How long do dogs live? And how to work out age in human years | TeamDogs
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How long do dogs live? And how to work out age in human years

A vet explains how to tell our dogs’ age and what factors matter for a long, healthy life

Chloe Bowen

Posted 53d ago

(Image: Monica Bertolazzi/ Getty)


What a wonderful world it would be if man’s best friend could live as long as we do. As dog owners, our dogs are only a part of our lives for a matter of years, but for our dogs, we are their whole life. But how long do dogs actually live?

Typically, the average lifespan of a dog is between 10 and 13 years. However, this does depend on the breed. Some typically have shorter lifespans, and some longer.

We’ve all heard the famous phrase that every human year is seven years in a dog’s life. But this isn’t entirely accurate.

Dr Joe Inglis, expert vet and founder of VetChef.com, says this theory of equating one dog year to seven human years is not scientifically accurate. Dogs age at different stages and rates throughout their lifespan.

He said: “In the first year of life, dogs age much more quickly, with most reaching sexual maturity between six and 12 months. That would be under seven years in human terms if the theory was right.”

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Dr Inglis has his own formula for working out a dog’s relative age in human terms.

• For little dogs (up to 10kg) – 12 human years per dog year for the first two years, and then four per year thereafter. So a 10-year-old terrier will be 56 and a 15-year-old will be 76.

• For medium dogs (10 to 30kg) – 10 human years per dog year for the first two years, and then five per year thereafter. A 10-year-old spaniel, for example, will be 60 and a 15-year-old will be 85.

• For big dogs (30kg+) – A bit simpler: eight human years per dog year all the way. So an eight-year-old German Shepherd will be roughly 64 in human terms.

How to improve our dogs’ chances of living longer

Of course, the length of a dog’s lifespan also depends on its lifestyle, just as it would for a human. For example, an unhealthy diet which could lead to obesity can have a huge impact, reducing its life expectancy dramatically.

If you feed your dog healthy, appropriately-portioned meals then they are much more likely to live a happy, long life, full of energy and enthusiasm.

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Their breed also affects their life expectancy. Dr Inglis says the breeds who live the longest are Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds who could live up to 20 years. Sadly, the Dogue de Bordeaux has the shortest lifespan of any breed, living on average five to eight years. Others with a shorter lifespan include Bernese Mountain Dogs and Irish wolfhounds (seven years on average) and mastiffs and Great Danes which on average live up to eight or nine years.

“It's mainly genetic as the way they are physically is obviously a result of their genes,” he said. “Larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans generally.

“The most important thing is to care for your dog for as long as you can and keep them healthy and happy with a great nutritious diet and plenty of exercise and love.”

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