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Which Dogs Live Longest?

Holle is a retired English and creative writing teacher who writes on a variety of topics.

Some designer dogs, like this Shorkie, can live very long lives.

Some designer dogs, like this Shorkie, can live very long lives.

Man’s Best Friend

If you’re a dog lover like I am, your canine companion is an integral part of your life. Much more than just an animal, a dog will become a real member of the family. A great dog really can be your best friend, and in some cases, it can be more like your child. When you form a close bond with a dog, you’ll be emotionally devastated when that dog’s life ends.

I don’t think it matters if that happens at seven years or at eighteen years—the end result is the same: You’ll be heartbroken whenever it happens. That being said, there’s something to say about having more years to enjoy your beloved pet. A dog with a longer lifespan means more fun, more companionship, more devotion, and more precious memories.

But…should lifespan be the most important element when choosing a dog breed? First, let’s take a look at some of the dogs with the longest lives.

Chihuahuas are usually long-lived dogs.

Chihuahuas are usually long-lived dogs.


I had a Chihuahua when growing up. Her name was Lemon. Actually, she wasn’t a purebred. Her mom was a half Chihuahua and half fox terrier, while Lemon’s sire was a purebred Chihuahua. When I grew up and moved away, Lemon stayed behind with my parents.

Lemon lived to be almost 20 years old. When she got to the point where she could no longer walk, eat, or control her bodily functions, my mother had her euthanized.

Twenty years might sound like a long time for a dog to live, but it’s really not that unusual for Chihuahuas. According to the AKC, the average lifespan for a Chihuahua ranges from 15 to 17 years, but some other sources list a longer lifespan for these tiny pooches.

According to Guinness World Records, the number 15 spot of oldest verified dogs goes to another Chihuahua, Megabyte, who lived for close the 21 years.

AKC: Dog Breeds with Longest Lifespan

You already know about the Chihuahua, but what about other dogs that live a long time? Again, according to Guinness, the oldest dog on record was Bluey, an Australian cattle dog that lived to the ripe old age of 29.

Apparently, though, ol’ Bluey was an outlier. According to the AKC, the breed’s life expectancy is from 12 to 16 years. Below are some more popular dog breeds and their life expectancies, according to the American Kennel Club:

  • Bichon Frise:16-18 years
  • Havanese: 14-16 years
  • Pomeranian: 14-16 years
  • Boykin spaniel: 12-16 years
  • Dachshund: 12-16 years
  • Maltese: 13-15 years
  • Poodle: Standard, miniature, and toy poodles can all be expected to live to their teens.
  • Pug: 13-15 years
  • Pembroke Welsh corgi: 13-15 years
  • Cardigan Welsh corgi: 12-15 years
  • West Highland white terrier: 12-15 years
  • Beagle: 12-15 years
  • Yorkshire terrier: 12-15 years
  • Boston terrier: 12-14 years
  • Coton de Tulear: 12-14 years
  • Manchester terrier: 12-14 years
  • Miniature schnauzer: 12-14 years
  • Pekingese: 12-14 years
  • Russell terrier: 12-14 years
  • Scottish terrier: 12-14 years
  • Shih Tzu: 12-14 years
  • Lhasa Apso: 11-14 years

Mixed Breeds, Mutts, and Designer Dogs

Of course, you can’t find information on mixed breeds, mutts, or designer dogs on the AKC website. If you know which breeds your dog’s DNA is composed of, however, it’ll probably be a safe bet to use the parent breeds’ average longevity to figure out your pooch’s probable lifespan.

For example, the designer breed known as the “Shorkie” is probably long-lived, based on the average longevity of the parents, a Yorkshire terrier and a Shih Tzu. Sources I found claim that the cock-a-poo and the pom-chi have very long lives, too.

Also, some mixed breeds and mutts made the “Top 19” list of Guinness’ oldest dogs, including a shepherd mix, a Lab mix, and a Schnoodle, along with a couple of outright mutts of unknown parentage.

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Read More From Pethelpful

Regardless of the love and care they receive, my Great Danes will never live to be 20 years old.

Regardless of the love and care they receive, my Great Danes will never live to be 20 years old.

Nature vs. Nurture

Obviously, a well-cared for dog has a much better chance of longer years, and there are often exceptions to the best research. The nutrition your dog gets, its veterinary checkups, its housing, and its exercise can all contribute to your dog’s quantity and quality of its years.

On the other hand, you have to take the dog’s breeding into account, too. No matter how well I care for my Great Danes, they’ll never live as long as the average Bichon Frise or Havanese. It’s simply not in their DNA. Obviously, unexpected physical injuries can end the life of the healthiest dog, too. Get the most out of your pet's years by giving it the best care possible.

Hamlet was the most amazing dog I've ever known.

Hamlet was the most amazing dog I've ever known.

Quantity vs. Quality

When you’re shopping for a new furry companion, does lifespan play a big role in your final decision? I can easily see why it might for some people. For me, however, it doesn’t. I’ve owned and handled many different dog breeds over the years, ranging from the long-lived Chihuahua to the very short-lived Great Dane.

In my opinion, it’s not about how many years you have to spend with your dog; it’s more about the quality of those years. In fact, my all-time favorite breed of dogs is the Great Dane. The average life expectancy of the Dane is just six to eight years, although some breeders have developed lines that live longer.

The best dog I ever knew was my Great Dane, Hamlet. We had to euthanize him when he was eight years old, due to bone cancer. Do I wish he could have lived longer? Of course, I do! Heck, I wish we could have died together, but that’s not how it works with canines. They’re not meant to share our entire lives, sadly.

Believe me when I say that I couldn’t have loved Hamlet any more if he’d lived to be 50. Losing him just about killed me, and had he lived longer, the devastation would probably have been even worse, if that’s possible. Suffice it to say that I'd rather have eight years with a Dane than twenty with any other dog breed.

Choose a dog that will be a good fit for your family and lifestyle.

Choose a dog that will be a good fit for your family and lifestyle.

Choosing the Best Dog

While thinking about lifespan when choosing a dog can be important, it shouldn’t be the only factor you focus on. Consider how the puppy or dog is going to fit in with your lifestyle. If you have children, choose a breed that’s patient, gentle, and forgiving.

Even though Chihuahuas are extremely long-lived, a diminutive, high-strung breed isn’t the best fit for small children. Their rough-housing could unintentionally injure a toy breed.

An overall assessment of a new potential pet is much more important than just lifespan alone. Other than temperament and lifespan, you should consider activity level, grooming requirements, intelligence/trainability, exercise needs, shedding, and general health problems.

You’ll also need to take the dog’s purpose into account. What role is the dog intended to play? Do you want a running buddy, a hunting partner, a protector, a playmate for your kids, or a lap-warmer? Of course, most dog breeds can fill more than one role.

Choose wisely and carefully. No matter how many years are involved, giving your heart to a canine can turn out to be an extremely rewarding experience for you, your family, and your dog.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Destiny on October 09, 2018:

I have don’t want you to have want any of those things to you House

Did you she just want you to have any idea what she is saying I ever I ever have a dog and Named is she is a snowman and a horse snowman she has i is I iwant I

moonlake from America on March 13, 2016:

Well, this means my two Chihuahuas will outlive me. My poor kids, I made them promise to take care of them if something happens to me.

We had a lab/german shorthair live to be over 14. I think that was unusual for that type of dog. He was never sick a day in his life. His parents died young.

We had a cock-a-poo she lived to be over 14 also.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 13, 2016:

It is always heartbreaking when we lose a beloved pet. Judging from how long Pomeranians live, I realize that we are lucky to still have Skippy in our lives. He is definitely on the long side of average right now but is definitely showing his age. We just cherish each and every day with him. Your photos are wonderful...particularly the last one. So precious! Will share this and pin it as well.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 27, 2015:

Hi Holle. Excellent hub and one that is very pertinent to me recently. We lost our 13 year 8 month old shih tzu a few months ago and we are still grieving. She was a member of our family and the loss we are feeling is indescribable. We knew it would be difficult when her time came but losing her is just the most difficult thing we have ever been through. Complete and utter heartbreak.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 20, 2015:

Rachel, those are two of my grandkids. Thanks!

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on December 19, 2015:

Hi Holle, I wasn't aware that some dogs live longer then others. You learn some new every day. I like the picture of the children laying with the dog. Are they your children? So cute. Thanks for sharing.

Have a Blessed Christmas.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on December 19, 2015:

@habee I am so glad to see my dog, the Pekingese, on the list of longer lifers.

Jasmeet Kaur from India on December 19, 2015:

I had pomerian dog,but he passed at the age of 9 years because of stone

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 17, 2015:

Had no idea, Holle, that Dachshunds and Bichon Frise are such long-livered.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 16, 2015:

Phyllis, you probably already figured out Randy's joke. He so cray-cray!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on December 16, 2015:

I knew that , Phyllis! Holle and my wife have been friends since childhood and we have many inside jokes. :)

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on December 16, 2015:

Hi Randy - I knew it must be something like that and I was just teasing you.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on December 16, 2015:

@Phyllis-Holle understands my comment. She may even explain it to you. :)

Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 16, 2015:

I can understand your sentiment, and realize you want a specific breed, but it is hard to watch them die so young. There must be a happy median--a great dog and a long life.

Bob Bamberg on December 16, 2015:

Hi Holle, I rep for a pet food company and I live in an area where pets rule. It isn't that way in all parts of the U.S., but still the industry this year will see revenues of over $58 billion...22 of it for food, 16 of it for vet care, and the other 20 on everything else in the pet supply store, plus services such as grooming, training, walking or sitting, etc.

The love people show for their pets knows almost no bounds. This fact has incentivized companies to produce better and better products which, in turn, translates into longer and better lives for our pets.

Vets use tools and procedures that weren't available a generation ago, and the formulations of pet diets have greatly improved, adding quality and quantity to a pet's life.

This was an interesting, well written hub. If we had the options, I'd have voted it up, useful and interesting.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on December 16, 2015:

Randy! for shame!!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on December 16, 2015:

Those are some sweet little dogs. Put 'em in a pot and.... :P

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on December 16, 2015:

Hi Holle. I love dogs and have the perfect one for me - a Pomeranian. He is 14 years old, very polite, affectionate and a great companion. Your Great Danes are beautiful, such a majestic breed.

I enjoyed reading this hub. Well done, Holle.

Judy on December 16, 2015:

Good article, but you forgot Labrador Retrievers, who often live 15 to 17 years. They are an anomoly in big dogs.

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