Why do dogs live shorter than humans?

Dog with owners

Unfortunately, for their owners, dogs tend to live a shorter life than humans do. On average they live for about 9 to 12 years, depending on the dog breed and size of the dog. Have you always wondered what the reason is for dogs living a shorter live than humans? Or have you questioned yourself on what influences the life expectancy of your dog? Then please read along. Below you will find the answers to your questions! 

 

Biological explanation: metabolic rates and acceleration 

In general, metabolic rates help explain why certain animals live for a longer period of time, versus others. According to these metabolic rates, a large animal will live longer than a small one. This has to do with the fact that larger animals tend to have a lower heart rate and therefore do not take away as much energy from the heart than smaller animals. By being more careful with the heart, larger animals can thus live longer, compared to smaller animals.

However, this is not the case for dogs. Smaller sized dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. There is no clear explanation as to why this is happening, although some researchers believe that the process of metabolic rates might be reversed for dogs. They argue that larger dogs grow at an even faster pace than smaller dogs, which is why their organs tend to be more active. In turn, this can lead to those organs to cease faster too.  

This accelerated pace in which dogs grow also makes them less likely to live a longer life. As dogs need to develop their bodies and their organs quicker, it can take a lot of toll from their bodies to do so. This in turn makes it more likely that their organs will stop working within fewer years. Also, dogs grow up way faster than humans do. For example, most dogs tend to be considered grown up from their second birthday. Whereas humans are only considered as an adult from the age of 21. This type of acceleration can also make dogs more vulnerable to living a shorter life than humans do. 

Dog playing

How to have your dog in your life as long as possible

We can image that you want to have your dog in your life as long as possible. So here are a few things you might want to take into consideration to make the best of your dog’s life. 

One of the primary ways in which you, as an owner, can influence the life of your dog, is by providing them with enough care. This means that you should provide your dog with food suited to their body(type) or diet, giving them enough time to exercise and providing them with proper checkups by a vet. In doing so, your dog will be least likely to develop issues with his or her organs, body or joints.  

Genetics can also play a large role in the lifespan of a dog. If a dog has specific genetical issues, which might make him or her more likely to develop particular diseases or issues, this can impact the life of your dog. This is why we recommend to ask about information about both the mom and the dad of your puppy, once you are interested in buying the dog. Visiting the vet regularly can also allow you to find issues or possible illnesses quickly. 

Something that might not feel as comfortable for your dog, but what might help with extending their lives, is neutering or spaying the dog. By removing the private parts or reproductive organs of a dog, can prevent them from developing infections or illnesses in that area. Specifically older dogs, or dogs that have been used to breed can be vulnerable to these types of diseases. 

Watching a dog’s teeth closely can also help with extending the life of your dog. Through infections of teeth, dangerous bacteria can spread throughout the body of a dog. This may in turn lead to problems with the heart, kidney or even liver. These can cause a dog to become very sick, if not treated properly. 

The environment in which a dog grows up is also important. Living in a place with lots of stress and anxiety can take away years of the life of a dog. Rather, by providing your dog with a loving and comfortable home, they can enjoy their life in peace. Also, dogs that are used for work purposes, like guide dogs or sheepdogs, tend to live less long lives. The primary reason for thi