Category Archives: Lifespan

Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?

Do small dogs live longer than large dogs? We want our dogs to be with us for a long and happy life; that’s all part of being a good owner. It makes sense, then, that animal lovers would have questions about their dog’s life span, especially as it relates to their particular breed. There is a lot of misinformation out there, as well as some that could be confusing for owners. When we took a look back at some of the questions our readers and clients have asked on this subject, these were the most common:

  • Do small dogs live longer than large dogs?
  • Why do smaller dogs live longer?
  • Is it true small dogs live longer than big dogs?
  • How long to small dogs live?
  • Do all small dogs outlive big dogs?

Here are the answers to these questions about your dog’s size and what it means for their lifespan.

Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?

Simply put, the answer is yes. It is widely known and accepted that small dogs live longer than large dogs. For example, a Great Dane is considered ”senior” at 7 years of age, while a small poodle or Chihuahua is barely considered middle aged at the same age.

Why Do Large Dogs Have Shorter Life Expectancies?

This is a fascinating question, especially if you have ever owned a small mammal such as a rat that only lives to about 2 years of age. You would think that a smaller size would lead to a longer life, but this just isn’t true with small mammals. Take a look at elephants, for example; they can live as long as humans and they are huge!

Nature doesn’t always follow specific rules. In April 2013, Dr. Cornelia Kraus from the University of Göttingen in Germany published some groundbreaking research on this subject to help determine the connection between size and life expectancy in dogs. Dr. Kraus analyzed data on the age of death in over 56,000 dogs from 74 different breeds. She found that small dogs do indeed live longer, and the researchers were actually able to quantify that number. Their findings indicated that for every 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body weight, a dog’s lifespan decreased by 1 month.

Dr. Kraus suggests that bigger breeds die more frequently from cancer than smaller dogs do. This may be due to the tendency of large breed dogs to grow faster, which may be associated with the abnormally fast cell growth seen with cancers and accelerate overall aging. Another risk factor may be that larger breed dogs could have more dangerous lifestyles than smaller breed dogs who are more “pampered”, thus increasing their risk factors.

Why Do Smaller Dogs Live Longer?

The flip side of that question is that if big dogs live shorter lives, is there anything that makes small dogs more likely to live longer? Honestly, no one knows for sure. Here are some of the popular theories on the subject, though:

1. As mentioned above, it is believed that smaller dogs live longer because they grow more slowly than large breed dogs. Smaller dogs don’t have the fast division of cells that big dogs have and can be associated with cancer and accelerate aging.

2. Another theory has to do with concentrations of growth hormone. Studies suggest that small dogs have lower concentrations of the growth hormone IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1, in their blood than big dogs. Lower concentrations of IGF-1 shows reduced risk of age-related diseases and longer lifespans. In humans, high levels of IGF-1 have been associated with increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

When Is a Dog Considered a Senior?

The determination of when your dog enters their “golden years” can have big impacts on their health. For example, there are a number of tests that vets encourage which only become necessary past a certain age or stage of development. When a dog becomes “senior,” however, depends on the size of the dog. Because large breed dogs have a shorter life span, they are frequently considered seniors sooner than small breed dogs. When is a Dog Considered Senior? gives you the life span of the most common breeds.

As for a general guideline, it helps to know that dogs are generally considered senior during the last 25% of their life. The following estimates for senior status take a dog’s weight into account:

  • For dogs over 80 pounds: approximately 4 to 6 years of age
  • For dogs 51 to 80 pounds: approximately 6 to 8 years of age
  • For dogs 16 to 50 pounds: approximately 7 to 9 years of age
  • For dogs 15 pounds or less: approximately 9 to 11 years of age

How Long Do Small Dogs Live?

Small dogs (those less than 15 pounds) typically have a life span of 11.25 to 15 years. However, some small breed dogs can easily live to be 18 years old.

Do All Small Dogs Outlive Big Dogs?

Of course, no one can really predict how long an individual dog will live. There’s always the possibility of unpredictable illness or accident, genetic predisposition to disease that may lurk in your dog’s genes, or just sheer bad luck. Generally speaking, however, the larger the breed, the faster they age and the shorter their lifespan is.

How long do some popular dog breed or “big” dogs live?

Here are some general guidelines the lifespan of some popular dog breeds.

  • 7-10 years: Great Dane, Newfoundland, Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • 9-11 years: St. Bernard, bloodhound, chow chow, boxer
  • 10-13 years: Airedale terrier, Dalmatian, golden retriever, German shepherd

How long do small and medium breed dogs live?

Here are some general guidelines for small and medium breed dogs:

  • 12-15 years: Beagle, bichon frise, collie, Doberman, papillon, Pomeranian
  • 14-16 years: Boston terrier, cairn terrier, cocker spaniel, Welsh corgi, Irish setter, Parson Russell terrier, Maltese terrier, schnauzer, shih tzu, West Highland White terrier, Yorkshire terrier
  • 15-18 years: Dachshund, poodle (miniature and toy), Chihuahua

For more details on life expectancy based on the type of dog, go to Life Span of Common Dog Breeds.

We hope this gives you more information on why small dogs live longer than large dogs.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Is the Pain of Losing a Dog Stopped You From Getting Another One?

Has Losing a Dog Ever Stopped You from Getting Another One?

The thing with animals is that they have terribly short lives; heartbreak comes so very quickly.

I’ll never understand people who don’t like animals.

When I was about 10, my sister, my Mum, my Dad and I (back when we were a foursome and not an eightsome) rented a log cabin in Wales for my Mum’s birthday. My parents loved to take us on the kind of holidays that would involve wellies and fields and cows and floods. So much rain. Have you ever been to Wales in October? It’s wetter than an otter’s pocket.

We’d stay for a week in the middle of nowhere and play card games inside while the rain beat down on the wood outside, the tiny TV showing some Welsh-speaking soap that we attempted to watch, making up our own storylines. My sister and I would fight and then write in our respective diaries, underlining in different colored gel-pens the many reasons why the other was a meanie.

Me and six-month-old Bumper. Check out my Kappa tracksuit! So ’90s.

We loved it.

The Octobers in Wales all sort of blur into one, as memories do when you’re a child unless something remarkable happens, like you got your ears pierced or you kissed one of the Woods twins in the field by your house in the summer. One of those holidays does stick in my mind, though.

The log cabin that year was part of what I remember to be like a nature reserve. It probably wasn’t, there were probably houses right by us. But I remember the exciting isolation, feeling like Laura Ingalls or an Enid Blyton character. Every day we played out our own Famous Five adventure, but with four of us, two being adults.

Outside the cabin was a fenced-in field with horses in it, and despite being the most allergic child on earth with streaming eyes and sneezing explosively every time I looked at them, my sister and I would go and chat to them, and give them presents of grass and sugar cubes.

One morning we watched as the horses cantered around the field and spied a tiny little kitten dancing around their hooves, a tiny little thing, all bones and ears. Our parents came to investigate and to our surprise this teeny wild kitty came bounding over, lolloping around on paws too big for her and crashing to a stop at our feet.

Little old lady Bella, the day before she died last month.

When she discovered we were her friends, she didn’t leave us alone. We quickly realized that she was alone in the world — bar the horses — and was probably going to fade away to nothing. We drove out to the nearest supermarket and stocked up on kitten food and fed her every morning while we were there, her tiny, broken mews waking us in the morning. We’d head out for the day and return in the dark, her head lifting from the outside deck of the cabin as she heard the car and jumping up onto all four paws as we ran over to her to say good evening.

The farmer who owned the land told us how she’d been abandoned by her mother, that she would surely die. He didn’t have the time or money to look after her, this pretty little thing with those big brown eyes and the almost smiling mouth that dribbled with pleasure if you gave her some attention. She returned home with us.

Bella ruled the roost. We doted on her, and she adored us — she’d come into my bedroom at night and sleep under my duvet with me, her head on the pillow next to mine. She died last month, an old thing, but still pretty and loving and tiny.

Bella was joined by Bumper, the most ridiculously loving Boxer you could ever imagine, who would shake his whole body in joy in lieu of a tail when he saw you. I remember hot days walking in the parks near our house, hiding in the long grass and staring up at the sky, with six weeks of summer holidays stretching out endlessly while he licked my face to tell me he liked me and that I was all right.

Bumper at Christmas with the family. This was pretty normal for us.

His presence in our house was massive, a character so huge that you couldn’t help but love him endlessly, even when he would eat all the turkey for the Boxing Day dinner overnight and then crap all over the living room before our guests arrived.

Bumper was there when my parents broke up and I left school. I would walk him around town while listening to my iPod and stomping, stomping, stomping all the hurt out. Bumper was there while my Dad went through chemo, twice, while I disappeared, unable to watch it happen. Bumper was there to be his best friend while I ran off to Ibiza so that I could pretend it wasn’t happening.

The thing with big animals (animals in general) is that they have terribly short lives. Ten years is nothing, an instant, a blur of walks and hugs and throwing massive sticks into lakes. A massive family presence, visibly fading and ageing after only a few years until you know they’re about to go, so you run away again.

I’m 26 now, and as with many people my age, I can’t imagine actually ever being able to afford to live in a house with a garden.

There is an ache in me that knows that I want a cat or a dog to be mates with and hang out with. Our balcony is a perfect home for the many pigeons who come and hang out and leave their mess all over it, but we won’t be able to get a pet. But a big part of me thinks that’s OK, because the heartbreak of losing an animal comes all too soon. And I don’t want anything to run away from.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372