When you look at your dog, you definitely wonder how long he can live. How many years can you play with him?
A new scientific study, released recently, looked at the life expectancy of several popular dog breeds in the UK.
Research shows, for example, that the Jack Russell Terrier can live an average of 12.7 years. Border Collie live 12.1 years and Springer Spaniels 11.9 years, on average.
On the other hand, some of these popular dogs could die sooner than you think.
Four snub-nosed breeds have the shortest life expectancy – French bulldogs live on average just 4.5 years. The English Bulldog, 7.4 years, and the Pug, 7.7 years. American Bulldogs live 7.8 years.
These breeds are prone to a number of life-limiting disorders such as breathing problems, spinal ailments and difficult childbirth – all of which limit their overall longevity.
Life expectancy for dogs (in years):
- Jack Russell Terrier: 12.7
- Yorkshire Terrier: 12.5
- Border Collie 12.1.2 Update
- Springer Spaniel: 11.9
- Mestizo: 11.8
- Labrador retriever: 11.7
- Staffordshire terrier bull: 11.3
- Cocker Spaniel: 11.3
- Shih Tzu: 11
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: 10.4
- German Shepherd: 10.1
- Boxer: 10
- Beagle: 9.8
- Husky: 9.5
- Chihuahua: 7.9
- American Bulldog: 7.7
- Clay: 7.6
- English Bulldog: 7.3
- French Bulldog: 4.5
Age lists like this (for 18 breeds and crossbreeds) have been produced before, but the current version is the most complex to date because it is based on analysis of a large database of veterinary records called VetCompass.
Managed by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), this monitoring system currently contains information on 20 million animals.
Kendy Tzu-yun Teng’s research team was allowed to compile so-called “life tables”. Simply put, they are graphs that organize the population into age groups, with each group showing the probability of death.
Many factors affect how long your dog will live, making the average lifespan only partially beneficial.
Chihuahuas: Research shows they live an average of 7.9 years, but some can live several years beyond that – Image: Getty Images via BBC
Take, for example, a Chihuahua. The average life expectancy of an animal is 7.9 years.
But veterinary records show that many Chihuahuas die even younger, reducing their life expectancy. This means that a Chihuahua who has reached six is likely to live much longer than an eight. There are Chihuahuas that reach 15 or 16 years of age.
It’s ‘lies and statistics,’ said study co-author Dan O’Neill.
“Sometimes a statistic that is a single value, and gives you the mean of the curve, is technically correct, but there are a lot of nuances in the data and the distributions. The Chihuahua is a perfect example of the importance of these nuances. Knowing the average age distribution can be misleading. ‘, a veterinary epidemiologist at RVC told BBC News.
This approach would be very beneficial for people who are considering adopting a mature pet or who need to decide whether to seek expensive medical treatment for their aging pet. With the spread of pet insurance, actuaries will be avid readers of the new schedules.
Justin Shuton, President of the British Veterinary Association, commented: “These life tables provide important insight into the life expectancy of popular dog breeds in the UK and will be a useful tool for veterinarians and pet owners in assessing the presence of dogs.”
“A worrying finding is shorter life expectancy for flat-faced breeds. While the study does not establish a direct link between potential well-being problems for these breeds and a shorter lifespan, the findings serve as a fresh reminder that future owners choose the breed based on health rather than appearance.”
O’Neill agrees with Shotton’s view on small-nosed breeds, but adds that the very low life expectancy of the French Bulldog in particular is likely to be affected somewhat by the rapid rise in popularity in the country. With the breed’s high numbers in the UK, it can still be difficult to realistically assess its longevity.
The number of French Bulldogs registered with the UK Kennel Club increased from 2,771 individuals in 2011 to 39,266 in 2020.
O’Neill explains, “This means that there are more small animals in this group, on average, than other breeds. So there are more small animals ‘available’ to die.”
“Over time, as we collect more data, their life expectancy will probably not be that low. But I doubt it will go any further than the English Bulldog and Terrier have.”
Tzu-yun Teng belongs to National Taiwan University. Her and O’Neill’s study was published in Scientific Reports.