Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs: Who Lives Longer?

In the canine battle of the sexes, which gender lives the longest? Research finds that spayed female dogs live the longest—but not by much.

Mar 21, 2024By Jessica Montes
male dogs vs female dogs who lives longer

Do female dogs or male canines have longer lifespans? It’s a debated topic among pet enthusiasts and scientists alike, and today, we’ll review the data and discuss tips for extending your pup’s lifespan.

There Isn’t One Clear Answer on Who Lives Longer

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Photo by: Anna Shvets

Answering this question is not as simple as naming one gender, especially since veterinarians categorize dogs into four genders:

  • Intact males
  • Neutered males
  • Intact females
  • Spayed females

Neutered and intact pups are split into separate groups because the procedures have side effects for both genders. Previous research studied the lifespans of either the two female groups or the male groups, but all four were not examined in one study.

Research by Hoffman et al. published in The Journals of Gerontology took up the challenge in 2018. They studied two databases from different countries. The North American one recorded the ages for 80,900 canines at the time of death while the United Kingdom’s data included 5,095 deceased pups.

A Study Revealed Some Interesting Findings

Photo by: Tina Nord

The researchers discovered that intact males live a few months longer than intact females in the American data, and they have nearly identical lifespans in the UK study. However, in both studies, neutered females lived a few months longer than neutered males. The two databases also reveal that neutered and spayed dogs live one to two years more than intact canines.

Other key findings include the cause of death. Regardless of whether they were spayed, female dogs were more likely to die from cancer or diabetes. On the other hand, both groups of males had a greater risk of dying from trauma.

What Dog Owners Should Know

Dog birthday
Photo by: Sam Lion

Above all, these results show the importance of neutering and spaying your pets. Getting them “fixed” can let them see one or two more birthdays and add another two years of joy to your life. This is partly due to the reduced risk of mammary tumors and uterine infections in females and the decrease in prostate problems and some cancers in males.

Other benefits of neutering include preventing unwanted litters. The Shelter Animals Count website shares that in the United States, about three million dogs enter the shelter system each year. While two-thirds of these are adopted, 390,000 dogs are euthanized each year. Neutering can decrease the number of dogs in shelters, save countless pups from early deaths, and increase adoption rates.

If you have an intact puppy, talk to a vet about the best age to perform the procedure.

Other Ways to Help Extend Your Dog’s Life

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Photo by: Samson Katt

There isn’t a magic way to extend your pup’s life, but these three tips can make them happier and healthier into their senior years:

  • We cannot stress the importance of diet and weight management. Dog obesity is one of the most preventable health issuesfor pets, and it reflects a dog’s eating and exercise habits. Too much food with little play can add pounds to your dog’s waistline. Just like humans, this can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and a shorter life.
  • Portion your dog’s food to match their size and keep treats as special occasion foods.
  • Also, add a mix of fruits, veggies, and healthy options to your dog’s diet. Foods like sweet potato, kale, carrots, pumpkin, and eggs are some of the best, healthiest additions to your dog’s meals. You can also give fruit in moderation as a sweet treat.

Keep Your Dog Active to Promote Longevity

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Photo by: Skyler Ewing

Another great way to ensure your dog has a happy life is with daily exercise. Each breed has its own energy levels, and the exercise demands vary between puppies, adults, and senior dogs. Do your research, speak with a breeder, or consult a vet about how much physical activity your doggo needs. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day, but keep in mind that some breeds, such as the high-energy Australian Cattle Dog, will likely need closer to two hours of play.

Take the word “exercise” loosely and think of anything that gets your pup moving. It can be walking, running, swimming, hiking, or your preferred outdoor activity. You can take them to play with others at a dog park, toss a frisbee in your backyard, or even walk up and down the stairs a few times.

Regular Physical Exams Are Important

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Photo by: Gustavo Fring

You can monitor diet, weight, and fitness, but other exams are best left to the professionals. Set up annual wellness visits with your vet. They can check a dog’s overall health, and you can raise any concerns with them. Stay informed of breed-specific diseases as well, and request any preventative testing that can detect abnormal symptoms.

For example, screen for bone cancer if you have an Irish Wolfhound, or have your Basset Hound’s lower body checked for signs of hip dysplasia and loss of joint function. You can also give your pup an at-home DNA and health test through websites like Embark. Even if your pup has an increased risk or does develop a health condition, early detection can give them a longer, more comfortable life.

Breeds With the Longest Lives

Lhasa Apso
Photo by: Alexas Fotos

No worries if you are looking for a furry friend who will be with you for at least 10 years. In that case, you’ll want to consider adopting a neutered male or female that belongs to a breed with the longest lifespan (or have them fixed when they are old enough.) Not surprisingly, the pups with the most candles on their birthday cakes are small varieties. These include:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Shih Tzu
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Toy Manchester Terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Papillions

Yorkshire Terriers, also called Yorkies, live well into their teens and can make it to 16 through 20 years old. Toy Poodles can be your loving, hypoallergenic pet for 14 to 20 years as well.

The Bottom Line About Dogs’ Lifespans

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Photo by: Anna Shvets

Studies suggest that neutered females live the longest, but there are other factors to consider. Diet, weight management, breed-specific illnesses, and physical activity are just as important. Regardless of gender or breed, it's up to responsible pet parents to give our furry friends the best shot at a long, healthy life.

Jessica Montes
By Jessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.