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Authors
Courtney L. Sexton , Dog Aging Project Consortium
and

Abstract

Despite major advances in our understanding of dogs as a biological system (including genetics/epigenetics, physiology, cognition, and behavior), the veterinary field lacks consensus around a critical piece of information: namely, the average lifespan/life expectancy of a domestic dog. This deficiency is due in part to unavailable and/or inconsistent collection of dog mortality data. In an effort to review historical and current reports of dog lifespan to determine whether the domestic dog’s lifespan has changed over time, we found that incongruous data were prohibitive to conducting a formal meta-analysis of dog lifespan reports. However, in examining several different kinds of dog aging and mortality studies covering a span of about 40 years (1981 to 2023), it seems apparent that the median lifespan of domesticated dogs has not recently decreased, as has been reported in the popular press, but rather has increased steadily over that time frame. Still, assessing the validity of these numbers is a challenge, as methodology, cohort, and covariates (such as weight, breed, etc) vary from study to study. We therefore recommend the adoption of a comprehensive, standardized method for reporting and recording dog mortality so that a more accurate understanding of dogs’ average lifespan can be obtained in the future.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association