Why Do Dogs Not Live Long?

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions theyd like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome serious, weird or wacky!

The main reason people used to think big animals live longer is because of something called metabolic rates. Smaller animals usually have higher metabolic rates, which lead to shorter lifespans, like a car that uses up its petrol very quickly.

Dogs dont follow the rules on larger animals living longer. Small chihuahuas can live for over 10 years.www.shutterstock.com People now think it might depend on the evolutionary pressures that each animal faces. Large animals like elephants and whales are less likely to be attacked in the wild than small animals.www.shutterstock.com There is a lot of scientific research on why dogs age and how to help them live longer.

Why do dogs live such a short time?

Essentially, they are doing more in a shorter period of time than our bodies are. So the age process, like the other life processes of a dog, is sped up. In addition, domestic dogs tend to live shorter lives than wolves. This is likely due in part to the health problems that can arise from inbreeding.

Can a dog live 20 years?

Dogs don’t often live to 20 years of age, but history has taught us that it is possible. The oldest dog to have ever lived (and to have its age officially verified) was an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey. … The second oldest dog to have lived is a Beagle named Butch, who reportedly lived for 28 years from 1975 to 2003.

Can we make dogs live longer?

Improvements to pet food have helped extend dogs’ lifespans, so speak to your vet about the best food for your breed. If you keep your dog healthy with regular walks and visits to the vet it can help give them a long, happy life. … As your pet gets older your excess is likely to increase, too.

Why do large dogs not live as long?

At its simplest, larger dogs die younger because they age more quickly. They age more quickly because they grow faster. This can lead to earlier incidence of tumors and other abnormal tissue developments, including cancer.

Lifespan in general is determined by trade-offs between survival and reproduction. Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, can live 15-20 years, roughly twice as long as comparable-sized dogs. They start breeding in the wild no younger than 2 years old. They need to form pairs and establish a territory before breeding. Older wolves will often have help raising their pups from older juveniles who have not managed to mate or find territories. In contrast, most dogs can breed from 6 months to 12 months of age, and they dont benefit from having territories, pair bonds, or packs. Whereas wolves breed until they die, dog breeders will usually retire older females. So the whole life history of dogs is shifted to more of a live fast, die young style compared to wolves.

Thats how we get tortured monstrosities like English bulldogs, which can barely breathe without snorting and whose pups must be cut out of the mothers womb because she can no longer deliver them. White fur, for example, is often accompanied by neurological deficits ranging from subtle behavioral abnormalities to deafness or even early death.

We are working on lots of different things with the Dog Aging Project all with the goal of increasing the lifespan of our favorite companion, Ruple tells Inverse.

We do anticipate that it is a combination of genetics, environment, and lifestyle that influences the aging process on an individual level, Ruple says. However, we do not yet know all the details about which combination of these factors will lead to healthier, longer lifespans for our dogs.

In this article, Ruple and Adam Boyko , an associate professor at Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine, break down what we currently know about dog longevity, what we may be able to achieve in the future, and how this information can be used to possibly extend human lives too. A 2014 study in the journal of Canine Medicine and Genetics found that dogs, on average, make it to 10-years-old. Instead, heres a more helpful breakdown of how dog years translate to human aging, according to the American Medical Veterinary Association.

We hope that part of the outcome of this project will be that we will more fully understand why it is the case that dogs do not fit the traditional pattern of aging we expect to see, Ruple says. By contrast, these bigger dogs tend to live for a shorter period of time: You can typically spot when your pup is getting older if you notice graying fur or a general slowing in their pace.

The American Medical Veterinary suggests using simple gestures such as stop or come to help direct your dog as they age. The American Kennel Club recommends a few strategies to keep your aging pup in good health. Bring your dog to the vet for annual, preventative screenings to suss out any health issues as they age.

Keep the calorie count of their food in check to prevent weight gain and mobility issues. Embark tests for over 350 breeds and over 200 genetic health risks, which can help owners get ahead of canine diseases that occur later in life, including glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy three of the most common adult-onset diseases in dogs, Boyko says. If, for example, you know your dog is genetically programmed to overeat, you can work with your vet to create a specific nutrition and activity plan to prevent obesity, diabetes, or heart disease, Boyko says.

Lifespan is usually related to animal size

Scientists worked out a long time ago that the lifespan of animals is mostly related to their size. Bigger animals usually live longer than smaller animals.The main reason people used to think big animals live longer is because of something called metabolic rates. A metabolic rate is like how much petrol a car uses – cars that use up their petrol more slowly can drive for longer, a bit like animals with lower metabolic rates. Smaller animals usually have higher metabolic rates, which lead to shorter lifespans, like a car that uses up its petrol very quickly.The problem is that this doesn’t work for all animals. Some parrots have high metabolic rates but can live for more than 80 years! A metabolic rate is related to heart rate, and some parrots have a heart rate of 600 beats per minute. (Your heart beats around 70 to 100 times per minute.)And dogs are one of the animals that do not follow this rule.

Why do dogs break this rule?

Dogs don’t follow the rules on larger animals living longer. A 70kg Great Dane is lucky to reach seven years, but a 4kg Chihuahua can live for 10 years or more. We still don’t really know why this happens. But if you want a dog that lives longer, you should choose a small breed.

It’s also about survival

People now think it might depend on the “evolutionary pressures” that each animal faces. An evolutionary pressure includes things like other animals that want to kill you for food. Because they are so big, large animals like elephants and whales are less likely to be attacked in the wild than small animals like guppies or mice.