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Beagle playing with stick

Wouldn’t it be nice if our furry friends could live forever? Pet parents often dread having to say goodbye to their four-legged friends. Unfortunately, dogs have a much shorter average lifespan than us human owners. The average dog lives about 10 to 13 years, but some breeds or individual dogs can live much longer. In fact, Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a type of Portuguese farm dog, recently celebrated his 31st birthday. Bobi holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest dog ever recorded.

Though Bobi’s tale is rare, other popular breeds can live a long time — often well into their second decade. There are no guarantees, as health conditions can arise in any breed. However, this list of the longest-living dog breeds can help you narrow your search for a long-term best friend based on average life spans.

1. Shih tzu

Originally from China, the shih tzu is an ancient lap dog breed. Healthy shih tzu dogs can often live to the ripe old age of 18 years old. These friendly small dogs are known for being well-suited for homes with small children, making them good pets to grow up with for little ones. Shih tzu are generally healthy little dogs but can be prone to some health issues like cataracts and patellar luxation.

White and brown shih tzu puppy

Facts about the shih tzu

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-18 years

2. Toy poodle

A highly intelligent dog breed, toy poodles are the smallest type of poodle, reaching a maximum height of 10 inches. The pups are known for taking to training swimmingly and for their openness to young children and stages. Though small, all poodles have high exercise needs and do best in homes with active lifestyles.

White toy poodle outside at the bottom of steps.

Facts about the toy poodle

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking —Very vocal
  • Life span — 10-19 years

3. Australian cattle dog

Also known as ACD, or blue heeler, Australian cattle dogs can live long lives, typically between 12 to 16 years old. Although generally healthy dogs, ACDs are susceptible to health conditions like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation . Australian cattle dogs are a high-energy breed that thrives in homes able to give them the physical and mental stimulation they need.

Australian cattle dog wearing scarf

Facts about the Australian cattle dog

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking —  When necessary
  • Life span — 12-16 years

4. Jack Russell terrier

A Jack Russell terrier can live until the age of 15 years old or even beyond. Though Jack Russells are on the smaller side, weighing under 20 pounds, they were bred to be working dogs on farms and have loads of energy. The spunky dogs prefer to live happy and healthy lives with families who maintain active lifestyles.

Jack Russel Terrier with ball in mouth

Facts about the Jack Russell terrier

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 10-15 years

5. Chihuahua

The smart, lovable Chihuahua is one of the longest-living breeds, as well as one of the oldest, likely having originated in ancient Mexico. The longest-living Chihuahua on record, Spike, turned 23 in 2022. The average life expectancy of a Chihuahua is usually around 14 to 16 years. During their happy lives, Chihuahuas don’t typically let their small size get in the way of playtime. They love walks, trips to the park, and winding down next to their favorite human — the breed is known for becoming particularly attached to one person.

Woman holding a Chihuahua outside

Facts about the Chihuahua

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 14-16 years

6. Dachshund

These playful “weiner dogs” are small but hardy, often living until around age 15. A miniature dachshund named Funny became, at the time, the oldest-living dog at the age of  21 years and 169 days in November 2020. Doxies have big personalities, known to be smart, loyal, and a little wary of strangers in an attempt to protect their humans. They are generally good with other pets, but they may exhibit a prey drive around small animals. Dachshunds are prone to obesity, so feeding them a nutritious diet consisting of 90% dog food and providing ample opportunities for exercise is important to help the breed maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Dachshund walking on leash in a field

Facts about the dachshund

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

7. Yorkshire terrier

The smallest dog breed in the terrier group, Yorkshire terriers are known for their longevity. The playful and affectionate dogs with long, silky hair can live to be 15 years old or older. Yorkies’ small size makes them suitable for apartments and houses, and they don’t need much exercise. Still, these energetic pups require mental and physical stimulation — toys, short walks, and cuddles will usually do.

Yorkshire terrier puppy

Facts about the Yorkshire terrier

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

8. Cardigan Welsh corgi

One of two corgi breeds, alongside the Pembroke, these pups are loving and playful. The Cardigan Welsh corgi is more susceptible than other breeds to certain health problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a genetic eye condition. But generally, the Cardigan Welsh corgi is a long-living dog breed with an average lifespan of around 12-15 years.

Welsh corgi cardigan exercise

Facts about the Cardigan Welsh corgi

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

9. West Highland white terrier 

West Highland white terriers, also known as Westies, have happy demeanors and long average life spans of about 13 to 16 years. The all-white dogs generally do well with small children, making them an excellent first furry friend. They also do well with other pets and strangers, making Westies excellent family pets.

West Highland white terrier on a beach

Facts about the Highland white terrier

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 13-16 years

10. Afghan hound

One of the larger breeds on this list, the Afghan hound, can reach up to 60 pounds and can live as long as 18 years in some cases. The dogs with long, silky coats thrive with more than a little exercise — Afghan hounds were bred for sprinting and can hit speeds up to 40 miles per hour! They do best in a home that can give them an average of one to two hours of exercise daily, at least.

Afghan hound close up

Facts about the Afghan hound

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 12-18 years

11. Beagle

Butch the beagle was the oldest known beagle and once held the Guinness Book of World Records’ title of oldest living dog. He lived until the age of 28 before passing away in 2003. Generally, beagles have a fairly long expected life span of around 10 to 15 years old. One of the most popular dog breeds, beagles usually get along well with children and other pets.

One factor to watch out for is that beagles can become food-obsessed, making them prone to obesity. Feed your pet a high-quality diet consisting of 90% dog food and offer ample opportunities for exercise. The good news is that beagles love to go for walks and hikes, often with their noses to the ground as they explore.

Beagle training on leash

Facts about the beagle

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 10-15 years

12. Maltese

The small but mighty Maltese is generally a healthy breed with an average life span of 12-15 years. Considered a toy breed by the American Kennel Club, Maltese weigh between 4 to 7 pounds. They don’t need much exercise, but regular walks will keep them stimulated and active. The friendly dogs can become very attached to their families and are prone to separation anxiety.

Teacup Maltese in the grass

Facts about the Maltese

  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking —  Very vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

How to find a dog with a long average life span

There are no guarantees when it comes to longevity and dogs. Genetics plays a role, and sometimes, health conditions happen unexpectedly. However, consider a few factors when trying to find a dog with a long life span.

  • Size. Does size matter when choosing a dog? Science seems to suggest it might. Larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans on average than smaller breeds. Small dog breeds can live well into double-digit years — sometimes older than 15 — while a larger canine typically lives 8 to 12 years.
  • Sex. In a 2022 UK study, researchers found that female dogs lived slightly longer lives than their male counterparts — about 11.41 years to 11.07 years.
  • Purebred vs. mixed breed. Mixed breeds live an average of 1.2 years longer than purebred dogs, according to data from a 2020 study . The theory behind this is known as hybrid vigor, which suggests the mixed DNA may be “stronger” than that of purebreds DNA alone.

How to extend your dog’s life

Not everything is in your power, but you have a role to play in keeping your dog healthy. Here are some tips for giving your dog proper care and helping them live the longest, healthiest life possible.

  • Healthy diet. A dog’s diet should consist of 90% dog food and 10% low-calorie treats. Older puppies and adult dogs generally eat twice daily.
  • Exercise. Small and large-breed dogs all need exercise. Though physical activity needs will vary based on a dog’s energy level and size, plan on getting your pet out for walks. A vet can help you figure out how much physical activity your specific type of dog needs.
  • Schedule regular check-ups. Bringing your dog in for routine vet visits, routine parasite control and prevention, and staying up-to-date on vaccines is part of being a responsible dog owner. Vets can flag potential health issues, and sometimes time is one of the most important factors in treating something like heart disease or cancer. Typically, a veterinarian will have you come in once or twice annually unless your pet has underlying conditions. They may increase the frequency as a pet begins to age.

One more note: While the average life span is a perfectly reasonable factor in choosing a dog, it doesn’t need to be the only one. Other lovable pets, like Great Danes and German shepherds, may not live as long. But their gentle demeanors may be the best fit for your family.

Frequently asked questions

What dog has the longest life expectancy?

Shih tzu and Afghan hounds have some of the longest life expectancies for any dog. On the high end, these dogs can live 18 years. Average life spans are also just that — averages. Specific dogs in breed groups have lived longer. For example, a beagle named Butch lived to be over 28 years old, though the breed generally lives 10 or 15 years. In general, smaller dogs tend to have longer life expectancies than some larger breeds.

Do any dogs live to 20 years?

Some dogs can live 20 years or longer, though the average lifespan for a dog is around 10 to 13 years. Small breeds like Chihuahuas and shih tzu can live healthy lives and celebrate double-digit birthdays. It’s common for these breeds to live over 15 years.

Can dogs live for 300 years?

It would be nice, but no. Perhaps one day. For now, the average lifespan for a dog is 10 to 13 years, though some dogs can live around 20 years.