ATHENS, Ga., April 19 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Georgia say their study of dog diseases has identified breed-specific health conditions of interest to both vets and owners.
Dog owners and veterinarians have had to rely on limited data and anecdotal evidence to assess what breeds are at risk of dying from various conditions, but UG researchers Daniel Promislow and Kate Creevy say their comprehensive study of 82 breeds can help develop breed-specific health maintenance programs.
"If we can anticipate better how things can go wrong for dogs, we can manage their wellness to keep them as healthy as possible," said study co-author Creevy, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.
The researchers found larger breeds are more likely than others to die of musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease and, most notably, cancer, while smaller breeds had comparatively higher death rates from metabolic diseases such as diabetes and Cushing's disease, a UG release said Tuesday.
Promislow, a genetics professor, said the study might help solve one of the great enigmas of canine health.
"Normally, if you compare different species of mammals, big ones live longer than little ones -- elephants live longer than mice, and sheep are in the middle, for example -- and that pattern holds pretty well across hundreds of different species of mammals," Promislow said. "Within dogs, the opposite occurs; the little dogs live longer."