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Using the incidence and impact of health conditions in guide dogs to investigate healthy ageing in working dogs

By G. Caron-Lormier, G. C. W. England, M. J. Green, L. Asher

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This study aimed to use retirement data from working guide dogs to investigate healthy ageing in dogs and the demographic factors that influence ageing. Using a dataset of 7686 dogs spanning 20 years, dogs withdrawn for health reasons before they reached retirement were identified. Cases of retirement for old age, rather than for health reasons, were also recorded, as was the length of working life for all dogs. Specific health reasons were grouped into 14 different health categories. The influence of purebred or crossbreed, breed, and sex on the incidence of these health categories and the length of working life within each health category was considered. The majority ( n=6465/7686; 84%) of working guide dogs were able to function as guide dogs until they had worked for 8.5 years, when they retired. This working life might constitute a reference for the different breeds considered, with the exception of the German shepherd dog, which had a shorter working life. The most common reason for health withdrawals was musculoskeletal conditions ( n=387/1362; 28%), mostly arthritis. Skin conditions (mostly comprised of cases of atopic dermatitis) reduced working life most commonly (mean, approximately 5 years). Nervous sensory conditions (35% of which were cases of epilepsy) reduced working life by 3 years.

Publication Title Veterinary Journal
Volume 207
Pages 124-130
ISBN/ISSN 1090-0233
DOI 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.10.046
Language English
Author Address School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Aging
  3. Animals
  4. Arthritis
  5. Atopy
  6. Breeds
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Demography
  11. Dermatitis
  12. Dogs
  13. Epidemiology
  14. Epilepsy
  15. Genetic parameters
  16. Guide dogs
  17. Health
  18. Incidence
  19. Mammals
  20. Older adults
  21. peer-reviewed
  22. skin diseases
  23. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed