Research highlight

Animal health: New life expectancy estimates for UK dogs suggest Jack Russell Terriers live longest

Scientific Reports

April 29, 2022

Jack Russell Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers have the highest life expectancies of dog breeds in the UK, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports. However, flat-faced breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs have some of the lowest life expectancies.

Kendy Tzu-yun Teng, Dan O’Neill and colleagues analysed 30,563 records of dog deaths from veterinary practices across the UK between 2016 and 2020 using the VetCompass database, categorized into 18 dog breeds recognized by the Kennel Club and also a group of crossbreed dogs. They created life tables which calculate life expectancy throughout the life cycle, starting at birth (0 years).

Jack Russell Terriers had the highest life expectancy at birth (12.72 years), followed by Yorkshire Terriers (12.54 years), Border Collies (12.10 years), and Springer Spaniels (11.92 years). In contrast, French Bulldogs had the lowest life expectancy at birth (4.53 years). This is approximately three years less than other flat-faced breeds that showed low life expectancies at birth including English Bulldogs (7.39 years) and Pugs (7.65 years). The authors propose that these short life expectancies could result from the high health risks known to occur in these flat-faced breeds.

Across all dog breeds, the average life expectancy at age 0 for male dogs was 11.1 years, four months shorter than the estimate for female dogs. Dogs that had been neutered 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 authors discuss the potential benefits of neutering and associated increased life expectancy and whether neutering could possibly reflect more responsible dog owners and better care.

The authors conclude their work now enables dog life expectancies to be tracked at different ages, similarly to humans, and may improve predictions for different breeds in the UK. There could also be other practical benefits such as helping dog shelters to provide accurate estimates of a dog’s remaining life expectancy during rehoming.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10341-6

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