Dogs That Live Longest Have These Traits in Common, New Study Finds
Breeds with elongated snouts not only smell better, but live longer.
There are many factors to consider when assessing the right dog for your family—from a canine's energy levels to their powerful bark. You also might research a dog's genetic background and the likelihood of that specific breed developing certain diseases or cancers down the line. While it's widely known that smaller breeds typically live the longest, new research suggests that a dog's longevity is also linked to the size of their face and snout.
In a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, lead author Kirsten McMillan and her colleagues gathered data on 584,734 British dogs—both alive and deceased from over 150 different breeds—from breed registries, pet insurance companies, and veterinary companies to determine whether certain breeds are at risk of early death based on the "interaction" of one's size, face shape, and sex.
"Whilst previous research had identified sex, face shape and body size as contributing factors in canine longevity, no one had investigated the interaction between the three or explored the potential link between evolutionary history and lifespan," McMillan, a data manager at the British dog welfare charity Dogs Trust, told The Guardian.
Experts found that the average lifespan across all dogs was 12.5 years—they also discovered that female dogs tend to live slightly longer than male dogs. Their findings corroborated that life longevity is greater in smaller-sized dogs, however, the length and structure of a breed's nose also play a role.
According to the study, small dogs and those with long noses have a longer average lifespan than flat-faced dogs and larger breeds. Experts deemed the Lancashire Heeler—a small dog with an elongated snout—the canine with the longest average lifespan of 15.4 years.
Similarly, the Tibetan Spaniel and Bolognese are small dogs with elongated snouts, with average lifespans of 15.2 years and 14.9 years, respectively.
In fourth place is the Shiba Inu. The medium-sized hunting dog has an average lifespan of 14.6 years. In fifth place, with an average lifespan of 14.5 years, are Papillons, curious little dogs with long, pointy noses. The Havanese breed, with its small build and round nose, also lives for an average of 14.5 years.
Conversely, the American Kennel Club notes that flat-faced breeds like Frenchies are "prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather." They are also highly sensitive to anesthesia.
In an interview with The New York Times, McMillian was quick to note that there's still more research to be done, especially outside of the U.K. as breeding practices can vary. For instance, some breeds could be genetically predisposed to dangerous health complications, and consequently, have a shorter life span because of it.
"Now that we have identified these populations that are at risk of early death, we can start looking into why that is," McMillian said. "This provides an opportunity for us to improve the lives of our dogs."