Dog Lifespan: How Long Do Dogs Live?

Written by August Buck
Published: December 29, 2021
Image Credit Tara Lynn and Co/Shutterstock.com
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Long regarded as man’s best friend, our pet dogs are one animal that we wish lived forever. No matter how old our dogs get, we love and cherish them for the entirety of their lives. Knowing how long your pet lives for may help you care for them throughout this time.

Let’s learn more about how long the average pet dog lives, their life cycle from birth to senior ages, and how you can help your dog live a long, healthy life, no matter the age that you adopt them!

How Long Do Dogs Live?

Oldest Box Dog - A Portrait of an Old Boxer
Siberian Huskies were once not taken seriously as racing dogs.

Tara Lynn and Co/Shutterstock.com

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Dogs live an average of 10 to 15 years, depending on the size and breed of the dog. Smaller dogs live closer to 12 to 16 years on average, while giant dogs rarely live beyond 12 years old. 

According to The American Naturalist, Large dogs are more likely to pass away before they reach an old age because they simply age faster than smaller dogs. Most other animals live longer if they are larger, but this is not the case for dogs.

Not only do dogs live long and happy lives with us, they have lived these lives with us for generations. Some of the oldest dog breeds have been around for nearly 10,000 years! When you think about how long we have shared our lives with dogs, it’s no wonder that we value them so highly as members of our family. 

Some of the Longest Living Dogs on Record

The oldest dog on record lived to 29 years of age. While dogs reaching beyond 20 years of age are rare, a number of breeds – even larger dog breeds – have reached incredibly long ages. Let’s take a look at some of the oldest dogs ever.

  • Bluey (29 years, 5 months): An Australian cattle dog that passed away in 1939. Bluey lived an active life for more than two decades which contributed to her longevity.
  • Butch (28 years): A beagle that lived in Virginia and passed away in 2003.
  • Taffy (27 years, 211 days): A cross between a Border Collie and a Welsh Sheepdog, Taffy lived in the United Kingdom.

Let’s go over the average life cycle of a dog so that you can fully understand what happens during the lifespan of your household best friend. 

How Long Do Dogs Live?
Dogs live an average of 10 to 15 years, depending on the size and breed of the dog.

iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

The Average Dog Life Cycle

No matter the age of the dog you choose to adopt or have in your home, all dogs live according to a similar life cycle. Let’s discuss this cycle now. 

Newborns

A puppy is born with its sense of touch and taste, but nothing else. Their eyes are closed, they can hardly crawl, and puppies are completely dependent on their mothers when they are first born. 

Once four or five weeks have passed, puppies should have the majority of their senses available to them, and are capable of eating solid food by week 6. Once 8 weeks have gone by, they should be fully weaned from their mothers and capable of eating on their own. 

Puppies

How Long Do Dogs Live?
Once four or five weeks have passed, puppies should have the majority of their senses available to them.

dezy/Shutterstock.com

From 3 months on, puppies are curious, adventurous, and a handful. It is recommended that you alter your puppy once they reach 3 months of age and continue to socialize them with their litter if you are able.

Many puppies can socialize with other dogs outside of their home until they have been fully vaccinated against many common dog diseases. However, socializing your puppy at this point in their lives is key to their development. 

Adulthood

Depending on the breed of your dog, most dogs reach adulthood between the ages of 1 and 2 years old. Hopefully you had the opportunity to train your dog while it was a puppy, though you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks! 

As dogs age, they become less active and playful, though their overall need for attention and play time varies from dog to dog. Some dog breeds need more activity than others, and it is important to keep your adult dog on a set diet and exercise routine. 

You should also be paying attention to your dog’s teeth and gum health during this time, as well as taking them to regular check ups. Preventative care and regular maintenance are key for adult dogs, along with exercise and socialization.

Senior Dogs

While some dogs are older than others, including this list of some of the oldest known domestic dogs, your senior dog can still live a healthy and fulfilling life. You may notice that your older dog’s mobility begins to change once they reach 7 or 8 years old.

Many senior dogs suffer from arthritis and other issues such as incontinence. You can help them through this with medication, lifestyle adjustments, and love. Purchasing a set of stairs so that your dog can still get on your couch is one of many options to consider for your senior dog! 

Tips for Giving Your Dog a Long Life

How Long Do Dogs Live?
Some dog breeds need more activity than others, and it is important to keep your adult dog on a set diet and exercise routine.

iStock.com/Tatyana Consaul

Like most dog owners, you no doubt want to extend the life of your dog for as long as possible. While not all dogs can be as lucky as Happy, a dog who is roughly 21 years old currently, many dogs can live beyond their expected lifespan with love and care.

Here are some tips for giving your dog a long life, at any age:

  • Monitor your dog’s weight. Weight gain and overweight dogs are common. Even being a couple pounds overweight at any age can be harmful to your dog’s health. Giving them ample exercise and stimulation throughout their lives can help them more than you think.
  • Train your dog with positive reinforcement. While training your dog definitely makes your life easier, it can make their lives easier and longer. Training your dog with positivity and love will strengthen your bond and lead to a more stable home environment. Dogs appreciate boundaries and rules, and love will help them feel like they are safe too.
  • Clean your dog’s teeth regularly. While no one wants to take a trip to the dentist, many common diseases begin at your dog’s gum line. Having a toothbrush for your dog can be a good idea. You may also schedule regular teeth cleanings with your vet or groomer.
  • Visit a veterinarian regularly. Your dog needs health and wellness appointments at any age, especially to receive their vaccines. Your vet can also keep you apprised of their overall health and weight.

While we all want our dogs to live forever, we can still ensure that our dogs enjoy a quality of life far beyond their expectations. With love and routine care, your dog can be a member of your household for years. 

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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