A dog is a man's best friend, right? Although dogs grow up faster than humans, they don't live as long as their owners. The average life expectancy of our favorite furry companions is 11.2 years, but the number differs based on breed. Let's take a closer look.
According to a study in Scientific Reports, a dog's life span strongly depends on its breed. The study followed the ages of over 30,000 dogs that passed away between 2016 and 2020. The scientists based their calculations on the average life expectancies of 18 varying breeds and crossbreeds in the United Kingdom. Through their research, they found the average life expectancy to be 11.2 years, and that small dogs had longer life expectancies than larger pups.
Dr. Dan O'Neill, a veterinarian, and epidemiologist at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, England, shared with Live Science, "The life expectancy advantage for small dogs actually flies in the face of the basic rules of life expectancy across species in the natural world, where smaller species generally live shorter lives than larger species." He gave the example of a mouse that might be expected to live a few short years, whereas an elephant is thought to live up to 70 years. O'Neil's research explains that it isn't that small dogs live longer, but the larger canine breeds simply live shorter. The creation of breeds around 150 years ago could have resulted in larger dogs that grow faster than their predecessors, triggering earlier diseases, such as cancer or osteoarthritis.
Their studies showed that 90% of canine deaths in the UK involve euthanasia, so their life span is "heavily influenced by human decision-making," For humans, larger canines may be more challenging to care for, such as their financial costs or mobility issues. Scientists say that the life expectancy of crossbred dogs was higher at 11.7 years and that female dogs typically outlived male pups. Through years of research, scientists found that Jack Russell terriers lived the longest lives, with an average of 12.7 years, and French bulldogs the lowest, at 4.5 years. Similar breeds often have shorter lives as well. The average life expectancy was 7.4 years for English bulldogs, 7.7 years for pugs, and 7.8 years for American bulldogs.