Maybe you want to have a pet as long as possible, or maybe, for reasons known only to you, you want to make a little bit shorter commitment. Either way, one of the things that may effect your decision to adopt is the lifespan of the breed you're interested in. Dogs with short life spans may not be for every owner.
Many things contribute to the average lifespan of a dog. Genetic illnesses and frequency of infections are major factors, but there are a lot of other things that play a part too. Some of the variables that may effect your dog's lifespan are out of your control, like his size and genetic issues.
Quite the opposite, there are also many variables that you can control. These include:
Having a pet is a big commitment, and dogs with short life spans won’t lessen that commitment. Your dog is counting on you to provide what it needs to live a healthy, happy life. If you don’t want your dog to be around as long as possible, then maybe you should question your desire to get a dog.
On the other side of the coin, these breeds are worthy of love despite their short life-spans. Just think, if you adopt one of these dogs with short life spans, you can give a loving home to more animals over the course of your own life. As a bonus, it is not un-heard of for well-cared-for pups to live well past their expected age.
ALSO READ: 15 Dog Breeds That Have the Longest Lifespan
20 Dogs With Short Life Spans
There isn't a specific number that denotes a short life span. Every breed has an ‘average' lifespan, and these estimates vary depending on the breed's size and breeding history. For example, some dog breeds have been inbred and overbred to an extreme, which has caused a lot of congenital and hereditary conditions to be common in these dogs.
Now, let's look at dogs with short life spans in three different categories:
- 5-10 years
- 8-12 years
- 9-12 years
5 to 10 Year Life Spans
1. Dogue de Bordeaux – 5 to 7 years
These drooling giants need socialization and obedience training starting at a young age to avoid becoming aggressive. They can accidently hurt people because of their size alone.
2. Great Dane – 6 to 8 years
Just make sure you never push a Dane past its limits. You need to schedule break times to avoid injuries. Make sure they get obedience training while they are young, once grown they can easily hurt someone by jumping on them and knocking them down.
3. Bernese Mountain Dog – 6 to 8 years
This wooly dog needs cool temperatures to be healthy. Originally a working breed, “Berners” still love to work and enjoy learning tricks and playing sports. Intelligent and wanting to please, these giants are easy to train.
You don’t have to worry about aggression in these fur-babies. They are friendly with everyone they meet. The wooly coats on these pooches need frequent brushing. They also shed and drool quite a bit.
4. Irish Wolfhound – 7 to 9 years
Dogs in this breed are fast and strong. Some people even call them the “Greyhounds of Ireland”. Very friendly, Irish Wolfhounds get along with everything and everyone, although their size is a deterrent to trespassers.
These are not only one of the dogs with short life spans, but they are also the tallest dog registered with the AKC. Like other large dogs, they need obedience training while still small. They are healthiest in colder climates.
5. Bullmastiff – 7 to 10 years
These gentle giants are nothing like their ancestors – the dogs of war. In fact, if socialized and trained properly, they make great family pets. Mastiffs have low intelligence and are a little stubborn, so they need an experienced trainer.
These pooches are known to drool, fart, and snort. They are not delicate animals, but they do have easy to care for coats, and minimal shedding. While they are one of the dogs with short life spans, there are a lot of advantages to owning this breed.
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8 to 12 Year Life Spans
6. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – 8 to 10 years
A working breed, the “Swissy” still loves to perform tasks, whether they are actual chores around the house or learning new tricks. Pictured above, these dogs with short life spans make great companions for walks or participating in dog sports.
Staying busy will help your pup from becoming destructive or aggressive. These pooches are full of energy and will need daily exercise.
7. Chinese Shar-Pei – 8 to 10 years
Dogs in this breed usually do not like kids or other animals. They are territorial, and socialization training must begin in puppy-hood. Like other breeds with the “smushed” facial structure, they cannot tolerate temperatures that are too hot or cold.
8. Newfoundland – 8 to 10 years
Powerful and muscular, these pets are ready for any activity you desire. Bred for cold weather, the “Newfie” can be clipped short in summer to help with the heat. Patient and kind, these pups actually prefer the company of children.
Newfoundlands do not do well when left alone. If the house is often empty, this is not the pet for you. Another shedder/drooler, make sure you are up to the commitment this bred takes.
9. Saint Bernard – 8 to 11 years
An affectionate and friendly breed, the Saint Bernard is great for homes with kids and other pets. Saints don’t need a lot of exercise; just make sure that they get a daily opportunity to go outside and stretch.
These dogs with short life spans cannot tolerate the heat well, preferring colder temperatures. In order to perform their job, these animals were bred to be independent. They will try to get their own way when training, and need a strong trainer.
10. Bulldog – 8 to 12 years
English Bulldogs have short hair that is easy to keep clean – great if you don’t want to spend a lot of time at the groomers. They are loyal and protective. Make sure that your pet is properly trained and socialized so they don’t become aggressive.
Playful and loving, these dogs are great for homes with children. At one time, dogs in this class were known as “nanny dogs”. Make sure your furry family member comes from a docile family line.
11. Collie – 8 to 12 years
These pooches have lovely hair that requires frequent conditioning and brushing to stay free of clumps and mats. These dogs with short life spans also shed quite a bit. Just like its television counterpart, Lassie, these dogs are quite vocal and will need training to stop excessive barking.
12. Chow Chow – 8 to 12 years
Most dogs in this breed are quiet, rarely barking. Many owners describe their personality as more feline than canine. These regal dogs can be aggressive (especially around the food bowl), so they need an experienced trainer.
9 to 12 Year Life Span
13. Rottweiler – 9 to 10 years
Pictured above, these dogs are calm and laid back. Often compared to Hercules, these muscular dogs are strong and true, loyal and brave. Dogs in this breed are not hyper and needy.
Smart and attentive, they make excellent working dogs. Despite their reputation, they are gentle and family friendly unless trained to be otherwise. Like every massive dog, they need a strong, experienced trainer.
14. Boxer – 9 to 10 years
Boxers may look mean with their muscular bodies, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This affectionate dog is very friendly with people and other animals. Boxers are intelligent and easy to train.
Boxers like mild climates, so care must be taken when going outside in cold or hot weather. These dogs with short life spans may retain some prey drive and will chase and terrorize small, furry animals.
15. Scottish Deer Hound – 9 to 11 years
Gentle and calm, these canines are great for homes with children. However, they are hunting dogs and may not do well in homes with other pets. Dignified and independent, they can be a little harder to train than other breeds.
They are a tad lazy, but still make great hunting dogs. These canines need a tall, sturdy fence to keep them from roaming the countryside and chasing everything that runs.
16. Fila Brasileiros – 9 to 11 years
Mainly used as a guard dog, this breed must be socialized properly and trained in pack-leader practices to avoid becoming aggressive. But don’t let that scare you, these dogs are affectionate and playful with their family, their temperament just needs respect and acknowledgement.
These dogs with short life spans do better if they are raised with children, not so well if they are the “child”, and then you bring a human child into the home. They are not for novice owners.
17. Boerboel – 9 to 11 years
Another Mastiff-type dog, these creatures are strong and imposing. While they are known to do well with cats, they don’t usually do well with other dogs. Territorial and fearless, they are traditionally used as guard dogs – against people and wild animals.
They need “jobs” to do to keep from becoming aggressive and destructive. These fur babies love to be the “alpha dog.” they will need pack leader training.
18. Kuvasz – 9 to 12 years
Active and intense, these canines love the outdoors. These serious pups do not get along well with kids, strangers, or other animals. Lacking in social graces, this breed is truly a diamond in the rough.
19. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – 9 to 12 years
This little dog defies the life-span rules. The only small dog on this list, the “Cavalier” is susceptible to at least 25 genetic disorders. Affectionate with everyone and everything they meet, dogs in this breed are social and outgoing.
These pups do not like to be alone. They can be loud and destructive if not with their humans. Sensitive and gentle, they must be corrected gently to avoid becoming timid and fearful.
20. German Shepherd – 10 to 12 years
Intelligent “work” dogs, German Shepherds are used as police dogs, guide dogs, and farm hand dogs. They love play time, but are calm and restrained as well. You will need to have chew toys and puzzle boxes because these pups love to chew. German Shepherds are suspicious of strangers. They need socialization and “pack leader” training.
All the dogs on this list, and other dogs, have shortened life spans due to some pretty common reasons. There are ways that you can extend the life of your pet, so you can have their love around for as long as possible. Here are the reasons:
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are many factors that will impact your dog's life span. As you can see from this list, dogs with short life spans tend to be large breeds.
Here are some other factors that may shorten your pet's life span:
- Genetic illness that come from unsafe breeding practices
- Over- breeding and in-breeding are done to meet the demand for popular breeds or due to lack of adult dogs in exclusive breeds
- Breeding un-healthy animals that are mal-nourished, too old or too young
- Pushing large breeds puppies too hard in their young years
- Improper diet
- Lack of adequate exercise
- Refusing to give your pet necessary vaccines or over-vaccinating your pet
It's best to research the breed you're thinking of adopting before you bring your new pet home. Pay special attention to the common health conditions seen in the breed. Once you bring Fido home, work closely with your veterinarian to create an adequate diet and exercise plan.