10 Long-Lived Dog Breeds
The average dog lives to be 8 to 15 years old, but a few thrive well into their late teens. The oldest dog on record is Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who achieved the remarkable age of 29 years, 6 months, and 12 days (June 7, 1910−November 14, 1939). For 20 of those years, he was an active cattle herder. More recently, a Beagle named Butch reached 28 years before passing away in 2003. Other dogs on the Guinness World Records list include mixed breeds, a couple of Dachshunds, a Bichon Frise, a Border Collie, a Jack Russell Terrier, a Chihuahua, a Schnoodle, and one dog listed mysteriously only as a "stray." In other words, an individual dog of almost any breed can be lucky enough to last almost three decades. But if we're talking averages, think small. Smaller dogs, on the average, outlast larger ones, and truly giant dogs, like Newfoundlands and Great Danes, have the shortest life spans.
Here are your ten best bets for a long friendship.
#1: Beagle (15−17 years)
The infinitely charming, friendly Beagle is a wonderful family dog. If you have a sense of humor and a willingness to live with a vocal, cheerfully disobedient Snoopy, the Beagle is for you. Beagles gain weight easily, so don't feed him extra snacks, and give him the exercise he craves.
#2: Boston Terrier (11−13 years)
This affectionate city dweller is both cute and stylish but a real show off. Breathing and eye problems are his main challenges to lifelong health.
#3: Chihuahua (17−20 years)
This tiny, ancient breed has a great spirit and few serious genetic illnesses, although Chihuahuas must be protected against the cold. Smart and fearless, these dogs are also high-strung and prefer a calm environment.
#4: Dachshund (12−15 years)
American humorist H. L. Mencken described this breed best: "A Dachshund is a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long." He didn't mention that they are at least three dogs in courage. This intelligent, fiercely loyal, brash dog comes in several coat types. About one quarter of them can end up with serious back problems, so it's important to keep your Dachsie trim and not allow him to jump on and off furniture.
#5: Lhasa Apso (15−20 years)
The regal Lhasa Apso was developed as a sentinel dog in Tibetan monasteries. Incredibly healthy and loyal to one person, they tend to dislike strangers and will not tolerate rude children. However, they will repay a doting owner with abiding (if somewhat condescending) affection.
#6: Maltese (12−15 years)
It's hard to believe that the sweet, elegant Maltese was once a fearsome killer of rats. Today, this playful snuggler is happiest lounging on your lap and going for short walks around the block, where he should be admired by everyone.
#7: Miniature Schnauzer (14−15 years)
This hardy, intelligent family dog loves kids and will stay active well into his senior years. He's always a gentleman. His harsh terrier coat needs professional grooming for best results.
#8: Pomeranian (14−16 years)
This active, animated dog was a favorite of the very long-lived Queen Victoria. Playful and always smiling, the Pomeranian is one of the smartest and most attention-demanding toy dogs. The Pom tends to bond with just one person.
#9: Shih Tzu (15−20 years)
With possibly the best personality of all toy dogs, the friendly, mischievous Shih Tzu was bred to be the companion of Ming Dynasty emperors. Their long, dense coat is high maintenance, so professional grooming is a must.
#10: Toy Poodle (16−20 years)
While all Poodles live long, the energetic Toy Poodle is the king of Poodle longevity. They are low shedding, highly trainable, and have a wicked sense of humor.
Don't see your breed yet? We could easily have included these other age-defying canines: Australian Shepherd, Collie, Coton de Tulear, Shetland Sheepdog, Jack Russell Terrier, Pug,
Toy Manchester Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier. In addition, any of these breeds that are "mixed up" may also result in a refreshed and strengthened genetic pool. So don't overlook that charming, one-of-a-kind mixed breed!
Diane Morgan is a pet care expert in Williamsport, Maryland, who has authored numerous books on dog care and nutrition, and has also written many dog breed and horse books.