Smiling Cattle Dog.

The Longest Living Australian Dog Breeds

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

How long do dogs live? Too short! With the average dog lifespan being somewhere around 11 years (1), it always feels a bit scary to think about the end of your pup’s life.

Interestingly, most dog breeds that originate from Australia tend to live longer than the average. These are the longest-living Australian dog breeds:

#1 Koolie

Koolie dog.

The Koolie, sometimes referred to as the Australian Koolie or the German Coolie, is one of the most amazing Australian breeds. Coincidentally, they are also some of the longest-living dogs native to Australia.

The Koolie is first and foremost, a working dog. It's one of the best and most capable working dog breeds in the world. Koolies were bred from working dogs imported to Australia from Britain during the 19th century (probably collies).

Interestingly, there is a lot of diversity among Koolies, and they can look quite different from one another. That’s because they were bred for their working dog abilities, and not the looks, which resulted in different-looking dogs in almost every region in Australia.

Perhaps because of this high level of adaptation to their regional environment, Koolies also live quite long. According to some reposts, the median life expectancy of a Koolie is 15 years, with anecdotal evidence of many dogs living beyond 18 years of age.

#2 Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog.

The Australian Cattle Dog is truly a wonder dog. They are not only very beautiful but also very clever, loyal and capable working dogs. On top of that, they also tend to live quite long!

The usual lifespan of an Australian Cattle Dog is somewhere between 12 and 16 years (2). This is considerably longer than the average lifespan of similar-sized dogs which is 11 to 13 years.

If the name Australian Cattle Dog sounds unfamiliar, you might know these pups under the name of Blue Heeler. This is, in fact, the same breed and the name Blue Heeler comes from the “blue” coloured coats some ACDs have. The blue is actually a mix of black and white hairs, characteristic of the breed.

By the way, an ACD named Bluey holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest dog ever, having lived 29.5 years. There are also some anecdotal reports of ACDs living even longer, but this is far from typical for the breed. 

#3 Kelpie

Australian Kelpie.

Here is another Australian breed whose member holds an age record! Maggie, a Kelpie from Victoria, died in 2016 at the ripe old age of (almost) 30 (3). Maggie is not in the Guinness book of records because the owner reportedly lost the paperwork confirming her birth date, but she was definitely an old broad!

The average lifespan of Kelpies is between 12 and 15 years. Not 30, but still quite long!

Named after the shape-shifting spirits of Celtic folklore, Kelpies are medium-sized agile and energetic dogs. They come in all sorts of colours, from white and gold to blue to black. Originally used as working dogs, Kelpies also make loyal and affectionate companions as pets, providing that they get enough activity.

There are various stories about the origin of the Kelpie, and some claim their ancestors were collies and Dingoes. However, the genetic studies conducted so far haven’t conclusively confirmed nor denied this claim (4, 5)

#4 Miniature Fox Terrier

Mini Foxie.

Miniature Fox Terriers have been bred and loved in Australia since the 19th century. Colloquially known as Mini Foxies, these dogs were developed to be hunting dogs and vermin chasers, but these days they make wonderful pets too.

Fearless and brave (especially when dealing with vermin) as well as loyal, these little dogs don’t only have a strong character, but also a strong physique. They are considered a very healthy breed and rarely suffer from any serious health issues. As a result, they also tend to live quite long.

While there are no official statistics, there are many reports of Mini Foxies living up to 20 years.

Interestingly, a ‘cousin’ breed of the Mini Foxie, a Toy Fox Terrier from the USA, set the Guinness World Record this year for oldest living dog at 22 years and 59 days of age (6).

#5 Silky Terrier

Silky Terrier.

Here is another little star in this longest living list: the Australian Silky Terrier. According to a study from 2010, the median life expectancy of a Silky Terrier is 14.25 years, which is exceptionally high (7). The study was conducted on a sample of dogs living in the UK, but there is no reason we should expect Silkies in Australia to not live as long. While smaller breeds do tend to live longer than larger ones, the Silky is still at the top of the list.

Just like most Australian dog breeds, the Silky has ancestors from Great Britain, which is why it’s closely related to the Yorkie. Although it’s bigger than the Yorkie, the Silky Terrier is still a very small breed, being less than 30 cm tall.

As the name suggests, Silkies have a wonderful silky coat and make for great pets, affectionate and playful.

What Determines the Lifespan of a Dog?

No matter which dog you choose as your companion, you can never really know how long your dog would live. Unfortunate accidents aside, there are always all sorts of exceptions to statistical rules. For example, the average human lifespan is currently just under 73 years, but many live much longer or shorter than that.

Some regularities are hard to deny, though, when it comes to the life expectancy of dogs. Small dogs, in general, tend to live longer than larger dogs. But also, crossbreed dogs tend to live considerably longer and healthier lives than many purebred dogs. Truth be told, the increased longevity is probably not related to being a “purebred” or a “mutt”, but rather to the diversity of a dog’s genetic heritage, but either way - mutts tend to have long lives too!

Many factors can influence the longevity of a dog, but it’s hard to deny that dogs that are well taken care of live longer. A good diet, a happy home, and a healthy diet can all extend a dog’s life. And with all that taken into consideration, it makes sense to give a second chance of living a healthy and happy life to a rescue dog.

Contrary to popular belief, you can often find exactly the type of dog you are looking for from shelters and rescue groups. If that’s something you might consider, you can start by browsing the RSPCA Adopt a Pet platform, or look for a rescue organization in your area.


  1. CBS Miami. April 29, 2022. “New Study Reveals Dog Life Expectancy By Breed”. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  2. “Australian Cattle Dog”. AKC. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  3. Sweeney, L April 20, 2016. “World's oldest dog? Australian kelpie Maggie dies after 30 years on a dairy farm”. ABC News. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  4. Fowler, C. June 28, 2019. “Kelpie DNA study unravels mysterious origins of Australian working dog, but finds no dingo”. ABC News. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  5. “Dingo Involvement in the Kelpie”. The Working Kelpie Council of Australia. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  6. Gilbert, A. May 26, 2022. “Move over TobyKeith: Pebbles the Toy Fox Terrier named world's 6ldest living dog at 22”. USA Today. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  7. Adams, V.J., Evans, K.M., Sampson, J. and Wood, J.L.N., 2010. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(10), pp.512-524.

Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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