Life Expectancy of Large Breed Dogs
By: Jim McKiel
Large breed dogs have a shorter life expectancy than smaller breeds which is unfortunate for the owner/guardians of large breed dogs. We love our big dogs even knowing their time with us will be short. We don’t focus on the quantity of time but the quality of time we spend together. Sharing our homes with our big fur balls is like having a small piece of heaven for our own.
Everyone has probably heard of the term “dog years”. The myth that a dog ages seven years to every one year of human life is just that, a myth. There is no accurate guideline that can be followed because dogs age more quickly in puppy stage then they do in later years. Also, different breeds of dogs actually age differently with large breed dogs remaining puppies until the age of eighteen months to two years. By the same rate, large breed dogs can become senior citizens by the age of six years.
Feeding a large breed puppy a managed diet is important. Make sure the puppy’s diet is not rich in fats and served in moderate portions. For a large breed puppy it is better to feed three small meals a day instead of one or two large meals. Even though the puppy is large, the digestive tract is smaller in proportion to a smaller dog. We don’t want the puppy to become overweight as this may shorten his/her lifespan and we want to ensure he/she receives all the nutrients they need. Ensuring our large breed friends are healthy and well cared for may extend their time with us to the max. Many of the injuries and ailments that strike our dogs have their origins in our dogs being overweight. It has been estimated that 23% of the dogs in the United States are either overweight or obese. Just look around you the next time you are in a pet store or out walking your dog; are the dogs you see overweight? It is so very important that you do the research on the breed you have decided you want to share your home with. Knowing beforehand the care and life expectancy of the breed you have chosen will assist you in the preparations for raising your new puppy.
Many large breed dogs suffer from joint ailments. This is also aggravated by being overweight. Having the right nutrition with the correct mix of vitamins, minerals and proteins in the food you give your dog is important. Making sure your dog receives the exercise and activity level that they need to maintain their ideal weight is one way to ensure their health.
As stated above, the large breed dog approaches senior years starting around six years old. To keep our large friends in good health, make sure they are given well balanced meals with high quality ingredients. A good diet in combination with regular exercise and regular visits to the vet will keep your dog in good health and hopefully increase their longevity.
There are some factors that are beyond the control of the pet owner. Some inherited illnesses and diseases that are common in some breeds should be monitored by the breeder and hopefully will be disclosed to you when you are inquiring about selecting a puppy from a breeder. Hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy and hypothyroidism are just three of the inherited diseases some large breed dogs may encounter. Do your research and find out what diseases are most common in the breed of dog you are interested in. Then find an informed reputable breeder that is working on improving the breed.
Spayed and neutered animals tend to live longer then unaltered animals. Altered animals tend not to roam as much and appear to have a reduced risk of some cancers. The age of the animal at the time of neutering should be well thought out and discussed with your breeder and vet. It was considered appropriate at one time to neuter your animal between the ages of six and nine months. Now after many studies it has been brought forth that dogs in sports or competitions should not be neutered until after they reach one year of age. Also other studies have been released that states some cancer and diseases may be linked to having your animal neutered. Which is correct? No one can say definitely which the correct answer is until further studies have been done. As long as there are statistics there will be conflicting information regarding any subject. You as a pet owner/guardian need to ask questions of the breeder and vet and make decisions that you feel are in your pet’s best interest.
The average life expectancy of a dog weighing between 120 and 150 pounds has been shown to be between 8 and 10 years. Of course this is just general and in no way can be taken for fact. I’ve know 5 Rottweilers who have died at six years of age and a 150 pound Lab that lived to 13 years of age. We can strive to give our large dogs plenty of love, food and exercise and just hope we have them around for many years of enjoyment.
Jim McKiel lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Doris and their pet family members Buddy and Buster. They have devoted their lives to the betterment of pet ownership. For more information, visit Large Breed Family Dogs