Causes of death or reasons for euthanasia in military working dogs
The results of a questionnaire provided data about owners' perceptions of the cause of death of over 3000 British dogs. The mean age at death (all breeds, all causes) was 11 years one month, but in dogs dying of natural causes it was 12 years eight months. Only 8 per cent of dogs lived beyond 15, and 64 per cent of dogs died of disease or were euthanased as a result of disease. Nearly 16 per cent of deaths were attributed to cancer, twice as many as to heart disease. Neutered females lived longer than males or intact females, but among dogs dying of natural causes entire females lived slightly longer. In neutered males the importance of cancer as a cause of death was similar to heart disease. Mongrels lived longer than average but several breeds lived longer than mongrels, for example, Jack Russells, miniature poodles and whippets. There was no correlation between longevity and cardiovascular parameters (heart rate, systolic, diastolic, pulse and mean arterial pressure, or the combination of heart rate and pulse pressure) but smaller dogs had longer lifespans. The results also include breed differences in lifespan, susceptibility to cancer, road accidents and behavioural problems as a cause of euthanasia.
Centre for Small Animal Studies, Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, Suffolk.