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Home > Dogs > 22 Healthiest Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

22 Healthiest Dog Breeds (With Pictures)


We all want our dogs to stay healthy, but many factors influence a dog’s lifespan and quality of life. Some are genetic, for which pre-breeding screening is the best way to reduce their effects through early detection. Other elements involve preventive health care, diet, and rearing. Understanding the mental component is also essential. After all, stress and fearfulness can affect your pet as easily as they can affect you.

The breeds in our list are based on a study published in Canine Medicine and Genetics. The researchers focused on inbreeding as a significant influence on dog health. It occurs in all breeds to some degree. However, it also increases traits that may affect mortality and overall well-being. We considered the breeds with greater numbers in the sample size to present the most robust data.


How Are Healthy Breeds Classified?

Inbreeding and its effect on health status was the primary consideration for the entries in our list. We also looked at the impact on lost dog years to quantify these findings. The confounding factors include accurate reporting, which we encountered when looking at owner-reported data, specifically with the breed and the animal’s medical history.

Dogs are an anomaly among animals. Usually, large animals are more long-lived than small ones. Think of the less-than-1-year lifespan of the deer mouse versus the 60 years that an African bush elephant can live in the wild. However, generally, small dogs live longer than giant dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound, which lives 6–8 years. That’s evident in our list, and activity levels and the animal’s job are other vital factors.

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The 20 Healthiest Dog Breeds

1.  Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz on the swamp
Image Credit: rodimov, Shutterstock
Height: 15.5–20 inches
Weight: 20–33 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 13–15 years

The Finnish Spitz is a stocky yet energetic pup that loves their family and readily shows affection. It’s an ancient breed with spitz-like traits. People have selectively bred them as hunting dogs. It’s taken a while for others outside of the breed’s native land to recognize this breed. This was a godsend since it prevented inbreeding and its health risks. The American Kennel Club (AKC) even recognized the breed in 1991.

2. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound_Shutterstock_Maxim_ka
Image Credit: Maxim_ka, Shutterstock
Height: 19.5–20.5 inches
Weight: 48–55 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Norwegian Elkhound is part of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Group 5, Spitz and primitive types. The cited study identified dogs in this category as having the lowest average morbidity. The test of time and the existence of the breed are proof. This pup is prominent in Viking history and Norse mythology, and they are hard-working and loyal companions.

3. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell terrier want to play waiting when you throw a toy
Image Credit: Iryna Kalamurza, Shutterstock
Height: 10–12 inches
Weight: 9–15 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Jack Russell Terrier embodies two traits associated with longevity in dogs: activity and sociability. This pup is a fearless hunter, going after prey larger than them. The breed’s origin is England. However, Australian enthusiasts have since selectively bred the dog to the current standard.

4. Border Collie

border collie dog ready to jump high to catch flying disk
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock
Height: 18–22 inches
Weight: 30–55 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Border Collie is a testament to canine intelligence, having been identified as the smartest breed. Its history goes back to the Vikings and Romans, who selectively bred this pup to be the agile and hard-working herder that they are today. They are affectionate pets with boundless energy, making them ideal dogs for families with children or those who need a working dog.

5. Siberian Husky

a young male siberian husky dog sitting on grass
Image Credit: Rabinger Photography, Shutterstock
Height: 20–23.5 inches
Weight: 35–60 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Siberian Husky is full of energy. That explains their job as sled dogs, with a history that goes back roughly 9,500 years. The breed is also a part of the FCI Group 5. These pups are well-adapted to hard work and endurance. Their superior adaptability allows these dogs to take on strenuous tasks like sled racing.

6. Mixed Breeds

whipador or labrador whippet mixed breed dog on blue background
Image Credit: Foonia, Shutterstock
Height: Varies
Weight: Varies
Activity Level: Varies
Life Expectancy: 13–15 years

The mixed breed’s place on our list isn’t surprising when you consider the role of inbreeding. It’s likely not as much of a factor with these pups. That can mean less necessary veterinary care and a lower frequency of congenital and hereditary conditions that could shorten an animal’s life. They made up the highest number of pets in the sample size.

7. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher in the snow
Image Credit: Eldergeek, Pixabay
Height: 10–12.5 inches
Weight: 8–10 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12–16 years

The Miniature Pinscher is a German native but with no relation to the Doberman Pinscher despite their similar appearance. However, this pup has all the confidence and swag of a larger dog, even if they are only a fraction of their size. They are intelligent animals that need a job to be mentally fit. A distinguishing trait of this breed is their unique, high-stepping gait.

8. Chihuahua

Cute brown Chihuahua running inn the grass
Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock
Height: 5–8 inches
Weight: Under 6 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 14–16 years

The Chihuahua acts like a dog much larger than it actually is. They are affectionate and protective of their owners. They are also quite vocal and not as keen to meet strangers as other pups. The breed’s history goes back hundreds of years. Perhaps all that spoiling and attention accounts for the animal’s long lifespan and feisty personality.

9. Collie

Brushing Brown Border Collie
Image Credit: Alona Slostina, Shutterstock
Height: 22–26 inches
Weight: 50–75 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Collie’s history goes back thousands of years to Scotland and a royal patron in Queen Victoria. The breed is a herding dog, which influences their personality. They are protective over their families and do well with children. They are intelligent animals that are eager to please. Like our previous entry, this pooch also seems to always have something to say.

10. Border Terrier

closeup border terrier
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay
Height: 12–15 inches
Weight: 11.5–15.5 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Border Terrier has a big personality like most of their kind. Historically, this dog hunted foxes, helping their owners by flushing them from their hiding places. This dog is well-suited to this task because of their tenacity and fearlessness. The breed’s coat is thick and weather-resistant to keep the animal warm while roaming and working.

11. Dachshund (Standard)

chocolate and cream dachshund
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock
Height: 8–9 inches
Weight: 16–32 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12–16 years

The Dachshund’s short stance is the result of a genetic mutation. However, that didn’t affect this pup’s ability to make themselves useful as badger hunters. This dog has all the grit, intelligence, and adaptability to succeed, even if they’re battling animals up to twice their size. This job has given this pooch the swagger and tough-guy attitude of a much larger canine.

12. Havanese

Teacup Havanese puppy portrait
Image Credit: Evan Linnell Shutterstock
Height: 8.5–11.5 inches
Weight: 7–13 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 14–16 years

History has often played a role in a breed’s development. The Havanese is a perfect example of enthusiasts coming to the rescue of this cute pup during Fidel Castro’s revolution. Nevertheless, the breed left its mark on the Cuban people, who made this pooch the country’s national dog. The AKC recognized the pup in 1996, and they have already soared to the 25th most popular breed.

13. Papillon

groomer blowing dry the hair of a papillon dog
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock
Height: 8–11 inches
Weight: 5–10 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 14–16 years

The Papillon is another example of the good life and health of toy and companion breeds. They are friendly dogs that will get along with anyone, including children. The breed has hobnobbed with royalty and celebrities through the years, including Marie Antoinette and Rembrandt.

Fun fact: The breed name refers to the dog’s butterfly-like ears.

14. Shih Tzu

gray and white havanese shih tzu mixed breed dog standing on the grass
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock
Height: 9–10.5 inches
Weight: 9–16 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 10–18 years

The Shih Tzu is a sweetheart of a pet, lavishing love and attention on their family. This pup is the only brachycephalic breed on our list. They are dogs with short snouts that often leave the animals vulnerable to respiratory and other health conditions. This pooch defies the odds as one of the most long-lived. The breed’s adaptability and charming personality undoubtedly help its cause.

15. Basenji

brindle basenji dog standing on the grass
Image Credit: Tikhomirov Sergey, Shutterstock
Height: 16–17 inches
Weight: 22–24 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 13–14 years

The Basenji’s claim to fame is their barking—or lack of it. They have their own unique vocalization. They also have the distinction of being one of the oldest known breeds and part of the FCI Group 5. The breed originated in Africa, with isolation being a benefit because of a lack of inbreeding. Basenjis probably haven’t changed much through the ages. Why spoil a good thing?

16. Poodle (Toy and Miniature)

poodle teddy dog playing outdoors
Image Credit: w583254846, Shutterstock
Height: No more than 10 inches; Miniature: 10–15 inches
Weight: 4–6 pounds; Miniature: 10–15 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 10–18 years

The Poodle is so popular that there are three official size classes. The breed originated in Germany, where enthusiasts selectively bred the dog to flush waterfowl. The smaller pups have all the energy and intelligence of their larger cousin. Mental stimulation is vital for these dogs to safeguard their well-being and improve their quality of life.

17. Shetland Sheepdog

tricolor shetland sheepdog
Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock
Height: 13–16 inches
Weight: 15–25 pounds
Activity Level: Moderately high
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Shetland Sheepdog is everyone’s best friend. This dog is affectionate and playful. They are also intelligent animals, nurtured by their role as herders. Shelties are hardy dogs, a necessary trait in their native land.

18. Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer dogs in wooden bench
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock
Height: 12–14 inches
Weight: 11–20 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Miniature Schnauzer is another multi-class breed. Although not a part of their name, this pup is every bit a terrier. They are intelligent and easy to train. They are also outgoing for a dog of their size. You wouldn’t know it from their personality. The breed’s larger counterpart was an all-purpose farm dog. This dog’s job was catching rats, of which they succeeded admirably.

19. Cairn Terrier

Portrait of a cairn terrier on a dog walk
Image Credit: Francesca Leslie, Shutterstock
Height: 9.5–10 inches
Weight: 13–14 pounds
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 13–15 years

The Cairn Terrier is another pup selectively bred to control rodent populations. That made them invaluable to farmers. This job made these dogs intelligent and independent. The breed gets its name from the places these dogs would search to find their quarry. Of course, it’s probably best known for the pup’s role in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz.

20. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog in the yard
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock
Height: 17–20 inches
Weight: 35–50 pounds
Activity Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12–16 years

The Australian Cattle Dog held a unique record that puts this pup squarely on our list. Until February 1, 2023, this breed included the oldest living dog, only to be outdone by Bobi, a Portuguese canine that lived to be 31 years and 165 days. Bluey, the previous titleholder, lived to be 29 years and 5 months. Enthusiasts have selectively bred the Australian Cattle Dogs to be tough. Their job herding livestock demanded a pooch up to the task.



Several common themes appeared in our list. Inbreeding and the negative effects of selective breeding top it. That explains the absence of many brachycephalic dogs. We’ve also seen the consequences of breeds having jobs that keep them mentally and physically fit. Genetics plays a role in obesity that accounts for the absence of the Golden Retriever and Pug.

The takeaway is that health care, diet, and exercise are essential for your pup’s—and your—good health. These factors underscore the serious responsibility of pet ownership and what it entails.

Featured Image Credit: BMJ, Shutterstock

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