19 Dog Breeds That Have Short Lifespans

Written By Jill Taylor

Everybody knows the difference between human years and dog years, but some breeds only manage to live for a handful of each. Whether as a result of congenital issues or pure bad luck, many dogs are sadly very temporary companions. Here are 19 of the most short-lived dog breeds.

French Bulldogs

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Despite once being popular in Parisian high society, the French Bulldog has a very short lifespan. According to New Scientist, they only live for about 4.5 years. This is due to genetics – the same characteristics that make them attractive to humans, like their flat faces, cause many health issues.


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While Chihuahuas can sometimes live for decades, most have a life expectancy of just under 12 years. This is because they can suffer from neurological conditions and heart disease. But these problems haven’t stopped the Chihuahua from becoming one of the world’s most famous breeds.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

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Bernese Mountain Dogs may be large enough to pull carts, but this strength sadly doesn’t translate into a long lifespan. Few of these Swiss dogs live beyond the age of 10, with many suffering from cancer or eye conditions. However, their affectionate nature makes them great companions – even if only for a short time.

German Shepherds

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Despite their imposing appearance, German Shepherds have relatively short lifespans. Most live for 9–13 years, with many sadly passing away around the age of 10. Those that do survive are at risk of arthritis, so owners should make the most of this iconic breed while they have the chance.


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Given their tendency towards epilepsy and ear infections, it’s surprising that Beagles normally reach about 12 years of age. However, this is still slightly below average for dogs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses Beagles as part of its adorably named Beagle Brigade sniffing squad – they don’t live forever, but they’re useful while they’re here.

English Bulldogs

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Like its French counterpart, the English Bulldog also suffers from many health issues. These problems include difficulties breathing and breeding; some countries have banned the breed because of its poor health and short lifespan (around 7–10 years). However, as the American Kennel Club explains, the Bulldog remains an unlikely symbol of courage and endurance.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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Despite tracing their ancestry back to Asia, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are most commonly associated with Britain’s King Charles II. Like their royal namesake, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels experience many health issues, including heart disease and spinal problems. Due to these problems, they have a lifespan of around 10–11 years.

Dogue de Bordeaux

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As the name suggests, the Dogue de Bordeaux comes from France. Like many dogs with a short snout, the Dogue de Bordeaux often has trouble breathing and panting. The breed is also vulnerable to heart disease, which might explain its short life expectancy of about 11 years.

Irish Wolfhounds

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Irish Wolfhounds have both a long history (King John of England is said to have given them as gifts) and long bodies, sometimes reaching over 50 inches. Unfortunately, this size contributes to their short lifespan as most Irish Wolfhounds only live for between 5 and 10 years. They’re a large, but short-lived, part of their owners’ lives.


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The BBC points out that flat-faced breeds aren’t known for their long lives, so it’s not surprising that Pugs don’t live that long compared to other breeds. In fact, they have a life expectancy of just 7.7 years. Originating in China, Pugs are a classic dog throughout the world, even if they individually have short lifespans.

English Mastiffs

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The gigantic English Mastiff is not just big by dog standards – this canine heavyweight even outweighs the average wolf. However, while this breed is second to none when it comes to size, the same can’t be said for their lifespan. Unfortunately, English Mastiffs have a life expectancy of just 9 years.


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Hill’s Pet Nutrition suggests that Boxers might take their name from their aggressive pawing while playing. Whatever the case, they make loyal companions. Unfortunately, their 10–12-year life expectancy makes them less long-lived than other breeds, likely due to health conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney issues.

Saint Bernards

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Saint Bernard dogs are often linked with healthcare as they’re named after the founder of a medieval hospice and have a (historically inaccurate) reputation for carrying brandy to lost mountaineers. Sadly, the dogs themselves aren’t very healthy, only living on average to around seven years old.

Great Danes

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Great Danes are great in so many ways; they’re huge, friendly, and protective of their owners. However, their large size results in a relatively short lifespan. Most Great Danes only live for around a decade, and they need careful management to prevent health issues like bloat and heart disease.


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The Germanic Leonberger may only have a life expectancy of around 7 years, but they’ve saved many human lives. The breed is renowned for its agility, loyalty, and talent for swimming. These skills make them ideal for search-and-rescue operations. So it’s sad that these lifesavers have such short lives themselves.


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Bullmastiffs are descended from bulldogs and mastiffs, but this breeding has resulted in several hereditary health issues. As a result, few Bullmastiffs survive for more than a decade. However, this short lifespan doesn’t prevent them from being useful guard dogs – they’ve guarded everything from people to diamond mines!


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The Dominion of Newfoundland contributed many important things before it became part of Canada, including the gas mask and the Newfoundland dog. Newfoundlands are talented swimmers, both when helping fishermen and when assisting in rescues. Unfortunately, these water-loving canines have a limited lifespan, with most lasting just 9–10 years.

American Bulldogs

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Since arriving in the U.S. at the same time as European settlers, the American Bulldog has become one of the most popular Bulldog types – Purina ranks them in third place. Despite their popularity, American Bulldogs are relatively short-lived (10–12 years), as they suffer from the same health issues as their European relatives.


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Finally, while Rottweilers may have a reputation for aggressive behavior, they’ve been loyal companions for centuries, even marching with Roman soldiers! Sadly, they’re not the most long-lasting breed, with an average life expectancy of around 8 years. However, this has not affected their popularity.

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