Sharing your home and life with a canine friend is a long term commitment but one that is filled with amazing rewards. An Australian Cattle Dog called Bluey found his way into the Guinness Book of Records having been born in 1910 and living right up to 1939. He lived to the ripe old age of 29 to become the oldest canine on record. However, normally a dog's life span rather depends on many factors which naturally includes how well cared for they are and the type of diet they are fed throughout their lives. However, another factor which has to be taken into account is body size with small dogs living longer than their larger counterparts.
There are some amazing stories around about dogs that enjoyed long lives like the Japanese Shiba cross called Pusuke, another dog that lived much longer than the norm – Pusuke got to the ripe old age of 26. If the truth be known, our canine friends much like people, seem to be enjoying longer life spans and these days, it is not so unusual to hear of dogs getting to the age of 15 and more. The question is, ‘why are dogs living longer?’, with some reasons being as follows:
A dog's life span is intrinsically linked to their breed size with larger dogs boasting shorter life spans than their small to medium sized counterparts. Toy breeds actually live the longest. A few of the very large breeds namely Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, boast very short life spans which can be anything from 6 to 8 years – but more recently even these large dogs have been seen to live right up to 10 and even 12 years. It is thought that a Mastiff lived to the ripe old age of 15 which is pretty amazing for the breed.
It is thought the key to larger dogs living for longer is to let them grow up slowly which means letting them reach their full size and maturity when they are 2 or 3 years old. As such the rule of thumb is to not super-size them"". This means if you get a large breed pup you should only start them off on puppy food that's been specifically formulated for large breed dogs.
The reason being this specifically formulated puppy food contains far less protein and lower levels of mineral supplements which means your pup will not put on too many pounds too early in their lives which naturally puts a lot of pressure on their bodies, skeleton and systems. It is far better to keep large breed puppies on the ""lean"" side so they slowly and naturally achieve their full weight when they mature at 2 or 3 years old – nothing should be forced.
Just as in humans, if a dog stays lean and fit throughout their lives, it increases their chances of living longer lives. The rule of thumb is the heavier the dog, the shorter life span they will have. Research has shown that leaner dogs and those which are ever so slightly underweight do, in fact, live for an average of 2 years longer than a dog that's carrying too much weight.
Genetics play a role in a dogs' life span due the fact that their genes have a strong influence on the rate a dog ages and the type of diseases a specific breed is predisposed to suffer from. Then of course, there is the mother to consider and what kind of diet she was fed when she was carrying her pups that will have a bearing on their life spans. Another consideration is the life span of a puppy's ancestors and whether this was lengthy or short.
When you are interested in a puppy that's been bred by a reputable breeder, they will tell you what the typical age of their pedigree dogs actually is and they should also be willing to let you know if a particular disease or illness is responsible for their deaths. This is the sort of information you would need to have an idea of the life span of a puppy you are going to be sharing your home and life with.
Many people think one reason we are seeing dogs live that much longer is because in these modern times, our canine friends are treated very much as part of the family. Today, dogs are taken care much more so than ever before with owners making sure their pets are kept safe, that they are regularly groomed and taken to the vet for a health check. The standard of veterinary care too, plays a crucial role in the fact that dogs now live longer with the level of treatments being pretty much on a par as it is for people.