Why Small Dogs Live Longer than Large Dogs

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Did you ever wonder why small dogs seem to live longer than their larger canine counterparts? While some factors are beyond the control of dog moms and dog dads, there are other things we can do to improve the longevity of our furry family members.

Researchers are now revealing that bigger dogs apparently die younger mainly because they age quickly. In a report filed by LiveScience.com this week, larger mammals seem to live longer than their smaller counterparts across species. An example is an elephant, who can live up to 70 years of age in the wold, whereas a house mouse may only live 4 years. However, the opposite holds true within species— including in horses, mice, and perhaps humans.

The Results

In this new research, the focus is on why larger dogs live short lives on average. Using information from over 56,000 dogs that visited veterinary teaching hospitals, researchers analyzed deaths in 74 different dog breeds. It was found that larger breeds age at faster rates than their smaller counterparts. In fact, an increase of 4.4 percent was shown. Interestingly, with every 4.4 increase of pounds in body mass, a loss of 1 month of life expectancy occurred.

This information leads investigators to trying to pinpoint the leading causes of death in larger dogs. It was revealed that larger dogs are affected more often with cancer. Since cancer, it is believe, is rooted in abnormal cell standard poodlegrowth and the fact that larger dogs grow more than smaller dog breeds is something scientists are going to analyze. They plan to follow health and growth histories of larger numbers of dogs.

Some Breeds Live Longer than Others

On average, 15 to 17 is a normal lifespan for breeds that live the longest. In researching this story, breeds that seemed to top the “longest living” list include foxhounds, terriers, poodles, and Cocker Spaniels. Less than 10 years of age is the norm in breeds like the St. Bernard and Great Dane.

 If a Dog Looks Like a Wolf, Expect a Longer Life Span

A 1999 study based in the United Kingdom revealed that dogs who resemble wolves live longer than dogs who do not. Flatter-faced breeds seem to have shorter life span than those with longer, sharper, “wolf-like” muzzles, according to the study. Although an exact reason why this is so was not revealed, researchers cited the example of a bulldog with a smooshed face having a short life space of up to 8 years, while a longer-nosed poodle or terrier might like 15 years or longer. With exceptions taken into consideration, wolf resemblance does seem to be a strong factor for life span.

Mutts Live Longer

With health problems and gene pool issues running rampant in the purebred community, mutts seem to have an advantage over their pedigree canine counterparts. In general, many mutts seem to outlive purebred dogs.


How to Help Your Dog Live Longer

Ah, the million dollar question: How can I help my dog live longer? I’ve read so much over the past 20+ years in my passion, career, and life with dogs, and in being around various circles of experts and members of the veterinary community, along with my own life experiences with dogs, illness, and managing them, here are 5 things dog moms and dog dads can do:

* Feed a Good, High Quality Diet: Garbage in, garbage out. Ironically, growing up I recall dogs roaming the street, with neighbors feeding them scraps and dogs living outside. Dogs seemed to have lived longer when I was a kid. Since the advent of dog food, there have been advances, but also plenty of not-so-good changes in terms of canine nutrition. In recent years, pet parents have become more savvy consumers and more in tune and demanding with regards to the quality of ingredients we feed our dogs. Bottom line: Feed a good diet that is well-balanced, works for your dog, and provides adequate nutrition.  The research is out there, so when in doubt, at the very least, do some investigating. Know what’s going into Fido’s bowl before you feed.

* See the Veterinarian: I cannot stress this enough. Don’t diagnose your dog. That lump might not be innocent, that cough should be tended to, and a limp can be more than a muscle pull. With the growth of the Internet comes a lot of ill-reported information. Nothing can replace the one-on-one relationship and hands-on communication between vet and dog.Dexter cocker spaniel

* Weight Management: This is perhaps, one of the most important things you can do for your dog. According to a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over half of all U.S. dogs and cats are obese. It’s an epidemic. I wrote an article about tips for keeping a dog’s weight in check and avoiding obesity. Give it a peek and follow through.

* Move: Dogs need mental and physical exercise. Get up, get out, and get moving with your dog. A good starting point is a regular walk around the park or neighborhood, with gradual increases. Rainy days, cold days and/or snowy days do not make for good excuses. We wrote about indoor fun for dogs in Dogster magazine.

* Interact:  Treat control. Just because it says “healthy,” “nutritious,” or “organic” does not make it so. Too many treats leads to obesity and enough of the wrong treats can lead to a shortened life span. I can read a dog food or dog treat label better than I can a human food label these days. It isn’t as hard as you might think, so becoming your dog’s advocate for what he consumes is pivotal for better health and increased longevity. I love this article on reading a dog treat label from Whole Dog Journal.

fidose of realityWhat are you doing to keep your dog living longer? Bark at us below in the comments. Live long, wag, and prosper.








  1. We do all of the things you mention, plus I try and use natural products whenever possible. I want my babies with me as long as possible.

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