Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is just a whimsical idea but what if someone started a non profit organization dedicated to extending the lifespan of dogs.
Like.. what if you froze a bunch of sperm from 100 different dogs and then wait and see which dogs live the most years

After they die of old age or whatever, those oldest dogs are the sperm donors you select for the next generation, etc.
After a few hundred years maybe dogs could live to be 25? What do you think.

Pie in the sky.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,177 Posts
There's more to a dog than longevity.

I once asked a friend who had owned nothing but Irish wolf hounds for many years (and had gone through many Irish wolf hounds) if she'd ever considered a breed with a longer lifespan. She told be she'd rather have an Irish wolf hound for seven years than any other breed for twenty.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3GSD4IPO

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There's more to a dog than longevity.

I once asked a friend who had owned nothing but Irish wolf hounds for many years (and had gone through many Irish wolf hounds) if she'd ever considered a breed with a longer lifespan. She told be she'd rather have an Irish wolf hound for seven years than any other breed for twenty.
What does that have to do with anything?
Take the irish wolfhound and make them live 25 years and its the same dog PLUS longevity!

have it all
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,930 Posts
This is a tricky prospect, not the least of which because the female that's contributing half the genes is going to impact lifespan as well. This would have to be done with dogs who have carefully kept pedigree data, so that we could look not just at how long the male lived, but how long his parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts did (so we can be more confident there's solid reproducible genetic foundations for longevity) and so that we could reasonably evaluate the bitch's potential longevity from her relatives' statistics, since we cannot ethically be breeding females at advanced ages.

It's worth noting that most dogs who have extensively detailed pedigree records are purebreds owned by breeders and passionate breed enthusiasts who are often not the most keen on the idea of outcrossing or - in the case of females especially - donating their dogs' valuable fertile years and limited number of litters to a program that doesn't serve to further the breed they love and are devoted to.

You would also need your potential breeding pool to be full of dogs with excellent temperaments that complement each other (because you can get some seriously unstable and even dangerous results by mixing two 'excellent' but very different temperaments that clash with each other), complementary physical structures (again, some physical traits do not combine well when bred together even if they work well separately and produce physically unsound dogs), and a very low incidence of non-fatal health problems. As RonE stated, it's not worthwhile to have a dog that lives to 25 if it has serious or dangerous behavioral issues, or if it spends a large percentage of that extended lifespan with really low quality of life due to other health or structural issues. Imagine if they can physically live to 25, but start experiencing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction before they turn ten. The breeding pool would also need extremely high genetic diversity and to be large enough that inbreeding depression isn't going to become an issue and start shortening those lifespans again.

It's probably theoretically doable, especially if you do narrow your criteria to ONLY longevity, though 25 years might still be out of reach in the end - I know a few rare dogs get there, but it's so uncommon it's difficult to say if that's reproducible through selective breeding or just some kind of fluke through environment and genetics, especially since none of the dogs currently authenticated to have lived 20+ years are related as far as I can tell. There is going to be a point where extending any species' lifespan further becomes biologically impossible. It's worth mentioning that most reputable, passionate breeders DO take longevity into account when they plan their litters, and it's one of the reasons many do look at a potential stud's or dam's siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. as well as just their direct ancestors. But there's so many other things to balance when producing exceptional dogs that it cannot reasonably be the main focus of most breeding programs.

Definitely an interesting thing to think about, though!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,431 Posts
DaySleepers gave some good information.

The age of the sire is just one piece of the longevity puzzle. You also have to take health into consideration. Since I'm most familiar with Dobermans, I'll start there. As a breed, dogs have a more than 60% chance of developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy. It's a very serious heart condition that can cause either congestive heart failure or sudden death due to arrhythmia. There are currently two genetic tests for known markers. The test results can be clear (-/-), affected (+/+), or carrier (+/-). Sounds cut and dried, right? Breed clear dogs to clear or carriers, and DCM goes away... except that it doesn't. There are dogs who are genetically clear for both mutations that develop DCM. There are dogs that are genetically affected that never develop it, and live into their teens. It gets even more complicated... Dogs who have died young of DCM have produced long-lived offspring. Dogs who lived into their teens without developing it have produced offspring that died young from it.

And like DaySleepers said, narrowing your criteria to only one thing dramatically reduces genetic diversity in your breeding stock, which leads to other problems. There are some breeds that are severely lacking in genetic diversity, which makes some health problems very hard to get rid of because of closed stud books and unwillingness to outcross or open the studbooks to bring in new lines. LUA Dalmatians are a good example. Their main health problem was isolated to one gene. A single outcross to another breed (Pointer) created dogs that were incapable of having that problem, because they all had a normal gene. The puppies from that litter were crossed back with Dalmatians for several generations to the point that, other than not carrying the defective gene, were genetically considered purebred Dalmatians. Yet the AKC parent club fought tooth and nail to prevent them from being registered as Dalmatians. After thirty years, they finally allowed them to be registered, but only with a LUA marker in their registration number. Contrast that with Basenjis, who also had a serious health issue caused by a single gene. A group of breeders went to Africa, and imported dogs straight from the Congo bush. The club voted to not only open the studbook for direct imports, but even changed the breed standard to allow the "new" color that came with the imported dogs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3GSD4IPO

·
Registered
Joined
·
838 Posts
I agree with what LeoRose said about how complicated longevity is. That said, there is research being done on it in hopes of finding ways to extend canine lives. I know in Rottweilers there is a project where info is being gathered on individuals who live to 13 and beyond. Any blood tests taken throughout the dog's life are gathered. Dogs are visited by a vet involved in the project after age 13, and when the dog dies, owner willing, there's a necropsy. This isn't just to research genetic factors in longevity but also environmental factors. I'm sure other breeds have similar projects ongoing, and as LeoRose also pointed out, there are breeders of dogs such as Basenjis taking steps to help their breed. There are now tests that can be done for genetic markers for health conditions in a lot of breeds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,931 Posts
As noted everyone is saying that longevity is a multifactor situation. Detailed records are important and it is as much about the Bitch as the Stud.

The issue I see in figuring it out also has to take into account how the dogs are kept. High stress environments, poor diet, over weight, poor situations for growth and so forth all contribute to longevity (or lack thereof). Conformation is also a huge factor.

When a person breeds dogs they have many things to consider beyond health testing and titles. The dogs also need to have sound conformation, a family line that shows sound conformation in the past, sound temperament (which can actually outweigh some conformation flaws), health tests and so forth. In the German Shepherd, bitches should be bred after 2 but by age 3 and a half due to concerns about breeding at all ("catching") and concerns about Pyometra.. and, most bitches are retired and spayed by age 7 and a half.. often with only producing 3.. MAYBE 4 litters. Studs can go longer but sperm counts often decrease with age. Any issues of longevity in the bitch and the stud usually show up AFTER litters have been produced, so "knowing" about longevity may not happen until the second generation.

Of course, is some breeds there are chronic issues such as ACL tears and cancer and those entire lines are often culled when the issues becomes chronic throughout those lines and litters.

The last issue is the longevity of the breeder. A LOT of people out there have nice dogs, do all the testing, produce a litter or two and realize the awful money pit breeding can be and leave the breeder arena. The dogs they produce may be breeding worthy and someone who gets one may do the same thing.. so there is a lack of continuity of records other than health tests and titles.

Then we get into the whole thing of shelter and rescue dogs.. that may live for 2 years or 15 years and you have no idea what and where the genes came from.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,930 Posts
Selecting for longevity also works differently in different breeds. Giants like the Irish Wolfhound mentioned earlier in this thread are short-lived because they're giants - their size is pushing the biological limits of the canine genome. They spend an enormous amount of resources early in life growing an incredible amount very quickly - even in cases where they're carefully fed to promote relatively 'slow and steady' growth. At their first birthday a Great Dane might easily be 100x their birth weight - compare that to a long-lived giant like the Asian elephant, who despite putting on ~1kg a day in their first year aren't even 5x their birth weight by their first birthday (on average, from the numbers I could find). For giant dogs, even as adult there's more strain on their hearts, more on their bones and joints, more on their GI system, more on their... everything. They cannot physically or biologically obtain the average lifespan of even the longer-lived breeds we currently have and still maintain the physical traits (eg size) that make them the breed they are.

It likely is possible to improve the average lifespan of giants by a small margin, partially by discouraging the breeding of the extreme end of the size range (which many reputable breeders of giant already take into account), but we'd be looking at dogs living closer to 10 years instead of 7 or 8. And even that might require outcrossing for breeds like the Dogue de Bordeaux, whose small gene pool and hereditary heart problems drag the average life span down to a measly 5-8, shorter than even other giants.

I bet you anything that if we were able to set up a superdog longevity breeding program with a huge pool of different breeds and mixes to work with, we'd wind up with a small to medium-small dog in the end, because the current evidence suggests that - on average - breeds in this size range have the longest lifespan.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
I think realistically and practically, if you wanted to achieve the longest possible lifespan of a dog, you'd be advised to just start off with one or more of the breeds that already live a comparatively long time (e.g chihuahuas, little poodles, rat terriers, shih tzus) and start a breeding and lifestyle program designed to reduce/eliminate the most common causes of premature death and reductions of quality of life, to maximize the average lifespan.

I'd say that breaking that longevity cap that seems to be present for even the healthiest individuals of any given species is going to require genetic engineering (or some other medical intervention that slows or reverses senescence). At some point no matter how healthy and long-lived your family line is compared to the average population, you just run out of telomeres in some crucial cells of some crucial system.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,930 Posts
My last beagle lived for 25 years.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
If you have papers confirming his birth and death dates, you should submit him to Guinness World Records - that age would put your beagle in the top ten longest lived dogs ever recorded!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
That seems like a double edged sword, because generally dogs physical condition starts deteriorating around 10. Lets say a dog lives to 20, not only do I not want to care for a dog with health issues for an extended period of time but it simply isn't fair to the dog. Yeah, I've seen people keep dogs around for a couple years or more having to use a sling to get their dog up off the ground and constantly changing diapers, but that's not fair for me or the dog.

That is my concern anyway. I'd rather have a dog live a very full life for ~12 years than to have many years after in a decrepit state.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
838 Posts
That seems like a double edged sword, because generally dogs physical condition starts deteriorating around 10.
I'm not so sure of this. For starters, some of the small breeds don't start to show negative effects of aging until after 10. Then even for the large breeds, from what I've seen, the age at which they start to show aging effects is different and related to individual lifespan. So a large dog with a lifespan of 9 is going to look and act old at 8, but one that lives to 13 is going to be doing well at 10 and 11.

So I think increasing lifespan from 10 to 20 might cause the prolonged years of increasing disability. It would probably be a bridge too far so to speak. However, increasing lifespan from 10 to12 might not have the same effect.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top