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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

22 Longest-Living Dog Breeds For Furry Love That Lasts

These puppers have more than just sweet faces and happy tails going for them. They're also the longest-living dog breeds.

three Italian Greyhound Dogs standing in tall grass outdoorsPurple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images

Long live the dog

We don’t want to think about the day our cherished pooch is no longer by our side. Dogs are members of our families, our constant companions, and our truest friends. Losing them is a heartbreaking part of life, which is why some prospective pet owners pick their furry friends from among the longest-living dog breeds.

Whether you’re thinking about getting a toy dog breed, medium dog breed, or even a gentle giant dog breed, you may want to take into consideration the pup’s average life span. Generally speaking, your dog’s breed will give you a good idea of how long it should live. But there are other factors in play too.

Does size play a role in longevity?

You bet. Size plays a major role when it comes to the longest-living dog breeds. “There is a trend across mammals in general that smaller mammals live longer lives,” says Catherine Lenox, DVM, a veterinarian with pet food company Royal Canin. “There isn’t a clear reason for this—it might have something to do with the animal’s metabolism—but it does seem to be true for dogs as well.”

Which factors are out of your control?

As with humans, certain aspects of aging are out of our control. Factors such as illness, unforeseen accidents, and a genetic predisposition to certain diseases all impact how long a dog lives. Sure, you can use an at-home dog DNA test kit to screen for genetic health conditions, but that doesn’t mean you can stop illnesses from developing.

How can you help your dog live longer?

While you can’t change the cards your dog was dealt, “bad genes” don’t necessarily mean a grim future. Overall wellness should be the focus. “Genetic disease accounts for up to 20 percent of ill health in our dogs [and cats], but the remaining 80 percent is due to poor lifestyle and/or the environment,” says Karen Shaw Becker, DVM, a veterinarian and author of The Forever Dog.

Work with your vet to create a proactive support plan to better manage or decrease the chance of common health problems. “This is the best ammunition for decreasing the likelihood of disease expression later on in the dog’s life,” she says.

When it comes down to it, the things you can do to provide your dog with the longest, healthiest life possible aren’t that difficult to do.

“Be proactive about preventive care, manage medical conditions with your veterinarian as needed, keep your dog in normal body condition [not too heavy and not too thin], and feed a high-quality, complete, and balanced diet without too many treats,” advises Dr. Lenox. Another tip: Make sure your pup is getting enough exercise.

According to Dr. Lenox, the following dog breeds will live up to 15 years or even longer. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, and there’s no guarantee that your dog will live for this long, even if it’s one of the breeds below. But it ups your chances of having a longer life with your beloved four-legged friend.

Coton de Tulear dog sitting in the grass in the sunYann Guichaoua-Photos/Getty Images

Coton de Tulear

Average life span: 15 to 19 years

The award for longest dog life span goes to the official dog of Madagascar, the Coton de Tulear. (By the way, it’s pronounced KO-Tone dih TOO-lay-ARE—and try to say it with a French accent.) According to Colleen Demling-Riley, a dog behaviorist for Dogtopia, lore has it that the Coton de Tulear originated from a group of small white pups that swam ashore after a shipwreck in Madagascar. At just 15 pounds, these little fluff balls have loads of tenacity but are equally affectionate. “These sweet and loyal dogs bond strongly to their families and love going everywhere with them,” says Demling-Riley.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Great with young children
Chinese Crested Dog having fun at the dog parkRobbie Goodall/Getty Images

Chinese crested

Average life span: 13 to 18 years

The Chinese crested is one of the few breeds described as catlike, a comparison they earned from a fondness for sitting in high places. But that’s where the similarities end. While these dogs will park their slender bodies on the back of a sofa, they won’t jump on the counter like a cat. And unlike some cats, this breed tends to be very outgoing and adaptable. The hairless variety sports a spotted-pink body and doesn’t have the usual doggy odors. The “powderpuff” variety is draped in a silky and soft coat. As you can imagine, it can get pretty chilly with a lack of fur. Like many hairless dog breeds, the Chinese crested will be most comfortable in a cozy dog sweater, which will keep it warm, says Callie Harris, DVM, a veterinarian with Purina.

Personality traits:

  • Outgoing
  • Adaptable
  • Easy to train
Rat Terrier Dog with Upright Ears Standing on Grass outsidesjallenphotography/Getty Images

Rat terrier

Average life span: 12 to 18 years

Whether you choose the miniature that stands at about 13 inches or the standard size, which comes in at around 18 inches, you’re signing up for fun and feisty times with these compact and robust American charmers. And since they’re one of the longest-living dog breeds, you have plenty of time to enjoy them. Legend has it that Teddy Roosevelt coined the breed name, as these dogs helped combat a rat infestation in the White House. Yet “rat” hardly seems appropriate for a dog with such an adorable and friendly face. Still, it is a spirited and stubborn canine. “A true terrier breed, these opinionated pups need to know why they should listen before they actually respond,” says Demling-Riley. “Consistent boundaries, obedience training, and positive reinforcement ensure they reach their full potential.”

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Playful
  • Great with young children
shih tzu dog laying down outdoorsPurple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images

Shih tzu

Average life span: 10 to 18 years

When you live with a shih tzu, it’s a long-lasting mutual love affair. “Shih tzu are great family dogs. They love to be loved and give it back very easily,” says Dr. Harris. That could be why they so often make an appearance on the American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dog breeds. Or maybe it’s because they’re oh so snuggly as lapdogs and have endearing, sweet expressions you could get lost in for days. They love to impress you with learning new things and roll with the punches when the day takes a different turn. Best of all, when you take them out for a walk, they’ll charm everyone they meet—in human or furry form.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Adaptable
  • Good with children and other dogs
Manchester Toy Terrier standing on pavement outsideDevidDO/Getty Images

Manchester terrier

Average life span: 15 to 17 years

On the verge of extinction multiple times, the Manchester terrier is making a comeback, according to Demling-Riley. “They are high energy and driven, which means they need direction at home,” she says. “Socialization is a must to ensure pups encountered outside the home are seen as BFFFs—best furry friends forever.” The toy variety weighs in at just under 12 pounds and is around a foot high, while the standard grows to 16 inches and weighs about 22 pounds. Both are spirited and athletic, and they still have the ratting instinct they were born with, so they love to chase tennis balls. And good news for you: It’s one of the least expensive dog breeds.

Personality traits:

  • Spirited
  • Observant
  • Athletic
Chihuahua dog running around outsidePurple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images

Chihuahua

Average life span: 14 to 16 years

These tiny puppers pack a lot of sass and stubbornness (or shall we say confidence) in their adorable, six-pound bodies. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance dog breed or a devoted one-person dog, the Chihuahua could fit the bill. These pint-size cuties only weigh around six pounds—perfect for excursions on the town in a doggy purse. Just be sure you keep them warm. Because of their small size, they can’t retain body heat—even if they gain a few pounds, which Chihuahuas are prone to do. And get this: Not only is the Chihuahua life expectancy long, but the breed is also known for having the biggest brain in the dog world. “There’s been research that shows Chihuahuas have the largest brain-to-body weight ratio of all dog breeds,” says Dr. Harris.

Personality traits:

  • Playful
  • Protective
  • Vocal
Havanese dog standing in grass outside@Hans Surfer/Getty Images

Havanese

Average life span: 14 to 16 years

Happy, outgoing, and friendly to humans and furry friends alike, “the Havanese is the person commanding the room in any party you’ve ever walked into,” says Demling-Riley. They are typically vocal and happy to entertain your friends with their silly nature or alert you when the delivery person leaves a package. It should come as no surprise that this happy-go-lucky doggo lands at the number 24 spot on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds. With such a cheerful disposition and affectionate nature, it’s no wonder the Havanese is an ideal therapy dog too.

Personality traits:

  • Vocal
  • Affectionate
  • Good with children and other dogs
Portrait of Papillon dog standing on grass outsideAnna Maloverjan/Getty Images

Papillon

Average life span: 14 to 16 years

A papillon gives off a foo-foo air with its polished appearance, but behind those spirited eyes lies a hardy and playful pup. “With a personality as large as their ears, papillons tend to be the party pup in the room,” says Demling-Riley. “The breed thrives in social settings and excels at agility, obedience, public manners, and even retrieving.” They adapt to warm or cool climates, are happy in the city or the country, and love chasing squirrels in the backyard or playing with toys indoors (just make sure you avoid the toys on this list of pet products vets never buy). Maybe being content in all scenarios is the secret to being one of the longest-living dog breeds.

Personality traits:

  • Friendly
  • Obedient
  • Good with young children

australian cattle dog sitting outside on a sunny autumn dayCarmelka/Getty Images

Australian cattle dog

Average life span: 12 to 16 years

Vets agree that small dogs generally lead the pack when it comes to the oldest-living dog breeds, but we couldn’t leave out Bluey, the Australian cattle dog, who is the oldest dog ever. Bluely lived an impressive 29 years and five months, according to Guinness World Records. This Australian dog breed typically grows to be 17 to 20 inches tall and between 35 and 50 pounds. Bluey was a puppy in 1910 and worked among cattle and sheep for nearly 20 years in Victoria, Australia, before crossing the rainbow bridge in 1939.

Personality traits:

  • Protective
  • High energy
  • Intelligent
Cute dachshund dog standing in the forestVsevolod Vlasenko/Getty Images

Dachshund

Average life span: 12 to 16 years

Call them wiener dogs or hot dogs—they don’t mind because dachshunds are lapping up more love and popularity these days. According to the American Kennel Club, they are currently the twelfth most popular dog breed. That goes for all three varieties and sizes: miniature and standard, with smooth, long, and wire coats. Maybe their independence and bold curiosity help make them one of the longest-living dog breeds. Or maybe their active lifestyles play a role. Whatever the reason, this long-nose dog breed will stay with you for years to come—provided you do your part. Dachshunds love to eat, and that can lead to trouble. “Being just a few pounds overweight can pose a risk for their short legs and long backs,” says Dr. Harris. “Because of that, they are at risk for lower-back injury, often referred to as IVDD, intervertebral disk disease.”

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Vocal
  • Playful
Black Miniature Pinscher dog sitting on grassbruev/Getty Images

Miniature pinscher

Average life span: 12 to 16 years

“Contrary to popular belief, the ‘min pin’ is not the mini version of the Doberman pinscher,” says Demling-Riley. “However, they do share a common trait: They both have a huge and outgoing personality.” They also resemble a Doberman pinscher physically, with their pointy ears and bobbed tail, and the coats of some miniature pinschers are black and tan like the Doberman. But the miniature pinscher is cool in its own right. It lives longer. And then there’s that swagger. There’s no mistaking the cocky, high-stepping walk of the miniature pinscher. At home, this dog is a playful and enthusiastic companion. Check out more dogs with pointy ears that are just precious.

Personality traits:

  • Playful
  • Affectionate
  • High energy
Pomeranian dog sitting on rock outside in the sunPattarawat/Getty Images

Pomeranian

Average life span: 12 to 16 years

It’s no surprise that Pomeranians are the 23rd most popular dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. Not only do they rank high among the longest-living dog breeds, but they also retain their fox-like adorableness well into their senior years. Like many breeds of the spitz family, “Pomeranians are full of energy and fiercely loyal,” Dr. Harris says. Their spitz genes also give them loads of snuggle-worthy floof, lending them a hefty appearance that belies their slight frame. Beneath the fluff, Pomeranians weigh less than seven pounds and are only about 10 inches tall. Their pint-size stature doesn’t alter their confidence, though. They boast big-dog energy and can be a little cocky and aggressive. But when they’re with their humans, they’re all warm and friendly.

Personality traits:

  • High energy
  • Loyal
  • Affectionate

two Bichon frise dogs standing outside togetherzhao hui/Getty Images

Bichon frise

Average life span: 14 to 15 years

Can you imagine waking up to this adorable face 365 days a year? Day after day, year after year, the infatuation grows when you live with a bichon. These dogs are curious, peppy, happy, eager to please, and fun to be around. They seem to be on a mission to make everyone they meet smile. “Bichon frises enjoy being the center of attention,” says Dr. Harris. With a cheerful attitude and sweet face, these fluffy balls of love certainly earn the spotlight. While some owners may see the bichon’s need for regular grooming as a downside, others will appreciate the fact that the dog breed doesn’t shed (that much) because its coat is made of hair, not fur.

Personality traits:

    • Curious
    • Affectionate
    • Good with children and other dogs
Italian Greyhound dog running outsideAndrew Fladeboe/Getty Images

Italian greyhound

Average life span: 14 to 15 years

Light on its feet and light as a feather, the Italian greyhound might not appear cuddly, what with its delicate, slender body and fine-boned legs, but it actually loves to snuggle and is quite clingy. These pups are cool with sharing their hearts with other family members, dogs, and strangers they meet. As far as sight hounds go, they’re smaller in size than the greyhound (one of the fastest dog breeds in the world) but just as agile and fast, Dr. Harris says. Let them run and jump to build strong bones, but be mindful of their activity. “Be careful with these dogs, as they have a tendency to break bones easily,” she adds.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Playful
  • Good with other dogs
Finnish Spitz sitting in grassPavelRodimov/Getty Images

Finnish spitz

Average life span: 13 to 15 years

A true conversationalist, the Finnish spitz will talk your ear off if you let it. “Not shy to tell the whole world about their opinions, the Finnish spitz is known to bark at other pups and people and loves to ‘chat’ about how they feel,” says Demling-Riley. In Finland, these dogs are often called “barking bird dogs” for their ability to track and hunt birds, fitting considering this dog breed looks like a fox. At home, their independence and funny personalities will keep you entertained all day long, says Demling-Riley. And if you relish the lively and fun days of puppyhood, you’ll be pleased to know the Finnish spitz is slow to mature, reaching adulthood at about three years. As one of the longest-living dog breeds, this pup will keep you company through all your ups and downs.

Personality traits:

  • Vocal
  • High energy
  • Good with young children
West Highland White Terrier Dog, UK, sitting in gardenRobert Pickett/Getty Images

West Highland white terrier

Average life span: 13 to 15 years

This little dog with a big name hails from Scotland. Like most small dogs, the Westie has a big personality. You’ll even notice a touch of stubbornness and admirable independence in your pup. Admirable, that is, until you call (and call) and your Westie chooses not to come running. But all is forgiven when that irresistibly cute face boops you in the nose. Demling-Riley says they adapt well to most living situations, but they may not be the best dog breed for little kids; West Highland white terriers do best with children over age 10. Hey, you can’t blame a pooch for its lack of tolerance to a kid’s tail-pulling.

Personality traits:

  • Independent
  • Playful
  • Protective
Close up of border terrier outsidePaul Wills/Getty Images

Border terrier

Average life span: 12 to 15 years

This rugged, rough-and-tumble cutie loves the outdoors and everything in it. With its distinctive “otter head,” this gutsy and fearless woofer lives life to the fullest. “Border terriers have a surprising ability to jump high and run fast, due to the size of their legs, which are longer than most other small terriers,” says Dr. Harris. As energetic and spirited as they are, they’re a surprisingly calm and easygoing dog breed when they’ve met their quota for exercise. They excel at tracking, agility courses, and digging, which may come in handy if you’re looking for a lost treasure (or a pair of sunglasses) in your backyard.

Personality traits:

  • Energetic
  • Adaptable
  • Good with young children
running lhasa apso outside on a sunny dayBiancaGrueneberg/Getty Images

Lhasa apso

Average life span: 12 to 15 years

Originally bred to alert Tibetan monks to intruders, these zen pups thrive in almost all environments, according to Demling-Riley. “Drop them in the suburbs or the city, and they’ll thrive,” she says. In the show ring, their flowing, floor-length coat is their crowning glory, but most of the time, a shorter puppy cut is a more manageable choice. Their strong independent streak doesn’t affect their loyalty and affection toward family members. They like to clown around and be the center of attention, but they tend to be more reserved with strangers. Expect to enjoy a long life with a Lhasa apso, especially if you believe in reincarnation, as Tibetan Buddhists do. They say lamas, or priests’ souls, are frequently reborn as Lhasa apsos before being reborn as humans.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Adaptable
  • Protective
maltese dog sitting on grass outsidekimrawicz/Getty Images

Maltese

Average life span: 12 to 15 years

You can’t help but be smitten with these fluffy little pups. “Dressed in all white, their larger-than-life personality is so much bigger than their four- to six-pound body,” says Demling-Riley. “[But because of] their small stature, families should make sure they can keep a wee pup safe and happy on a day-to-day basis.” Known for being perfectly proportioned, Maltese were fashion accessories for the lady aristocrats of the Roman Empire. You might see those expressive eyes peeking out of a woman’s sleeve or bosom in paintings depicting that time. Yup, even back then, this world-class, affectionate dog breed loved to cuddle.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Gentle
  • Playful
Yorkshire Terrier standing in the grass outsideCatherine Leblanc/Getty Images

Yorkshire terrier

Average life span: 11 to 15 years

It’s easy to see why so many people are smitten with these adorable nuggets. Not only are they one of the longest-living dog breeds, but they also have a long list of admirable qualities. Like many terriers, Yorkies are spunky, lively, and at times mischievous. They are also affectionate, eager to please, and—here’s a dog training secret—immensely food motivated, adds Dr. Harris. Maybe that’s why they learn new tricks so easily. But they tend to get bored quickly and come up with their own form of entertainment, like hiding your socks. At an average of seven pounds and eight inches tall, “they make excellent purse dogs,” Dr. Harris says. Keeping their dainty paws clean and lapping up your affection come easily to the Yorkie.

Personality traits:

  • Affectionate
  • Adaptable
  • Good with young children
Cute red Toy Poodle puppy sitting outdoors on green grassEudyptula/Getty Images

Toy poodle

Average life span: 12 to 14 years

There are three delightful types of poodle: standard, miniature, and toy. At five pounds and just 10 inches tall, the toy poodle is the teensiest of the bunch. No matter the variety, poodles enjoy a good long life because they are also one of the healthiest dog breeds, meaning they have lower genetic disease risks than others. On top of that, they’re loyal companions who are hopelessly devoted to their families and friendly to strangers, other dogs, and pets. Plus, they’re wicked smart. “Poodles are highly intelligent dogs, and they tend to be extremely intuitive,” says Dr. Harris.

Personality traits:

  • Loyal
  • Intelligent
  • Eager to please

A happy brindle mixed breed dog with floppy ears standing outdoors on a sunny dayMary Swift/Getty Images

Mixed breed

Average life span: Varies

We can’t say it enough: Mixed breed dogs are unique and adorable blends of sugar and spice and everything nice. Whether they come from two purebred parents, like adorable pug mixes, or a delightful mutt formula, these pups are everything you could ever want in a furry companion—including longevity. Research shows that cross-bred dogs have a larger gene pool and are less likely to have a recessive disorder such as early-onset cataracts or dilated cardiomyopathy. They may still be carriers, of course, but you’re less likely to be forced to watch your mixed-breed dog suffer from these conditions.

Sources:

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.