Dog all live different lengths of time, just like humans do. Some things are based on genetics, other things are based on their size, and the final determinant is the quality of the life they lead while they are alive. By this, we mean the way they have eaten and exercised. Again, just like humans, dogs need to take good care of their health if they are to live longer.
Humans are largely responsible
We are largely responsible for the health of our dogs and ensuring that they are getting quality food and exercise. Some dogs are very susceptible to health problems if they are left to become overweight and sedentary. This isn’t just a people problem, you see; dogs will also become fat and lazy and their health will suffer for it.
Dachshunds, for example, are a breed that will suffer debilitating back injuries and pain associated with those, if they are allowed to carry too much weight in their midsection. Beagles can also be very prone to these same issues. Both of these dogs are hunting breeds and they are bred to work.
Beagles have incredible stamina and would chase their prey for miles, tracking and baying in packs, chasing foxes or rabbits. For some reason, people decide beagles are cute and will make a great apartment pet because they are small. Then they don’t give it enough exercise and overfeed the dog as well.
This leads to health issues later on, so taking proper care of your dog is absolutely imperative if they are to live a full life, free of health troubles.
All dogs are omnivores, meaning that they will eat both plant matter and animal protein. Dogs should have the proper amounts of carbohydrates and proteins to give them a balanced diet, with their nutritional needs being met. Dogs do not require Vitamin C as humans do because their body will make its own, if it is functioning properly.
Feeding your dog a balanced diet is not overly difficult. You don’t need a degree in science to know what dog foods are good and which ones you should avoid at all costs. Here are a few simple rules for you when it comes to food.
- Stay away from hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, cornmeal and corn fillers. Dogs don’t digest corn well and their body doesn’t need it. Corn is used as a cheap filler in dog food. Imagine a dog eating corn from the plant, were he living in the wild. It simply wouldn’t happen. In fact, what actually happens in the system of the dog is that it has to go into overdrive to process and metabolize the corn through the digestive tract to rid it from the body. There will be excess pooping in the yard to rid the body of all that filler. When the body spends years trying to expel things it doesn’t neet, it is overworked and it wears out. Dogs can have kidney disease, liver failure, irritable bowel issues, and so much more … all because of poor nutrition from awful dog foods.
- Stay away from meat ‘by-products. When you see a label that reads “chicken by-product” it is referring to things that are not human grade and essentially parts of the chicken that would otherwise be disposed of – feet, beak, feathers, bone material, intestinal material, internal organs not considered grade A meat.
What you want to see on a label is “meat” or “chicken meal” listed as the top ingredients. Labels from top to bottom list ingredients in the order of what is found in the highest percentage within the bag. Meat should be a top ingredient.
“Meal” means that the meat has been ground into a fine matter and likely dehydrated. There is nothing wrong with this at all. In fact, it yields a higher concentration of protein. Many manufacturers will create meal from meat and then add it to their recipes.
- Stay away from products that have BHA or BHT on their labels. These are used as preservatives and can even be found in some human foods, sadly. These have been shown to cause cancer in lab rats and the majority of dog food companies have stopped use these to prolong the shelf-life of their foods. Instead, companies have turned to something more natural as a preservative – Vitamin E. On labels, you’ll see this referred to as “mixed tocopherols” and you can consider this a great thing.
- Stay away from sweeteners. These would included high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Dogs are not able to metabolize sugar well at all. The smaller the dog, the harder these things are on them. Veterinarians are seeing more cases of diabetes in dogs than ever before and this simply should never happen. This is a direct result of the food they’ve been fed.
This largely depends upon the breed of dog. If you have a sporting breed or a working breed dog, they need a lot more exercise but all dogs need exercise. Many behavioral issues and challenges with puppies are due to lack of exercised.
Owners will stutter and say, “But we go for a walk everyday!” Walking isn’t exercise for most dogs. Dogs need to run!
Dogs that do not get enough exercise will be less well-behaved. Dogs become frustrated and chew on things, they misbehave in creative ways – barking excessively, nipping and being wild or out of control indoors, racing in circles and practically running people over, destroying things, chewing on things they should not be chewing on, and much more.
In fact, exercise will solve nearly all behavioral issues and the more your dog gets, the better they will be indoors.
Dogs can even become somewhat aggressive and have issues with their naughty behaviors because they are full of energy that they don’t know how to get rid of on their own if they aren’t given time and space to run.
Not all dogs need a ton of exercise. A Maltese just needs a little 20 minute play time once or twice per day. The younger the dog, the more apt they are to need exercise sessions and playtime for some racing about. Know your breed and what they need.
Take the proper care to ensure that they are getting the opportunity to expel they pent-up energy that they’ve got. You will all be happier and they will live longer if they are in good shape.
All breeds are different. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the dog, the fewer years they will live, sadly. Giant breeds like Great Danes, for example, rarely live beyond 7 years of age. They can live longer but it is not nearly as likely as it is with toy breeds.
Some toy breeds can easily live to be 16 years old and on rare occasion will live even longer. It is often said that nutrition plays a major role in dogs living less length of time than they used to.
Obviously, if you are taking care of everything we’ve discussed, the only other thing to be of concern is genetics. You can’t do much about genetics except to make sure you don’t breed dogs that are genetically inferior.
This is a problem in the United States due to puppy mills that crank out as many puppies as possible, in order to make fast money for breeders.
Here is a general list of dogs with life expectations to give you a general idea:
- Chihuahua (15-17 years)
- Chinese Crested (15-17 years)
- Smooth and Wire Fox Terrier (13-15 years)
- English Toy Spaniel (13-15 years)
- Pomeranian (14-16 years)
- Rat Terrier (13-15 years)
- Russell Terrier (12-14 years)
- Lakeland Terrier (12-14 years)
- Manchester Terrier (12-14 years)
- Yorkshire Terrier (12-15 years)
- Australian Shepherd (12-15 years)
- Chinese Shar-Pei (12-14 years)
- Cocker Spaniel (13-15 years)
- Poodle (12-15 years)
- Whippet (12-15 years)
- Puli (10-15 years)
- Welsh Springer Spaniel (13-15 years)
- Bulldog (10-12 years)
- Boxer (10-12 years)
- Chow Chow (11-13 years)
- Curly-Coated Retriever (11-13 years)
- French Bulldog (11-13 years)
- Great Dane (8-10 years)
- Bernese Mountain Dog (7-10 years)
- Irish Wolfhound (8-10 years)
- Newfoundland (10-12 years)
- Giant Schnauzer (10-12 years)
- Dogue de Bordeaux (9-11 years)
- Rottweiler (10-12 years)
- St. Bernard (10-12 years)
- Scottish Deerhound (10-12 years)
- Flat-Coated Retriever (10-12 years)
- Akita (11-15 years)
- Anatolian Shepherd (11-13 years)
- Irish Setter (12-14 years)
- Belgian Malinois (14-16 years)
Some of these ages may be a bit liberal, however this list is very generally correct. Dogs such as a Maltipoo are actually mix of two breeds.
Given that both breeds are toy breeds and that mixes are frequently hardier than purebred dogs because they have a larger gene pool to draw from, you would likely see your Maltipoo live to be 16+ years of age, provided that your pup remains cancer-free and is taken care of properly.
There is no real way to factor in things that can be genetic. You can’t predetermine illnesses, but you can certainly do all in your power to give good nutrition, exercise and vet care that can prolong their time on this earth with you.
Laura Barnes is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.