Everybody that has pets wants them to live a long, happy, and healthy life. The problem is that, for many owners, it's hard to know what factors influence a dog's lifespan. And, with so many breeds, it's sometimes challenging to know what type of lifespan you could even expect for your dog.
Since there are so many questions surrounding the dog lifespan and what people can do to influence it positively, we've decided to write up a short guide on how you can help your dog live its fullest, longest life!
Dog Lifespan: What To Expect
The average lifespan of a dog varies by breed. In general, larger dogs have shorter lifespans than smaller ones. The bigger your dog, the shorter it will live.
For small dogs, you can usually expect somewhere around 12-15 years. Some breeds, like the Chihuahua, will reach the upper end of that window. Medium-sized dogs should live somewhere around 10-12 years. A giant dog breed lifespan like the Great Dane, will live somewhere between 8-10 years.
Therefore, if you're looking to have a dog around for the longest time possible, you'll want smaller pups.
Of course, these are just generalizations. The longest dog lifespan ever recorded, Bluey, was an Australian cattle dog that lived to the ripe old age of 30. This breed is not small. People typically classify it as medium-sized.
What Influences a Dog's Lifespan?
Five key influencing factors determine how long a dog will live.
By far, the most significant influence on the lifespan of your dog is its genetic makeup. Think about humans for a moment. How many people eat junk food their whole life and live to be 100? How many people eat healthy, count calories, and have a heart attack at 40?
These disparities are often genetic. Some people are predisposed to heart issues, while others are more likely to develop diabetes.
The same holds for your dogs. Some dogs are genetically-wired to live a longer life than others. There's not much you can do about this. What you can do, though, is understand your dog's breed - including common issues they may have - and learn how to recognize them. Suppose you know your dog is genetically predisposed to heart problems. In that case, you can help extend their lifespan by regularly taking them to the vet to see what's going on with their cardiovascular system.
Diet heavily influences the modern dog lifespan. When canines were in the wild, they would have to hunt and scavenge for food. Needing to do this served two purposes. First, it meant that food was not plentiful, making it hard to pack on too many pounds. Second, it ensured that dogs had quite a bit of exercise when finding food to eat.
Nowadays, all that many modern dogs need to do is walk over to the food bowl and eat some kibble. There's plentiful food, and, sometimes, it can even be relatively unnatural food. Most kibble contains quite a bit more starch than a dog would get in the wild.
Therefore, if you want to make your dog live the longest, you'll need to ensure that they eat a reasonable amount of food. If your pup overeats or eats too little, your dog could have a shorter dog lifespan.
Most dogs require a significant amount of exercise. In the wild, they would be running around with their pack, playing, hunting, and having fun. At your home, there aren't as many opportunities to run freely. Dogs that don't exercise lose muscle definition, gain weight, and invite various sedentary-lifestyle diseases.
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise!
Encourage Mental Stimulation
A dog's mental health is essential to ensure that it also has physical health. Bored dogs or pups who are unhappy with life tend to engage in behaviors that lower their life expectancy. Furthermore, depression and overall sadness in dogs can affect their physical health, much like depression can cause pain and more prolonged healing times in humans.
You can encourage your dog's mental health by playing with it, praising it, or giving your lovely little pup some treats. Make them feel like they are part of the family!
Regular Vet Checkups
Dogs that receive their annual checkups and get their shots often live longer than those that don't. Vaccines will protect your dog from various diseases, and getting yearly checkups allows the vet to catch illnesses quicker, which could give your pet a better chance at surviving.
Ultimately, if you want your pup to have a long dog lifespan, take them to the vet with some regularity. Having the eyes of a professional look at your dog once a year will help your pup live longer!
You Can Positively Influence Your Dog's Lifespan
While some things are just luck (like the Australian cattle dog that lived to be 30), there is a lot you can control when it comes to how long your dog will live. For example, by giving your pup healthy food and lots of exercises, you can make it statistically significantly more likely that they will live longer than dogs that don't get either of those things.
While nobody can predict the future, if you pay attention to the five factors above, you can rest assured that you're doing everything in your power to give your dog the longest possible life!