A Dog's Lifespan: How long will my dog live?
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A DOGS LIFESPAN: HOW LONG WILL MY DOG LIVE?
You take that cute bundle home and you want it to live for ever. Unfortunately it won't - nothing does. I keep reading that my own breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, has a short lifespan and often wonder how this sort of misinformation got started. I think it may be based on the assumption made by some that little dogs are supposed to live longer than big dogs but in reality this is not how it works.
Life expectancy is based on averages. Actually the average lifespan of any dog whether purebred or of indetermine descent is between 10 to 12 years of age. However individual breeds may have shorter or longer average lifespans depending upon their breed. For example an Irish Wolfhound has a lifespan that is on average between 6 and 7 years of age whereas a toy poodle or Lhasa Apso is going to have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years of age. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has an average life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years. And then certain individual dogs may exceed their breed's average life expectancy and others will fall short. This will usually be determined by many factors such as how the dog is cared for and the genetic makeup of the dog, whether it develops any health problems along the way and so on. Just like in humans.
While each dog will be different there are certain stages that a dog will go through as they grow older. By recognizing these stages it will become easier to understand how your dog is aging and any special requirements to keep them as healthy and fit as possible.
For a dog that lives to the average of about 10 years:
0 - 2 years of age is the growth stage. This the period of time when the dog does its developing, both physically and mentally. While nutrition is important throughout the dog's life, this is going to be the stage when it is going to have the most affect in laying a foundation for a healthy life. They should not be allowed to become fat as this will affect them later in life. Dogs in this age range should be given moderate exercise only. Hard exercise at this stage of a dog's life particularly those that might be inclined to bone disease, such as hip dysplasia, puts undue strain on the joints and ligaments possibly causing damage later in life. This is also the stage when dogs learn their social skills, so training and socialization is very important now.
2 - 5 years of age can be considered the young adult stage. This is the period of life when the dog has finished its growing and is active and healthy. Its diet should be of a maintenance type.
5 - 8 years of age is the equivalent to middle age. The dog begins to slow down and minor health concerns may start to crop up such as mild arthritis or heart murmurs. At this stage diet should be watched as some dogs have a tendency to become overweight. A low calorie diet may be considered. They may have to be encouraged to exercise to keep fit.
8 plus is basically old age. As the dog ages through this period health problems, such as coronary disease, start to become an issue, with the dog requiring more veterinary care and medications. The dog will start to go grey and have a tendency to sleep more often. It will have more problems moving about, quite often be noticeably stiff when getting up. Hearing and eye sight can become diminished. More care to keep them warm and dry is required. Often dogs as they start getting to the end stage will need to be encouraged to eat.
Of the most importance is the quality of life that a dog has through its lifetime. Eventually YOU will have to decide when the time has come to allow the dog a dignified end to hopefully what has been years of pleasure for you. Too many dogs are forced to endure pain and suffering due to ill health towards the end of their life because of their owner's inability to face the hard decision of what is right for the dog. Few dogs go gently in their sleep and forcing them to suffer for our needs is not right.
Remember that our dogs are with us for only a short span compared to our lifetime and we should consider every day precious. And when the end of their life is near and the quality of life is no longer there, consider their needs over ours and allow them to go in dignity and with the minimum of pain. It is the most important act we can perform for our years of friendship.
Popular breeds average life expectancy
|American Cocker Spaniel||10 - 12 years|
|Beagle||11 - 13 years|
|Bichon Frise||10 - 13 years|
|Border Collie||12 - 14 years|
|Boxer||9 - 11 years|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||10 - 12 years|
|Chihuahua||13 - 15 years|
|Collie (Rough)||9 - 11 years|
|Doberman Pinscher||8 - 10 years|
|English Springer Spaniel||10 - 12 years|
|German Shepherd||10 - 12 years|
|Golden Retriever||10 - 13 years|
|Great Dane||7 - 10 years|
|Irish Wolfhound||6 - 7 years|
|Jack Russell Terrier||13 - 15 years|
|Labrador Retriever||10 - 12 years|
|Lhasa Apso||12 - 15 years|
|Maltese||11 - 13 years|
|Miniature Schnauzer||12 - 14 years|
|Poodle (Miniature)||12 - 15 years|
|Poodle (Standard)||10 - 12 years|
|Poodle (Toy)||12 - 15 years|
|Pugs||10 - 12 years|
|Rottweillers||8 - 10 years|
|Shetland Sheepdog||10 - 12 years|
|Shih Tzu||10 - 12 years|
|West Highland White Terrier||10 - 12 years|
|Yorkshire Terrier||11 - 13 years|