Article image

Jack Russell terriers live the longest lives of UK dogs

Researchers have analyzed the longevity of 18 breeds of dogs in the UK, along with a selection of cross-breeds, using the VetCompass database. Their findings show that Jack Russell and Yorkshire terriers have the highest life expectancies of the UK breeds considered, while flat-faced breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs have some of the lowest.

The VetCompass database contains clinical records collected from veterinary practices and referral centers in the UK, and is used by scientists and veterinarians seeking evidence of how to improve the health and welfare of animals. 

Kendy Tzu-yun Teng, Dan O’Neill and colleagues analyzed 30,563 records of dog deaths submitted by veterinary practices across the UK between 2016 and 2020. They categorized the dogs into 18 breeds, recognized by the Kennel Club, and also considered data from a group of cross-bred dogs. Using this information, the researchers created life tables which calculate life expectancy throughout the life cycle of dogs from each breed. 

The results of the analysis, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, show that Jack Russell terriers had the highest life expectancy (12.72 years), followed by Yorkshire terriers (12.54 years), border collies (12.10 years), and springer spaniels (11.92 years). 

By contrast, the short-snouted breeds had the lowest life expectancies, with French bulldogs expected to live an average of only 4.53 years. This is approximately three years less than other flat-faced breeds such as English bulldogs (7.39 years) and pugs (7.65 years). The study authors noted that the many health issues known to affect these breeds could be implicated in their short life expectancies. 

Additional analyses showed that, across all dog breeds, female dogs had a higher life expectancy (11.4 years) than males (11.1 years). Dogs that had been neutered also had a higher life expectancy (11.98 years for females and 11.49 years for males) than those that were not neutered (10.50 years for females and 10.58 years for males). The researchers point out that these results may reflect the potential benefits of neutering or could possibly indicate that the owners of neutered dogs are also more responsible individuals who give better care to their pets. 

The experts conclude that the life tables they have developed as a result of their research now enable dog life expectancies to be tracked at different ages, as is possible for humans. This will improve longevity predictions for different breeds in the UK and could also have other practical benefits, such as helping dog shelters to provide accurate estimates of a dog’s remaining life expectancy during rehoming.

By Alison Bosman, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day