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Small, long-nosed dogs have the highest life expectancies

A new study has revealed that small, long-nosed (dolichocephalic) dog breeds boast the highest life expectancies in the United Kingdom. Conversely, male dogs from medium-sized, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds, such as English Bulldogs, were found to have the shortest lifespans. 

The researchers analyzed data from over 580,000 dogs across more than 150 breeds. The goal was to pinpoint the canines most susceptible to premature death, offering vital insights for pet owners, veterinarians, and breeders.

Comprehensive database 

The research team compiled a database that contained information on 584,734 individual dogs, representing a broad spectrum of 155 pure breeds and crossbreeds. The data was sourced from 18 different UK outlets such as breed registries, veterinary practices, pet insurance firms, animal welfare organizations, and academic bodies. 

Notably, the database included information on 284,734 dogs that had passed away, with detailed records on breed, sex, birth, and death dates. These dogs were categorized by size (small, medium, or large) and head shape (brachycephalic, mesocephalic, or dolichocephalic) as per kennel club classifications, and median life expectancy was examined across the categories.

Life expectancies 

The results showed that small dolichocephalic breeds, including but not limited to Miniature Dachshunds and Shetland Sheepdogs, emerged with the highest median life expectancies of 13.3 years for both genders. 

In stark contrast, medium brachycephalic breeds recorded the lowest median life expectancies, with males at 9.1 years and females slightly higher at 9.6 years. 

Among the 12 most popular breeds – which collectively represent over half of the purebred population in the dataset – Labradors, Jack Russell Terriers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels showed median life expectancies of 13.1, 13.3, and 11.8 years, respectively. 

Intriguingly, pure breeds demonstrated a marginally higher median life expectancy (12.7 years) compared to crossbreeds (12.0 years), and females outlived males with median life expectancies of 12.7 versus 12.4 years.

Study implications 

The implications of this study are significant, shedding light on the potential health vulnerabilities inherent in certain dog breeds. The results highlight the influence of genetic factors, such as size and head shape, on canine longevity, providing a valuable resource for those involved in canine welfare and breeding. 

However, the authors caution that these findings are specific to UK dog populations and that crossbreeds were defined strictly as non-kennel club purebreds. They advocate for further research, particularly on “designer breeds” like Labradoodles and Cockapoos, to better understand the impact of genetic diversity on the health and lifespan of these increasingly popular dogs.

More about dolichocephalic dogs

Dolichocephalic dogs are characterized by their long, narrow heads and muzzles, a feature that distinguishes them from other canine head shapes. This physical trait is not just about appearance; it plays a significant role in a dog’s health, behavior, and abilities. 

Dolichocephalic breeds include a variety of dogs, from the sleek and speedy Greyhound to the intelligent and agile Border Collie. 


These long-muzzled breeds often excel in activities that require speed, endurance, and agility. Their physical structure allows for efficient air intake, making them particularly suited for sustained running and activities that require stamina. 

Moreover, their narrow heads contribute to a field of vision that is advantageous for breeds historically bred for hunting or herding, enabling them to spot and track movement across wide distances.


Healthwise, dolichocephalic dogs are generally less prone to the breathing difficulties and overheating issues that plague their brachycephalic counterparts, thanks to their more efficient airways. 

However, they may have their own set of breed-specific health concerns, such as dental issues due to the crowded teeth in their elongated jaws or a predisposition to certain neurological and eye conditions.


Dolichocephalic dogs can exhibit a wide range of temperaments, from the intense focus and energy of working breeds like the German Shepherd to the gentle, laid-back nature of the Saluki. Their behavior, as with any dog, is influenced by a combination of breed traits, training, and socialization.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports

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