The researchers noted that there are exceptions to these general trends, and the findings may not apply to dogs outside Britain, where breeding practices – and gene pools – may be different.
More research will be needed to determine why some breeds have shorter lifespans than others. Experts said some breeds are genetically predisposed to serious health problems, but breed-related differences in behavior, lifestyle, diet, environment or other factors can also play a role in shortening the lifespan of some dogs.
“Now that we have identified these groups at risk of early death, we can start to look into why that is,” said Kirsten McMillan, author of the new study and data manager at Dogs Trust, a dog welfare charity in Britain. That led the research. “This provides us with an opportunity to improve the lives of our dogs.”
The study is based on a database of 584,734 British dogs, which researchers collected from breed registries, pet insurance companies, veterinary companies and other sources. Scientists acknowledged that these types of records, which can be subject to various biases, are not necessarily representative of Britain's general dog population.
But Dr. Audrey Rubel, a veterinary epidemiologist at Virginia Tech who was not involved in the new study, said the researchers' use of many different data sources was one of the strengths of the study. “I think this is a great approach,” she said.
Most of the dogs were purebred, representing one of 155 breeds; The rest were combined into one hybrid category. The researchers classified each breed's overall body size as small, medium, or large and its head shape as flat-faced, medium-faced, or long-faced.
The researchers found that the average lifespan among all the dogs was 12.5 years, but the average lifespan varied “strikingly” between breeds, Dr. McMillan said. Lancashire Heelers, a breed of small herding dogs, were descendants of Methuselah, living for an average of 15.4 years. the Much larger However, the average lifespan of Caucasian Shepherd Dogs was only 5.4 years.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”