Four Great, Large Dog Breeds With a Long Life Expectancy
The dog breeds with the longest life expectancies are all small breeds.
There are a lot of theories about why this is, some of them quite stupid. (The biggest study that I know of, conducted in Europe and including data from 50,000 dogs, came to the conclusion that big dogs die younger because they age faster.)
It does not even make a lot of sense, since in the wild large animals tend to live a lot longer than small animals. Elephants live longer than mice, and blue whales live longer than bottlenose dolphins.
Among dogs, though, the big breeds have to grow really fast. That may be one reason that they die so young.
There are a few large dog breeds that have good life spans, but even they are not exceptional. If lifespan is important to you and you are not interested in one of the small dog breeds, here are the large dog breeds most likely to live a long time:
Large Breed Dogs With Good, Average Lifespans
Around 15 years
May be around 15 years
14 years, may be more
About 14 years
Some very skinny large dogs like the Azawakh and Greyhound also have long lifespans.
If you like medium sized breeds, a skinny dog like the Whippet has a long lifespan and is also good for someone that is away from home all day at work.
There are many other medium sized dogs with longer lives, but of course not all of them are as calm and quiet as the Whippet.
Medium-Sized Dogs With Great Lifespans
Australian Cattle Dog
Around 15 years
Average about 12-14 years
Up to 15 years
Up to 15 years
Average about 12-14 years
Around 12-14 years
Around 14 years
Up to about 15 years
Up to about 15 years
Average is about 15 years
About 14 years
This interesting large dog breed is being developed to look like the Dire Wolf, an extinct animal that roamed the Paleolithic countryside and feasted on the strange wild animals of that time.
Like the Dire Wolf, the dogs are being bred to be big, usually at least 90 pounds. They are also being bred to be healthy and live a long time, like a wolf.
A wolf can easily live 20 years. Why can´t a dog?
Although this dog breed is being developed to be very large, and to have a calm and non-aggressive personality, the breeders are also focusing on health. Since they are using some large dog breeds like the Great Pyrenees, they may be introducing some health problems, but if they continue to monitor closely they may be able to eliminate a lot of the problems.
Since the very large dogs have only been introduced in the last 10 years, it is still early to say if the program is going to work.
If things do work out, there will be a great large dog breed available for those looking for a dog with a long life.
This is probably one of the few very large dogs with a long life span. Dogs are large, up to 40 kilos (90 pounds) but I have to add “probably” because there are not many health studies that prove the Alaskan Malamute´s longevity.
A recent study (2004) from the UK reported that their lifespan was only about 11 years. It is probably more like 15.
Most of the studies do show a problem with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and some problems with the eyes.
Alaskan Malamutes are great for several reasons. Besides the long potential life, they are a healthy breed. They have a lot of power and since they are sled dogs need long walks, but, unlike many dogs, they are usually content to sit quietly and wait for their exercise.
The Alaskan Malamute is not submissive, and they are not easy to train. Most of them are not good watchdogs, and they are not good with smaller animals, but they are good pets for families that are into big dogs.
Besides having a great lifespan, the Doberman is also one of the most intelligent breeds of dog. Dobies are personal protection dogs, bred not just to guard, but to guard an individual. When the psychologist and dog author Stanley Coren interviewed dog breeders and trainers, the Doberman was listed as the 5th most intelligent breed. Some others have ranked the Dobie first, but they all agree they are very trainable.
Dobies do have a rough reputation in some circles, since they are bred to look intimidating, but most dogs are bred to be good natured and they are very loyal.
Is your Doberman going to live as long as the average Alaskan Malamute? Probably not. Some of the studies report a shorter life span than what I have listed, and other dogs have serious health problems that cause them to become ill when still young.
Dobies are affected by dilative cardiomyopathy, an inherited that causes death in a significant number of dogs. They can also have other genetic diseases like Wobblers, von Willebrand’s, and more common problems like hip dysplasia.
If you are interested in one of these great dogs, and willing to socialize and work with him, be sure to select a dog whose parents have been screened for all of those diseases listed.
Dobies look tough, but do not select your puppy based on looks. Find a healthy puppy.
This powerful dog is not for everyone, but if you are interested the long life expectancy is only one of his good qualities. Dogs weigh up to 70 kilos (150 pounds) but they can be smaller, around 40 kilos; no matter what your dog weighs they look even larger with their thick coats and necks.
The breed has been around for thousands of years and was developed to meet the rugged conditions of the Anatolian Plateau of Turkey. They had to be tough enough to guard the flocks from wolves and bears, rugged enough to withstand cold winters and hot summers, and healthy enough to survive on their own.
One British study reported that their average lifespan was 11, longer than most breeds this size, but most owners report that dogs live even longer, up to 14. Like all big dogs, they may develop hip dysplasia, so the parents should be screened before breeding.
Anatolian Shepherds are used in Africa to protect flocks of sheep and goats from cheetahs. When the cheetahs no longer attack the flocks, the farmers stop hunting them and the big cats return to hunting wild game. This video explains the program.
Tips for Extending Your Dog's Life
A lot of the evidence on how to keep dogs alive longer is still just anecdotal. That means that it is just what people observe and think is true, and that, unfortunately, does not always mean a whole lot. This is sort of like asking all of the oldest people in a nursing home why they have lived so long. One will tell you it is because he eats a diet of fatty foods, another might say it is because he smokes a cigar every day, another because he always has a glass of milk before bedtime.
Why do they live so long? It might just be genetics, but who knows? It is probably not cigars and fatty foods. All we have is a lot of anecdotal evidence.
If you want to try to extend your dog´s life, though, here are a few things that might work:
- Acquire from a responsible breeder. No matter what breed you decide on, choose a puppy from a breeder who focuses on health. The breeder should have the parent´s hips certified, the eyes examined by an ophthalmologist, and have done screening for any genetic diseases common to the breed of dog you are purchasing. A healthy parent is not a guarantee of a healthy puppy, but a sick parent (carrying genetic diseases) will mean that your puppy will probably live a short and painful life.
- Feed whole, natural food. There is no proof that diet affects your dog´s life span. I would not want to subject my dogs to the dry dog foods out there, even those that are incredibly expensive and supposedly adequate for their needs, so I feed them whole natural food (a raw diet based on meaty bones).
- Keep your dog lean. Most veterinarians and human medical doctors agree that lean animals and humans live longer. An obese tiny dog with joint problems may be carried around; that is not going to happen for a large dog. Large, obese dogs that become lame and unable to get around are usually euthanized because the owners are not able to handle them.
- Provide supplements like fatty acids and antioxidants. Antioxidants may prevent your dog from developing some types of cancer, and fatty acids may provide benefits for the joint and skin. There is still a lot to learn in these areas, but in the meantime you should do what you can for your dog.
- Deal with any behavioral problems as soon as they occur. Many dogs are taken to the vet to be euthanized because of biting or other severe behavioral problems. Socialize your puppy, take your dog to obedience training, and if there is a problem consult with an animal behaviorist.
- Take your dog to the vet for twice-yearly physical exams. Your vet might notice a problem early and be able to help you avoid something more serious. If your dog is prone to hip dysplasia, the vet might recommend ramps, hydrotherapy, and a gentle exercise routine to avoid problems. If your dog is becoming overweight, the vet might recommend a new diet before the problem is out of control.
More About Dogs . . .
- Five Giant Dog Breeds With Short Lifespans
Some dogs die too young. This is a list of five great giant dog breeds that are never around long enough.
- Five Dog Breeds With The Longest Life Expectancy
Are you looking for a small breed of dog that will live a long and healthy life?Photos, videos, and a description of the best five will help you choose a companion for many years to come.
- Healthiest Dog Breeds
Good health is another factor you can use when choosing your new dog. Desriptions and pictures of the healthiest dog breeds, and what you need to look out for, will help you make a good choice.
© 2014 Dr Mark