21 Healthy & Long Lived Dog Breeds

Trying to choose a puppy breed? There are lots of great reasons to choose certain dog breeds over others. Health should be one of these.

Of course, I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a vet after all.

Here’s the problem: if you go and Google “healthiest dog breeds,” those lists you get are just opinions. When I read them, my experience makes me wonder at some of the choices.

Here’s what I’ve done instead: I’ve tried to use the available evidence. That gets me off the hook of being accused of bias and hopefully closer to the truth. I’ve used two different indicators:

1. Dog Breed Health Costs

I’ve used online insurance quotes and plugged in every breed we see in Adelaide. The trick here is simple: insurance companies charge different amounts for different breeds, based on their expected payouts.

I assume (and it’s a safe assumption if a company doesn’t want to go broke) that their costs reflect actual costs at the vet, and therefore health.  Using one insurance company, I selected only the 42 breeds that cost less than $65 a month to insure.

2. Dog Lifespan Studies

For my second indicator, I’ve used the three latest studies on how long dogs live. I’ve averaged them and selected only the 42 breeds that lived 12.5 years or over. These numbers are lower than your dog’s expected lifespan as they start from birth, but they are useful for comparison purposes.

Both these charts can be found below. For my final step, I selected only the 21 dog breeds that appear on both charts. I call this…

The Healthiest Dog Breed List

21 Healthy Dog Breeds
Australian Silky Terrier
Basenji
Bichon Frise
Border Terrier
Brittany
Cairn Terrier
Cross Breed
Dachshund (all coats)
English Springer Spaniel
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Jack Russell Terrier
Miniature Dachshund
Miniature Poodle
Schipperke
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Swedish Vallhund
Tibetan Terrier
Toy Poodle
West Highland White Terrier
Wire Haired Fox Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

Interesting list isn’t it! You could do a lot worse than choosing one of these dog breeds. I don’t disagree with any of the selections, but I do think quite a few other good ones are missing.

Read more about each one on our Dog Breeds guide.

Problems With This List

I can immediately see three problems with this list:

  • It biases against larger breeds as they are more expensive at the vet for the same health problems. You can look up how they scored individually using the links found below.
  • It’s unfair to American Staffordshire, Australian Terrier, Chihuahua, Irish Terrier, Japanese Spitz, Lakeland Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Schnauzer, Shiba Inu, and Tenterfield Terrier. All were under $65 to insure but didn’t appear in any of the lifespan studies. I think they would have qualified.
  • ‘Cross Breed’ is a very generic concept that includes Poodle crosses as well as mongrels and rescue dogs. Lifespans should be higher than average but health will depend on the specific crosses involved.

Why Breed Choice Matters

In the midst of sad moments, I often find myself saying, “pet ownership shouldn’t be like this.” Too many dreams of a perfect family pet are shattered by chronic health problems. Some of that could be avoided by using the knowledge of vets.

I dream of a time when a part of everyone’s breed selection process is to ask the local vet for advice. Most will happily give this for free. It won’t be perfect, but it’s the best there is.

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.


By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. We do not accept payments or incentives in return for stories. Like or follow our page or subscribe via email to read the latest.

Related: Do Large Breeds Live Shorter Lives?

Appendix

42 Low Cost Dog Breeds
American Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Australian Silky Terrier
Australian Terrier
Basenji
Bichon Frise
Border Terrier
Brittany
Cairn Terrier
Chihuahua
Chinese Crested
Cocker Spaniel
Dachshund
English Springer Spaniel
Finnish Spitz
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Havanese
Irish Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Japanese Spitz
Lakeland Terrier
Lhasa Apso
Manchester Terrier
Miniature Dachshund
Miniature Pinscher
Miniature Poodle
Miniature Schnauzer
Papillon
Pomeranian
Schipperke
Schnauzer
Scottish Terrier
Shiba Inu
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Standard Poodle
Swedish Vallhund
Tenterfield Terrier
Tibetan Terrier
Toy Poodle
Welsh Corgi
West Highland White Terrier
Wire Haired Fox Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

You can view the whole table of 145 dog breed costs here and an explanation of pet insurance here.

BreedLifespan
Toy Poodle14.6
Tibetan Spaniel14.4
Miniature Poodle14.3
Tibetan Terrier14.3
Australian Silky Terrier14.3
Swedish Vallhund14.2
Miniature Dachshund14.0
Bedlington Terrier13.9
Basenji13.6
Whippet13.6
Cairn Terrier13.5
Chow Chow13.5
Italian Greyhound13.5
Jack Russell Terrier13.5
Shih Tzu13.3
Border Terrier13.3
Fox Terrier13.2
Bearded Collie13.2
West Highland White Terrier13.2
Cross Breed13.2
Beagle13.0
Schipperke13.0
Smooth Collie13.0
Wire-haired Fox Terrier13.0
Dalmatian12.9
Border Collie12.9
Brittany12.9
Yorkshire Terrier12.9
Bichon Frise12.8
English Springer Spaniel12.8
Shetland Sheepdog12.8
Siberian Husky12.6
American Cocker Spaniel12.5
Belgian Shepherd12.5
Hungarian Vizsla12.5
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier12.5
Dachshund12.5
Labrador Retriever12.5
Pekingese12.4
German Shorthaired Pointer12.3
Golden Retriever12.3
Maltese12.3

Again, you can read the whole table of dog lifespans here.

Andrew

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