How Long Do Dogs Live
By David Beart
From the time we bring them home as wriggling bundles of joy, we
all want our puppies to live forever. As they bond with us and grow
into full fledged family members, we tend not to think about the end
of their life or how many precious years we have with our canine
friends. However, when picking out our new puppy it is rare that we
give adequate consideration to the average lifespan of the dog.
There are distinct factors that play into whether our puppy will be
with us until our children graduate from high school or if they give
us a few good years. Most experts agree that small breeds tend to
outlive large breeds. The general rule of thumb is the larger the
dog the shorter the life span. Large medium to large breed dog tend
to live about ten years, although there are exceptions to every
rule. We have a feisty-willed large breed mutt who is determined to
see his fifteenth birthday. Smaller breeds tend to live longer,
anywhere from twelve to fifteen years. Occasionally you will run
into the nearly twenty year old Scottie, but most donít make it past
their sixteenth year.
Again, every rule has its exceptions. The Irish Wolfhound isnít
expected to make it more than six or seven good years although there
really isnít a conclusive reason as to why this is so. Of course
these figures are taking into consideration overall good health and
quality care. Genetics play a vital role in longevity, but those
we canít control. There are a few factors in our favorite little
guyís life we can do to help him get to his ripe old age. Some of
them can even combat predisposition to genetic diseases.
One of the fastest ways to shorten a dogís life is to keep him
outside all the time. Dogs that live outside tend to be missing a
few key ingredients in their overall care that impact their life
span. Even with a shelter available, dogs do wear down and age
quickly when they are dealing with constant element exposure. While
some can adjust, most dog bodies find the extremes the environment
can dish out at them to be exhausting and threatening.
Dogs who permanently reside outside tend to receive less over all
care. Since people spend the majority of their time at home inside,
often small health problems go unnoticed until it becomes an
overwhelming problem. Even the responsible pet owner can forget to
feed or water the dog who is permanently engaged in outdoor
activities when the lifestyle inside the home becomes stressed or
Outdoor dogs also lack the essential strong emotional connection
with their owners that indoor dogs benefit from. Having their human
friends to please and play with goes a long way in their overall
happiness and health. Often a sick dog who has no emotional
connection will stop eating and caring for themselves long before
those who have families who love and care for them. If you want your
little guy to live a longer, fuller life, bring him inside and let
him be part of the family lifestyle.
Whether you are bringing home a purebred puppy or a distinguished
gentleman of questionable descent, their life span can be about the
same. Barring any health problems, each should live as long as the
other and it really just comes down to personal preference.
From birth to about two years old your puppy is learning and
growing. Every day your little guy is reaching new miles stones and
his body is very busy. High quality puppy food packed with nutrition
can help set him on the foundation for a healthy life. These foods
are a little more expensive, but they can be well worth the cost
when considering the effects of malnutrition. If your little guy
comes from a family or breed history of hip and back problems such
as hip dysplasia, excessive exercise in the first two years can put
added stress on the joints in question and actually exacerbate the
potential for later problems. Exercise is good, over doing isnít.
Regular veterinary check ups and of course vaccinations during the
first two years can help to catch problems early on, which will
increase his overall health. This is the time when your puppy really
needs you to watch out for him, whether his body is having health
problems or he is ingesting things that can cause long term
problems, staying on top of him now reduces health effects in his
From his second year through his fifth we can consider this his
basic years of good health and maintenance. Watch for signs of
growing obesity and make sure he is receiving ample exercise and fun
play time. If he is a healthy dog then these years should be stress
free. Keep at least annual appointments with the vet for check ups
and updated shots. His food should be a high quality protein based
variety, but if heís showing signs of too much happy eating either
cut back on his portions or switch to a low calorie variety.
Once he gets into his fifth to eighth year we can consider him a
middle age to aging dog. These are the years when small but
manageable health problems are likely to show up. If heís a really
good eater but hasnít shown signs of obesity before, these are the
years when his activity will slow down some and he may develop a
weight problem now. Again, a good low calorie food and a few perhaps
coaxed walks should be enough to help him keep his youthful figure.
Other problems such as cataracts, arthritis, or even heart murmurs
are most likely to show up during these years. They are not
catastrophic events and can typically be handled with a trip to the
vet and either simple procedures or medication. Ignoring problems
now however, are likely to grow into unmanageable problems quickly.
Stay on top of his check ups and vaccinations to ward off any
potential disasters looming about. Most dogs that are generally
healthy should make it through these years just fine.
Depending on the size, breed, and overall health of your not so
little guy, once he reaches eight years old he may be starting to
push toward borrowed time. Smaller breeds wonít get there until
about ten, but even medium dogs are now starting to wear down. Just
because heís getting old doesnít mean you have to start thinking
about euthanasia. There is a possibility that he will have health
and happiness for a few more years to come. However now is the time
when health problems can erupt quickly and strike hard.
Eight years old and beyond is when you are most likely going to face
making tough decisions about your faithful canineís quality of life.
The care you gave him as a puppy is now doing its part to take care
of him as he ages. Some older dogs need to be encouraged to eat. If
your once upon a time eating machine is suddenly losing weight,
switch to a higher protein, higher fat content dog food to help him
maintain his energy.
Our care for our dogs all the way through their lives can make a
huge difference in how long they live a full and happy life. When
bringing a new puppy home remember that how you treat his body right
now will carry a direct effect to his life span down the road. Many
dogs outlive their life span and are happy and energetic the whole
way through. A little love and responsibility can go a long, long
way. Any dog that has touched your life will certainly live forever.
Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy
Here are five tips for ensuring that you have a healthy dog.
The Different Breeds Of Dogs
The American Kennel Club recognizes 150 different dog breeds. There are seven different groups in which the dog can belong. They are assigned to one of the groups based on what the breed of dog was originally developed for.
Dogs - Man's Best Friend
Owning a dog can be a positive, enjoyable experience for the entire family. Keep in mind however, that the decision to own a dog is an important one that should not be taken lightly.
If You Want a Friend, Get a Dog!
Dogs as pets date back at least as far as the days of Pompeii, where the remains of a dog stretched out next to a little boy were recovered from the rubble at Pompeii.
Dogs and Kids: Happy Together
How can you ensure that your child and Man's Best Friend have a loving and safe relationship?
About the Author:
David Beart is the owner of
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