DO LARGE DOGS DIE YOUNG? Size and longevity in dogs
Frietson Galis1, Inke van der Sluijs1, Tom J. M. Van Dooren1, Johan A. J. Metz1,2, Marc Nussbaumer
In most animal taxa longevity increases with body size across species, as predicted by the oxidative stress theory of aging. Contrastingly, in within-species
comparisons of mammals and especially domestic dogs (e.g. Patronek, ‘97; Michell, ‘99; Egenvall et al., 2000; Speakman et al, 2003) longevity
decreases with body size.
We explore two datasets for dogs and find support for a negative relationship between size and longevity if we consider variation across breeds. Within
breeds, however, the relationship is not negative. The negative across-breed relationship is probably the consequence of short lifespans in large breeds.
Artificial selection for extremely high growth rates in large breeds appears to have led to developmental diseases that seriously diminish longevity.
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