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Blog /Dog And Cat Breeds With The Longest Life Spans
Breed and Genetics March 18, 2023

Dog and cat breeds with the longest life spans

Sadly, no pet can live forever. But some dog and cat breeds do live longer than others.

If you’re hoping to maximise the amount of time you get to spend with your pet (and really, who isn’t?), chances are you’ve wondered which dog and cat breeds live the longest. It’s a fair question because there can be quite a range in expected longevity across different breeds. For context, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15 years. The average lifespan for dogs is 10-13 years, though this can vary considerably based on breed size. But there are plenty of breeds with life spans higher than the average. Let’s look at several well-known breeds with longer life spans and talk about some factors contributing to how long a pet may live.

Factors affecting life span

Size

As mentioned, breed size comes into play for dogs, with small dogs typically living longer than large and giant breed dogs. The reasons for this aren’t entirely known, though there are researchers, including those at the Dog Aging Project, looking into how dogs age and—by extension—how long they live. Because there is much less variability in size for cat breeds, body size doesn’t play a role in their expected life span.

Genetics

Some breeds are genetically predisposed to certain health conditions like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. These and other diseases can impact how long a dog or cat lives. Genetic diversity also plays a role. High genetic diversity scores indicate a wider variety of different traits and are associated with a lower instance of inbreeding. All things being equal, a higher genetic diversity score is generally beneficial to overall health. Wisdom Panel DNA tests identify genetic health risks in dogs and cats, and Wisdom Panel Premium measures genetic diversity in dogs.

Diet and Exercise

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to health issues. A balanced diet formulated for your dog or cat’s age and activity level will ensure they get the optimal nutrition throughout their lives. Feeding them an appropriate number of calories each day is also important. This, combined with regular exercise, will help them maintain a healthy weight.

Dogs or cats that are overweight or obese are at greater risk for various health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease—all of which can impact life span. In fact, research has shown that overweight dogs live an average of 2.5 years less than dogs at an ideal body weight.

Healthcare

Regular visits to the veterinarian to monitor overall health, preventive care, and timely treatment of health issues can significantly impact a pet’s life span.

Grey cat with green eyes lying outside.

Longest-lived cat breeds

Cats that can live two decades (or close to it)? Yes, please!

Close-up of long-haired Chihuahua.

Longest-lived dog breeds

Toy and small breed dogs typically live longer than bigger dogs. Still, a couple of medium-sized dogs managed to make the list!

It’s important to remember that life span ranges do not guarantee how long any particular dog or cat will live. To help your pet live a long and healthy life, you can partner with your veterinarian on a life-long care plan that considers your unique pet.