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Study, Breed-Specific Causes of Death

Study, Breed-Specific Causes of Death

Dog owners and veterinarians have long relied on a mix of limited data and anecdotal evidence to assess which breeds are at risk of dying from various conditions, but a new University of Georgia study provides a rare and comprehensive look at causes of death in more than 80 breeds.

The study, published in the current edition of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, can be used to create breed-specific health maintenance programs and is a starting point for future studies that will explore the genetic underpinnings of disease in dogs. Study co-author Dr. Kate Creevy, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and her co-authors examined data from the Veterinary Medical Database to determine the cause of death for nearly 75,000 dogs over the 20-year period of 1984 through 2004. While some of the findings corroborate smaller, breed-specific studies, the UGA researchers also found plenty of surprises.

Toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Maltese, are known to have high rates of cardiovascular disease (19 and 21 percent of deaths within the breeds, respectively), for example, but the researchers found that Fox Terriers also have high rates of cardiovascular disease (16 percent of deaths). Golden retrievers and boxers are known to have high rates of cancer (50 and 44 percent of deaths, respectively), but the researchers found that the Bouvier des Flandres actually has a higher death rate from cancer (47 percent) than the boxer.

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