Large dogs age faster, die earlier than smaller ones

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Photo: S. Mahinsha
Photo: S. Mahinsha

Larger dogs such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards have a shorter lifespan than smaller ones such as the Chihuahua. A study has found that larger dogs age quicker and die earlier.

While larger breeds of dog live to be on average 5 to 8 years, smaller dogs live between 10 and 14 years on average, according to an analysis by the University of Goettingen in Germany.

The study, which was published in the magazine American Naturalist, was based on information from North America, but the experts said the results apply to Europe and elsewhere as well.

“Large breeds clearly age biologically more quickly than smaller ones,” said evolutionary biologist Cornelia Kraus. “We assume that this is connected to the quick growth.” Kraus said many large dogs are already adults at three years and then die at seven. It seems as if their adult life passes by in fast motion. Statistically, large dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs and Saint Bernards — breeds that are bred for their size — die the earliest.

Breeders have bred dog breeds ranging from the 2 kg Chihuahua to the 80 kg English Mastiff.

“But breeders should breed more with life expectancy in mind than massive size. Then the keepers would have more from their dogs,” said Kraus.

The scientist evaluated a databank of North American veterinary universities in which than 50,000 dogs from 74 different breeds are registered.DPA



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