Live Expectancy Of Dogs & Cats

7 September 2016
“How long do dogs live?” is commonly Googled by people who think they might like a pet. Here we address the dog life expectancy of certain breeds, and also the life expectancy for cats.

Committing to a pet is a lifetime thing. When you take a cat or a dog into your household, you are solely responsible for that animal’s physical and mental wellbeing for the rest of its life. But don’t let that put you off! It is usually a joyous time, and pets add so much richness to our lives, from helping us stay fit and healthy, to helping us make friends and improving our mental health, and even turning the office into a more relaxed workspace. And as you know, the staff at Canstar loves their dogs and cats.

How long does a dog live?

The average dog life expectancy varies by breed, and we’ll discuss a few breeds in detail below, but in general, a dog who weighs a healthy weight (less than 10kg / 20 pounds) can live for an average of 11 years. A dog who weighs over 40 kg (90 pounds) can expect to live for an average of 8 years (PetMD).

As for a few specific breeds people commonly ask about:

  • How long do German Shepherds live? 9 – 14 years
  • How long do Poodles live? 12 – 15 years
  • How long does a Labrador live? 10 – 14 years
  • How long do Bulldogs live? 8 -10 years
  • How long do Rottweilers live? 8 -10 years
  • How long do Terriers live? Depends on the type of terrier. Life expectancies range from 9-12 for a Bull Terrier up to 12-18 years for a Miniature Fox Terrier.

What about different sizes of dogs? The size of a pooch definitely makes a difference to how long a dog can live:

  • How long do small dogs live? 10 – 13 years
  • How long do large dogs live? 8 – 10 years
  • How long do giant dogs live? 5 – 8 years

To find out why certain breeds are more or less expensive to insure as they age, we’ve summarised the common health problems you can expect for different breeds here. Choosing what type of dog you want for your family? Here’s a fun quiz to help you pick…

How long does a cat live?

12 to 18 years, according to the Adelaide Animal Hospital. Cats live an average of over 15 years, and some cats live to over 20 years. As of May 2016, the oldest cat still living is a Siamese cat called Scooter, who is 30 years old, living in Mansfield, Texas.

Guiness Book of World Records: Scooter the Siamese cat
Image source: Guiness Book of World Records, Scooter the Siamese cat, courtesy of owner Gail Floyd –

Can you protect pets for their whole life?

Most policies will let you join up to a certain age, e.g. 8 years old. After that age, you will want to already be insured, otherwise your pet may only be able to get Accident Only insurance that will not cover the various ailments associated with ageing pets.

And as we’ve written about before, pet insurance costs more for older dogs than it does for younger puppies, and the same is true for older cats.

Help to cover the lifelong cost of pet ownership

Pets aren’t free – and the stats show people spend about the same on their pet whether they have a cat or a dog, at around $1,000 per year.

What’s the big cost? The sad fact is that veterinary expenses continue to rise, and this can make treatment for routine matters or the unexpected emergency a burden on your budget.

That’s why Pet Insurance is there to fill the gap. There are three levels of pet cover, and you should choose the level that may best suit your pet’s needs and your financial situation. Find out more about the types of pet insurance here.

In brief though, the three levels of pet insurance are:

Accident Only cover

This level of insurance covers harm or injuries caused by an accident, such as car accidents, burns, and snake bites. Pet owners should be aware that the policy may not pay on all types of accidents, particularly if preventative measures haven’t been used. And injuries due to a pre-existing medical condition are another common exclusion.

Lifestage of a pet: Accident Only is appropriate when a pet is young and prone to accidents, but is not yet at risk of many age- or breed-related diseases.

Accident & Illness cover

Accident and Illness insurance covers the accidents previously mentioned, and also provides cover for sickness or disease diagnosed by a vet. Examples of coverage available include cancer, infectious diseases, hereditary conditions and skin conditions. Pet owners should be aware that there are some common exclusions with this level of cover as well, including pre-existing conditions and diseases where there is a known vaccine.

Lifestage of a pet: Accident & Illness is often appropriate during the adulthood of a pet, when it is at mild risk of accidents and the usual age- or breed-related diseases.

Comprehensive cover

This level of insurance covers for accidents and illness as mentioned above, and also includes a component of insurance for routine care. This provides pets with access to some preventive health treatments. Examples of coverage available include behavioural therapy, de-sexing, dental and vaccinations.

Lifestage of a pet: Comprehensive is appropriate when a pet is an adult heading into their ageing years. Pet owners need to sign up for comprehensive policies before their pets are too old, as you can’t get coverage over a certain age, commonly 8 years old. Owners also need to sign up before their pet is demonstrating symptoms of pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, etc., otherwise they won’t benefit from being covered for such conditions.

To find out which policy offers outstanding value to you and your four-legged pal, Canstar regularly compares 84 policies from 20 providers to determine which ones offer outstanding value for pet owners of cats and dogs of varying breeds and ages. Our research will help you make a shopping list of suitable pet insurance policies to check out further.

You can read more about it in our star ratings report or compare policies on our website:

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