Can We Predict The Life Expectancy Of Dogs?

Predicting a dog’s lifespan has been iffy, at best. That’s why researchers have looked at the stats and came up with an average number for 165 dog breeds.

While I’ve always been intrigued by fortune tellers, I’ve never actually shelled out my hard earned bucks to have one of them predict my future. I’ve always been afraid I’d see their face cloud over as they peered into a crystal ball or fussed over tarot cards. They would then quickly assure me all was well while they hurried me out the door, careful not to make eye contact. I think I’d feel the same way about my furry near and dears. Would I have ever wanted to know that just days after we celebrated her 16th birthday, my feline Shelby would be gone?

Well many people do appreciate predictability and while I’m the first to say that taking good care of our pooches goes a long way in influencing outcomes; our pets do indeed have an average lifespan.

So it was with interest that I read Stanley Coren, Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of such books as “The Intelligence of Dogs” and “Born to Bark” was exploring the subject.

It seems an article he wrote regarding how to predict the life expectancy of your pup garnered a multitude of queries from interested pet parents who wanted to know if there were stats available for individual breeds. Coren dug a little deeper and discovered that Canadian veterinary epidemiologist, Vicki Adams had in fact led a team of UK researchers who studied this very query and had their report published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice.

Adams and her team collected data from each of the major breed-specific clubs in the UK and by the time they sat down to review the data, they had received information for 15,881 dogs (now deceased) that spanned a decade. While likely no surprise to any of us, the stats confirmed smaller breeds live longer than larger, but this wasn’t guaranteed and it varied by breed.  Of note:

  • Average overall lifespan of our pooches is 11 years and three months.
  • Longest living pooches: Welsh Cardigan Corgi (16.5 years),  Irish Terrier (14.3 years), and of course those poodles (toy at 14.63 years and miniature at 13.92)
  • Let’s not talk about those that don’t live to see their 10th
  • The most common causes of death were cancer (27%), “old age” (18%) and cardiac conditions (11%).

Based on this research, Coren created a list for each of the 165 dog breeds where data was sufficient to support an accurate reading. Of note, he says is the omission of the German Shepherd dog. “The responses for the German shepherd dog were excluded from further analyses as 1425 questionnaires were sent out to the British Association for German shepherd dogs, but only 18 questionnaires were returned and the breed club did not report how many questionnaires were sent out.”

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