How Long Do Small Dogs Live? [How to Help Them Live Longer]

Every dog owner knows that dogs are unique creatures in the animal kingdom. No other animal has the desire to please humans more than the dog.

Dogs are unique in many areas, but one of the most unique areas is their lifespan. In the animal kingdom, typically, the larger an animal is, the longer they live. For example, elephants live anywhere between 60-70 years, a horse lives 25-30 years, and a hamster only lives 2-3 years.

However, things are reversed for dogs. Generally speaking, the smaller a dog is, the longer their projected lifespan is. Chihuahuas (one of the smallest breeds) can live up to 20 years of age. Labradors (medium dog breed) live up to 14 years of age, and Egnlish Mastiffs (large dog breed) usually live between 6-10 years of age.

A healthy small dog usually lives between 12-17 years of age. Dogs like chihuahuas will often push the 17 year mark, whereas dogs such as beagles will likely be closer to the lower end. Although researchers aren’t sure why small dogs live longer than bigger dogs, one thing is for sure…if you want your dog to live for a long time, the smaller, the better.

Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Big Dogs?

a small dog side by side with a big dog. The small dog will live longer

As mentioned above, researchers are still a little baffled by this. It goes against what is observed in the rest of the animal kingdom.

The Study

Germany’s University of Göttingen performed a study on the lifespan of dogs in relation to their size. Over 56,000 dogs were part of this study, and what was found confirmed what we already knew…small dogs live longer. However, one thing the study revealed to us that we didn’t already know was that for every 4.4 pound increase, the life expectancy was shortened by one month.

Accelerated Growth

There are a lot of theories as to why this might be. One of the leading theories is that large dogs grow at an accelerated rate in their first 6-8 months compared to small dogs. This can cause cancer due to abnormal cell growth.

In theory, this makes sense, and it could be a possible reason, there’s just one problem…Even when a large dog stays healthy and cancer-free, they still die younger than small dogs.

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The Answer Could Be Us

Ever since dogs became man’s best friend, we’ve created new breeds to serve a specific purpose. We can’t compare dogs to the rest of the animal kingdom because we haven’t intervened with the rest of the animal kingdom and created different breeds.

It could be that dogs, in general, were meant to be the size of a wolf, and that’s what their DNA supports. Large dogs may not produce enough essential hormones to support their size.

This is all speculation, but the answer to why small dogs live longer could very well be because humans got involved in the breeding process.

How Can I Help My Small Dog Live Longer?

small dog is playing with a tennis ball staying in shape. This will improve life longevity

You’re probably wondering how long small dogs live because you want to spend as much quality time with your dog as possible.

The things you do for them have a significant impact on their length of life. If you keep your dog healthy, happy, and get them plenty of exercise, they’ll live a much longer life than an overweight and lazy dog.

Here are a few things you, as the owner, should do to maximize your dog’s lifespan.

Get Them Spayed or Neutered

Most owners get their dogs spayed or neutered to prevent accidental pregnancy or to help control aggressive behavior. Researchers recently discovered that getting your dog fixed increases lifespan by an average of two years.

Brush Their Teeth

I’m sure your dentist has told you that plaque buildup on your teeth can result in heart disease. The same is true with dogs.

Dogs’ teeth should be brushed at least once per week, preferably twice if possible. If you don’t want to clean your dog’s teeth 1-2 times per week, there are brushing toys you can purchase for your dog.

The toys were designed to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth as they are being chewed on. Some of them even have a spot to put a little doggy toothpaste to help further clean and keep your dog’s breath fresh.

Keep Them Mentally Stimulated

Your dog’s body won’t be healthy unless the brain is healthy. One of the best ways to keep your dog’s brain healthy is to keep them mentally stimulated.

Again, to do this, we will turn to toys. There’s a product called the “Snuffle Mat.” It forces your dog to sniff around and search for food on the mat. Your dog will enjoy it because they are being fed while at the same time, being mentally stimulated. They now have to “hunt” for their food instead of eating it out of a bowl. That’s not to say this mat should replace bowl eating. It’s just a fun way to feed your pet once or twice per week.

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Keep Them Physically Stimulated

Small dogs typically don’t get nearly as much exercise as big dogs. Part of the reason for this is because small dogs are usual apartment dogs or house dogs. They stay indoors all day and only go outside to use the bathroom.

If you want your little guy to live as long as possible, it’s essential to make sure they are getting plenty of exercise. The best and easiest way to do this is to take them on a 20-30 minute walk every day. If you can’t find the time to take them on a walk, you can use one of the many smartphone apps to hire a dog walker.

Show Love to Your Little Guy

Dogs that receive love don’t get stressed out as easily as dogs that don’t receive much affection. Stress has a direct impact on heart health. Make sure you show your little guy how much you love him by petting him, playing with him, and cuddling with him. Those cuddles could very well increase his lifespan.

Can Diet Help Improve Longevity For Small Dogs?

This is a great diet for small dogs if you want them to live as long as possible

Your dog’s diet is one of the crucial elements that will determine how long they live. Because of this, you don’t want to go cheap on dog food. Although high-quality dog food is more expensive, it’s going to save you money in the long run because you won’t be visiting the vet nearly as often.

What NOT to Include

When reading the food label, make sure it doesn’t include soy, corn, wheat, or sugar beets. As long as you avoid those ingredients, you should be fine.

What to Include

If possible, you’ll want to feed your dog holistic, grass-fed food. On top of that, it’s a good idea to add some human food to your dog’s diet that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

Here are a few human snacks you should be feeding your dog:

  • Watermelon
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries

Those five are great snacks. If you give your dog a small serving of one of those 5 per day and are feeding them holistic, grass-fed food, you’re setting them up for a long and healthy life.

Before you give your dog human food, make sure you do some research to make sure it’s safe for your dog to eat.

Can Supplements Help Improve Longevity For Small Dogs?

Yes, there are supplements out there that can help increase your dog’s lifespan. When looking for supplements, we want to see if they help with three things:

  • Improve organ and cell function
  • Improve immune system
  • Prevent diseases.
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So which supplements help with those three factors?

Seaweed and Algae

Companies make seaweed and algae products in chewable form that you can place in your dog’s kibble. Odds are they won’t even notice it. The most significant benefit is the number of antioxidants and phytochemicals they contain. Most dogs don’t get nearly enough phytochemicals in their diet. By supplementing with seaweed and algae, you’ll be helping your dog live a longer, healthier life. The best part is it’s cheap!


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been hearing about the health benefits of turmeric for humans. Turmeric has the same benefits for dogs. It’s common for dogs to die of cancer, turmeric helps keep your dog healthy by fighting against precancerous cells and can also prevent cataract issues.

Green Tea

It’s essential to keep the heart healthy. Green tea contains Epigallocatechin Gallate, which can help maintain a healthy heart for your dog. You don’t need to supplement with this every day, once or twice per week should be enough. Make sure you dilute it in water because green tea does contain caffeine, and dogs are sensitive to caffeine. The more you can dilute it, the better.

Happily Ever After With Your Furry Little Friend

Dogs genuinely are precious friends. That’s why we should do everything we can do to make sure they live a long and healthy life. The average small dogs live between 12-17 years. With proper care, you can get closer to the 17 year mark.

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