Do Large or Smaller Breeds Live Longer?

We all wish our beloved canine companions could live forever and ever but we are well aware of the sad truth of the matter. Either you already have a dog or are considering adopting one. At which point, you'll want to know a little more about their life expectancies and how they vary among different breeds. Although it's sad to think about, it is important to be aware of the different life expectancies between larger and smaller dog breeds before heading out to the shelter to adopt. 

What Size Dog Has a Longer Life Expectancy?

It's become common knowledge among the veterinarian community than smaller breeds of dogs tend to have a longer life expectancy than their larger counterparts. What can be said about this is that it's not related to their environment. Meaning, you could have a teacup Chihuahua and a Great Dane both living in the same loving home, both being loved and cared for just as much as the other. The sad truth of the matter is that it is more than likely the Chihuahua will outlive the Dane by as much as 10 years. Assuming the two were about the same age when adopted. 

Knowing this should not discourage you from adopting a large breed of dog as a family pet. All dogs deserve to live in a loving home, especially with their life expectancy in mind. It's just important to know what is to be expected when adopting a dog, large or small.

Why Do Smaller Breeds Live Longer?

You might imagine larger animals as being the ones with greater longevity, knowing all too well that elephants and whales live very long lives. Unfortunately, this doesn't hold true for dogs. It's actually quite the opposite. But why do smaller dogs tend to live longer lives than the larger breeds?

The long and short answer here is that science has told us that because the larger breeds grow faster, they also appear to age faster. Take, for instance, how a Great Dane pup will double in weight just in its first year of life. Whereas, smaller dogs body mass will only increase by about 20% or so in that first year. 

This rapid cell growth also appears to be linked to increased instances of cancer in the larger breeds of dogs. That being said, larger breeds also tend to start experiencing age-related diseases earlier on than smaller breeds may. Diseases that typically tend to affect their muscles, bones, and digestive tract.


This shouldn't discourage you from adopting a larger breed of dog. Knowing that they tend to live shorter lives should only encourage you to want to love them more and give them the best life that you can. Knowing that smaller breeds have longer life expectancies can also bring joy into the lives of those who own a small dog or are intending to adopt one. 

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Written by Leo Roux

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