Study finds dog size, height, and head shape predictive of disease prevalence

dogs-1203251_640Some diseases in dogs are related to certain physical characteristics. For example, larger breeds have a higher risk of getting hip dysplasia and certain neoplastic diseases while breeds with wider and shorter heads, such as Pug and French bulldog, are more likely to experience breathing problems and dystocia. Therefore, if we know the trends in popularity of dogs of a certain morphology, we may be able to predict disease pervasiveness.

The study aimed to investigate the trends in the height, dog size and head shape of Australian purebred dogs. The numbers of dogs registered within the 181 breeds in Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) every year from 1986 to 2013 were obtained and analysed.

The total number of ANKC registration had decreased from 95,792 in 1986 to 66,902 in 2013. Compared to taller and larger breeds, shorter and smaller breeds have become relatively popular over time. Also, the data suggest that Australians increasingly favour dogs with shorter and wider heads for whose welfare veterinarians often express concern [1, 2].

The results indicate that dog height, dog size and dog head shape may potentially influence how people select companion dogs in Australia and provide valuable predictive information on trends in disease prevalence, enabling the veterinary profession and industry to prepare for potential future caseloads.

Link to Open source article here