Lifespan in dog breeds

By | 10th August 2020

Lifespan in dog breeds

author – Bitten Jönsson

A topic which is discussed over and over again – longevity in dogs seem to be a multifactored cause, some of these can be

– genetic disease
– size of breeds
– diversity of breeds

but also the age of the parents to the offspring – and this additional brick, is of utmost interest, but has to be evaluated along with the previously mentioned causes connected to lifespan.

Most science papers on all this, are not that accessible to all – the language used, the way the findings are being presented, and the outcome of the research findings.
I have in the following tried to shorten all this down, and written in a more accessible language – in hope more people will find interest in this area, and also obtain more knowledge about this area within the DNA of the cells – the chromosomes.
Age of the parents, have influence on the Telomeres. There are different forms of Telomeres, but I will concentrate on Telomeres connected to the reproduction system – specifically, the gem cells ….


A telomere, literally “end piece”, is a term in insect morphology, and refers to a type of “genital clasper”; i.e.: in Mallophaga, a part of the genital sac that forms a sclerotized plate on both sides of the penis.
It is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes.
Over time, due to each cell division, the telomere ends become shorter – but not the telomeres with reference to gem cells, they become longer.
The age of a father plays a role in the length of a child’s telomeres, which has evolutionary implications. Although leukocyte telomeres shorten with age, sperm telomeres lengthen with age. Shorter telomeres are theorized to impose lower energy costs (due to less replication) but also have immune system-related and other aging- and disease-related costs, so the effect of paternal age on telomere length might be an adaptation to increase the chances that the child will be fit for the environment they’re born into.

What does all this mean – the older a male might be, the more often the cells has been reproduced, and along with this, the telomeres connected to the reproduction system / gem cells, have become longer, which has been proven to provide longer telomeres in the offspring, and by this, provide longer lifespan in the offspring.
However – a single parent / sire being of age is not enough – there has to be a consistency of long lifespan, like siblings to the sire – the lifespan of this males parents and their siblings – and so on for as far back as it is possible to investigate this … Is the female also of age, and with a similar lifespan history as of the male, it is highly likely that this female has inherited this extended lifespan from her parents, and have extended telomere length.
So by breeding to elder dogs, should according to the science findings increase lifespan. You may not get 10 puppies, but you may very well get 4 to 6 or more, which all will be issued with the extended telomeres, which should improve on these offsprings lifespan.

There is far more to the topic Telomeres – and the links provided will give you the option to read up on it. Just hope that the provided information will give more understanding into Telomeres and the influence on lifespan.

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