The lifespan of a dog or cat depends on many factors like breed, age, size, diet and environment. A healthy pet will live at least 10 times longer than a sickly one. So it’s not just about the length of time they live but also their quality of life.
In general, dogs and cats are considered to be “long lived” animals because they tend to live at least 15 years. However, there are some breeds which may live up to 20 years. There are even some pets which have been known to live over 30 years!
It is generally accepted that the average lifespan of a dog or cat is between 5 and 7 years. But the actual number varies from individual to individual. Some people live much longer lives than others.
Dogs and cats are classified into two groups: those which are purebred (which means they all come from one parent) and those which are crossbreeds (crossing different types of animals).
The lifespan of a purebred dog or cat is generally shorter than those which are not. But there are some exceptions.
Crossbreeds can sometimes live as long as purebred animals, however, a crossbred is much more likely to inherit the qualities of its parents in looks and behavior too.
The average lifespan of a dog could be anywhere between 5 and 15 years. If the dog is a mixed breed or a “mongrel” then the upper limit could increase to 16-20 years.
Some dogs, like Terriers and Bulldogs, have a shorter life span than other breeds simply because of the size and strength of their bodies.
Most dogs begin to show their age at 7-8 years. By 8-10 years they start displaying signs of old age.
Old age begins at 10-12 years. By this time most dogs will definitely be declining in health. The average age for most types of dogs is between 12 to 15.
Some short-lived breeds like Dachshunds live between 12 to 16 years.
80% of dogs have been known to live over 15 years. So dogs which reach this age are definitely “long lived”.
The oldest on record is a mixed breed from Scotland called “Scotty”. He became famous in July 1994 when he was already 21 years old and still going strong! The second oldest is a terrier called “Jack”, who died in 1999 at the age of 20 years!
The third oldest dog was James of Altavista, a poodle from America known as the “Lawn Mower Dog”. He died in August 2000 at the ripe old age of 19 years.
The average lifespan of a cat is between 10 to 15 years. Again, if the cat is a mixed breed or a “mongrel” then the upper limit could increase to 16-20 years. Some cats have been known to live over 30 years (though this is rare).
Most male cats are likely to live less than 10 years, while females could reach up to 20 years of age.
The oldest cat on record was Crumpy who lived to a whopping 34 years!
Crossbreeds tend to live longer than their purebred parents. The average lifespan of a crossbreed is between 15 to 18 years.
Cats are at their best between the ages of 5 to 7 years and then begin to show their age at 9 years. By 10-12 years they start displaying signs of old age. Old age begins at 12-14 years and by this time most cats will definitely be declining in health.
The average age for most types of cats is between 14-16. Some short-lived breeds like Persians live between 15 to 18 years.
Cats that reach the age of 15 are considered long-lived, but they are definitely in the minority.
As with dogs, 80% of cats have been known to live over 15 years. So cats which reach this age are definitely “long lived”.
The Oldest Cat on record is Creme Puff who died in 2005 at the ripe old age of… wait for it…
If you want to know how long your dog or cat will live, just look up the average life expectancy of the breed and see if yours measures up to that. It’s not an exact science, but it’s a good guide.
Remember though, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. Some very small dogs like Chihuahuas live as long as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The biggest dog breed, the Irish Wolfhounds don’t even make it to 7 years old on average.
So don’t be too disappointed if your dog or cat doesn’t make it into their twenties, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t healthy!
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Physical activity and successful aging among middle-aged and older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies by YH Lin, YC Chen, YC Tseng, S Tsai… – Aging (Albany NY), 2020 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
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