I recently shared an article highlighting 11 dog breeds that live the longest (if you haven’t read that yet, you can check it out here). I got such great feedback on that post, I decided to put together another list. This time spotlighting a dozen breeds with the shortest lifespans.
No pet parent likes to think about the end. And it’s important to note a breed’s life expectancy isn’t the only measure of how many amazing years your pooch will have with you. Genetics are a contributing factor. Plus, good nutrition, exercise, and preventive wellness care are key when striving for a longer life for any breed.
But, as you read through this list, you’ll notice a pattern: They’re all larger breeds. For some reason (and unlike most other species in the animal kingdom) large canines typically have shorter lifespans than small ones.
1. Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux is large, loving, and a loyal companion. Life expectancy is between 5 – 8 years. Weight for this breed can range between 99 – 110+ pounds, with males being the largest. A male can reach 27″ to the shoulder. These dogs are big! But as big as they are, they aren’t very energetic. Apartment living will work for them as their exercise needs can easily be met through daily walks. The Dogue de Bordeaux tends to be a bit willful, so they need early training.
2. Irish Wolfhound
The tallest of all the AKC breeds, the Irish Wolfhound’s body type is similar to that of the Greyhound and Borzoi. They are long, sleek, muscular, and able to run gracefully at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The female is a minimum of 30 inches to the shoulder and can weigh up to 105 pounds. Males grow to a minimum of 32 inches and can weigh about 120 pounds. Life expectancy is 6 – 8 years.
They are a gentle breed and make a great family dog. They do well with kids, but because of their large size, you have to be careful with small children. Early socialization and training are highly recommended.
The Mastiff is known as a gentle giant who can reach heights of up to 30 inches to the shoulder and weights between 120 – 170 pounds for a female and 160 – 230 pounds for a male. Life expectancy is 6 – 10 years.
This breed is courageous, affectionate, and can be super protective of their family. They are muscular, strong, smart, and devoted. Socialization and positive training methods should be initiated when they are very young. This is an awesome breed, but Mastiffs aren’t for everyone. If you’re thinking of adopting a Mastiff, make sure you’re up for the task and ready for such a big, strong furkid.
The Bullmastiff can be described as courageous, loving, and loyal. This breed is a cross between the Bulldog and the Mastiff. Females can reach 24 – 26 inches to the shoulder, weighing in between 100 – 120 pounds. Males, 25 – 27 inches in height and weighing 110 – 130 pounds. Life expectancy is 7 – 9 years.
This pooch is a good family dog and, with him at home, you’ll have your own personal security guard. Early socialization and training are essential, as is the ability to handle a dog of this size.
5. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff originated in Italy. He’s quite large, muscular, strong, and courageous, making him a perfect guard dog. Females can reach 24 – 29 inches at the shoulders and weigh up to 110 pounds. Males, 26 – 31 inches, weighing up to 150 pounds. Life expectancy is 7 – 9 years.
Besides being huge, their enormous head is covered in a face full of loose wrinkly skin folds with big floppy lips that can send drool flying with the shake of his head. As a family dog, they are loyal and protective, but leery of strangers. They are territorial by nature and often don’t care for dogs they don’t know. In the yard, they should have a solid fence that’s 5 – 6 feet high. This breed can easily become overpowering and may not be ideal for first-time dog parents. Socialization and training are essential and should be started early.
6. Great Dane
Great Danes have a forever spot in my heart. We had 3 of them during my childhood and they were some of my first best friends. Their life expectancy is between 7 – 10 years. The female can grow to a height of 30 inches to the shoulder and the male up to 32 inches. This is a BIG dog!
According to the Guinness World Record, a Great Dane named Zeus holds the record for the tallest dog on record.
“Measuring an incredible 111.8 cm (44 in) from foot to withers, the Great Dane from Otsego, Michigan, USA was the same size as an average donkey.” “Standing on his hind legs, he stretched to 7 ft 4 in. In case you were wondering… he ate 12 cups of food daily and weighed 155 pounds. Sadly, Zeus only lived to be 5 years old.
The Great Dane doesn’t require tons of exercise, so don’t count this breed out if you are an apartment dweller. Daily walks will be sufficient for him. They do shed and are not considered hypoallergenic. As always, a quick and daily brushing will keep shedding to a minimum.
7. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is big, beautiful, muscular, and no stranger to working. A century ago, you would have seen these beauties in Switzerland working on farms doing everything from guarding property and herding cattle, to pulling milk carts.
They’re extremely intelligent, loyal, loving, companions who need to be with people. Since they’re working dogs by nature, they do require a moderate amount of exercise. Life expectancy is between 7 – 10 years. The females can reach 23 – 26 inches to the shoulder and the males 25 – 28 inches. They can reach weights of 80 – 110 pounds.
As with any large dog, early training is very important. But this breed tends to mature slowly so training can be a bit slow. Don’t give up, though. Keeping it fun and positive will eventually get the job done.
Keep the brush handy as the Bernese is a big shedder. Good grooming practice is the best defense. A good brushing twice a week will easily keep the shedding under control. With those cute, big floppy ears, a thorough ear cleaning should be done weekly to prevent a buildup of bacteria, dirt, and debris. Floppy ears provide a warm, moist, dark, environment with minimal air circulation, the perfect breeding ground for infection. Keeping the ears clean and dry is the best prevention.
The Borzoi is beautiful, elegant, graceful, and regal. They are tall with a long lean body, somewhat like a greyhound. A female will reach 26 inches to the shoulder and then some, whereas males will reach 28 plus inches with a weight between 75 – 105 pounds.
They have a silky flowing coat, narrow head, and long thin muzzle. This pooch is a sight to behold. When this beauty gets moving, he can run speeds of up to 40 miles per hour! On the other hand, they’re just as happy spending the day with you at home on the sofa. Life expectancy for the Borzoi is 7 – 10 years.
They’re great family dogs. They do shed, but, other than brushing, their long silky hair is not difficult to maintain. These dogs have a laid back nature, can be a little willful, require early socialization, training, and patience. They’ll bark at strangers, but this is no guard dog. He’s a lover – not a fighter!
The Rottweiler is a courageous, attentive, loyal, breed. At times they get a bad rap and can be misunderstood. As a result, the Rottie can be subject to housing restrictions in some communities or housing complexes. Early positive training and socialization are imperative.
This big muscular dog can weigh up to 135 pounds and reach heights between 22 – 25 inches to the shoulder for the female and 24 – 27 inches for the male. Life expectancy is 8 – 10 years. Rottweilers can be wonderful family dogs and companions. On the flip side, these courageous dogs are often seen working together with law enforcement, such as police, customs inspectors, or working as security guard dogs. Additionally, they make excellent service and therapy dogs.
10. Saint Bernard
This gentle giant is one of the largest dog breeds you’ll find. Reaching heights of 27.5 – 36.4 inches to the shoulder, they can tip the scales up to 260 pounds. Life expectancy for a Saint Bernard is between 8 – 10 years.
These massive dogs have thick coats and do well in colder climates. Famous for heroic search and rescues in the Swiss Alps, their mission was to find missing and stranded skiers and travelers. Saint Bernards make wonderful family dogs. They are affectionate, loving, gentle, and they like to be with their humans.
This dog is a love bug. He is sweet, affectionate, patient, loyal, and a perfect family dog. Females can reach 26 inches to the shoulder and weigh in at 100 – 120 pounds. Males reach heights of 28 inches and weigh 130 – 150 pounds. Life expectancy is 9 – 10 years.
According to the AKC, “The Newfie breed standard says that a sweet temperament is the ‘most important single characteristic of the breed.’” How beautiful is that?! Newfies love children are easy to train. Since they are so large early socialization and training are a must.
The Bloodhound is a great family dog. As a breed, they’re known for loyalty, patience, intelligence, and being affectionate. According to Petguide.com:
“The Bloodhound’s personality is among the best in the world of dogs and makes for a loyal house pet, a friendly companion, and a great long-term friend.”
This breed also has a special relationship with law enforcement. They can often be seen working side-by-side. The scent-tracking abilities of the Bloodhound are unmatched. According to pbs.org:
“Often called a nose with a dog attached, the bloodhound is so adept at scent tracking its trailing results is admissible evidence in a court of law. … “
The females reach heights of 23 – 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh 80 – 100 pounds. Males 25 – 27 inches in height weighing between 90 – 110 pounds. Life expectancy is 7 – 12 years. The bloodhound has a face full of wrinkly skin, hanging jowls, long floppy ears, and deep-set sad looking eyes. The look on this pooch’s face is priceless!