How Many Lives Does a Dog Have?

Dogs make wonderful companions. Not only are they fun and entertaining, but also very devoted and affectionate creatures who will always remain by your side.

Dogs do not live as long as humans; their lifespans tend to be shorter and they’re susceptible to various illnesses; it is estimated that one dog year equals approximately 10.5 human years.


Life expectancy for dogs depends upon a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Smaller breeds generally live longer due to aging more slowly; however, large breeds are often more susceptible to diseases that shorten their lives such as Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes and Bernese mountain dogs which all tend to experience hip and elbow dysplasia among other serious health concerns.

A study by the University of Gottingen examined 74 dog breeds and discovered that life expectancies of canines closely correspond to their sizes. This result is in line with previous research showing a correlation between breed and lifespan; for instance, small-breed dogs such as Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus have longer lives than other varieties. Researchers utilized information from the Veterinary Medical Data Archive (VMDA) to create what are known as dog life tables – charts organized into age bands showing probabilities of death prior to each age banding population segment; charts useful because they offer insight into ways that can improve dog health and longevity.

These charts are created from data gleaned from over 20 million visits to veterinarians by dogs. They include details on breed, age and mortality status of every pet enrolled into this study by veterinarians at over 200 clinics nationwide. As the VMDA serves as a national archive for animal health records, this data offers researchers and veterinarians invaluable resources. These charts enable scientists to measure how much of a dog’s lifespan has been lost to disease; at the same time helping vets understand its effect on quality of life for their patients.

VMDA includes data from over one million visits to animal hospitals and is the world’s largest database. Thanks to this large amount of data, scientists were able to create the world’s first dog life table; an infographic showing average lifespans per breed as well as risk factors associated with illness affecting a particular dog’s lifespan. Furthermore, life tables serve an invaluable purpose of informing dog owners of any potential longevity risks when selecting breeds for their companion.


If you’re considering adopting a new dog or hoping that your existing one lives as long as possible, longevity should be an essential consideration. While lifespan varies from breed to breed and health issues can shorten their lives significantly. On average, dogs typically live 10-13 years. But some breeds outlive others.

Smaller breeds usually live longer than larger ones. A Chihuahua or Havanese might live for 16 years while Great Danes or Rottweilers only last around 12 years old on average. Mutts tend to outlive purebred dogs due to having access to multiple gene pools from which their genes come.

Studies have suggested that spayed and neutered female dogs live longer than intact ones; however, this has yet to be proven by other studies.

Numerous factors impact how long a dog will live, including its breed size and health status as well as genetics. Some people use “dog years” as a measure of age – each dog year equals approximately seven human years.

One difficulty associated with estimating the average lifespan of a dog lies in its rapid development during its first two years, thus distorting its average life span calculation. Therefore, some experts employ a more complicated formula that accounts for their rate of development as well as how he or she ages after their third birthday.

Kendy Tzu-yun Teng and colleagues at National Taiwan University conducted a study that validated this formula. Their researchers collected data from three private veterinary clinics; one large urban, a mid-size suburban, and a small rural clinic were included. Researchers collected and analyzed information on every dog that visited these clinics over a one year period; they divided these into four groups of small, medium, large, and giant dogs before comparing ages with average lifespan data for each size category – concluding that smaller dogs lived the longest.

Health Issues

Studies show that a dog’s health can greatly determine its lifespan. Research demonstrates how different diseases can strike at various ages for various breeds; veterinarians must devise health care plans accordingly. Aortic stenosis, the narrowing of an aorta blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body, places strain on the heart and can result in heart failure; this condition shortens life expectancy but it may be treatable; Portosystemic Shunt Syndrome (PSS), an abnormal birth defect that bypasses liver and prevents removal of toxins from being removed from bloodstream; often found among small breeds such as Yorkies this condition shortens life expectancy though surgery may help extend lives further than ever expected!

Longitudinal studies involving large numbers of dogs may provide clues as to the reasons for differences in disease rates, Mueller asserts.

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