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Unfortunately, we live in a world where all good things must come to an end. It’s the nature of the world we live in and a sad part of life. This is especially true when we have to watch the ones we love around us pass on.
As dog owners, this is by far the worst part about having a dog. It also leads us to have any questions about our beloved dogs, such as why do dogs only live 15 years? Why do they live far less than us humans?
It doesn’t seem fair that we have to lose them so quickly so let’s find out exactly why this is.
In this article we will discuss:
- The 5 reasons why dogs live less than humans
- 5 tips to help extend your dog’s life
- If dogs actually die 7 times faster than humans
- If dogs can live past 20 years
Why Dogs Live Less Than Humans
Different species have different life expectancy ranges. There are many variables that affect why a species has such an extreme difference in lifespan.
Some of these factors include their genetics, dietary habits, physical activity level, pathogens, medical care, quality of life, and access to water & food.
In particular with dogs, there are 7 major players when it comes to why dogs live less than humans.
Let’s dive into these.
Working Dogs Vs Non
Over time, human relationships with dogs have drastically changed. It used to be that dogs were used primarily as working dogs.
Comparatively to today’s world where we see family dogs that maybe go on walks 1-2 times per day and in some cases none at all.
Generally speaking, working dogs that were forced into becoming physically fit in order to do their jobs had longer lifespans than their non-working counterparts.
Thus, over time the decrease in the number of working dogs has also impacted a dog’s life span
Survival & Reproduction
Lifespan has generally been determined by trade-offs between survival and reproduction. This is why we see wolves living roughly twice as long as their dog counterparts. They begin breeding no younger than 2 all the while looking to establish territory and pairs.
Compare that with today’s dogs who can breed from 6 months to 12 months of age, and they have no need to acquire territory, pair bonds, or packs. They already have those things because you have already done it for them.
This change has seemingly shifted the lifespan of dogs.
Diet, Habits, and Care
If you compare today’s dogs to their wolf counterparts you will notice a major difference in their appearance. Wolves are slender and have athletic bodies plus they eat natural raw and complete food diets from hunting.
In comparison, domesticated dogs are often more sedentary, overfed, and in some cases are given processed human foods that are not healthy.
A combination of these things can lead to an increase in stress throughout a dog’s body. Think about it this way, a wolf is forced into always eating healthy and exercising to survive. As dogs’ eating and exercising habits are decided by what we humans decide to do with them.
We are the controllers of what goes into their bodies and how much exercise they get (for the most part). This alone can lead to an increase in health complications and a decrease in life expectancy.
Loss Of Genetic Diversity
Dr. Suzanne Sadedin, an evolutionary biologist makes some interesting points about genetic diversity in dogs and how this could impact lifespan. In a healthy population, all dogs would have several defective genes, but each of these genes would be considered rare in a population as a whole.
Thus, what ends up happening in a randomly mating population, is dogs hold two copies of genes, so it’s rare for a dog to end up with 2 defective copies.
Health problems arise when a dog contains 2 defective copies of a gene. As long as they have 1 good copy, they will be okay.
This becomes problematic with dogs in today’s world when there is a genetic bottleneck (meaning only a few dogs breed) any defects will spread to a large portion of the population.
This creates more problems because more often larger and larger portions of dogs in a population will carry 2 defective genes.
Unfortunately, how things have developed over time in the breeding world has made cross-breeding seem negative and selective breeding with only the “best” dogs popular.
When you restrict breeding like this it can cause terrible health repercussions because you cannot remove all the subtle genetic issues that plague breeds like this.
While most major defects have been eliminated by conscientious breeders who test their dogs before breeding, this style of breeding limits and narrows the gene pool.
Overall this can cause downstream effects in dogs, reducing their health and lifespan over time.
A 6 Year Olds Reason
This next reason on the list is a theoretical reason that has no proof or evidence. Some people believe this to be true so it’s included on this list.
The best way to explain how something ‘spiritual’ could affect why dogs live less than humans is a quote from a 6-year-old boy that goes to the vet and finds out his dog is dying of cancer.
“People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long” – Author Unknown
5 Tips To Help Extend Your Dog’s Life
It’s important to realize that old age is not a disease. It’s a natural part of the world we live in. However, with old age comes fragility, so we need to become more aware of our dogs’ health and become more supportive and proactive when monitoring their health.
This will allow us to intervene should we need and get them what they need to stay healthy. This will ultimately help maximize the time we can have with our dogs.
Monitor Your Dogs Health
We are all aware of just how important it is to catch things early when it comes to a health-related problem. If you can see the development of a problem before it gets really bad, you have a much higher chance of stopping it.
This is why it’s crucially important to monitor your dog’s health. Especially as your dog gets older. The best way to do this can be through checking their vitals weekly or bi-weekly and by taking them to the vet for regular checkups.
This will make sure nothing negative is developing under the radar that you otherwise would not know about.
It’s a fact that working, athletic dogs tend to live longer. So it would make sense that if you exercise your dog you can ultimately extend their lifespan.
Make sure to take your dog on a minimum of 1 walk per day. The more exercise the better, so if you can extend that to 2 or even 3 walks that’s great.
You have probably heard the saying “you are what you eat”, well the same goes for dogs. A crappy diet full of treats and processed human food will leave your dog feeling sluggish and crummy.
Remember, wolves only eat healthy raw, organic food and they live twice as long as domestic dogs.
Therefore, stick with healthy foods and treats for your dog only and you can help to extend their lifespan.
Companionship & Attention
Simply put, a neglected dog is an unhealthy dog. Dogs are social animals that crave love and affection. If your dog is not getting the attention they need this can affect their overall health.
Just like we feel as humans when your needs are not being met you can fall into depression, develop anxiety, etc.
All of this can apply to your dog as well. Dogs can get anxiety and depression just like us, so make sure to give your dog the loving, attention, and care they need.
Improve Your Own Overall Health
Wait, what? How can improving your health help your dog? Well, it’s believed that dogs may take on some of the same feelings and emotions that we humans do.
Through the laws of osmosis, how you act and feel could potentially affect your dog.
Not to mention a person who is healthy and active is more likely to exercise their dog and feed them healthier food compared to someone unhealthy and sedentary.
So in conclusion, if you can better yourself and improve your health it will benefit all of those around you, including your dog.
Do Dogs Die Faster Than Humans?
Based on data collected in the US in 2020 humans have a lifespan averaging 77.8 years. In comparison, Dogs have a lifespan that averages 10-13 years. Therefore, dogs die roughly 6-7 times faster than humans.
Why Do Dogs Only Live For 15 Years?
Dogs live an average life span of 10-13 years, depending on their breed and a bunch of other factors such as:
- Dental health
- Overall size (great dane live shorter lives than yorkies)
- Frequency of exercise
Even when a dog is extremely healthy, happy, and does not have any health issues, they still typically don’t live longer than 13 years.
There are always exceptions and dogs that can end up living longer. In 2020, there was a dog named Funny who was 21 years old!
Why do larger dogs have shorter lives than small dogs?
Do Dogs Really Age 7 Times Faster?
Humans have a lifespan averaging 77.8 years and Dogs 10-13 years. Thus indicating that dogs die roughly 6-7 times faster than humans.
Can A Dog Live 20 Years?
Yes, a dog can live to 20 years old and even beyond that! In fact, the longest living dog recorded most recently (in November of 2020) was a miniature dachshund named Funny Fujimura who was 21 years old at the time!
In addition, the longest recorded lifespan of a dog was Bluey, an Australian cattle-dog from Rochester in Victoria, which reached 29 years and five months.
Other posts you may find interesting:
World’s Oldest Dog? Maggie The Kelpie Dies Aged 30
How Long Do Dogs Live?
Discover The Oldest Dog Alive Today!
How Long Do Dogs Live?
Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates For January Through June, 2020
Check Your Dog’s Vital Signs at Home
Curious Kids: Why don’t dogs live as long as humans?
Why Do Dogs Have Short Life Spans? (Vet Answer)