Some dogs enjoy a longer life than others, and recent research indicates that small, long-nosed breeds tend to outlive their flat-faced counterparts. After considering factors such as size, face shape, and gender, researchers found that small, long-nosed female dogs among pure breeds tend to have the longest lifespans, averaging 13.3 years.
In contrast, breeds with flat faces, a trendy trait in recent times, have a median lifespan of 11.2 years, with a 40% higher risk of shorter lives compared to dogs with medium-length snouts.
The study, led by Dr. Kirsten McMillan from the charity Dogs Trust and published in Scientific Reports, analyzed data from 584,734 dogs, including pure and crossbred, gathered from 18 organizations. The median lifespan for all dogs was 12.5 years, with females living slightly longer than males.
Further examination of 155 pure breeds revealed that larger dogs generally had shorter lives than smaller ones, and the length of a breed’s nose also played a role.
For instance, miniature dachshunds had a median lifespan of 14 years, while French bulldogs averaged 9.8 years. The study highlighted brachycephalic breeds’ health challenges, such as breathing difficulties and skin problems. Surprisingly, the large and furry Caucasian shepherd emerged with a median lifespan of just 5.4 years.
Additionally, the research found that the median lifespan for pure breeds was longer than that of crossbreeds, contrary to the assumption that crossbreeds might be healthier due to greater genetic diversity.
The study did face limitations, as it couldn’t distinguish between various types of crossbreeds, combining data for dogs of unknown parentage with that of “designer” mixes.
Although the study did not explore the specific causes of the dogs’ deaths, the researchers hope their findings will prompt further investigation into the factors influencing variations in canine lifespan.
McMillan suggested that these differences likely result from a complex interplay of biological factors, including body shape and genetics, and environmental factors like diet, exercise, and training.
The researchers believe that these results can aid potential owners, breeders, policymakers, funding bodies, and welfare organizations in making informed decisions to enhance the well-being of companion dogs.