UK dog breeds that live LONGEST – with Jack Russells topping the list

UK dog breeds that live the LONGEST revealed: Jack Russell Terriers are expected to die at 12.7 – while fashionable flat-faced French Bulldogs will only live to 4.5, study finds

  • Vets assessed 30,563 dogs from 18 breeds to see how life expectancy varies
  • Jack Russell Terriers top the list with an average life expectancy of 12.7 years
  • Four flat-faced breeds were found to have the shortest life expectancy
  • French Bulldogs are only expected to live 4.5 years from age 0 

New life expectancy predictions have revealed the UK dog breeds that are likely to live the longest.

Vets from the Royal Veterinary College assessed 30,563 dogs from 18 breeds to see how life expectancy varies between pooches.

Their results reveal that while the average life expectancy for dogs in the UK is 11.2 years, this varies massively between breeds.

Jack Russell Terriers top the list with an average life expectancy of 12.7 years, while French Bulldogs were identified as the breed with the shortest life expectancy of just 4.5 years.

Dr Kendy Tzu-yun Teng, who led the study, said: ‘The dog life tables offer new insights and ways of looking at the life expectancy in pet dogs.

‘They are also strong evidence of compromised health and welfare in short, flat-faced breeds, such as French Bulldog and Bulldog.’

Vets from the Royal Veterinary College assessed 30,563 dogs from 18 breeds to see how life expectancy varies between pooches

In previous studies, life expectancy has been estimated crudely using only the average age of death of dogs.

However, this method does not take into account the fact that life expectancy decreases with age in a non-linear fashion.

Instead, the researchers used ‘life tables’ – a method commonly used for humans – to assess the life expectancy of 30,563 dogs from 18 different breeds and crossbreeds that had died between 1 January 2016 and 31 July 2020.

Dr Justine Shotton, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: ‘These life tables offer an important insight into the life expectancy of popular dog breeds in the UK and will be a useful tool for vets and pet owners in assessing dog welfare.’ 

Jack Russell Terriers (pictured) had the greatest life expectancy from age 0 at 12.7 years, followed by Border Collies (12.1 years) and Springer Spaniels (11.92 years)

Breeds with longest life expectancy 

 

 

Breeds with shortest life expectancy 

The life tables revealed that the overall average life expectancy at age 0 for the dogs was 11.2 years.

However, the life expectancy varied hugely between breeds.

Jack Russell Terriers had the greatest life expectancy from age 0 at 12.7 years, followed by Border Collies (12.1 years) and Springer Spaniels (11.92 years).

At the other end of the scale, four flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds were found to have the shortest life expediencies.

French Bulldogs were only expected to live 4.5 years from age 0, followed by English Bulldogs at 7.4 years, Pugs at 7.7 years and American Bulldogs 7.8 years.

Flat-faced breeds are known to suffer from a range of health issues. 

French Bulldogs (pictured) were only expected to live 4.5 years from age 0, followed by English Bulldogs at 7.4 years, Pugs at 7.7 years and American Bulldogs 7.8 years

Health issues in flat-faced breeds 

The broad head shape did not evolve naturally, and is instead the result of selective breeding.   

The facial structure of flat-faced dogs forces the breathing passages to be very compact. This, along with other structural elements of the body can lead to issues that include:

  • Difficulty breathing when exercising
  • Excess noises such as snorting and snoring
  • Inability to properly regulate body temperature, which leads to heavy panting 
  • An elongated palate, which can cause episodes of reverse sneezing which can consist of excessive gasps and wheezes 

Their broad head shape did not evolve naturally and is instead the result of selective breeding.

As a result, these breeds often suffer from breathing problems, spinal disease and dystocia – slow or difficult labour.

The study also found that female dogs tend to live an average of four months longer than male dogs, while neutered dogs also have longer life expectancy.

‘A concerning finding is the lower life expectancy for flat-faced breeds,’ Dr Shotton said.

‘While the study doesn’t prove a direct link between these breeds’ potential welfare issues and shorter length of life, the findings serve as a fresh reminder for prospective dog owners to choose a breed based on health, not looks.’

The researchers hope the results will be useful for both prospective dog owners, and vets.

‘As a vet in practice, I am often asked questions about the average lifespan of my patients,’ said Dr Sheldon Middleton, President of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

‘To have this data now available, and based on evidence rather than anecdote, provides a direct and immediate benefit to those working in the clinic.

‘Additionally, this will inform future research and provide useful insights for the wider allied professions.’

The new life expectancy estimates come shortly after a study revealed that, contrary to popular belief, breed is a poor predictor of behaviour in dogs. 

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts analysed the genomes of 2,155 dogs to look for genetic variations known to be associated with certain behaviours.

They compared their findings with survey results of 18,385 dog owners. 

The results revealed that breed only explains nine per cent of the behavioural variation in individual dogs.

Instead, the researchers suggest that for certain behavioural traits, age or dog sex are the best predictors of behaviour.

‘The majority of behaviours that we think of as characteristics of specific modern dog breeds have most likely come about from thousands of years of evolution from wolf to wild canine to domesticated dog, and finally to modern breeds,’ said author Elinor Karlsson. 

‘These heritable traits predate our concept of modern dog breeds by thousands of years.’ 

Breed is NOT a good predictor of behaviour in dogs 

The new life expectancy estimates come shortly after a study revealed that contrary to popular belief, breed is a poor predictor of behaviour in dogs. 

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts analysed the genomes of 2,155 dogs to look for genetic variations known to be associated with certain behaviours.

They compared their findings with survey results of 18,385 dog owners. 

The results revealed that breed only explains nine per cent of the behavioural variation in individual dogs.

Instead, the researchers suggest that for certain behavioural traits, age or dog sex are the best predictors of behaviour.

‘The majority of behaviours that we think of as characteristics of specific modern dog breeds have most likely come about from thousands of years of evolution from wolf to wild canine to domesticated dog, and finally to modern breeds,’ said author Elinor Karlsson. 

‘These heritable traits predate our concept of modern dog breeds by thousands of years.’ 

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