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What dog has the shortest lifespan?

A Complete Guide On Which Dog Breeds Have The Shortest Lifespan

Which Kinds Of Dogs Live For The Shortest Time? How Long Will My Dog Live For?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, each with individual personality traits and temperaments, how do you choose which one is right for you?

Some people like to choose the breed of dog based on how long it is likely to live. Having as many years with your cherished pet is what every dog owner wants.

On the other hand, some people don’t want to commit to a pet with a very long lifespan, so finding a breed that won’t live for as long would be a better fit for them.

We have put together a list of the dogs with the shortest lifespans, to help you find out more.

Contents show


What Causes Some Dogs To Have A Shorter Lifespan?

Many dog enthusiasts are aware that bigger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, and mixed breed dogs tend to suffer from less health complications than purebred dogs.

This is because large dogs age faster, and breeding from a smaller genetic pool increases the frequency of faulty genes and genetic disorders.

One of the biggest factors for determining the lifespan of a dog breed is how likely they are to develop cancer or other health complications.

Male and female dogs have similar mortality rates, but more dog deaths occur in colder months of the year than warmer ones.

Now let’s look at the dogs with the shortest lifespans.


Another large breed, these dogs have thick wooly coats and prefer to live in cooler climates.

They were originally a working breed and like to be kept busy with work, play and learning new tricks. They are considered to be quite easy to train as they are eager to please.

Irish Wolfhound – 7 to 9 Years

These are the tallest breed of dog and due to their size, obedience training is key to prevent behavioural issues. They have a very friendly nature and prefer to live in colder temperatures.

Chinese Shar-pei – 8 to 10 Years

These unusual looking dogs have quite squashed facial features and are sensitive to climates that are too hot or too cold.

They can be territorial and can develop behavioral issues if not socialized at a young age. They are not particularly needy and are happy to be left alone for portions of the day.

Newfoundland – 8 to 10 Years

These large dogs are bred for working in cold climates, so they will need to be clipped in the summer to prevent them from overheating.

They are patient and gentle which makes them an excellent choice for a family with young children.

They do not like to be left alone, and they require a lot of work to look after as they shed a lot of fur and are known for drooling a lot.

Saint Bernard – 8 to 11 Years


These well known dogs enjoy getting out for a stretch and gentle exercise but do not require excessive walking.

They have an independent nature which can make training challenging, but they are friendly and gentle with children.

French Bulldog – 8 to 12 Years

The smallest dog on the list so far, excessive breeding of this popular dog has led to health complications which can affect their lifespan.

They don’t shed very much and are docile in a family environment. They can be affectionate and clingy so socialization at a young age is important.

Chow Chow – 8 to 12 Years

These fluffy dogs have a very unique appearance. They are quite independent and enjoy having a bit of time to themselves.

They can be territorial and don’t make the best family pets.

They don’t bark very often, and have been described as having a personality more similar to cats than other dog breeds.

Rottweiler – 9 to 10 Years

These large, muscular dogs are often displayed in films as aggressive, but this is not usually the case. They are laid back and gentle and make great family pets.

They are very loyal, but require firm training.

Kuvasz – 9 to 12 Years


These pale, fluffy dogs were bred for guarding livestock which is quite a solitary task, with lots of hours spent outdoors.

They don’t make the best family dogs, as they are independent and lack social skills. They need an experienced handler and someone with an outdoor lifestyle to suit their needs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – 9 to 12 Years

This is another small breed of dog which has made the list due to the health complications caused by overbreeding, as they are prone to more than 20 different genetic disorders.

These affectionate dogs require a lot of human interaction and can be destructive when left alone, but they have a gentle and social nature.

German Shepherd – 10 to 12 Years

This highly intelligent breed has been used for many different kinds of work from police dogs to farm hands. They love to chew and need very strong toys that cannot be easily destroyed.

They usually latch on to whoever they see as the Alpha, and see themselves as the Beta.

This can make them very clingy and difficult to train, especially in a family environment where they will need to take commands from multiple people.


Size and genetics play a big part in determining the lifespan of different dog breeds. If you want a dog with a long lifespan, you may want to avoid the breeds listed above.

But if you are looking for a shorter commitment, these breeds have many endearing qualities and would make excellent pets.

By Author Stacy Reed

Posted on Published: September 27, 2021 — Last updated: February 6, 2022

Lovable Pets With Short Lifespans

Mychelle is a writer and web designer who is passionate about a wide variety of topics and enjoys sharing her knowledge with readers.

Updated April 20, 2022

Gerbil on hind legs

One of the hard parts of owning a pet is dealing with their short lifespans compared to humans. There are some pets with short lifespans of 5 years or less. Despite their short time with us, they still make wonderful pets and can be great choices for people who can’t commit to owning a pet for five years or more.

Pet Rodent Lifespans

Rodents make fabulous small pets, especially for apartment dwellers and people who can’t keep a large pet like a dog for physical, health, or other reasons. Unfortunately, rodents have some of the shortest lifespans among companion animals.

Guinea Pig Lifespan

Three pet guinea pigs

These adorable small pets live about 4 to 6 years. Guinea pigs are sensitive to their environment and can suffer easily from respiratory diseases, so keeping your pig’s cage clean is an important part of helping them live as long as possible. They also have specific dietary needs, including a need for a regular supply of quality hay and vitamin C. Guinea pigs also do better with a companion, so consider this when deciding if you have the space and time to care for a Guinea pig.

Rat Lifespan

Two pet rats napping on towel

Rats are intelligent and affectionate pets that often surprise people who would never think of them as excellent companions. One of the downsides of owning rats is they only live about 1 to 3 years. The more you provide them with mental and physical enrichment, a clean cage, and a healthy diet, the more likely it will be that they live longer. Rats also are social creatures and do better with at least one or more rat companions to keep them healthy and happy.

Mice Lifespan

Closeup of pet mouse

Like rats, mice live around 1 to 2 years, though some have been known to live up to 4 years. The best way to keep your mice living as long as possible is to keep their cage clean, as they’re particularly sensitive to ammonia buildup from urine. They also are sensitive to temperature, so their cage must be kept within the 65 to 80 degree Fahrenheit range to be healthy. Similar to other rodents, they are social and having other mice companions can keep them healthy, although male-to-male pairings may become aggressive toward each other.

Hamster Lifespan

Closeup of pet hamster eating peanut

Hamsters can live from 1 to 2 years on average. Like other small rodent pets, their lifespan can be greatly influenced by their environment. This means you need to keep their cage regularly cleaned of urine and feces, provide them with optimal nutrition, including fresh foods, and make sure their behavioral needs are met. Unlike some other small pet rodents, such as rats and mice, hamsters do better as solitary pets and may become stressed and fight when placed with other hamsters.

Gerbil Lifespan

Pet gerbils looking out of cage

The most common species of pet gerbil, the Mongolian, can live about 2 to 4 years. Less common species found as pets are fat-tailed gerbils, who live about 4 to 7 years, and Libyan gerbils, who live about 2 to 4 years. Gerbils can live their fullest lives when you provide them with good nutrition, keep their cage environment clean, and by ensure they get appropriate chew items for their teeth. Overgrown teeth can greatly shorten their already tiny lifespan, as this condition limits their ability to eat properly and malnutrition can set in.

Pet Lizard Lifespans

While many pet lizards can live 15 years or more, there are few common pet lizards that live 5 years or less. These lizards also have a small size in common.

Green Anole Lifespan

Small green anole on branch

The green anole is a small lizard known as the American chameleon because of their ability to change colors. On average, they live about 4 years as pets, though they have been known to live up to 8 years. In order to help a green anole live a full lifetime, it’s important to keep their cage with optimal heating, lighting, and ventilation conditions. They commonly become ill if their environment is too damp and cold, and if they are not getting proper nutrition, which can lead to metabolic bone disease.

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Chameleon Lifespan

Panther Chameleon on branch

There are several species of chameleons commonly kept as pets, and many of these live 5 to 10 years or more. However, one species, the panther chameleon, lives for about 2 to 3 years, though it’s possible for them to live as long as 5 years. Like other lizards, panther chameleons will live their longest when provided with a regularly cleaned environment that meets specific temperature, lighting, and humidity needs. They also need proper nutrition, which includes a diet of live insects and supplements.

Hedgehog Lifespan

person holding a hedgehog

Hedgehogs are another small pet that has a relatively short lifespan. They live about 4 to 6 years on average, though it’s possible for them to live as long as 10 years. The best way to keep your hedgehog living a long, happy life is providing them with an appropriate cage with hiding spaces and the right lighting and temperature for their species. They do need time out of their cage to explore and are solitary animals, so keeping them alone in their cage will keep them from getting stressed.

Fish and Aquatic Pet Lifespans

red fighting fish

Fish can live a very short time, and often this is due to improper water conditions in their tanks, or being kept in tanks that are too small. However, there are several common species of pet fish that do not live long lives, even when kept in pristine conditions.

Mosquitofish live about 12 to 18 months, while betta fish, tetras, guppies, gouramis, mollies, and platys live about 3 to 5 years. The best way to keep your fish living their longest is by maintaining a clean tank with frequent water changes, maintaining a species-approrpriate temperature, and making sure the tank size fits the size and number of fish you are keeping.

Octopus Lifespan

Tan colored Octopus swimming

Various species of octopus have become increasingly popular for home aquariums. These intelligent and fascinating creatures unfortunately only live a short time. Certain species, such as the Caribbean dwarf octopus, only live about 8 to 10 months, while others can live up to 2 years. Keeping an octopus healthy to live their longest entails keeping very specific water conditions and offering an extensive live diet, which makes them a difficult and expensive pet to keep.

Why Do Some Pets Live Shorter Lives?

Smaller pets tend to live shorter lives than larger ones, though this is not necessarily the case with every species. With small pets such as rodents, smaller lizards, and fish, the reason for their shorter lifespan may lie in their evolutionary makeup. Because these animals do not tend to live a long time in the wild, scientists believe their bodies evolved in ways where living longer would not be a critical factor because it was unnecessary.

For example, mice and rats in the wild live shorter lives, most likely due to being eaten by cats and other predators. Therefore, there was no evolutionary advantage for them to develop stronger cells and biological abilities to handle physical and environmental stress. Researchers also believe animals with a faster metabolic rate tend to have shorter lifespans. Regardless of why they live short lives, they can still make wonderful pets, and providing them with species-appropriate care can help them live their lives to the fullest.

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