As I pointed out in Is It Time to Let Go, there are few things harder than saying goodbye to a dog that you love. We love them so much, and we have them for so little time. Sometimes, depending on the breed we love, we might get far less time than we think we deserve – less time than owners of other breeds get.
Personally, I’ve never chosen a dog based on how long I expected him to live. I’ve chosen the dog that spoke to my heart, and damn the consequences.
Some dogs live longer than others. That’s not right or fair, but it’s true. And I don’t know about you, but I’d take the nine years I’m likely to get from Janice and Leroy over several more years from a smaller breed. That’s just me, though, and you can feel free to disagree.
If you’re just now looking for a dog, though, and want to be sure that you’ll have him or her for many years, there are probably some breeds that you might want to avoid. Here they are, in order from the longest-lived of the shortest-lived dog breeds, to the shortest-lived dog breeds overall.
Keep in mind, please, that these are just guidelines. There’s always a dog that lives well beyond his or her life expectancy. Just as an example, my friend Neila, who breeds Rottweilers, recently lost one of her dogs at the age of 16 – which is about 7 years beyond what you can reasonably expect from the breed. Or any breed, for that matter.
You can also end up with a dog that should live for many, many years, and might succumb to illness early on. Sometimes, it’s just luck of the draw. So don’t base your decision on what dog to get solely on life expectancy; it’s a crap shoot, plain and simple. Sometimes, you win, and sometimes you lose.
Now, with that in mind, let’s talk about what you can usually expect from specific breeds and hybrids. We’ll do this in descending order – from the dogs that are likely to live for longer down through to those that won’t get all that much time, with a bit of overlap from time to time.
Basset Hounds are not exactly long-lived dogs, because they’re prone to all sort of health problems. Their short legs can lead to back problems, and their ears tend to get infected. They’re also prone to immunological disorders, glaucoma, elbow dysplasia and von Willebrand’s disease. You can usually expect a maximum of 10 years from your Basset Hound.
Collies usually live for about 10 years. They’re prone to problems like hip dysplasia, usually due to bad breeding practices.
If you have a Rott for 9 or 10 years, anything beyond that is a bonus. He’s likely to develop cancer, usually in the bones or the liver.
Scottish Deerhounds usually live 8-10 years, and no more than 11. It’s the “big dog, early death” thing.
French Bulldogs usually live only 8-11 years before multiple health problems occur.
This is a fairly rare breed, related to the Newfoundland. The life expectancy for this breed is about 10 years.
These big beauties usually live for about nine years, during which they fearlessly protect their people. Hip and elbow dysplasia and bloat can be common health concerns with the breed.
This is another big dog, with a low life expectancy (about nine years). He’s also known as the Indian Angalu Mastiff and the Bully Kutta and is sadly still used for pit fighting in Pakistan. That’s probably one of the reasons why his life expectancy is so low.
Here we have another “giant breed.” This dg looks a lot like a lion, and is believed to be a mix of Newfoundland, Pyrenees and St. Bernard. This breed will live, on average, for nine years.
This is a very recognizable breed, but sadly, very prone to health problems like boat, hip dysplasia, ear infections and eye problems. This courageous dog typically lives a good life but sadly, not a long one.
These huge dogs are wonderful family pets. Originally in use as guard dogs, these sweet, lazy, gentle giants typically adore kids, and fit in very well with families. The sad thing is that they usually die around nine years of age.
Here’s another big dog that dies way too young, usually around nine years of age. Newfoundland Dogs are calm and steady intelligent and loyal, and have a wonderful temperament. You’ll lose them too soon, though.
Sometimes known as “Chinese Wrinkle Dogs,” these playful, protective dogs make wonderful pets. Sadly, though, they only live for about nine years.
Now we’re hitting close to my heart; you know that my Janice and Leroy are Boxers, and you know how much I love them. Sadly, though, I probably won’t have either of them for much more than nine years. They’re prone to heart problems, seizure disorders, hip dysplasia and bloat.
The English Bulldog is the fourth most popular dog in America right now. It’s prone to a ton of disorders, though, including hip dysplasia, skin infections, respiratory disease and cardiac disorders. Life expectancy is about nine years.
Here’s another bully that probably won’t get more than nine years. The Australian Bulldog is much like the English in he’s not long-lived, mainly because he’s prone to joint problems.
Seven to eight years is the most that you can expect from your Bernese. This bred is very prone to cancer and to the hip problems that can plague large breeds.
The bigger they get, the lower the life expectancy, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the Irish Wolfhound. These are big, strong dogs that are very prone to illness. It’s hard to diagnose illness in a Wolfhound, too, because they’re very stoic and won’t want to let you know that they’re in pain. Eight years, tops.
Now we’re getting into the hybrids. A Saint Pyrenees is, as you might expect, a cross between a Saint Bernard and a Great Pyrenees. These are working dogs that will usually live for about eight years.
This is another cross that will probably live for about eight years. It usually takes on the best characteristics of the Saint Bernard and the Great Dane, while the adverse factors are bred out.
This is a Saint Bernard/Poodle cross that, again, is supposed to have all of the advantages, and none of the downsides of the Saint Bernard and the Poodle. This hybrid will usually live for about eight years.
Here’s another hybrid but one with a fairly low life expectancy. It’s a cross between a Saint Bernard and a Bernese Mountain Dog. You can expect a Saint Bernese to live, on average, seven years.
This is another cross that you should be able to identify from the name. It’s a cross between a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Rottweiler. You can expect it to live between 6 and 10 years, and you can also expect that it will be a pretty big dog.
And now, we come to the biggest of the big. Keep in mind that the bigger a dog is, the less his life expectancy. Great Danes are the biggest dogs going and you shouldn’t expect to get much more than seven years out of a Dane.
I don’t know about you, but I’d never choose a dog based on potential longevity. I know that I’ll probably lose Janice and Leroy at about 9 years of age. That said, though, I wouldn’t trade one single year with them for 20 years with a Toy Poodle. I love my big guys and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I hope you feel the same about your dog.