All dogs go to heaven. But a bulldog might find itself headed there years before a Border terrier, according to a new study of nearly 600,000 British dogs from more than 150 breeds.
Large breeds and breeds with flattened faces had shorter average life spans than smaller dogs and those with elongated snouts, the researchers found. Female dogs also lived slightly longer than male ones. The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday.
There are exceptions to those broad trends, and the findings might not apply to dogs outside Britain, where breeding practices — and gene pools — may be different, the researchers noted.
More research will be needed to determine why some breeds have shorter life spans than others. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to serious health problems, but breed-related differences in behavior, lifestyle, diet, environment or other factors could also play a role in shortening some dogs’ lives, experts said.
“Now that we have identified these populations that are at risk of early death, we can start looking into why that is,” said Kirsten McMillan, an author of the new study and the data manager at Dogs Trust, a dog welfare charity in Britain that led the research. “This provides an opportunity for us to improve the lives of our dogs.”