Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New study details breed-specific mortality in dogs

With so many breeds of canine, medical data can be confusing when considering the longevity of a dog. The standard has always been: The smaller the breed, the longer that they live.

A recent study supports that mantra, for the most part.

The records of over 80 breeds were kept over a 20 year period and analyzed in a new study co-authored by Dr. Kate Creevy, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and Daniel Promislow, a genetics professor in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences,

Flickr photo courtesy of powazny

Promislow notes, "Normally, if you compare different species of mammals, big ones live longer than little ones, and that pattern holds pretty well across hundreds of different species of mammals. With dogs, the opposite occurs; the little dogs live longer."

This study may provide more answers as to why that is true. Click here to read the study.

In 2003, the first canine genome was mapped by researchers and they have since compiled data on genetic variations at single points on the genome for more than 80 breeds. The UGA team can search for genes that influence the risk of diseases, hopefully, by combining the genetic data with the data from their own study.

"Is genetic variation for disease due to a few genes that vary in the population and that have a big effect, or dozens or hundreds of genes with small effects? That's a basic biological question that we can address," Promislow says. "There's potential to learn a lot about the genetics of disease using the dog as a model."

In a previous piece that I wrote for, I detailed how understanding canine genome could potentially shed light on genetic disease in humans, because the building blocks of each are the same.

Small breed dogs had higher death rates from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and Cushing's disease; comparatively, larger breeds were found to be more likely to die of musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease and cancer.

For more on the topic, click here.
Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger and owner of Professional Pet Sitting in Dexter Twp, MI. Shoot her an email or contact her at 734-904-7279.

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