeds despite providing the same care. This is normally due to genetic compositions.

For instance, cross-breed dogs have weaker genes, and this tends to reduce their lifespan. On the other hand, purebred dogs have the strongest genes that can withstand natural selection.

I would advise dog parents to consider the strength of the dog over their appearance. Most cute dogs are often crossbred.

Pure Breed vs Short Breed

A couple of things determines the longevity and mortality of dogs. But the advancement in veterinary medicine has helped improve the life expectancy of dogs regardless of size and breed.

Pure breed dogs tend to contain the toughest genes that can withstand various complications. These genes make the breeds to have a longer lifespan.

Another excellent companion is short breed dogs. These types of dogs fall under the small breed category. Research shows that they tend to live longer than large breed dogs.

However, pure breed dogs tend to live longer than short breed dogs. This is because pure breeds tend to retain the original toughest genes from the dog family.

On the other hand, short breeds came into existence due to cross-breeding. It implies that the gene formed has some interferences. Hence, the lower life expectancy.

But many dog owners prefer cross-breed canines due to their cute appearance over pure breed dogs. We recommend looking at the strength and ability to resist different health issues.

The key difference between pure breed and short breed dogs is their genetic composition and ability to resist health problems.

Dog Breeds That Have Short Lives (Top 7)

1) French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux)
French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux)

The oldest of the French breeds that have been around since the fourteenth century.  The French Mastiff weighs as much as 90 pounds but only has an average life span between  5-7 years.

2) Great Dane (Boarhound)

The Great Dane is a very popular German dog also known as the Apollo of Dogs and Gentle Giant can weight between 110 to 180 lbs. The life span of this breed is between  8-10 years.

3) Bernese Mountain Dog (Bernese Cattle Dog)

Bernese Mountain Dog

Also, know as the Bernese Cattle Dog, is originally from Switzerland to help drive cattle from the farmhouse to the pastures.  The Bernese Mountain Dog is double-coated for cold conditions, protective of its owner, and only has a life span of 7-10 years.

4) Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is an extremely large breed that can weigh up to 155 lbs. It originates from Ireland and is known to be a reserved but social dog.  Because of its size, the average life span is about 7 years.

5) Neapolitan Mastiff (Mastino Napoletano)

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is considered a large Italian breed and is best recognized to be an effective guard dog.  Weighing upwards to 150 lbs the average life span is about 7 years but can live up to 10 years.

6) Scottish Deerhound (Deerhound)

Scottish Deerhound

Breed from the country of Scotland this rough coat was originally used to track and hunt red deer. Considered gentle by nature the Scottish Deerhound has a life span of 8-9 years. This breed is susceptible to health issues like Gastric dilatation-volvulus among others that can contribute to an early death.

7) Rottweiler (Rott)


The Rottweiler is known as a German breed that dates back to the Roman Empire. With a double coat for colder climates, a Rottweiler was used for herding and protecting livestock.  Their health overall is considered good but can develop hip dysplasia over time. The average life span is around 8-10 years.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Dog Breeds That Have Long Lives (Top 7)

1) Chihuahua


The Chihuahua was bred from Mexico and is known to have a lot of energy. They are highly intelligent and excellent with children. Weighing only 6lbs. they are ideal if you live in a smaller dwelling or apartment. They can live up to 20 years with regular vet visits and a proper diet.

2) Dachshund (Wiener Dog)


Coming from German descent, a Dachshund with their short legs and long bodies were bred to flush out badgers. In addition, they will track down burrow-dwelling animals, mice, and rabbits. They are considered smart but stubborn so training can be a challenge for most owners. They have good health but can be at risk spinal problems because of their short rib cages. The life span is expected around 12-17 years.

3) Toy Poodle

Toy Poodle

Evidence of existing around the 15th century, this German breed originated as a duck and bird hunter. The Toy Poodle was not for peasant or common person but considered for the wealthy and powerful like Louis XVI and Rembrandt. Considered active and intelligent by most, Toy Poodles have an average life span of 16 years.

4) Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

Bred by John “Jack” Russell during the eighteenth century, Jack Russell Terriers are superior fox hunting dogs. Their tough and tenacious bodies up to 18 inches, make them ideal for burrows and attack their prey. They rarely have health conditions, and therefore have a life span of 16 years old with proper care.

5) Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu originated from China and were revered by the Chinese royals of the 17th century. In fact, they were not sold or traded until the 1800s into Europe and then North America in the early 20th century. Although loveable at first sight, they require daily grooming due to their fast-growing coat. Overall, their health is considered good and can live up to 16 years of age.

6) Maltese


Little is known where the Maltese originated from, however, there is evidence of this bred used as a lap dog during the Greek and Roman period. Their coat is long and silky but does not shed and that is a plus for people with allergies. The Maltese can weight up to 8 lbs and have a life span of 15 years.

7) Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Originally bred in Yorkshire, England during the 19th century, the Yorkshire Terrier is very smart, active, and curious about its environment. They are known to be “yapper” dogs, usually quiet and will sit at your feet when content. Training is quick with praise and food but due to some stubbornness, not the best pet for small children. They average around 7lbs and a life span of up to 16 years.

5 Key Ideas On How Can I Help My Dog A Longer Life?

How Can I Help My Dog A Longer Life

1) Maintain Healthy Weight

Dogs are susceptible to being overweight. Their owners usually contribute to the overweight issue. Giving your canine friend too many treats and foods is not advisable.

Obese dogs have a higher risk of suffering from a host of diseases. Some of the common conditions associated with being overweight are blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes.

These diseases will automatically reduce the lifespan of your furry friend. We recommend giving your Fido foods that foster healthy weight gain.

Besides that, provide the appropriate portion of food and reduce the number of treats. This will help to reduce the risk of gaining too much weight.

2) Regular Exercise

Many dog parents will do anything to protect their canine friend from danger. Some prefer keeping their poodle indoor most of the time.

Regular exercise tends to help the dog gain lean muscles, stimulate the mind, and promote muscle toning. Besides that, it helps boost the immune system and your dog will not have a short life.

However, the fitness activity will depend on the age, health, and breed of the dog. We recommend tailoring exercises that suit your canine friend.

3) Balanced Diet

Dogs are obligate carnivores. It implies that they rely on animal proteins for their survival and well-being. Keep in mind that minerals and ions are also essential.

Proteins are typically meant for facilitating lean muscle growth and development. But foods rich in minerals and ions enhance healthy bone formation.

Giving your canine friend a balanced diet will also help to protect against diseases. A balanced diet tends to improve the immune system, and this enhances a longer lifespan.

4) Dental Care Routine

Brushing the teeth of your canine friend daily is recommendable. It helps prevent bacteria, causing dental infection from entering the bloodstream.

Oral health plays a massive role in determining the lifespan of a dog. Maintaining overall good health can improve the lifespan of your canine friend.

5) Regular Checkup From Your Vet

Schedule an annual medical checkup for your dog. The checkups will help determine the wellness and well-being of your canine friend.

It is advisable to schedule a regular checkup for adult dogs. It will help discover diseases earlier and launch immediate medication.

6) Give Your Best Friend Love and Attention

Love and attention tend to give pooch great joy in life. Lack of these two things makes the canine friend stressed and even develop separation anxiety.

Keeping your poodle happy will help to make him live longer. Therefore, try to show your canine friend undivided love and attention daily.

Additional Reading:

Can Dogs Eat Pine Cones? Are They Toxic? (Answered)
Can Dogs Eat Rotten Meat? (Ultimate Guide)





Wesley Buck
Wesley Buck

Hello, my name is Wesley, and I grew up in Colorado. I went to school at St. Mary's University of Minnesota and have a B.S degree in Criminal Justice. I currently reside in Georgia and have been married for over 17 years.

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