Dog Breeds With the Shortest Lifespans
Any dog can have a long, healthy life if it is properly taken care of with a good diet, regular exercise and plenty of love. But there is a still a sad reality to owning a dog: Compared to a human lifespan, their lives are woefully short. Dogs live on average about 12 to 15 years, but all are not created equal. With each breed comes a different genetic makeup, and with that comes different diseases that can affect a dog later in life.
It's also true that larger dog breeds have shorter lifespans than their smaller counterparts. Scientists are still unclear as to why this is. Some believe that they age faster because of the strain their size puts on their bodies, and vets recommend geriatric check-ups on larger dogs at about seven years of age. Smaller dogs, by comparison, have geriatric check-ups starting at 10 or 11 years old.
This is not to discourage you from owning the breed of your choice, and the numbers given here are averages — some dogs may, and do, live longer, despite their life expectancies. Certain kinds, however, are prone to diseases and have specific genetic markers that may shorten their lifespan significantly. Knowing this information and how to potentially treat it may be your dog's best chance at a longer life.
French Mastiff / Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux has the shortest lifespan of any breed on this list, living just five to eight years. Before even reaching adulthood, the breed is known to have a difficult start, with a higher stillbirth than most other dogs. And a whopping 27 percent give birth via C-section.
Also, the breed’s brachycephalic (broad and short-skulled) face puts them at a breathing disadvantage from the get-go. They cannot handle hot weather, and their heart health is further compromised, as their often-labored breathing puts a strain on the organs.
French Mastiff Breed Information
These gentle giants don't live very long, with an average life expectancy between six and eight years. The breed's main health issue is bloat, an often deadly condition in which the dog's stomach becomes twisted and cuts off the blood supply to other organs.
If you have a Great Dane or are thinking about getting one, contact your vet to learn more about the condition. Despite it being a breed issue, bloat can be prevented to a degree with a proper diet and care.
Great Dane Breed Information
Bernese Mountain Dog
According to the BMD Club of America, life expectancy for the Bernese has recently decreased from 10 to 12 years to only six to eight years. The reasons? Berners are highly susceptible to cancer.
A BMD Club source says, "I know of several that died of cancer at three to four years old and one that died two days before his second birthday. The BMD Club of America is aggressively researching this cancer issue! We must see if we can end this sad situation."
Berners also suffer from bloat and heart issues, which can be fatal.
Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Information
The Irish wolfhound has a little longer life expectancy than the Bernese at six to 10 years, but it still has a shorter lifespan than average. The breed is genetically susceptible to bone cancer, von Willebrand's disease (a genetic blood-clotting disorder), bloat, lymphoma and hyperthyroidism.
Heart disease also leads to many an Irish wolfhound death, according to the Irish Wolfhound Club of America.
Irish Wolfhound Breed Information
Like the Dogue de Bordeaux, Neapolitan mastiffs are a brachycephalic breed and also suffer from breathing problems, especially in higher temperatures (something to try and avoid if you can). Their average lifespan is eight to 10 years.
Neapolitans are susceptible to various conditions that can shorten their lifespan. Those include heart disease, bloat and bone cancer.
Neapolitan Mastiff Breed Information
Newfoundlands also have an average life expectancy of about eight to 10 years. While they are not a brachycephalic breed, they do have health problems in hot temperatures due to their heavy coats.
Newfies are also prone to bloat and heart failure in the form of subaortic stenosis, which is hereditary in nature. The breed is also known to be sensitive to anesthesia.
Newfoundland Breed Information
Rotties have a lifespan of about eight to 10 years as well. These mastiff-related dogs are prone to bone cancer, which usually has a poor prognosis once it’s diagnosed.
Remember to get your rottie vaccinated early — the breed is more susceptible to parvovirus than others. This contagious and often fatal disease attacks the intestines, and its symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Rottweiler Breed Information
One of the few medium-sized dogs on our list, the bulldog has a lifespan of about eight to 10 years. English bulldogs have quite a few health problems, and it all comes down to the way they've been bred.
Bullies are a brachycephalic breed and have issues with heat, as most short-nosed breeds do. They also have compromised immune systems and are in danger of disappearing entirely due to the many health complications they suffer from inbreeding.
English Bulldog Breed Information
Also coming in with a life expectancy of eight to 10 years is the Saint Bernard. One of the largest dog breeds, the Saint comes with myriad health problems — heart disease, epilepsy and cancer among them.
They are also prone to bloating and require several small meals rather than one large meal per day.
Saint Bernard Breed Information
The Leonberger has a lifespan of eight to nine years and has a few of the same health issues that plague most larger breeds: bloat and cancer.
They are also prone to bone disease and a genetic neurological disease called polyneuropathy, which involves decreasing reflexes and muscle tone, weakness and eventual paralysis.
Leonberger Breed Information
Another large dog with health issues ranging from cancer to bloat, Scottish deerhounds live about eight to 10 years.
Heart problems also affect the deerhound, as does liver shunt disease, which can have a genetic marker. This condition can be avoided, however, through responsible breeding.
Scottish Deerhound Breed Information
Another member of the mastiff family, the bullmastiff lives, on average, about eight to 10 years. They, too, have a bit of a laundry list in regard to diseases that can shorten their lives.
Those include bloat, heart disease and various types of cancer, some of which are hereditary to the breed.
Bullmastiff Breed Information
Bloodhounds are deep-chested dogs and, like other large canines, are prone to bloat. Feeding them intermittently throughout the day is preferable to avoid this ailment.
A periodic cardiac exam is also a necessity for this breed, which has an average life expectancy of about nine to 10 years.
Bloodhound Breed Information
The second medium-sized breed on our list, the Shar-Pei lives anywhere from eight to 11 years. Over the decades, breeding has caused significant health problems for the dogs, who, like English Bulldogs, can suffer immeasurably in the attainment of breed perfection.
Shar-Peis have been bred to be more brachycephalic and to have more skin folds, and can suffer from blood-clotting diseases and certain cancers.
Shar-Pei Breed Information
The basset hound has a slightly longer lifespan than most dogs on this list, but it's still relatively low for a smaller breed, at only eight to 12 years.
Inbreeding in search of breed perfection is also an issue with these dogs, who suffer from ailments such as bloat, von Willebrand's disease and immunodeficiency as well as back weakness and obesity.
Basset Hound Breed Information
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Greater Swiss mountain dog lives between eight to 10 years, and, as with most larger breeds, they have plenty of problems in relation to size.
Swissys tend to have stomach issues, so keeping them on a healthy diet with a regular schedule is optimal. Splenic torsion — a twisting of the spleen — occurs in this breed more than it does others, and bloat is also quite common. Other issues to watch out for include epilepsy, platelet (bleeding) disorders and cancer.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breed Information
Larger in size, boxers suffer the same fate as many of their counterparts, and their average lifespan is about 10 years. Their size and brachycephalic nature put a strain on their organs, and they age faster than a smaller breed would.
Cancer and neurological diseases are prevalent in boxers, and most will develop some medical issue by 8 years old. To keep your boxer happy and healthy for as long as possible, frequent check-ups and a healthy diet are musts.
Boxer Breed Information
The Fila Brasileiro, or Brazilian mastiff, is much like its mastiff cousins, with a giant frame that lends itself to bone and joint diseases and puts wear and tear on its organs over time. The Fila is also prone to cancer (it's hereditary in the breed) and bloat.
Most Filas die young — at about five to seven years of age — but some can also live up to 12 years. A proper diet on a regular schedule, vet check-ups and plenty of exercise will hopefully extend your Fila's lifespan for as long as possible.
Fila Brasileiro Breed Information
The friendly, protective Dobie has a lifespan of about 10 years, though many do live longer. The breed is prone to cardiomyopathy, and an annual cardiology exam is critical in catching and treating the condition early. If your dog does have cardiomyopathy, do not breed it — it is an inherited ailment in Dobies.
Others conditions prevalent in the breed are cervical vertebral instability (Wobbler's syndrome), the bleeding disorder known as von Willebrand disease and hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease). If you wish to own a Dobie, make sure to get one from a reputable breeder.
Doberman Breed Information
In comparison to other small breeds, Frenchies have a relatively short lifespan — about nine to 11 years. However, with the proper care, diet and exercise, they many live to the ripe old age of 15.
Frenchies are prone to respiratory and breathing issues (they are brachycephalic) and have plenty of airway deformities, including an elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules and stenotic nares (tight nostrils). They are prone to heat stresses, including stroke, and intervertebral disk (or disc) disease, which can paralyze them in later years.
French Bulldog Breed Information
Cane Corsos (Italian mastiffs) live about nine to 10 years. According to a study, longevity in Corsos has everything to do with their hair color. For example, gray Corsos live about nine years, and black brindle Corsos average 10.3 years.
Researchers claim the Cane Corsos can live longer with proper breeding techniques. As with other large dogs, they are prone to bloat, organ, joint stresses and epilepsy.
Cane Corso Breed Information
The Boerboel lives about 10 years. This South African mastiff is one of the healthier dogs in the mastiff family, but is still prone to bloat and heart disease due to genetics.
This breed can top the scales at about 200 pounds, so it's usually their massive frame and extra weight that puts stress on their joints and organs. Annual vet visits and a healthy diet will keep the Boerboel happy and healthy.
Boerboel Breed Information
This gentle giant can have a short lifespan of only eight years, but can also live up to 12 years. Dental disease and obesity are known to cause heart disease in dogs, and especially so in this breed. Dental visits, a healthy diet and exercise are essential.
Because of its massive size, the Pyrenean can also suffer large dog ailments like joint and organ stress and bloat.
Pyrenean Mastiff Breed Information
The Rhodesian Ridgeback lives about 10 to 12 years. Like other large dogs, their size puts stress on their frame and organs. Ridgebacks are prone to bloat and cancer, most notably cell tumors.
This breed is also prone to hypothyroidism, and Ridgies that have it should not be bred. Additional congenital defects include a skin and spinal column condition called dermoid sinus, which can cause neurological damage, and degenerative myelopathy, which can be crippling.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Information
The intelligent and sleek Borzoi (Russian wolfhound) is similar in size to a greyhound and has a life expectancy of about 10 to 12 years. However, they can live longer if they are active, get plenty of exercise and have a healthy diet throughout their life.
Borzois are prone to many of the health issues larger dogs usually experience, including heart problems, cancer and bloat.
Borzoi Breed Information
This black retriever can have a remarkably short life expectancy of only eight years, but can also live to a ripe old age. Make sure if you're interested in getting a Flat-Coat, it comes from a reputable breeder.
Cancer is common in a whopping 70 percent of Flat-Coats, and most tumors begin to appear at only 4-years-old. One deadly cancer, histiocytic sarcoma, appears in Flat-Coats more than in any other breed. They also suffer from inherited epilepsy and heart disease.
Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Information
Old English Sheepdog
The shaggy-coated and gentle Old English sheepdog lives, on average, 10 to 12 years. If you're thinking of getting one, finding a quality breeder is paramount, as there are a few health issues to which this breed is prone. Those include heart disease, cancer, hypothyroidism and neurological diseases, such as cerebellar abiotrophy and congenital deafness.
Old English sheepdogs are also known to have adverse reactions to certain drugs, so find a vet who knows the breed exceptionally well.
Old English Sheepdog Breed Information
The Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as the Caucasian shepherd dog, is a large breed dog and one of the few that has no recorded maximum height or weight. They live about 10 to 12 years and have the health issues many large breed dogs do — stress on their joints and organs.
Cancer and heart disease are prevalent in Ovcharkas, as is inbreeding, which only further shortens their life expectancy.
Caucasian Ovcharka Breed Information
The Presa Canario is part of the mastiff family and hails from the Canary Islands. Like other mastiffs, they live a relatively short life of about nine to 11 years. They are prone to big dog ailments, including bloat, joint problems and organ stresses as well as epilepsy and hypothyroidism.
Make sure to keep your Presa Canario at a healthy weight, as they are prone to obesity, and avoiding it will help with many problems down the road.
Presa Canario Breed Information
This Turkish breed is a livestock herding dog and has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. Akbashs are generally healthy but can experience orthopedic problems, epilepsy, cardiomyopathy and hypothyroidism as they age.
Bloat is also common in the Akbash, so make sure your pup is fed quality food on a regular schedule.
Akbash Breed Information
Hereditary illnesses are a problem for the Italian spinone, which has a shorter lifespan for a medium-sized dog at only eight to nine years. Like other deep-chested dogs, the spinone is prone to bloat. It also suffers from cerebellar ataxia, (a genetic neurological disorder that can cause early death), heart disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, panosteitis and osteochondrosis.
Regular health screenings for the Italian spinone will increase its chances of a longer life.
Italian Spinone Breed Information
Black Russian Terrier
The massive Black Russian terrier was initially bred to patrol Soviet borders and prison camps in the coldest Siberian climate. Today, they make great guard dogs and wonderful family pets.
They are generally healthy but also suffer from maladies that other dogs their size do — bloat, heart issues, and general organ and joint stress. They live between 10 to 12 years and require a good diet and plenty of physical activity to keep them healthy.
Black Russian Terrier Breed Information
The Tosa Inu is part of the mastiff family and was bred as a Japanese fighting dog. With a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, the breed is known to have issues with bone and joint diseases, organ stress, bloat and cancer.
Make sure to keep your Tosa Inu at a good weight with physical activity and a healthy diet as part of its everyday life.
Tosa Inu Breed Information
This French herding dog lives only eight to 10 years, yet has few major health issues inherent to the breed.
They can suffer from bloat, dilated cardiomyopathy and joint problems related to their size. Dysplasia can also sideline your Beauceron, so make sure it gets regular hip exams.
Beauceron Breed Information
Black and Tan Coonhound
This American dog is generally healthy but has a few hereditary medical issues, including hemophilia B and hip dysplasia. As they are bred to hunt small game, they are also prone to Coonhound paralysis, which comes from raccoon saliva and is treatable if caught early.
Like most hounds, black and tans were bred to eat quickly. They can literally eat themselves to death and often suffer from bloat, so make sure to regulate your Coonhound's meals.
Black & Tan Coonhound Breed Information