Dogs, as the cliché has it, are man’s best friend. Canines have been humans’ companions for centuries. They are by far the most popular pet in the U.S. About 69 million households, of the 90.5 million that own a pet, have at least one dog. (These were the most popular dogs in America.)
While a good diet and regular exercise can lengthen and improve the life of any dog, the sad reality is that compared with humans, dogs do not live very long. Another somber truth is some canine breeds live longer than others, and much of the difference has to do with genetics.
To identify the shortest-living dog breeds in the United States, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information on each of the 282 dog breeds currently listed by the American Kennel Club, the country’s purebred dog registry. The AKC gives a range in identifying the life expectancies of various breeds. For our own list, we included only breeds whose maximum lifespan is no more than 15 years, though most won’t live that long. A few breeds might live as little as five or six years. Information on popularity, height, weight, and breed category also came from the AKC.
Click here to read about the dogs with the shortest lifespans
In general, large-size breeds tend to have a shorter life expectancy, and small-size breeds tend to live longer. Nearly half of the dogs on the list of the breeds with the shortest life expectancy weigh at least 100 pounds, especially the males (females usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds less). And dogs with short lifespans are not only heavy, but they are also usually very tall. Generally measuring at over 25 inches at the shoulder, some can even be taller than their human owner when standing on their hind legs.
Some of the dogs on the list span the centuries, from the Rottweiler, with a history that dates back to the Roman Empire, and Neapolitan mastiff, which was bred as early as 700 B.C. There’s also the little-known Leonberger, which almost went extinct before being reestablished in the 1970s and ‘80s. (Here are some of the newest dog breeds you’ve probably never heard of before.)
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