Large dog breeds have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs. They actually age quicker than smaller breeds. This is because their large size puts bigger strain on physiological processes, making them "wear out" faster. According to a study published in The American Naturist (The Size–Life Span Trade-Off Decomposed: Why Large Dogs Die Young, April 2013), every increase in weight by 4.4 pounds, will decrease the life span with a month.
A healthy, large dog might still outlive its fellows of the same breed. There are three factors that will influence how long a dog might live: Its genes, its environment, and avoiding disease.
In this article we'll leave the genes alone, and focus on the the other two factors we actually can influence. Our goal should never be just to give our dogs a longer lifespan, but to give them this through a healthy and happy life.
Just like any one of us, a dogs health will improve with exercise. And as a pet parent, you are their biggest motivator to get "off the couch"! Each breed was made for a different purpose, like hunting, protecting or herding. Not to lay asleep in a bed 12 hours a day while their owners are at work. You owe it to them to give them a fair shot here.
Regular exercise will not only give health benefits, but can also help eliminate other unwanted behaviors like chewing, barking, and other mischief. Health benefits include reduced weight, stronger muscles, better sleep, less tummy trouble and so on.
Before changing your dogs routines, you should read up on how much, and what kind of exercise is recommended for your breed. Don't change routines dramatically overnight. This will increase chance of injury. You can always consult your vet.
Walks are the obvious choice for exercise, and as long as you give your dog a 30 minute walk every day, you're already off to a great start. In addition to a walk, you need to get some aerobic exercise in as well. Anything that will get your pup panting. Like running, swimming, jumping, fetching a ball or stick, to name some. Give them room and time to run a bit off leash to burn some energy and win some fitness.
When walking your dog in the dark, be sure to have the right gear to stay safe. Check out our tips on walking your dog in the dark.
Food and eating
Closely connected with exercise is what (and how much!) your pup eats. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is very important if you want to give your dog a long and healthy life.
An overweight dog might suffer from a whole range of diseases, like diabetes, joint problems, cancer, heart problems, mobility problems and many more.
Study feeding guidelines for both your breed and the brand of dog food you use. There are several great brands of dog food that will give your dog all the nutrition it needs from its food. As your dog grows older, you might need to consider changing to another brand or type of food if its waistline starts growing. Or reduce the amount you give them.
Knowing how much food you give each meal is essential. That is the only way you can make proper adjustmunts. With lower activity, you should also dispense lower amounts of food.
If your dog's getting a bit chubby, hold back on treats.
The saying "you can't teach an old dog a new trick" just isn't accurate. Because you can! Keeping the mind sharp might also be a great way to help keeping both their brain and body younger.
Find some games or toys that will mentally stimulate your dog. We've put together a list of the Best Brain Toys for Large Breed Dogs here. Why not try one today?
Some think the strong relationships that often forms between dogs and humans, forms because the dogs see the humans as a surrogate pack leader. Packs give the individual dog safety, thus reduces its stress levels.
We describe our dogs as family members, and this companionship is mutually beneficial. The dog will pick up on your mood and other signals, and respond to this. Likewise, when you've formed this bond, you can also pick up on small signals and subtle changes in behavior in your dog. This may help you identify any concerns regarding your dogs health a lot earlier than without this close bond.
Spend time with your dog doing different things to really get to know each other: training, exercising, playing, sleeping, cuddling, - basically anything, as long as you spend quality time together.
This relationship will also benefit you with stress relief and exercise! There's no better mood-lifter than your dog!
Visit the vet!
You know your dog better than anyone. When you notice or think something's different - it probably is! Not all different is bad different, but with your close relationship you'll know which is which.
Veterinary medicine have vastly improved in both preventing and treating health issues for dogs in the last couple of decades. Regular health checks will help you identify potential health threats at an early and treatable stage, so that you can avoid issues and illnesses that can cause pain and negatively impact your dogs life and health.
Hope you found some of these tips and thoughts useful. What is your secret tricks for giving your dogs a long and healthy life?