Do Large or Smaller Breeds Live Longer?

Dogs are a man's bestfriend and 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. Chihuahuas have great life expectancy and can even live for up to 20 year. 

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. Pets have different life expectancies. 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 an affectionate dog breed such as 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.


If you're thinking of adopting a pet or if you're already in the process of adopting an animal from the shelter, 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. 

Can large and small dogs get along?

Big dogs can be intimidating, but oftentimes, they tend to be on the gentle side. The same can be said about small dog breeds. Training your dog (whether they're big or small) to get along with other dogs is important and should start from a young age.

Are big dogs harder to take care of?

Yes, and no. Bigger dogs usually don't require a different type of diet or a different approach with grooming and other pet care needs. However, bigger dogs may cost you more as they may eat more food, shed more, take more space, and their vet visits could also cost more.

Are big dogs easier to train?

All dogs are trainable and whether they're easily trainable or not depend more on their breed rather than their size. Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Poodles, and Miniature Schnauzers are easy to train regardless of their size differences.

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Written by Leo Roux

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