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Dogs that live the shortest lives


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    Dogs, as the cliché has it, are man’s best friend. Canines have been humans’ companions for centuries. They are by far the most popular pet in the U.S. About 69 million households, of the 90.5 million that own a pet, have at least one dog. (These were the most popular dogs in America.)

    While a good diet and regular exercise can lengthen and improve the life of any dog, the sad reality is that compared with humans, dogs do not live very long. Another somber truth is some canine breeds live longer than others, and much of the difference has to do with genetics.

    To identify the shortest-living dog breeds in the United States, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information on each of the 282 dog breeds currently listed by the American Kennel Club, the country’s purebred dog registry. The AKC gives a range in identifying the life expectancies of various breeds. For our own list, we included only breeds whose maximum lifespan is no more than 15 years, though most won’t live that long. A few breeds might live as little as five or six years. Information on popularity, height, weight, and breed category also came from the AKC.

    Click here to read about the dogs with the shortest lifespans

    In general, large-size breeds tend to have a shorter life expectancy, and small-size breeds tend to live longer. Nearly half of the dogs on the list of the breeds with the shortest life expectancy weigh at least 100 pounds, especially the males (females usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds less). And dogs with short lifespans are not only heavy, but they are also usually very tall. Generally measuring at over 25 inches at the shoulder, some can even be taller than their human owner when standing on their hind legs.

    Some of the dogs on the list span the centuries, from the Rottweiler, with a history that dates back to the Roman Empire, and Neapolitan mastiff, which was bred as early as 700 B.C. There’s also the little-known Leonberger, which almost went extinct before being reestablished in the 1970s and ‘80s. (Here are some of the newest dog breeds you’ve probably never heard of before.)

    Source: JackF / iStock via Getty Images

    24. Dogo argentino
    > Life expectancy: 9-15 years
    > Current popularity rank: 88 out of 199
    > Height: 24-27 inches
    > Weight: 88-100 pounds

    As its name suggests, the dogo Argentino originated in Argentina. The breed was created by Antonio Nores Martinez, a doctor with a passion for dogs and for hunting. It is a powerful and athletic dog with a short, completely white coat. It is used to hunt wild boars and other formidable game and is very protective of those it loves. It is sometimes called the Argentinian mastiff.

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    23. Borzoi
    > Life expectancy: 9-14 years
    > Current popularity rank: 101 out of 199
    > Height: 26-28 inches
    > Weight: 60-105 pounds

    Borzoi are big sighthounds – hunting primarily by sight and speed – and can weigh over 100 pounds. Once known as the Russian wolfhound, the borzoi was bred to be fast and tough. Borzois are independent and sometimes stubborn, so training can be a challenge.

    22. Taiwan dog
    > Life expectancy: 9-13 years
    > Current popularity rank: out of 199
    > Height: 17-20 inches
    > Weight: 26-40 pounds

    The Taiwan dog is a breed of medium-sized dogs indigenous to the mountains of Taiwan. The breed is easily recognizable with its triangular head, almond-shaped eyes, and thin pricked ears. Taiwan dogs should be household dogs, not outside dogs, because they need daily interaction with their family, according to the AKC.

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    21. Cane corso
    > Life expectancy: 9-12 years
    > Current popularity rank: 18 out of 199
    > Height: 24-28 inches
    > Weight: Proportionate to height

    Originating in Italy and bred as a guard dog, the Cane corso is described by the AKC as a peerless protector. This dog is intelligent, loyal, and docile in the company of its owners. However, that docility may not extend to others, and the cane corso requires intensive socialization and training.

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    20. Perro de presa Canario
    > Life expectancy: 9-11 years
    > Current popularity rank: out of 199
    > Height: 22-26 inches
    > Weight: 84-110 pounds

    The perro de presa Canario, or the “Canary dog of prey,” also known as the Canary dog, is a very loyal dog, suspicious of strangers and devoted to its owner. The exact origin of the breed is unclear but there is some evidence it existed as early as the 15th century.

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    19. Boerboel
    > Life expectancy: 9-11 years
    > Current popularity rank: 118 out of 199
    > Height: 22-27 inches
    > Weight: 150-200 pounds

    The boerboel was developed as a farm dog in South Africa. It is a mastiff type, strong and muscular in appearance, and can weigh up to 200 pounds. It is also dominant, so new owners should have experience handling large dogs.

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    18. Newfoundland
    > Life expectancy: 9-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 42 out of 199
    > Height: 26-28 inches
    > Weight: 100-150 pounds

    If you’ve never owned a Newfoundland or known anyone that did, you may be in awe of its size when you first encounter one. A male typically stands over two feet tall and can weigh up to 150 lbs. Aside from its size, Newfoundlands are known for being excellent long distance swimmers thanks to their lung capacity and webbed paws.

    Source: Tatjana Damjanovic / iStock via Getty Images

    17. Rottweiler
    > Life expectancy: 9-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 7 out of 199
    > Height: 22-27 inches
    > Weight: 80-135 pounds

    The rottweiler is one of the oldest working breeds and may have been herding livestock since the days of the Roman Empire. The breed combines intelligence, strength, and endurance. Unfortunately, the breed has sometimes been portrayed in the media as aggressive – but according to the AKC, it is “a calm, confident, and courageous dog.”

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    16. Leonberger
    > Life expectancy: 9 years
    > Current popularity rank: 114 out of 199
    > Height: 26-32 inches
    > Weight: 90-170 pounds

    The leonberger was popularized by Heinrich Essig of Leonberg, Germany, in the 1800s. This very large breed caught the attention of artists and celebrities and was even used in theatrical productions in the U.S. It almost went extinct after World War I but was revived in Europe and re-established in America in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Source: BiancaGrueneberg / Getty Images

    15. Chow chow
    > Life expectancy: 8-12 years
    > Current popularity rank: 92 out of 199
    > Height: 17-20 inches
    > Weight: 45-70 pounds

    The chow chow is a member of the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group and does fine without a lot of exercise. Its deep-set eyes give it a serious look. It comes in a variety of colors, including red, black, and blue. The chow chow is one of two AKC registered breeds with a unique blue-black tongue, the other being the Chinese shar-pei.

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    14. Chinese shar-pei
    > Life expectancy: 8-12 years
    > Current popularity rank: 68 out of 199
    > Height: 18-20 inches
    > Weight: 45-60 pounds

    Shar-pei have some very distinctive characteristics, including a rough coat and folds of wrinkled skin. They are intelligent but stubborn and need to be trained at an early age. Unfortunately, shar-pei are prone to a range of health conditions, including allergic skin disease, eye disorders, and various bone and joint problems.

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    13. Scottish deerhound
    > Life expectancy: 8-11 years
    > Current popularity rank: 155 out of 199
    > Height: 28-32 inches
    > Weight: 75-110 pounds

    At one point in time, only nobles and dignitaries owned this ancient and elegant breed. The Scottish deerhound is one of the largest breeds, even among relatively short-living dogs.

    Source: Anzze86 / Getty Images

    12. Greater Swiss mountain dog
    > Life expectancy: 8-11 years
    > Current popularity rank: 83 out of 199
    > Height: 24-29 inches
    > Weight: 85-140 pounds

    The greater Swiss mountain dog is descended from war dogs brought across the Alps by Julius Caesar’s armies, but was only fully recognized by the AKC in 1995. It is a large, powerful working dog. It needs regular exercise but does not cope well with hot weather.

    Source: Thitisate Thitirojanawat / iStock via Getty Images

    11. Bulldog
    > Life expectancy: 8-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 6 out of 199
    > Height: 14-15 inches
    > Weight: 40-50 pounds

    The bulldog has long been associated with British culture (note the resemblance to Winston Churchill!), but it’s also one of the most popular breeds in America. Its name belies a friendly personality and gentle disposition.

    Source: Jessica Schwabauer / iStock via Getty Images

    10. Broholmer
    > Life expectancy: 8-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: out of 199
    > Height: 26-30 inches
    > Weight: 90-150 pounds

    The Broholmer is originally from Denmark and is thus sometimes referred to as the Danish mastiff. The presence of a Broholmer in the U.S. was first recorded in 2009, when a couple brought one from Europe.

    Source: s5iztok / iStock via Getty Images

    9. Flat-coated retriever
    > Life expectancy: 8-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 103 out of 199
    > Height: 22-25 inches
    > Weight: 60-70 pounds

    dog

    The flat-coated retriever is one of six retriever breeds recognized by the AKC. It was first bred in Britain in the mid-19th century and was known as the “gamekeeper’s dog” because of its widespread use on estates. It is not just distinguished by its lustrous coat, but by its long head, which is unique among retrievers.

    Source: emmepiphoto / iStock via Getty Images

    8. Saint Bernard
    > Life expectancy: 8-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 56 out of 199
    > Height: 26-30 inches
    > Weight: 120-130 pounds

    The Saint Bernard is a world-famous gentle giant that could act as a “nanny dog” for children. Named after a monk who aided pilgrims crossing the Alps on their way to Rome, the Saint Bernard is also famous as a rescue dog.

    Source: RalphyS / iStock via Getty Images

    7. Bernese mountain dog
    > Life expectancy: 7-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 22 out of 199
    > Height: 23-28 inches
    > Weight: 70-115 pounds

    The Bernese mountain dog hails from the Swiss Alps. It was used to herd cattle and haul carts filled with farm produce. The Bernese was the perfect fit for such work because of its muscular build and was known to pull loads weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

    Source: Earl-Wilkerson / iStock via Getty Images

    6. Great Dane
    > Life expectancy: 7-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 19 out of 199
    > Height: 28-32 inches
    > Weight: 110-175 pounds

    The great Dane was developed in England and Germany as a boar hound, and its long ears were often left shredded by the sharp tusks of the wild boar. Today’s great Danes lead much less hazardous lives and can make for great pets. They are dependable, patient, and friendly. But as their name implies, they are huge. Standing on its hind legs, a great Dane can be taller than its owner.

    Source: Okikukai / iStock via Getty Images

    5. Neapolitan Mastiff
    > Life expectancy: 7-9 years
    > Current popularity rank: 119 out of 199
    > Height: 24-31 inches
    > Weight: 110-150 pounds

    The Neapolitan mastiff, also known as the mastino, has been around since ancient Roman times. This type of dog was bred as early as 700 B.C. The breed’s massive hanging wrinkles and folds of loose skin are among its most recognizable features.

    Source: Anat0ly / iStock via Getty Images

    4. Bullmastiff
    > Life expectancy: 7-9 years
    > Current popularity rank: 61 out of 199
    > Height: 24-27 inches
    > Weight: 100-130 pounds

    As the name suggests, the bullmastiff is a bulldog-mastiff cross. It was bred to guard country estates and game preserves from poachers. It is large, tipping the scale at up to 130 pounds, and is powerful and intimidating. The bullmastiff requires careful training.

    Source: forisana / iStock via Getty Images

    3. Mastiff
    > Life expectancy: 6-10 years
    > Current popularity rank: 37 out of 199
    > Height: 28-30 inches
    > Weight: 120-230 pounds

    Due to their large size, mastiffs make an immediately imposing impression on newcomers, but they are known for being good-natured and docile. The mastiff is the heaviest dog of all, clocking in at an average of 160 pounds.

    Source: Bigandt_Photography / iStock via Getty Images

    2. Irish wolfhound
    > Life expectancy: 6-8 years
    > Current popularity rank: 89 out of 199
    > Height: 30-32 inches
    > Weight: 105-120 pounds

    The Irish wolfhound is a massive, muscular dog. Perhaps at odds with its imposing appearance, Irish wolfhounds are calm and quiet dogs, according to their owners.

    Source: MRBIG_PHOTOGRAPHY / iStock via Getty Images

    1. Dogue de Bordeaux
    > Life expectancy: 5-8 years
    > Current popularity rank: 78 out of 199
    > Height: 23-27 inches
    > Weight: 100-110 pounds

    Dogue is French for “mastiff,” and this is a big, muscular breed with a massive head. While it is not aggressive, it is not great with other dogs. A dogue de Bordeaux was featured in the 1989 Tom Hanks movie “Turner and Hooch” but was not recognized by the AKC until 2008.

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