How long do dogs live?

No matter how long a dog lives for, it is never long enough if it is a dearly loved pet. If you want a pet that will last your lifetime then you’d better get a cockatoo. But then it will probably outlive you, so you’d want to be sure you left it to somebody who would take good care of it.

It is extremely rare for a dog to live as long as two decades. Generally speaking smaller breeds tend to have a longer life expectancy. Also mixed breeds tend to have less health problems than pure-bred dogs, which often have genetic health conditions. Consequently the average mutt is likely to live longer, all things being equal. I grew up with a little bitser, who lived to be 17.

A lot depends, of course, on how well they are cared for and the quality of their food. Many dogs are probably living a bit longer in these times because they are treated with more TLC and are more likely to be given regular pet checks. They’re the lucky ones of course.

Sadly too many dogs don’t get to live very long at all. They’re the ones who go to irresponsible owners who neglect and abandon them. A dog that lives a sad, lonely existence will not be likely to live to be even 10 years old. Then of course, many poor creatures that are abandoned are taken to the pound or shelters, and if a good home cannot be found for them, they are put down. These statistics would have a considerable impact on the average age that dogs live to.

The age that a well-loved family pet dog may achieve varies according to the breed – and some, like human beings, outlast the average anyway – sometimes by as much as a few years. Large dogs generally live to around 10 or 12. Some may make it to 14.

Smaller and medium breeds on average live to around 12 or 14 – and some may make it to 15, 16 or 17. Very few would live to be 18 or 19 – and 20 is quite rare.

Most people are familiar with the old comparison between the ages of humans and dogs, where a dog’s year is said to be equal to seven human years. This is far from accurate though. When you think about it, a dog is sexually mature when they are less than a year old – but there’s no way a human child is sexually mature at even 7 years old.

A more accurate basic formula is that a dog ages the equivalent of 10.5 human years in the first two years of its life – then after that, each dog year is approximately the same as four human years.

Even this is only an estimate of course. Your average 10-year-old dog is probably very much

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