Longevity secrets of dogs unleashed: Which furry friend will remain by your side the longest?

Feb 02, 2024
The findings holds some significance for those considering welcoming a four legged friend into their home. Source: Getty Images.

New research from the UK’s Dogs Trust has revealed insights into the factors that determine which furry companion will be by your side the longest.

Published in Scientific Reports, this study explores the lives of more than 500,000 dogs, encompassing 150 breeds and crossbreeds, to identify canine companions with remarkable longevity. The data was gathered from 18 diverse sources in the UK, including breed registries, veterinarians, pet insurance companies, animal welfare charities, and academic institutions.

The median life expectancy for all dogs stands at 12.5 years, but for those seeking a lifelong furry friend, the Lancashire Heeler, Tibetan Spaniel, and Miniature Dachshund take centre stage. With lifespans of 15.4, 15.2, and 14.0 years, respectively, these breeds stand out as champions in the quest for lasting companionship.

However, it’s not just about the numbers; the study highlights key factors influencing a dog’s lifespan. Brachycephalic dogs, characterised by flat faces, like the charming French Bulldog, face a 40 per cent increased risk of shorter lives compared to their longer-faced counterparts, such as the Border Collie.

Size, too, plays a role in the longevity game. Large-sized breeds carry a 20 per cent increased risk of shorter lifespans compared to their smaller counterparts. So, for those yearning for a furry companion to share a lifetime of memories, considering the petite Lancashire Heeler might be the key.

For those who find joy in popular breeds, Labradors and Cocker Spaniels emerge as stalwart choices, surpassing the average lifespan. In a surprising twist, the study also reveals that female dogs, on average, outlive their male counterparts by a slight margin – with a median life expectancy of 12.7 years compared to 12.4 years.

The research, spearheaded by Dr. Kirsten McMillan, Dogs Trust’s Data Manager, holds some significance for prospective dog owners.

“We found life expectancy varies between breed, body size, face shape and sex – this is the first study where all of these elements have been compared and contrasted alongside evolutionary history,” McMillan said.

“Many of these factors interact to compound the issue, for example medium sized, flat-faced male dogs are nearly 3 times more likely to live shorter lives than small sized, long-faced females.

“The findings have important implications for the canine pedigree health debate: although this study does not determine risk factors for early death, it does highlight groups that require further investigation.

“We hope this study can help breeders, policymakers, funding bodies, and welfare organizations make informed decisions to improve the welfare of companion dogs, as well as helping owners understand the range of factors that influence health and longevity, especially when acquiring a dog.”

While choosing a furry friend who will remain by your side for the long haul is important, it’s equally important to choose a breed that matches your retirement lifestyle.

From size and energy levels to grooming requirements and temperament, each aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with your furry friend.

Some crucial factors to consider include:

Size: You may prefer dogs that are small or medium-sized to accommodate your living arrangements. Smaller breeds are often easier to handle and require less physical exertion.

Energy Level: While some may be active and enjoy regular exercise, others may prefer dogs with lower energy levels. A breed with moderate exercise requirements may be more suitable, avoiding the need for intense daily workouts.

Temperament: You should look for breeds known for their calm, friendly, and easygoing temperaments. Dogs with a gentle disposition are more likely to adapt well to a retiree’s lifestyle and be comfortable in various social settings.

Trainability: Breeds that are intelligent and responsive to training can make life your life easier. Dogs that are easy to train can quickly adapt to household routines, making them more manageable companions.

In addition to these important factors, Australia’s leading dog groomer and pet educator, Emily Myatt suggests that “costs should be at the top of the consideration list” also.

When it comes to finding the best dog breed for retirement, the search can be both exciting and overwhelming. As you enter this new phase of life, seeking a four-legged companion to share your days with is a decision that requires careful consideration. The ideal dog breed for you is one that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle, bringing joy, companionship, and a perfect balance of energy.

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