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How Long Will Dogs, Cats, and Other Creatures Live?

Do You Want a Pet That Lives a Long Time?

This is a question you should consider seriously before you adopt any animal. Getting a pet is not a light decision to make, so you’ll need to be very realistic about how much time you can commit. 

When choosing a pet, it’s smart to consider how long it will likely live. Look at the list below to see the average lifespans of common pets.

How Long Do Pets Live?

Type of PetAverage Life Expectancy (In Captivity)Additional Info
Small Dog (under 20 lbs)13 yearsChihuahuas often live 12-20 years. 
Medium Dog (20-89 lbs)11 yearsAn Australian cattle dog holds the record of oldest dog at 29 years.
Large Dog (over 90 lbs)8 yearsSpayed or neutered dogs live longer.
Indoor-Only Cat12-18 yearsThe oldest recorded cat lived to be 28 years old!
Cat Who Lives Outside All the Time2-5 yearsOutdoor cats are more exposed to illness and accident.
Goldfish5-10 yearsThe oldest captive goldfish lived 43 years!
Betta Fish2 yearsThe world’s oldest specimen is 10 years old.
Neon Tetra5 yearsA ten-year-old tetra is not uncommon. In general, larger types of fish have longer life expectancies than smaller types.
Koi25-35 yearsThe oldest koi on record lived 226 years!
Budgie/Parakeet5-8 yearsBudgies are prone to tumors. The oldest lived 29 years.
Cockatiel16-25 yearsThe oldest recorded cockatiel lived 36 years.
Large ParrotMacaws: 50 years Cockatoos: 65 yearsOne cockatoo lived 82 years. Charlie, a blue macaw born in 1899, is still alive!
Hamster2-3 yearsThe oldest hamster on record lived 4.5 years.
Guinea Pig4-8 years14 years is the longest recorded lifespan.
Rabbit or Bunny7-10 yearsOldest rabbit lived 14 years. Larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, and those that live outside die sooner.
Rat2 yearsWild and store-bought “feeder” rats tend to die sooner than “fancy” types. Oldest lived 7 years.
Mouse1-2 yearsMice are social and live longer with other mice. The oldest specimen lived almost 5 years!
Ferret5-9 yearsOldest ferrets live from 14 to 15 years. If you wait until the ferret is mature to spay/neuter, the animal may live longer.
Snake9 years average. Largest types can live up to 40 years.Some snakes fare better in the wild than in captivity. One ball python lived 48 years.
LizardSmallest live 3-5 years; Largest live up to 20.Many lizards live longer in the wild. Oldest bearded dragon lived 14 years; the oldest tuarara lived over 100 years.
Gecko6-10 yearsMales tend to outlive females. The oldest captive leopard gecko lived to 27. Geckos may live longer in the wild.
Turtle/Tortoise40-50 yearsMany captive turtles don’t get the care they need to live full lives. Oldest tortoise on record lived 225 years.
Chicken8-10 yearsChickens thrive in groups, but pecking order may influence lifespan. Oldest recorded lived to 15.
Horse or Pony25-33 yearsPonies tend to live longer than horses. The oldest horse ever recorded was 52 years old.

Choosing a Pet for Life

There are several factors to consider when choosing a type of pet.

  • Kids. If you have children, lifespan is an important consideration. It might be difficult for them to get attached to a pet only to lose it after a short time. On the other hand, maybe you want to choose a pet that only lasts until the kids go off to college!
  • Attention span. If you are the faithful, tenacious, dogged type, making a 30 year commitment won’t be hard. But if you know that you tend to get distracted or lose interest quickly, you should avoid adopting a long-lived pet.
  • Lifestyle. Pets need consistency. If you travel often or can’t be pinned down to a steady schedule, then many of these pets are not for you.
  • Housing considerations. Most animals’ lives depend on specific environmental requirements (a yard, a pen, an open window…). You might not be able to ensure consistency if you rent or move often.
  • Financial considerations. When you take a pet on, you commit to taking care of them financially for life. The longer a pet lives, the larger financial burden it will be.
  • The last years can be the hardest. Old age brings complications and visits to the vet, so you should expect your pet’s last years to be the most challenging.