Top 3 Smallest Dog Breeds With The Shortest Lifespan (Under 10 lbs)

Are you curious which dog breeds are the smallest with the shortest life expectancy?

Here, I have three of the most miniature dog breeds, all under ten pounds, that have the shortest life expectancy when compared to other tiny breeds under ten pounds. Plus, I’ve included fact videos about each breed to help you learn more about these fantastic, fun-sized companion animals.

Let’s get started!

The Smallest Dog Breeds With The Shortest Life Expectancy

Here is a quick Peek at the dog breeds with the shortest lifespan:

  1. Japanese Chin – Life Expectancy 10 – 12 years
  2. English Toy Spaniels – Life Expectancy 10 – 12 years
  3. Yorkshire Terriers – Life Expectancy 11 – 15 years

Top 3 Smallest Dog Breeds With The Shortest Lifespan

Japanese Chin

The origin of the Japanese Chin is shrouded in mystery, although they are most commonly associated with Japan, as their name suggests. Despite this, historical artifacts indicate that the breed may have originated in China, bred by Chinese nobility, and later gifted to the Japanese Imperial family as a sign of diplomacy.

Japanese Chin

Small in stature, the Japanese Chin typically weighs under 10 lbs and is characterized by its distinctive Oriental expression. They were regarded as a symbol of royalty in Japan and were often seen in the company of Japanese nobles.

A breed known for its loving and gentle nature, the Japanese Chin, unfortunately, has a relatively short lifespan of 10-12 years.

Japanese Chin Traits & Characteristics
Average Life Span10 – 12 years
Height8 – 11 inches
Weight7 – 11 pounds
Japanese Chin Video

Watch this video about Japanese Chin breed facts.

English Toy Spaniels

The English Toy Spaniel, also known as the King Charles Spaniel, boasts a rich historical background. Originating in the United Kingdom, it is believed that these small lap dogs were the result of the selective breeding of larger spaniels, and they quickly found favor among the British nobility.

English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel

Their name is credited to King Charles II of England. In fact, he was often depicted in paintings with his beloved spaniels.

With a weight typically under 10 lbs, the English Toy Spaniel is known for its affectionate and playful nature and distinctive appearance with a dome-shaped head and long, silky fur. Despite their royal background and loyal companionship, they unfortunately have a short life expectancy, typically around 10-12 years.

English Toy Spaniel Traits & Characteristics
Average Life Span10 – 12 years
Height9 – 10 inches
Weight8 – 14 pounds
English Toy Spaniels Video

Watch this video about some cool English Toy Spaniel breed facts.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as the Yorkie, hails from the county of Yorkshire in England. Founded during the mid-19th century, the breed was initially developed by the working class, specifically weavers, to control rats in mills and coal mines. These small but determined dogs were perfect for chasing down and catching these pests.


However, their distinct appearance – their sleek, silky coat, compact size, and bold demeanor – soon caught the attention of the middle and upper classes. This shift in ownership led to their roles transforming from working dogs to companion pets.

Today’s Yorkies, weighing under 10 lbs, continue to retain their tenacity, courage, and elegance. Despite their small size and delicate appearance, Yorkshire Terriers unfortunately have a short life expectancy of typically around 11-15 years.

Yorkshire Terrier Traits & Characteristics
Average Life Span11 – 15 years
Height7 – 8 inches
Weight7 pounds
Yorkshire Terrier Video

Watch this video about some amazing Yorkshire Terrier breed facts.

Are you looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed who is cute and small? Check out this article – 15 Best Small & Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds Under 30 lbs (With Photos)

Common Small Breed Life Expectancy Questions

How long do small dogs usually live for?

According to the life expectancy data from the American Kennel Club, I’ve have concluded that dog breeds weighing under 10 pounds have an average “low-end” life expectancy of 12.38 years. I calculated this average using only the initial portion of the lifespan of each dog breed.

So as you can see the dog breeds in this article the Japanese Chin, English Toy Spaniel, and the Yorkie all have initials lifespans of 10 years, 10 years, and 11 years respectively. All falling short of the average.

You can see a complete chart of all the stats I used to derive these numbers here – All 201 Amazing Dog Breeds Ranked By Lifespan: Shortest to Longest!

Do small dogs live longer than large dog breeds?

Smaller dog breeds tend to enjoy a 41% longer lifespan compared to their larger counterparts (source). Moreover, a quick glance at this lifespan chart reveals that the top 25 dog breeds with the shortest lifespan are typically those weighing around 100 pounds. Conversely, at the bottom of the chart, you can see smaller breeds dominate the bottom 25 breeds in the table.

Can small dogs live for 20 years?

While relatively rare, some small dogs can indeed live up to 20 years or more. Breeds such as the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka have a lifespan range of 14 – 20 years.

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

How can I increase the longevity of my small dog?

Increasing the longevity of your small dog involves several crucial components.

  1. First and foremost, providing a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs is crucial. Consult with a veterinarian to select food options that ensure they’re receiving adequate vitamins, minerals, and protein for their size and breed.
  2. Regular exercise is also a key aspect for maintaining their health and agility. Small dogs still require regular physical activity, so ensure plenty of walks and playtime.
  3. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection and treatment of any potential health issues.
  4. Additionally, mental stimulation contributes to overall well-being, so engage your dog in activities that challenge their mind.
  5. Finally, good dental hygiene is often overlooked but is vital as dental disease can lead to serious health complications. Regular brushing and professional cleanings can go a long way in extending your pet’s life expectancy.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped you learn more about these tiny, short-lived pups. Remember, while these lifespan ranges are based on the reputation of the dog breed, they are not set in stone. Your tiny dog could live longer than this.

Want to know which dog breed has the longest lifespan? Check out this ranked list of every dog breed – All 201 Amazing Dog Breeds Ranked By Lifespan: Shortest to Longest!

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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