Last updated on February 18th, 2023 at 06:01 pm
The great thing about dogs is they can easily become our best friends. The not-so-great thing is that they live for a much shorter time than we do. When you first adopt a dog, you may not be thinking of how long your new furry friend will live. But at some point, you may begin to wonder how many years you will be together.
If you adopt a mixed-breed dog, stray, or mutt from a shelter your dog may have a better chance of living a little longer than a purebred dog. Scientific studies indicate that overall, mixed breeds tend to live about a year longer on average than purebreds. However, it is also important to point out that many other factors come into play with canine longevity. These include the size of a dog, medical care provided, if they are spayed/neutered, and potential environmental stressors.
What Scientific Studies Show About Mixed Breed Life Spans
In general, when all other considerations are equal, a study done in 2019 by the American Animal Hospital Association demonstrated that mixed breeds tend to live around a year longer than dogs who are bred as a specific breed of dog.
The general concern about purebreds is the transfer of bad DNA. Genetic in-breeding for purebreds can carry with it a higher risk of passing on similar DNA that predisposes a dog to cancer and other diseases passed through the bloodline. However, mixed-breed dogs receive a variety of genes, and they are less likely to receive the redundant DNA that will set them up with the same health issues as their ancestors.
Mixed breeds have a better chance of not receiving redundant genes that can later lead to serious illness. As a result, they are a little less likely to have some of the same problems that certain purebreds have. As an example, some breeds are more prone to various types of cancer.
Other breeds may develop structural issues and be pre-disposed to hip dysplasia as they grow older. Snub-nosed dogs such as Pugs and French Bulldogs can develop breathing problems due to the shape of their short nose and face. The American Kennel Club has a complete list of all breeds which includes a comprehensive summary of each breed including some of the potential health problems.
Other Factors Impacting the Lifespan of a Dog
The AAHA study also pointed out, however, that other factors come into play regarding the longevity of any type of dog:
- Size of dog
- General health, fitness, and weight
- Access to medical care
- Dental cleanings and care
- Environmental factors/stressors
Size is a Factor of Longevity for Any Breed
As a general rule, smaller dogs live much longer than larger dogs. A Dachsund may live to be around 15 years old whereas a Great Dane has a lifespan of 7-10 years. Medium-sized dogs tend to live between 12-16 years. Some small terriers can live to be 18 or more years old.
Both Mixed-Breeds and Purebreds Require Adequate Health Care to Live Longer
Some dog owners underestimate the importance of certain healthcare treatments such as annual vaccinations and dental cleanings. Vaccinations are most critical for puppies, but annual boosters are equally important for dogs as they mature. In fact, annual flu vaccinations (see my post) are becoming more and more critical to help protect our pooches from serious illnesses.
Likewise, dental cleanings and checkups become more critical as a dog matures. Broken teeth, cavities, and oral tumors can quickly become life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.
And, as a dog moves into her senior years, taking her to the vet twice a year is usually recommended to help head off potential problems as your dog ages. This will help your older dog live long just as much or more than what type of breed she happens to be.
Spaying and neutering can also have an impact on the length of your dog’s life. A female dog who has never had a litter of pups may live longer than one who has had the burden of giving birth and caring for several hungry pups. Additionally, neutering can reduce the chance of a dog getting cancer due to sex-related hormones.
General Fitness and Environmental Stressors
Free roaming and stray dogs fair much more poorly than the more pampered domestic pet. They often only live to be 6-8 years old due to the harsh conditions which they face each day. Without access to human intervention for health care and the daily struggle to find food, these unfortunate street dogs do not usually last as long.
Another concern for household dogs is poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise. Just as with humans, being overweight for dogs can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Likewise, low-quality kibble dog food may not be the best diet for your dog. Some owners prefer to feed their dogs fresh, whole food, or raw diets, especially if they are at risk for cancer.
Dogs also need sufficient daily exercise to build muscles and stay lean. Taking our pooches out for a walk each day is good for us as well! So, get that leash out and tie on those sneakers! Spending time in nature with your favorite pup is a great bonding experience and good for the soul.
Oldest Living Dogs
According to the Guinness World Records, a dog named Gino Wolf who lives in Southern California is the oldest dog still alive as of November 15th, 2022 when he was 22 years and 52 days old. Gino is a small, white mixed-breed dog who was adopted from a shelter when he was two years old. His owner attributes his longevity to a lot of love, care, fresh, whole food, and a strong, joyful personality.
The oldest dog to have ever lived is recorded by Guinness to be a female Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey who lived to be 29 years and 5 months old. She died at her home in Australia in 1939. Her death and the death of another long-living cattle dog prompted a study that found that cattle dogs live about a year longer than other dogs in their weight range. However, Bluey was considered to be an unusual case.
Interestingly, Australian Cattle Dogs are considered to be their own breed. Yet, they were originally bred from four different breeds of dogs including the wild Australian Dingo. In my opinion, the hardy nature of the Dingo and the mix of four different breeds may contribute to the longer life and robust nature of the cattle dog.
We all want our special pups to live long lives. But perhaps what is more important is their quality of life and the love we share with them. Of course, it all goes hand in hand. The better we care for our dogs, the more likely they will live longer, healthier lives.
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.