Dogs are revered as loving family pets throughout the world. Those that don’t live in a family environment work as service animals and even provide their services to police forces and military operations1. Whether you are a pet owner or not, losing a dog you have bonded with can be devastating. You would never get rid of a dog that is already a part of your family just because their lifespan is on the short side. But what dogs have the shortest lifespan?
You may want to figure out which dog breeds have the shortest lifespan before adopting a new dog so you can reduce the chance that you will be heartbroken within just a few short years of adoption. Nobody knows for sure why some dogs live longer than others, and studies have been limited. One past study (the Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Volume 51A, Issue 6) indicates that larger breeds have a shorter lifespan than small breeds and may also experience decreased cellular growth overall, which could contribute to the short lifespan.
Another study (J Vet Intern Med, Mar-Apr 2011) suggests that while larger breeds tend to die from musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal issues and smaller breeds more commonly die due to endocrine problems, there is no definitive observation as to why some dogs live longer than others based solely on breed, size, or age. Yet another study of Rottweilers suggests that some larger breed dogs can live longer than some smaller breeds because of a delay in the development of life-threatening health conditions, like cancer.
So, some studies suggest that larger breeds have shorter lifespans than smaller breeds. But others argue that size isn’t the only factor. Protection from the onset of health problems, trauma, life experiences, and quality of life are just a few of the things that can play a role in a dog’s lifespan. That being said, we have a good idea of what the shortest-lived dog breeds are based on the studies outlined here and other factors, such as the average lifespan recorded for each particular breed. Here is our list of 20 dog breeds with the shortest lifespans.
The 20 Dogs With the Shortest Lifespans:
1. German Shepherd (10-12 Years)
German Shepherds are well-known for being good guard dogs. Their intelligence makes them the perfect option for police and military units throughout the world. They can also work on the farm and alongside hunters. With the right training and socialization, these dogs can be awesome family dogs.
2. Kuvasz (9-12 Years)
Kuvasz dogs were originally bred to work alone as livestock guards, so they have developed an independent attitude that can make them hard to handle for those who aren’t experienced in dog ownership. They love to spend their time outdoors, they don’t mind being alone, and they need exercise every day to maintain happy and healthy lives.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (9-12 Years)
Although this breed is small, it is prone to a variety of genetic disorders that threaten their overall lifespan. They are sociable dogs that like to spend time with other dogs and children. They’re loyal to their family members, and they can happily live in both apartment and house settings.
4. Fila Brasileiros (9-11 Years)
Another dog that isn’t the best option for new dog owners, this breed is a renowned guard dog that needs early socialization and obedience training to be a safe and enjoyable part of the household. They are affectionate and loving with their family members, but they can be standoffish and protective when strange people and dogs come around.
5. Boerboel (9-11 Years)
Boerboel are large working dogs that funnily enough, get along with cats but not so much with other dogs. Their protective nature can result in aggression when they are not properly socialized and trained. They need a job to do regularly, whether that is guarding, herding, pulling a trailer of firewood, or practicing their skills in the agility field.
6. Scottish Deerhound (9-11 Years)
While they sport a large stature, these are gentle dogs that are excellent with kids and other animals. They don’t need much exercise, and they are happy to snuggle up in the house on a rainy or lazy day. Scottish Deerhounds love to roam, so they need highly fenced yards to spend their time in while they are at home. They tend to be stubborn, which can make them tough to train. But overall, they’re great family dogs.
7. Rottweiler (9-10 Years)
Rottweilers feature large, strong bodies that can be quite intimidating. They’re hard-working dogs that love to learn, which makes them easy to train in general and on the agility course. They’re loving family members and will go to great lengths to protect the children in the family. However, they can be trained to be aggressive and territorial, which makes them decent service options for police departments.
8. French Bulldog (8-12 Years)
These doggies feature a short, thin coat that is easy to groom and doesn’t heavily shed. They love their family members, and they show their loyalty through affection. They’re especially favorable of kids and will act as “nannies” to their baby and toddler family members. However, they can become aggressive to strangers when they aren’t trained and regularly socialized throughout their lives.
9. Chow Chow (8-12 Years)
While they’re cute, this dog breed tends to not get along well with kids or other animals. They are also typically food aggressive, which can make it tough to care for them in a multi-animal setting. Thanks to their luscious, soft coats, they are revered more as show dogs than as family pets, but with extensive training, they can do well in a home with older kids and adults.
10. Shetland Sheepdog (8-12 Years)
Shelties are active, fun-loving, and eager to please. They get along great with kids and other dogs, but they should be trained and supervised when around smaller animals, like cats. They sport long, soft hair and a winning smile that people often have a hard time resisting. But thanks to their long hair, they tend to shed often throughout the year, which could result in a trail of hair left around the home.
11. Saint Bernard (8-11 Years)
These huge dogs are gentle giants. They don’t need much exercise, they are good with kids and other animals, and they don’t mind staying at home alone while their human parents go to work. They do require a substantial amount of grooming and training, but the work is well worth the loyalty and affection that these dogs bring to the table.
12. Great Swiss Mountain Dog (8-10 Years)
Bred to work, this breed thrives in a household where they can perform daily tasks. These tasks could come in the form of doing daily chores like picking up their toys or hauling wood. These dogs love sports like agility and hunting. However, they can fit into a family environment well if they have an opportunity to exercise outside daily.
13. Newfoundland (8-10 Years)
This breed has long, thick hair that is suitable for cold environments. But they need to be trimmed to thrive in summer environments. They can be extremely playful, yet they are serious and protective when it comes to caring for their family members. They have powerful bodies but soft hearts, so they are typically easy to train and handle in social situations.
14. Shar-Pei (8-10 Years)
These aren’t needy dogs. In fact, they exhibit an independent attitude and don’t mind spending time at home alone. The Shar-Pei isn’t particularly active, yet they do enjoy a daily walk around the block or a trip to the dog park several times a week. They require daily brushing to keep their shedding to a minimum throughout the year.
15. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (8-10 Years)
This breed is another working dog that doesn’t live much longer than a decade, even in good health. They are strong, robust, and loyal workers. However, they do enjoy spending time in a family environment after they have been well exercised. Due to their high activity levels, these dogs can be destructive when left alone without access to entertainment and stimulation.
16. Bullmastiff (7-10 Years)
These dogs are not that intelligent, and they have a stubborn streak that can make them tough to train. Still, with proper training, they can be great family pets that protect their pack. The Bullmastiff is a notorious snorter and farter, which can turn some people off. However, their loving nature and exuberance for life tend to win people over.
17. Irish Wolfhound (7-9 Years)
These friendly dogs are fast and efficient. They come from Ireland and are one of the tallest breeds registered with the AKC. They are fearless hunters and will not let their families down when it comes to protection. Yet, they have a softer side that takes care of kids, enjoys the company of their family members in general, and accepts strange people and dogs introduced to the household if they are well trained and socialized.
18. Great Dane (6-8 Years)
They are huge dogs, but Great Danes are typically gentle, loving, and low-key. They get along well with kids, they protect their household well, and they can accept other animals if they are socialized from the time that they are puppies. But they are stubborn and do have limits. They don’t enjoy being made fun of or being teased by kids.
19. Bernese Mountain Dog (6-8 Years)
This is a dog breed that requires cool weather to stay happy and healthy. If they live in temperate conditions, they should be regularly trimmed. Hot climates just aren’t the best choice for the Bernese Mountain Dog. They are rarely aggressive by nature and tend to get along with other animals well, even those that are strange to them.
20. Dogue De Bordeaux (5-7 Years)
These guys and gals don’t have a ton of energy and don’t mind living indoors most of the time. They do like the occasional adventure, and they wouldn’t mind an outdoor walk a few times a week, but this isn’t necessary if their lives are interactive inside the house. They are protective of their family members, which makes them awesome watchdogs.
Our Final Thoughts
The truth is that all dogs deserve love, attention, and a thriving family environment, no matter how long they are expected to live. The dogs on this list are some of the shortest living breeds in existence. But they are just as loving, caring, and attentive and in need of good homes as every other breed. What is your favorite short-lived breed on our list? Share your thoughts in our comments section below!