A little while ago, I did a post on the 24 Shortest Lived Dog Breeds and Hybrids, and suggested that we just never get enough time with our dogs, especially those of us who own large ones. As you’ll see when you read through this companion piece devoted to the longest lived dog breeds, most of the dogs that enjoy long life spans are small.
With most dog breeds, you can expect at least eight years. Some will live a bit longer, with the average being around 12 years. The world’s oldest dog, according to Guinness World Records, was an Australian Cattle Dog by the name of Bluey. He was born in 1910, and spent 20 years working cattle and sheep. He retired at age 20, and then enjoyed 9 years of retirement before being put to sleep in 1939.
Most dogs don’t even come close to that kind of longevity. However, this list is devoted to dogs that have an average life expectancy of 14-19 years.
1. Berger Picard
The Berger Picard is also known as the Picardy Shepherd, and is actually fairly large for a breed that lives an average of 14 years. This dog usually weighs anywhere from 50-70 pounds, and has a number of talents. He makes a good guard dog or herding dog, and is also well suited to tracking, search and rescue, agility and schutzhund.
2. Icelandic Sheepdog
The Icelandic Sheepdog is very similar in appearance to the Spitz, boasting a beautiful long coat that’s well-suited to cold weather, along with a curled tail. He weighs 20-30 pounds, and is very cheerful, energetic, and good with kids. Icelandic Sheepdogs can be very barky, so if you’re going to have him around for 14 years on average, it would be a good idea to devote some time to teaching him to be quiet.
3. Lancashire Heeler
The Lancashire Heeler is a compact dog weighing 13-15 pounds, and bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Welsh Corgi. The breed was originally developed to herd cattle. Today, the Lancashire Heeler is more appreciated as a family pet. The breed is known to be friendly, but is also highly intelligent, which may account in some measure for a bit of a stubborn streak. The Lancashire Heeler has an average life expectancy of 14 years.
4. Miniature Poodle
The Miniature Poodle really needs no introduction, since the breed is ubiquitous. Weighing in at 15-17 pounds, Minis are typically calmer than the Toy Poodles, and are good for novice pet owners since they’re very intelligent and extremely trainable. They’re active dogs, but also well-suited to apartment living, and will live an average of 14 years.
5. Norwegian Lundehund
The Norwegian Lundehund weighs 13-16 pounds, and was originally bred primarily for hunting. This is a very active dog that needs a lot of exercise. On the one hand, this might be the reason why this compact dog enjoys an average life span of 14 years. On the other, though, it means that Norwegian Lundehunds are not the best choice for people who aren’t willing to devote the time and effort to making sure they’re properly exercised.
The Schapendoes is a herding breed with Sheepdog-like characteristics. They have long coats and weigh 26-50 pounds. These dogs are generally very sociable, easy to train, and oddly enough, for such a shaggy breed, don’t really require all that much in the way of grooming. This is another breed that lives, on average, 14 years.
7. Spanish Greyhound
Here we have another reasonably large breed that enjoys an uncommonly long life span. The Spanish Greyhound weighs 50-65 pounds, and has an average life expectancy of 14 years. They make wonderful family pets, and are even good with small children thanks to their quiet temperament and affectionate nature.
The Alopekis is a little powerhouse, weighing 6.5-15.5 pounds. They’re very appealing, too, with their large, fox-like ears. Originally bred for herding and guarding, these dogs are possessed of a bravery that belies their size, and can be very protective of their humans. The Alopekis lives an average of 15 years.
9. Boykin Spaniel
Boykin Spaniels weigh 25-40 years, and were originally bred for hunting ducks and wild turkeys in South Carolina swamps. This, coupled with the fact that its coat is dense and long and resembles that of an unclipped Poodle, has resulted in the Boykin Spaniel earning the nickname “Swamp Poodle.” The Boykin is friendly, intelligent and very trainable, and good at tracking and rescue work. Boykins typically live for about 15 years.
10. Coton de Tuléar
These adorable little dogs weigh 8-13 pounds. The Coton de Tuléar takes his name from the Madagascar city of Tuléar, as well as for the cottony appearance of his coat. The Coton de Tuléar is affectionate, happy and easy to train, and for such a fluffy little creature, really doesn’t shed very much. The average life span for a Coton de Tuléar is 15 years.
11. Finnish Lapphund
This Spitz-like breed weighs 33-55 pounds, and has a long coat that comes in a variety of colors. Originally, the breed was used for herding reindeer. Today, the Finnish Lapphund is more likely to be found hanging out with his family, which can include children; the breed is very affectionate with kids. The average life expectancy for a Finnish Lapphund is 15 years.
12. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier weighs 13-15 pounds, and was originally bred to hunt foxes. You may have become familiar with this breed thanks to the hugely popular TV show, “Frasier,” which featured a Jack Russell by the name of Eddie. The show certainly did much to raise awareness of the breed, but it was a double-edged sword; many Jack Russells ended up being surrendered to animal shelters by owners who simply weren’t prepared to deal with the stubbornness that is common to the breed. Jack Russells, properly trained, can be great pets, but they’re best left to experienced owners. Jack Russells live 15 years on average.
13. Mountain Cur
The Mountain Cur can weigh as little as 30 pounds or as much as 60, earning it a place with a few other reasonably large breeds on this longest-lived dog breeds list. The breed was originally used for hunting and as farm dogs. They make excellent guard dogs, being very protective and courageous. With this breed, though, it’s important that you establish your position as the alpha early on, otherwise you could end up being challenged. This is not a good breed for novice owners. The Mountain Cur lives 15 years on average.
14. Tamaskan Husky
The Tamaskan Husky is the biggest dog on our list of longest lived dog breeds, weighing up to 80 pounds. These dogs are very loyal, extremely intelligent, good at pulling sleds and at other types of work. Unlike many of the Husky breeds, the Tamaskan is actually good with children. On average, a Tamaskan Husky will live for 15 years.
15. Toy Manchester Terrier
This tiny dog stands only about a foot high and weighs just eight pounds. This is a sleek, black and tan dog with a long nose that sheds little and is very easy to groom. Toy Manchesters are friendly, and typically cordial with strangers. Their average life expectancy is 15 years.
16. Volpino Italiano
This Spitz-like breed originated in Italy, and has a long, thick coat and usually weighs 9-11 pounds. The breed requires quite a bit of grooming, but if you enjoy “bonding time” with your dog, that shouldn’t be a problem. Volpino Italianos are friendly and playful, and will usually live for about 15 years.
The Chihuahua is another very common dog breed that also went through a period where fame might not have been the best thing. In 1997, a Chihuahua named Gidget made several commercials for the fast food chain, Taco Bell, as part of a movie tie-in for yet another remake of “Godzilla.” Of course, tons of people wanted Chihuahuas, and then tons of people surrendered them to animal shelters because these three-to-six pound dynamos can be stubborn, hard to train, and not all that great with kids. They can, though, be very loyal, loving companions for the experienced owner, and typically live for an average of 16 years.
18. Lagotto Romagnolo
These unique-looking dogs weigh 28-32 pounds, and are as close to hypoallergenic as possible; no breed of dog being truly hypoallergenic. The Lagotto Romagnolo is well-suited for many activities, including tracking, retrieving, search and rescue, police work and agility. This is a breed that needs an owner who is willing to devote a fair bit of time to exercising both the dog’s body and his mind. On average, the Lagotto Romagnolo lives for 16 years.
19. Manchester Terrier
In appearance, this dog is identical to the Toy Manchester Terrier mentioned previously, except that the standard version of this dog weighs 12-22 pounds. The Manchester is loyal and quiet, and lives for about 16 years.
20. Pyrenean Shepherd
The Pyrenean Shepherd weighs about 28 pounds and has been used since medieval times for herding sheep in Spain and France. This is a medium-coated dog that is known to be quiet, so you won’t likely have to worry about his barking annoying the neighbors. The breed is also playful and good with kids. Pyrenean Shepherds have an average lifespan of 16 years.
21. Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
This is a heavy-set hunting terrier that can weigh up to 18 pounds. Unlike many of the terrier breeds, the Teddy Roosevelt has a generally calm nature, although he can also be very energetic. He has a cheerful personality, and will make a good companion for, on average, 16 years.
You may know this breed by its more common name, the Mexican Hairless. As you might expect, this is a low-maintenance breed that is especially good for people who have allergies. The Xoloitzcuintli is a very protective, loyal dog, but this also means that he has a mind of his own and can be difficult to train. On average, the Xoloitzcuintli has a life expectancy of 17 years.
23. Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno weighs 9-13 pounds, and is an active breed that is well-suited to hunting or herding. Best suited to an active owner, this little dog is smart and lively, and has an average life expectancy of 18 years.
24. Rat Terrier
The Rat Terrier will typically weigh no more than 31 pounds. They are very active dogs with an extremely high prey drive. This makes the rat terrier great for hunting, guarding and lure coursing but not so great with kids or other small animals. Rat Terriers are very long-lived, with an average life expectancy of 19 years.
25. Silken Windhound
This dog is every bit as beautiful as its name. With its long, silky coat, the Silken Windhound looks a lot like a Borzoi but only weighs 20-45 pounds. Silken Windhounds are gentle and loving, and good with kids. The average life expectancy of the Silken Windhound is 19 years.
The Oldest Dog I’ve Ever Known
Anywhere from 14-19 years is a pretty good life expectancy for a dog by anyone’s standards.
And now, it’s story time. I usually start my posts with a story, and I know this is breaking pattern, but I’m going to justify it by invoking Ralph Waldo Emerson’s statement to the effect that, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” So, I’ll end by telling you about the oldest dog I’ve ever known.
When I was growing up, my grandmother had a Rat Terrier by the name of Nicky. So, I can verify, from personal experience, that the theory that Rat Terriers are not all that good with kids has merit. Nicky was constantly nipping at my ankles, grabbing at my hands, and just generally making a holy terror of himself.
Of course, back then, most people wouldn’t have thought of getting rid of a perfectly useful dog just because he wasn’t good with children, and my Gran was no different. Her position was simple: “If Nicky’s biting you, stay away from him.” And that’s what I usually did, except on the odd occasion when Nicky seemed content to curl up in my lap and be petted. I guess it was a love/hate sort of thing.
Anyway, over the years, Nicky and I kind of came to a tolerance for one another. We were part of each other’s lives, and as I grew older, he was less inclined to nip at me and more likely to want that quiet time in my lap. The tolerance eventually even morphed into a kind of affection.
So, when I came home for Christmas during my senior year at college, I was beyond upset to learn that Nicky had passed. He was 22 – a year older than I was. He’d been a part of my life for as long as I’d even had a life. I still think of him from time to time, and it seems as though it’s easy to conjure up the good memories, while the nips and bites kind of fade into the background.
I’m glad Gran wasn’t like a lot of people are now, because if she had been, I wouldn’t have had that feisty little dog in my life. And looking back, I think that would have been a shame.