20 Dogs With Shortest Lifespans (Studies Reveal)

We all have different reasons for our preferred dog breed, and to some people, the bigger the better.

Having a gentle giant as a pet has its set of advantages as many of them are affectionate, loving, and tolerant towards kids.

However, a sad reality about most of these big dog breeds is that they are dogs with shortest lifespan, hence, don’t stick around for long.

Many theories and research have been done to explain the phenomenon behind the shortest living dog breeds.

However, the result is always the same: small dogs are expected to live longer than big dogs.

Below is a list of the dogs with shortest lifespan, taken from different studies on the subject.

We will also proffer some theories as to why this is so, and tips on making the best of the short time your large dog breed has. 

Dogs with Shortest Lifespan

1. Great Dane

Adult Great Dane Dog Playing
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Height: 26 to 34 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 200 pounds
  • Temperament: Dependable, friendly, patient

The Great Dane is the first gentle giant on our list of short-living dog breeds.

A noble and calm breed, the Great Dane no longer has the ferociousness it used to possess when it hunted boar.

The only scary thing about this breed is its size, and that can be intimidating to someone not used to it. 

The size notwithstanding, Great Danes are sweet, affectionate, and very patient with children.

They also love strangers and are generally accommodating, unless they see the stranger as a threat.

This breed loves to please and is generally trainable, but may not be the best option for a new pet parent because of its size. 

2. Dogue de Bordeaux

Dogue de Bordeaux Dog
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Height: 23 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 99 to 110 pounds
  • Temperament: Courageous, affectionate, loyal

The Dogue de Bordeaux (also called French Mastiff or Bordeaux Mastiff) is a confident breed, even though it doesn’t live so long.

Its appearance is intimidating enough to scare off an intruder, what with the large head and serious expression.

It came into existence 600 years ago and has since been a part of families ever then. 

The Dogue de Bordeaux is docile, devoted, and very loyal to its family.

It can be trained to be a formidable guard dog because of its natural wariness towards strangers, but socialization is necessary.

The Dogue is also stubborn, making it unsuitable for new pet parents. 

3. Irish Wolfhound

Big Irish Wolfhound Dog standing on Dry Grass
  • Lifespan: 6 to 8 years
  • Height: 32 to 35 inches
  • Weight: 115 to 180 pounds
  • Temperament: Courageous, calm, dignified

Irish Wolfhound is just as calm as the first two dog breeds and is full of dignity.

It is considered the tallest dog breed and the biggest existing sighthound and was once regarded as fierce because of its war phase.

Now, the Irish dog breed is a gentle and sweet pooch that’s accomodating of everyone, including other pets, dogs, and kids.

Expect to find your Irish Wolfhound relaxed and inactive most of the time, though it appreciates daily walks.

Its size makes it unsuitable for an apartment, though. The short life span and health issues should also be considered when getting this breed. 

4. Bernese Mountain Dog

Black White and Tan Bernese Mountain Dog Standing
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Height: 23 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
  • Temperament: Calm, strong, good-natured

The Bernese Mountain Dog has a lot of physical appeal, despite its size. It looks more gentle than intimidating, and it generally has a calm nature.

While we would have loved to see this dog live very long, the highest expected years is 10. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog has a lovely personality. It possesses it all in terms of beautiful traits.

Affection, tolerance, love, and calmness are some examples. The Bernese Mountain Dog is also intelligent and trainable.

New pet parents may find its size and energy level a bit overwhelming, so it is best suited for experienced owners. 

5. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff Dog Standing in Open Park
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Height: 24 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 130 pounds
  • Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, brave

The Bullmastiff was developed in a relatively modern time, compared to some other breeds.

It came about in the 19th century as an assistant to gamekeepers as it helped them track and apprehend poachers.

They created the Bullmastiff by crossing the Mastiff and the Bulldog (which explains the name).

When poaching declined, the Bullmastiff became a guardian. 

Many pet parents still shop or adopt a Bullmastiff as a guard dog, and it protects with a lot of confidence.

Woe betides the intruder who falls into the trap of facing this breed. Ever loyal to its owners, the Bullmastiff loves to please.

That said, it is an independent breed and should be trained with that in mind. 

6. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Standing on Grass
  • Lifespan: 7 to 11 years
  • Height: 23 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 140 pounds
  • Temperament: Faithful, dependable, family-oriented

This breed’s name implies two facts: it is from Switzerland and it is huge.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is relatively unknown, ranking 74th on AKC’s list.

As such, be ready to receive lots of stares and questions from passersby when you’re outdoors with this breed. Its size is a head-turner. 

It is one of Switzerland’s oldest dog breeds, but unfortunately, that doesn’t have any effect on its short lifespan.

During its lifetime, you can expect Swissy to move around with all the confidence of a big dog that knows it is big.

It is also gentle and loves kids, but needs an owner who’s confident too. 

7. Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei Dog Standing on Grass
  • Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
  • Height: 18 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 40 to 55 pounds
  • Temperament: Independent, loyal, calm

The Shar-Pei translates into “Sand Skin”, and it is an unknown breed to many Americans.

It has an unusual coat and a mass of wrinkly skin, giving it an odd appearance. Lovers of this breed don’t mind, though.

The looks attract more than it repels. Owners only get to enjoy the looks for a short while, however. 

The Shar-Pei was an all-around working dog that served as a hunter, herder, and guardian.

It also participated in fights but isn’t known to be aggressive towards humans for no reason.

However, it is aloof to strangers and is protective, making it a good guard dog. 

8. Newfoundland

Furry Newfoundland Standing Aside On Grass
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
  • Height: 26 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 150 pounds
  • Temperament: Sweet, Patient, Devoted

Fans of Peter Pan no doubt know of Nana, the Newfoundland in the series that was a nanny. Her character shed a little light on the trait of Newfoundland.

Loving and sweet with kids, Newfoundland is an excellent choice for a full family.

Nowadays dogs aren’t often employed as babysitters, but Newfoundland can do the job with ease. 

Furthermore, this breed is devoted and friendly with everyone around. It shares a lot of similarities with America’s number one breed, the Labrador Retriever.

Therefore, Newfoundland is a hard worker, intelligent and versatile. It can also be a first-time dog if the owner can handle its size and energy. 

9. French Bulldog

Portrait of Female French Bulldog Standing
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 11 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 16 to 28 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, smart, adaptable

Some French Bulldogs can live a bit longer, getting up to 14 years.

However, because this breed is fraught with many health conditions, the AKC limits the life expectancy to 12 years.

Regardless of their delicacy (or perhaps that’s part of it) the French Bulldog has risen in popularity and is currently the second most popular dog breed in the United States. 

Frenchies are intelligent and very easy to train, another reason they got so popular.

They’re suitable for both new and old pet parents, and they are not too energetic or big, so they adapt to apartment living.

The French Bulldog is a loving and affectionate companion that enjoys being with loved ones. 

10. Saint Bernard

Happy Saint Bernard Dog at a Dog Park
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
  • Height: 26 to 30  inches
  • Weight: 120 to 180 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, charming, inquisitive

Saint Bernard is one of the dogs with the shortest lifespan that’s regarded as being kid-friendly and also good with other pets.

In its early history, it lived with hospice monks where it probably served as a guard. Experts agree that this period contributed to Saint Bernard’s overall friendliness. 

Saint Bernard also loves attention and enjoys being indoors, but isn’t too demanding to the point of suffering from separation anxiety.

Though it is big, it can be managed because its energy is moderate. It does need a daily walk and can be stubborn. 

11. Chow Chow

Chow Chow Dog Standing at Park
  • Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
  • Height: 17 to 20  inches
  • Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Dignified, bright, serious

Like the French Bulldog, some Chow Chow dogs can live long, getting up to 15 years.

However, this breed also has some medical issues that put the average between 8 and 12, making the Chow Chow among the shortest living dog breeds.

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest breeds in the world, and its appearance is paradoxical.

While its coat reminds you of a soft teddy bear, the facial expression is that of an aggressive breed.

The well-trained Chow Chow is neither soft nor aggressive, though.

What every potential Chow Chow owner should know is that this breed loves its independence. Accept that and you will learn how to handle it. 

12. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever at Dog Park
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, friendly, kind

One of America’s most popular dog breeds is also highly prone to cancer, the deadly disease both humans and canines fall victim to.

Because of cancer and some other Golden Retriever health issues, the breed isn’t expected to live longer than 12 years. There could be exceptions, of course. 

Obviously, as in the case of the French Bulldog, many pet parents don’t bother about the short lifespan.

When you observe the Golden’s temperament, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Golden Retrievers are sweet, calm, loyal, highly intelligent, and easy to train. 

13. Rottweiler

Sturdy Black and Tan Rottweiler Dog Standing on Leash
  • Lifespan: 8 to 11 years
  • Height: 22 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 130 pounds
  • Temperament: Steady, devoted, fearless

The Rottweiler is one dog breed that comes to mind when thinking of guard dogs.

It is also highly controversial and feared, second only to the American Pit Bull Terrier.

However, if you’re an experienced pet parent, you don’t have to worry about your Rottweiler turning aggressive.

What you might be more worried about is the short period it lives.

Rottie is devoted and loyal to its family, traits that make it the excellent guard dog many people praise it for.

It is also reserved towards strangers, but won’t attack unless provoked.

Without good training, the Rottweiler can turn aggressive. Thus, we don’t advise new pet parents to own one. 

14. Boxer

Boxer Dog Standing on Guard
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 21 to 25 inches
  • Weight: 60 to 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Active, bright, fun

The Boxer is another well-known guard dog, but not as notorious as the Rottweiler in terms of aggressiveness.

While it looks intimidating and ferocious, the Boxer is fun and playful.

First-timers can even attempt owning one, though they shouldn’t expect training a Boxer to be as easy as a Golden Retriever. 

The short life expectancy notwithstanding, owning a Boxer is worth it, especially when you commit to its training.

The Boxer remains puppyish for a long time, which helps it retain the mischief and clownish traits that make puppies cute.

Yet, the Boxer also takes its job seriously, and will not hesitate to protect you when need be. 

15. Scottish Deer Hound

Close Up Scottish Deer Hound Dog Watching
  • Lifespan: 8 to 11 years
  • Height: 28 to 32 inches
  • Weight: 75 to 110 pounds
  • Temperament: Gentle, dignified, friendly

A poet of old named Sir Walter Scott described the Scottish Deer Hound as “the most perfect creature of Heaven”.

While that might be a stretch, the Scottish Deer Hound does deserve some accolades.

It is sure to leave a positive mark on your household within the short time it has on earth. 

The Scottish Deer Hound loves people. Unlike some other Hounds, it is accepting of strangers.

It is also kid and pet friendly, so you shouldn’t have any problems keeping it with other dogs.

It would have been a good fit for new pet parents, except that its laziness and size can make training frustrating for the inexperienced.

16. Boerboel

Adult Boerboel Dog Standing Outdoors
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 22 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 110 to 200 pounds
  • Temperament: Territorial, loyal, intelligent

Bred in South Africa, the Boerboel clashed against wild animals like hyenas, leopards, and even lions.

Needless to say, it is a very strong dog breed. It also has a lot of courage, which could probably make up for the short lifespan. 

The Boerboel has since moved from South Africa to other parts of the world, and in the US it is employed for guard and watchdog duty.

It participates in competitions as well and can be a companion. These dogs need a large environment and an owner that is patient with training. 

17. Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro Dog Standing at Park
  • Lifespan: 9 to 12 years
  • Height: 24 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 90 to 180 pounds
  • Temperament: Loyal, devoted, determined

The Fila Brasileiros is also called the Brazilian Mastiff, and this is one breed that’s reserved for a select few.

Being experienced is not enough with the Fila Brasileiro, you should know what it takes to handle a dog with its size, energy, and protectiveness.

The Fila Brasileiro is more likely to be aggressive towards strangers than the Rottweiler, and in some places, you need a license to own one. 

That said, Fila makes one of the best guard dogs because of its undying loyalty and devotion to its owner. 

It needs regular exercise but is content with remaining calm afterward. Fila isn’t a lazy dog, though.

Any perceived threat can get it active and alert in seconds. 

18. Kuvasz

Kuvasz Dog at Park Looking Aside
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 26 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, determined, courageous

Kuvasz is one of the oldest of three ancient Hungarian breeds, the two others being the Puli and the Komondor.

Though it doesn’t have the shaggy dreadlocks of its relatives, Kuvasz is a fine breed. It is rare outside Hungary. 

This dog is more suitable for a family that wants only one pet. Fights erupt if you keep a Kuvasz with another dog unless you give them enough socialization.

Even then, it is safer to own it alone. It is protective and loyal, which makes it a good guard. However, it can be too protective of your kids.

It may view other children as threats, so you should keep it secured if your kids have visitors over. 

19. German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog Stretching Outdoor
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Height: 22  to 26 inches
  • Weight: 50 to 90 pounds
  • Temperament: Confident, smart, courageous

The German Shepherd started as a herding dog, but has now been associated with the police force so much so that people call it “police dog“.

It is a Top 5 popular dog breed in the United States and is regarded as a hard worker.

It is quite unfortunate that the German Shepherd is one of the dog breeds with shortest lifespan. 

In the household, the German Shepherd is calm and loyal. It tends to be reserved towards strangers but isn’t expected to be aggressive.

It loves being around family members and thrives when it has a job to do.

You can train a German Shepherd to do almost anything, including guiding the blind, going for search and rescue, and even aiding the deaf. 

20. Labrador Retriever

Yellow Labrador Retriever Retriever Standing Outdoors
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 55 to 80 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, kind, agile

The last breed on our list is America’s number one dog breed with an unbroken 31 years streak.

Many Lab fans don’t seem to bother or acknowledge the fact that it has a short lifespan.

You can’t blame them, of course. The quality this breed comes with surpasses its flaws. 

The Labrador Retriever has an amazing personality. It is friendly with everyone, good with kids, loyal to its family, a hard worker, eager to please, and easy to train.

The only challenges you would have with the Lab are its high energy and finding the right environment for its size. 

Why Do Some Dogs Live Longer Than Others?

Many studies have been done to figure out what makes some dogs have a longer lifespan than others.

From the findings, we can draw out some explanations and also refute speculations. 

To begin with, gender has nothing to do with the lifespan of any breed of dog as both males and females are expected to live approximately the same number of years.

Genetics sometimes plays a role in that some breeds are more predisposed to certain illnesses than others—like how the Golden Retriever is prone to cancer. 

There’s also a consensus amongst experts that big dogs die faster than small dogs because the former ages faster than the latter.

Professor Mark Elgar explains by using a car analogy: 

“Modern cars generally work well for eight or nine years, and then wear and tear sets in and they start falling apart.

The speed with which they deteriorate varies between manufacturers. It’s the same with dogs”

– Professor Mark Elgar, University of Melbourne’s School of Biosciences.

Lifestyle can also affect a dog’s lifestyle, and this is where we have a job to do in helping our dogs live longer.

Through regular checkups, taking care of its needs, and generally being observant.

Working dogs are especially vulnerable to accidents and should be looked after while out there.

Dive Deeper:
20 Longest Living Dog Breeds (Based On Studies)

Final Thoughts on Shortest Living Dog Breeds

If you’re a lover of big dogs but feel discouraged by the short lifespan, don’t fret.

A lot of these dogs with shortest lifespan offer services that make every second of pet parenting them worth it.

Commit to their welfare and they will in turn give you their loyalty and devotion.

Who knows? Your pet can even live longer than the average.

You May Also Like:
15 Oldest Dog Breeds In The World (And Still Living)

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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