Life expectancy tables for 18 breeds show that Jack Russells are the top dogs for longevity, while French bulldogs come in last
28 April 2022
Jack Russell terriers are the longest-lived breed of dog in the UK and French bulldogs are the shortest-lived, according to life expectancy data for 18 breeds.
Dan O’Neill at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, and his colleagues analysed data from over 30,000 dogs in the UK between 2016 and 2020. The team wanted to go beyond producing an average life expectancy for each breed.
“An average lifespan does not give you nuance,” says O’Neill. For example, if your dog has an average life expectancy of 10 years but is already 9 years old, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is likely to die within the next year, he says.
“There’s something about that dog that means it’s probably healthier than the dogs which died before that age,” O’Neill says. “So it might actually be more likely to stay alive for even longer than average.”
The researchers produced a life table for each breed, allowing dog owners to estimate how long their pets will continue to live depending on how old they are already. The team determined this by calculating what proportion of dogs died after each year of life.
“This has never been done before,” O’Neill says. The large sample size is based on anonymised records provided by 30 per cent of vet surgeries in the country. “It took 10 to 15 years to build these systems,” he says.
The researchers found that Jack Russell terriers had the highest average life expectancy of 12.7 years, followed by border collies with 12.1 years. French bulldogs had the lowest life expectancy – just 4.5 years – followed by English bulldogs with 7.4 years.
The team found that the more a dog had been bred to suit human aesthetics, the lower its lifespan in general. “French bulldogs have flat faces and are very cute,” O’Neill says. “But this means they live for less time and struggle to blink and breathe for their entire lives.”
However, the estimated lifespan for French bulldogs is probably an underestimate, O’Neill notes. This is because they are the most popular dog in the UK right now and so there is a huge overrepresentation of younger French bulldogs in the population which is skewing the team’s calculations.
The researchers plan to make similar life tables for cats and produce graphs for the life expectancies of dogs in other countries.
“This is a fantastic idea,” says Audrey Ruple at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I think that using the life tables to determine average life expectancy for individual breeds of dogs is particularly enlightening,” says Ruple. “It allows one to broadly understand the overall health of a particular breed as compared to other breeds of dogs.”
Journal reference: Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10341-6
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