There are exceptions to these broad trends, and the findings may not apply to dogs outside Britain, where breeding practices – and gene pools – may be different, the researchers noted.
Further research will be needed to determine why some breeds have shorter lifespans than others. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to serious health problems, but differences in behavior, lifestyle, diet, environment, or other breed-related factors could also play a role in shortening lifespan. of some dogs, according to experts.
“Now that we have identified these populations who are at risk of dying prematurely, we can start to look at why,” said Kirsten McMillan, author of the new study and head of data at Dogs Trust, a British dog welfare charity. who carried out the investigation. “This gives us the opportunity to improve the lives of our dogs.”
The study is based on a database of 584,734 British dogs, which researchers gathered from breed registries, pet insurance companies, veterinary societies and other sources. These types of records, which may be subject to various biases, are not necessarily representative of Britain’s general dog population, the scientists acknowledged.
But Dr. Audrey Ruple, a veterinary epidemiologist at Virginia Tech who was not involved in the new study, said the researchers’ use of a large number of different data sources was one of the strengths of the ‘study. “I think it’s a fantastic approach,” she said.
Most of the dogs were purebred, representing one of 155 breeds; the others were grouped into a single crossover category. Researchers classified each breed’s overall body size as small, medium or large and its head shape as flat-faced, medium-proportioned or long-faced.
For all dogs, the median lifespan was 12.5 years, the researchers found, but the average lifespan varied “quite dramatically” between breeds, Dr. McMillan said. Lancashire heels, a breed of small herding dogs, were canine Methuselahs, living an average of 15.4 years. THE much bigger However, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs had an average lifespan of only 5.4 years.