The dog breed that lives the longest

From the moment you first rescue a dog, whether they're a spirited young pup or an older rescue, they become part of your family. When you come home, they'll run to greet you. They'll adorably tilt their heads when they're curious about what you're doing. When the kids are playing, they'll join the game. And of course, whenever you're sad, a dog will stay right next to you, until you feel better. Because of all this affection, it's easy to see why humans and dogs have evolved so closely together throughout the centuries. One terrible factor that separates these two close-knit species, though, is lifespan. While a human being often sails to three-quarters of a century before the Grim Reaper catches up, many canines barely live past a decade before they become plagued by a heartbreaking number of health problems.

Most people know that small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs, but if you're trying to find a canine companion who will stay by your side a little longer than others, which breed should you turn to? Are the rumors about poodles true? 

As it happens, there's one particular breed of doggo that's known to keep chasing squirrels for more years than most, and you might've never heard of them... 

Meet the Schipperke, the longest-living dogs in the world

Standing thirteen inches tall and resembling little black foxes, these Belgian "little captains" are small, powerful canines originally bred to catch rats, according to the American Kennel Club. Shipperkes are energetic dogs, requiring a decent amount of exercise and a high quality diet, but if given a healthy, happy life with a good family, they've been known to have wonderfully long lifespans. According to research conducted by 24/7 Wall St., based on data retrieved from Paul Jones' 2008 study "Single-Nucleotide-Polymorphism-Based Association Mapping of Dog Stereotypes," these intelligent black canines have been known to live for 17 years (!) ... which in dog-time is, well, an eternity. That's long enough that you could conceivably adopt a schipperke while your kid is a toddler, and still have them kicking around by the time the same kid graduates high school. Amazing.

Keep in mind, just because many schipperkes can live that long doesn't mean yours will, just as it doesn't mean that your beloved Pomeranian absolutely won't make it to the same age. As with humans, the great trifecta of lifestyle, genetics, and environment all come into play, and there are many variables. Mutts, for example, often live longer than purebreds. Also, the oldest dog to ever live, according to the Guinness World Records, was not a schipperke, but rather, one of those super-smart Australian cattle-dogs. That particular dog, whose name was Bluey, lived for 29 years. 

Naturally, most of the runner-ups on the list of longest-lived breeds were found to be various types of poodle. C'mon, you knew poodles were going to be up there, right?