New research from the RVC’s Veterinary Companion Animal Surveillance System (VetCompass) programme found that dogs, much like humans, have different life expectancies between males and females, with male dogs living four months shorter on average (11.1 years).
Which dogs have the longest lifespan?
Some dog breeds fare better than others, with Jack Russell terriers having the greatest life expectancy overall at 12.7 years, followed by border collies at 12.1 years and springer spaniels at 11.92 years.
By comparison, flat-faced dog breeds were found to have the shortest life span.
French Bulldogs can expect to live the shortest at just 4.5 years, followed by English bulldogs at 7.4 years, pugs at 7.7 years and American bulldogs at 7.8 years.
The lower life expectancies of flat-faced breeds are heavily associated with the animals suffering from several conditions, including breathing problems and spinal disease.
Researchers say the findings support warnings from experts that people should stop and think before buying flat-faced dogs, and prospective owners should “choose a breed based on health, not looks.”
Dr Justine Shotton, British Veterinary Association president, said: “These life tables offer an important insight into the life expectancy of popular dog breeds in the UK and will be a useful tool for vets and pet owners in assessing dog welfare.
“A concerning finding is the lower life expectancy for flat-faced breeds.
“While the study doesn’t prove a direct link between these breeds’ potential welfare issues and shorter length of life, the findings serve as a fresh reminder for prospective dog owners to choose a breed based on health, not looks.”
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a random sample of 30,563 dogs that died between 1 January 2016 and 31 July 2020, from 18 different breeds and crossbreeds, and it means owners can predict the remaining life expectancy of their dog from different ages.
Previously life expectancy was approximated using only the average age of death of dogs overall or for a particular breed, but researchers say using life tables – tools that list the remaining life expectancy and probability of death across a range of age groups in any given population – allows owners to estimate accurately how much longer their pet dog may live.
The authors say their work now enables dog life expectancies to be tracked at different ages, similar to humans, and may improve predictions for different breeds in the UK.
Dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, and co-author of the paper, added: “Dogs have helped many humans to get through the loneliness and isolation of the Covid pandemic.
“These new VetCompass Life tables enable owners to now estimate how much longer they can benefit from these dogs.
“The short life expectancies for flat-faced breeds such as French bulldogs shown by the VetCompass Life tables supports the UK Brachycephalic Working Group’s call for all owners to ‘stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog’.”
What is the average lifespan of popular dog breeds?
Listed is the estimated average life expectancy of popular pet dog breeds in the UK, based on new research from the Royal Veterinary College.
- Jack Russell terrier – 12.72 years
- Yorkshire terrier – 12.54 years
- Border collie – 12.10 years
- Springer spaniel – 11.92 years
- Crossbred – 11.82 years
- Labrador retriever – 11.77 years
- Staffordshire bull terrier – 11.33 years
- Cocker spaniel – 11.31 years
- Shih-tzu – 11.05 years
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel – 10.45 years
- German shepherd dog – 10.16 years
- Boxer – 10.04 years
- Beagle – 9.85 years
- Husky – 9.53 years
- Chihuahua – 7.91 years
- American bulldog – 7.79 years
- Pug – 7.65 years
- English bulldog – 7.39 years
- French bulldog – 4.53 years