19 Dog Breeds With Surprisingly Short Lifespans

Written By Jill Taylor

Dogs have been our beloved companions for thousands of years and often become valued family members. Unfortunately, not all dog breeds have the same life expectancy, and some can have much shorter lifespans than your average pooch. This article reveals the 19 dog breeds with surprisingly low life expectancy and explores the genetic and biological reasons why.

Dogue de Bordeaux

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Also known as the French Mastiff, these large bull-breed dogs can live up to 10–12 years, but most do not. DogTime claims that the majority only live about 5 to 8 years due to health challenges like heart disease and joint issues. Despite their huge and somewhat formidable appearance, they make gentle and loving pets.

Great Dane

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The American Kennel Club reports that these ‘gentle giants’ rarely live above 8–10 years and that some can die as early as 6 or 7. The health issues associated with their huge size, like hip dysplasia and heart disease, can make them a costly breed to own as they age, both financially and emotionally.


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The quintessential British Bulldog is one of the ‘brachycephalic’ (short-snouted) breeds with the shortest lifespans, averaging only 6 to 8 years. The UFAW states that breathing issues due to their flat faces are common, as are dental problems, skin complaints, and heart disease.

Bernese Mountain Dog

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Like other large dog breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t as robust as they seem and have an expected lifespan of 7 to 10 years. Due to their small gene pool, they’re prone to serious genetic health issues, including cancer and joint problems, which can affect both the quality and quantity of their lives.

Irish Wolfhound

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Well known for being gentle and laid back, the Irish Wolfhound is another ‘gentle giant’ and the tallest of all dog breeds. However, Pet Helpful states that their size contributes to a range of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and bloat, which often shorten their lives to a maximum of 6 to 10 years.


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The Native Pet warns that some Rotties live only 9–10 years but that smaller, well-bred individuals with higher genetic mixing can make it to 15 years. They are susceptible to various health problems, such as hip dysplasia, heart disease, and cancer. Despite this, they remain hugely popular pets.

Saint Bernard

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The famous Beethoven movies starred a Saint Bernard, and examples of the breed are huge dogs in both height and weight. Unfortunately, they typically don’t live longer than 8 to 10 years due to their large size, which predisposes them to heart problems and joint dysplasia. Still, families with plenty of space are still tempted by their friendly and patient nature.

Scottish Deerhound

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Similar in appearance and size to the Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhounds have a similarly short lifespan of only 8 to 11 years. Hill’s describes them as laid-back and undemanding pets but states that they’re prone to heart disease and cancer, much like other large breeds on this list.


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This wrinkly-skinned breed is known to be loyal but unaffectionate and has a surprisingly short lifespan for a medium-sized dog breed. In-bred individuals are unlikely to make it past 8 years old, although responsibly bred Shar-Peis can make it to 12. Besides skin problems, they face joint issues and are prone to heart disease.


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With a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, Mastiffs are another giant breed facing limited longevity due to their enormous size and associated heart and joint problems. PetMD warns potential owners that their dogs are unlikely to live long but notes that they have wonderful temperaments and are gentle, relaxed, and loyal.


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Bloodhounds are medium-large dogs famous for their long noses, drooping ears, and phenomenal blood-tracking abilities. The Pet Health Network reveals that their lineage can be traced back to 11th-century France! Unfortunately, they’re prone to medical complications like bloat, ear infections, and hip dysplasia and rarely live beyond 10–12 years.


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This popular bull breed often faces health problems such as cancer, heart conditions, and hip dysplasia. While they are energetic, willful, and playful dogs, they are unlikely to be a companion for longer than 9–12 years. Despite this, many families adore the breed and continue to choose Boxers as pets.


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Like the Bernese and St. Bernard, Newfoundlands are large and long-haired but typically live only 8 to 10 years. Once again, their large size, coupled with a small gene pool, can predispose them to heart conditions and joint issues. They are well known for their excellent swimming ability, strength, loyalty, and gentle nature.

Flat-Coated Retriever

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This breed is known for its exuberant and friendly nature, and they make loving and loyal companions, often forming close bonds with their families. Unfortunately, they only live 8–10 years on average, despite not being a giant breed. The Flatcoated Retriever Society lists gastric bloat, cancer, epilepsy, joint problems, and heart failure as significant concerns.


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Prone to deafness from birth, Dalmatians also suffer from a multitude of other health problems and have a lifespan of only 10 to 13 years. They are energetic, playful, and goofy, but often suffer from medical conditions like urinary stones, liver disease, and epilepsy—all of which can severely impact their health and longevity.

Alaskan Malamute

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Although not a giant breed, Malamutes are large (standing at approximately 25 inches and weighing 85 pounds), contributing to their slightly shortened lifespan of 10 to 14 years. Despite being bred for strength and endurance, they often suffer from genetic health issues like hip dysplasia and cataracts.

Afghan Hound

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This elegant, silky-coated breed is very distinctive but also suffers from a comparatively short life expectancy. Typical of large breeds, they suffer from several medical complaints, including auto-immune and thyroid problems and blood diseases. However, their unique appearance and loyal, affectionate natures make them popular with fans of the breed.

Chow Chow

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USA Today asserts that this Chinese breed lives only 8–12 years on average. They are often described as being serious, dignified, and intelligent dogs that can seem ‘aloof’ at times, yet they also suffer from health issues. Eye problems, joint dysplasia, and thyroid issues are the most common medical complaints.


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This lesser-known large breed of dog suffers from the same joint problems that plague almost every dog on our list, which can reduce their mobility at a relatively young age. With a lifespan of approximately 8–10 years, they don’t live very long, but they are known for being friendly, alert, and loyal family members.