The Kennel Club’s all-breed survey was carried out in 2015 and the results were published in spring 2016. Overall, 178 breeds were represented with 43,207 live dogs and 5,684 deaths. Dobe results were submitted for 100 deaths (1.8% of total) and 335 live dobes (0.8% of total) with a median age of 4. Key results are:
Dobes All breeds Median age at death 8 10 Range of ages at death 1-18 0-26 Deaths of old age 4% 14% Heart disease 30% 8% Cancer 30% 19% Age at death 8 or less 65% 34% Age at death 10 or less 80% 52%
My death records now have 124 dogs so are comparable to the KC survey. My records show an average life expectancy of 8.19 and a median of 8.42, which is consistent with the KC’s median age. In my records, 56% died at 8 or less and 77% at 10 or less, slightly lower than the KC figures, but probably not significantly so. My average COI of 6.9% is noticeably higher than the 2016 breed average of 4.3%. This may be due to some of my records covering older dogs, when higher COIs were more common.
This data paints a sad picture for Dobermanns and reinforces the need for breeders to take the genetics of health and longevity seriously when selecting stud dogs. An interesting article on ‘Three key strategies to reduce genetic disorders in dogs’ was published by the Institute of Canine Biology (ICB) and has been commented on further by Ian Seath, Breed Health Co-ordinator for Dachshunds. (The three strategies are: increase the number of breeding animals, eliminate popular sires, use strategic outcrossing to reduce inbreeding.) In addition, there was another article on the ICB site where the author had posed the question to breeders, ‘As breeders use inbreeding to improve consistency in their litters, they are also increasing their ability to improve traits through selective breeding’ and asked them if this was true or false. Responses were about 50:50. (It’s false, by the way.)
I have also approached Dan O’Neill at the Royal Vet College about his VetCompass project, and gave him a number of reasons why dobes would be a good target group. VetCompass has access to vet records, over 1500 of which are dobe records, and this enables them to obtain and analyse reliable data on longevity, prevalence of key diseases, time from diagnosis to death etc, all of which are missing for our breed. He agrees that the dobe is a good subject and has added our breed to the list available for postdocs to study. However, it is likely to be a year or two before we see any results from this.
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