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A Pet's Life Expectancy: How Long Will Dogs, Cats, and Other Creatures Live?

In her lifetime Jo has had 3 dogs, 9 cats, 2 birds, 2 rats, a snake, a horse, and a black widow. She currently tends a brood of chickens.

How long do dogs and cats live? What about fish?

How long do dogs and cats live? What about fish?

Considering Your Pet's Lifespan

Do you want a pet that lives a long time?

This is a question you should consider seriously before you adopt any animal. Getting a pet is not a light decision to make, so you'll need to be very realistic about how much time you can commit.

When choosing a pet, it's smart to consider how long it will likely live. Look at the list below to see the average lifespans of common pets.

Pet Lifespans: How Long Do Pets Live?

The animal's care, breed, diet, and lifestyle make all the difference.

Type of PetAverage Life Expectancy (In Captivity)Additional Info

Small Dog (under 20 lbs)

13 years

Chihuahuas often live 12–20 years.

Medium Dog (20–89 lbs)

11 years

An Australian cattle dog holds the record of oldest dog at 29 years.

Large Dog (over 90 lbs)

8 years

Spayed or neutered dogs live longer.

Indoor-Only Cat

12–18 years

The oldest recorded cat lived to be 28 years old!

Cat Who Lives Outside All the Time

2–5 years

Outdoor cats are more exposed to illness and accident.


5–10 years

The oldest captive goldfish lived 43 years!

Betta Fish

2 years

The world's oldest specimen is 10 years old.

Neon Tetra

5 years

A ten-year-old tetra is not uncommon. In general, larger types of fish have longer life expectancies than smaller types.


25–35 years

The oldest koi on record lived 226 years!


5–8 years

Budgies are prone to tumors. The oldest lived 29 years.


16–25 years

The oldest recorded cockatiel lived 36 years.

Large Parrot

Macaws: 50 years Cockatoos: 65 years

One cockatoo lived 82 years. Charlie, a blue macaw born in 1899, is still alive!


2–3 years

The oldest hamster on record lived 4.5 years.

Guinea Pig

4–8 years

14 years is the longest recorded lifespan.

Rabbit or Bunny

7–10 years

Oldest rabbit lived 14 years. Larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, and those that live outside die sooner.


2 years

Wild and store-bought "feeder" rats tend to die sooner than "fancy" types. Oldest lived 7 years.


1–2 years

Mice are social and live longer with other mice. The oldest specimen lived almost 5 years!


5–9 years

Oldest ferrets live from 14 to 15 years. If you wait until the ferret is mature to spay/neuter, the animal may live longer.


9 years average. Largest types can live up to 40 years.

Some snakes fare better in the wild than in captivity. One ball python lived 48 years.


Smallest live 3-– years; Largest live up to 20.

Many lizards live longer in the wild. Oldest bearded dragon lived 14 years; the oldest tuarara lived over 100 years.


6–10 years

Males tend to outlive females. The oldest captive leopard gecko lived to 27. Geckos may live longer in the wild.


40–50 years

Many captive turtles don't get the care they need to live full lives. Oldest tortoise on record lived 225 years.


8–10 years

Chickens thrive in groups, but pecking order may influence lifespan. Oldest recorded lived to 15.

Horse or Pony

25–33 years

Ponies tend to live longer than horses. The oldest horse ever recorded was 52 years old.


Choosing a Pet for Life

There are several factors to consider when choosing a type of pet.

  • Kids: If you have children, lifespan is an important consideration. It might be difficult for them to get attached to a pet only to lose it after a short time. On the other hand, maybe you want to choose a pet that only lasts until the kids go off to college!
  • Attention span: If you are the faithful, tenacious, dogged type, making a 30-year commitment won't be hard. But if you know that you tend to get distracted or lose interest quickly, you should avoid adopting a long-lived pet.
  • Lifestyle: Pets need consistency. If you travel often or can't be pinned down to a steady schedule, then many of these pets are not for you.
  • Housing considerations: Most animals' lives depend on specific environmental requirements (a yard, a pen, an open window). You might not be able to ensure consistency if you rent or move often.
  • Financial considerations: When you take a pet on, you commit to taking care of them financially for life. The longer a pet lives, the larger the financial burden it will be.
  • The last years can be the hardest: Old age brings complications and visits to the vet, so you should expect your pet's last years to be the most challenging.

What Are the Life Expectancies of Specific Breeds of Dogs, Cats, Etc.?

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.

© 2017 Jo Tucker


AMEY Pangaonkar from 30-31, RituRaj Villa Society, Sampath Hills, Bicholi Mardana, ByPass, M.P, Indore -452016 on October 25, 2018:

Very Useful blog regarding the age of the pet animals. Mostly I prefer a shorter commitment. Caring and feeding them is very hectic work for me to do. Thank You.

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