Dogs live forever, right? Right!? Unfortunately, like humans, dogs are mortals. Anyone who has lost a pet knows how heartbreaking it is to say goodbye. They are truly family members. If you’re someone who hates goodbyes or simply wants a companion for as long as possible, look into the longest-living dog breeds. On average, domesticated dogs live about ten years, but the dogs on our list have been known to live well into their teens. You’ll notice most of these pups are on the smaller side. While breed alone isn’t going to tell you how long your dog will live, it can give you a pretty good idea.

How do dogs age?

You may have heard that if a dog is one year old, she’s actually seven in human years. Wrong! While canines definitely age faster than humans, this simple calculation is misleading. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs actually hit infancy, childhood and adolescence all in their first year. That’s a lot of rapid growth (and part of the reason large breeds like Great Danes could get injured if over-exercised as puppies, because their joints aren’t fully equipped to handle all of their body weight). Most breeds reach adulthood between one and three years old. Dogs ages six through ten are considered senior citizens. When a dog turns seven, they’ve effectively entered the geriatric phase of their life.

Does breed affect longevity?

There’s some conflicting data on whether or not a breed directly impacts a dog’s lifespan. Other factors seem to matter more when it comes to longevity. One 2018 study out of Budapest, Hungary, found that purebred dogs (dogs whose parents and ancestors are all the same breed) did not live as long as mixed breeds. Purebred pups in this study also developed health issues earlier than their mixed breed counterparts. Even the purebred dogs in the study’s oldest dog group were younger than the mixed breeds in the oldest dog group.

On the other hand, a 2019 U.S. study did not find significant evidence that mixed breed dogs outlive purebred dogs. The researchers noted dogs with a more varied genetic background (aka, a mix of various breeds) lived roughly three to six months longer than dogs bred from one specific line; however, the same study found that dog size is a better indicator of lifespan than breed. Canines from the Mountain ancestral group (like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Pyrenees Mountain Dogs) were found to live 3.5 to 4.6 years less than other purebred groups—likely an unlucky combination of size and purebred status.

Large vs. small breeds

As mentioned, most of the longest-living dog breeds are small-sized pups. Scientists have determined this is basically because large dogs age more quickly than small dogs. Large breed bodies wear out sooner. Some researchers surmise cancer appears in large breeds more often (and sooner) because of their rapid growth spurts early in life.

There’s no secret to tiny canine DNA that makes them live longer. However, there are many things dog owners can do to extend the lives of their beloved pups—no matter their breed or height.

How to ensure a long life for your dog

Without fail, the one thing researchers agree on when it comes to doggy longevity is the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Dogs who are overweight have a much higher chance of developing health issues like respiratory problems, heart disease and kidney failure. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight through diet and exercise is the single best thing you can do to ensure a long, happy life.

Beyond that, regular dental checkups can drastically improve your dog’s overall health. Avoid smoking around your dog or inside your home; secondhand smoke is linked to early signs of aging in canines.

Play with your dog regularly—especially if you have an intelligent or working breed who needs mental stimulation. Happy dogs tend to live longer! In fact, the Hungarian study mentioned above says understanding past traumas your dog has experienced and preventing similar situations from happening in the future can improve overall health.

Finally, don’t ignore strange changes in a senior dog’s behavior or appearance. Almost half of dogs over the age of ten who pass away die from cancer. Cancer can manifest in visible tumors or atypical behavior like lethargy or loss of appetite.

RELATED: 12 Chinese Dog Breeds That Are Some of the Oldest and Rarest Breeds on Earth

Longest Living Dog Breeds American Hairless Terrier
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1. American Hairless Terrier

Height: 12-16 inches

Weight: 12-16 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, curious

Activity Level: Low to Moderate

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

The American Hairless Terrier is one of many tiny breeds on our list who act a lot like cats. Full of affection for their families and inquisitive little buggers, these dogs can go from cuddly to playful at the drop of a hat. American Hairless Terriers don’t have insane exercise requirements and are hypoallergenic due to the whole not-having-a-coat thing. An excellent choice for homebodies.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Bedlington Terrier
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2. Bedlington Terrier

Height: 15-18 inches

Weight: 17-23 pounds

Personality: Loyal, lively

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 11-16 years

Bedlington Terriers are also hypoallergenic sweethearts! Though wary of strangers and other dogs, Bedlingtons enjoy protecting and playing with their people. Keep their bodies and minds engaged with agility training—they’re great athletes.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Biewer Terrier
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3. Biewer Terrier

Height: 7-11 inches

Weight: 4-8 pounds

Personality: Smart, Loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 16 years

As one of the newest participants in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Biewer Terrier is a delightfully loving pup. They are smarties with a penchant for playtime. Biewer (pronounced Beaver) Terriers also know how to be mellow when the time comes. One thing to watch out for: sensitive tummies and digestion issues.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Chihuahua
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4. Chihuahua

Height: 5-8 inches

Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Charming, independent

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Chihuahuas are certainly charmers who know how to get their way. They’re also intelligent and can be trained well if it’s done early. Unfortunately, they aren’t touted as great with kiddos. Chihuahuas have been around for centuries—to keep them going, wrap them warmly in cold weather and have the vet check their eyes and hearts annually.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Chinese Crested
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5. Chinese Crested

Height: 11-13 inches

Weight: 8-12 pounds

Temperament: Lively, loving

Shedding Factor: Non-shedding/Hypoallergenic

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 13-18 years

Another ancient breed! Chinese Crested pups are absolute darlings. They love everyone—kiddos included—and play well with other dogs. To keep these pups and other hairless varieties safe in the sun, apply a dog-friendly sunscreen. Though they may not look super cuddly, Chinese Crested pups make excellent therapy dogs.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Miniature Pinscher
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6. Miniature Pinscher

Height: 10-12.5 inches

Weight: 8-10 pounds

Personality: Energetic, proud

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Miniature Pinschers are goofballs with stubborn streaks. They enjoy activity and need plenty of exercise, though they may find training to be below them. Some look exactly like the large Doberman Pinscher, while others are rust- or red-hued. Min Pins, as they’re called, are pretty healthy pups as long as they have an energy outlet.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Norfolk Terrier
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7. Norfolk Terrier

Height: 9-10 inches

Weight: 11-12 pounds

Personality: Alert, adaptable

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

These rascals were bred to hunt rodents and guard the home. So, while they make friends easily, they aren’t afraid to bark at potential prey (keeping them on leash is key to preventing a sprint towards a squirrel). Norfolk Terriers enjoy being in on the action and can adapt well to new situations.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Papillon
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8. Papillon

Height: 8-11 inches

Weight: 5-10 pounds

Personality: Happy, Outgoing

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

If you’re looking for a long-lived companion dog, look no further than the smiling Papillon. These tiny pups are intelligent and friendly. They work well with kids and love showering their favorite humans with affection. Papillons take well to training, too. It’s wise to puppy-proof your house with a Papillon—stairs and tall furniture could lead to bad falls and broken bones.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Pointer
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9. Pointer

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 45-75 pounds

Personality: Athletic, sweet

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-17 years

If you’re not prepared to provide ample exercise time and space to a Pointer, don’t get one. These athletes love—and need—to run around and do things. They’re actually quite even-tempered pups, but their energy levels are through the roof. High prey drive and hunting instincts aside, Pointers are loving, sweet dogs.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Pomeranian
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10. Pomeranian

Height: 6.5 inches

Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Lively, Adaptable

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

On the other hand, Pomeranians have almost no prey drive whatsoever. They’re fluffy dogs with a penchant for announcing themselves to strangers. City dwellers and country folks alike do well with Pomeranians, as these dogs adapt to just about every environment.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Poodle
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11. Poodle

Height: 15 inches

Weight: 40-70 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, active

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

The biggest dog breed on our list is the Standard Poodle, though Miniature and Toy Poodles have equally lengthy life spans. These are smart animals. When you exercise their bodies, you’ve got to exercise their minds. Honestly, Poodles have it all: affectionate natures, friendly dispositions, hypoallergenic coats and three sizes to choose from.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Rat Terrier
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12. Rat Terrier

Height: 10-13 inches (miniature), 13-18 inches (standard)

Weight: 10-25 pounds

Personality: Curious, loving

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-18 years

Rat Terriers come in two varieties: Standard and Miniature. Neither gets too big and both are balls of affectionate energy. They love to play, train, join kids outside, hang with dogs wherever and meet new people.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Shiba Inu
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13. Shiba Inu

Height: 13.5-16.5 inches

Weight: 17-23 pounds

Temperament: Affectionate, Protective

Shedding Factor: High

Activity Level: High

Life Expectancy: 13-16 years

Here’s a medium-sized breed who can live well into its teenage years! The Shiba Inu is native to Japan and makes an excellent companion. They are super affectionate and protective, which can manifest in territorial tendencies. Be sure to offer these dogs plenty of exercise. Some Shibas have been known to be allergy sufferers, so talk to your vet if you notice extensive itching or sneezing.

Longest Living Dog Breeds Shih Tzu
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14. Shih Tzu

Height: 9-11 inches

Weight: 9-16 pounds

Temperament: Cheerful, loving

Shedding Factor: Low

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Shih Tzus are cheerful, outgoing animals who were bred to sit in laps of luxury. Not only do they get along well with kids, they can thrive in a variety of households and environments. Caring for a Shih Tzu includes keeping them out of high heat and water (two things they don’t do well in).

Longest Living Dog Breeds Toy Manchester Terrier
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15. Toy Manchester Terrier

Height: 10-12 inches

Weight: 10-12 pounds

Personality: Lively, intelligent

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 15-17 years

Toy Manchester Terriers are very cat-like in their habits. They don’t require tons of exercise (a few walks will do) and enjoy cat naps in your lap. Toy Manchester Terriers may have watchdog tendencies, barking at new people and dogs. Like Greyhounds, these pups have been known to suffer from juvenile cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that can cause death. The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine advises talking with your vet before putting your Toy Manchester under anesthesia, as this could be linked to heart failure in these dogs.

RELATED: These 3 Dog Breeds Are the Best Traveling Companions

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