If you look at mammals as a whole, typically the larger the animal, the longer they live. This can be seen with large whales like the killer whale which can live up to 80 years or an elephant which can live to be 70 years old. Dogs, on the other hand, seem to have the opposite be true: the larger the dog, the shorter their life.
Larger dog breeds (like the Great Dane) tend to live a lot less than their smaller counterparts (like a toy poodle). The Great Dane can grow to a size of about 155 pounds, but only has an average life span of 7 years. The toy poodle grows to be about 9 pounds but can live to see 14 years old. That’s quite a difference.
Researcher Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, set out to see if he can find out why this is when it comes to dogs. He and his research team analyzed ages at death in 74 dog breeds, using information from more than 56,000 dogs that visited veterinary teaching hospitals, to see if they could pinpoint why larger dogs lead shorter lives.
The results? Apparently larger dogs were not only larger in size, but they aged far more quickly too. Among dog breeds, every extra increase of 4.4 pounds meant, on average, a loss of 1 month in life expectancy. Their findings were detailed in the April issue of the journal American Naturalist.
I have always wanted a larger dog, but now I don’t know if that’s a good trade off for his or her shorter life. I like my animals to be around for a long time and if I were to ever get a dog, maybe a smaller breed would be better?
Either way, large dogs and small dogs are all equally as cute – just look:
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