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Tag: life span

World’s tallest dog dies of “old age” — at 5

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Zeus, the world’s tallest dog, is dead.

The Great Dane passed away earlier this month — two months shy of his sixth birthday — from “symptoms of old age,” according to his owner.

Great Danes have shorter life spans than most dogs — most likely the result of breeders intent on making the breed larger yet, and the strain that size puts on their organs — which only makes the death of Zeus doubly sad.

“We’ll really miss him,” said Zeus’ owner, Kevin Doorlag, of Otsego, Michigan.

Doorlag and his wife, Denise say Zeus was a “wonderful dog” — famous both for Guinness World Record-setting size, and for his work as a therapy dog in their hometown.

He stood 44 inches at the shoulder — 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs. He claimed the Guinness World Record in 2012, and still held the title in the 2013 and 2014 editions.

The previous World’s Tallest Dog was Giant George, a Tuscon, Arizona, Great Dane. He died at age 7.

Kevin Doorlag said one of the things he will miss most is seeing the joy Zeus brought to others.

The death of Zeus is, first and foremost, a time to remember and celebrate Zeus.

But if it makes us question why, in the name of seeking extremes, we accept purebred breeding practices that lead to ill health and short lives, that’s fine, too. They’re in need of questioning.

What there’s less need for — whether it’s in pursuit of ribbons, world records, or sales — is making fluffy dogs fluffier, long and skinny dogs longer and skinnier, short snouted dogs even more shortly snouted.

We don’t need (sorry, Marmaduke) cartoonish dogs, or dogs that, through breeding them with close relatives, become exaggerated caricatures of their breed.

Healthy dogs will do just fine.

(Photo: Kalamazoo Gazette)

Laid back dogs live longer, study says

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We all know that small dogs generally live longer than big dogs, but a new study in Canada suggests that docile, obedient, shy dogs dogs are prone to longer lives than unruly, disobedient, bold ones.

Vincent Careau at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec compared data from previous studies of personality in a number of dog breeds, and mortality data on the same varieties, and used additional data from insurance companies to come up with the conclusion.

Careau’s team found the most obedient breeds, such as German shepherds, poodles and bichon frises, tended to be the longest lived, while hard-to-train, high energy dogs such as pomeranians and beagles were more likely to die younger.

Another trait, aggressiveness, was linked to metabolic rate, with docile dogs such as collies burning calories more slowly than more territorial breeds, for instance .

According to a study abstract, “we tested whether proactive personalities (high levels of activity, boldness, and aggression) are related to a fast “pace of life” (high rates of growth, mortality, and energy expenditure)…

Being a shy, slow burner of calories myself, I can only hope the phenomenon applies to humans as well — for it means if I watch enough TV, take enough naps and avoid chasing squirrels, I will live longer than all of you doing your daily aerobics.

(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Guinness names new oldest dog

otto20Otto — a nearly 21-year-old dachshund mix from across the pond — has been proclaimed the world’s oldest dog by the Guinness Book of World Records.

To be precise — for all those who will be coming out of the woodwork saying their dogs are older — Otto is 20 years and eight months, the UK’s Daily Mail reports.

Owners Lynn and Peter Jones, from Shrewsbury, entered him for the title with Guinness World Records after learning of the death last month of the previous title holder, a 21-year-old dachshund  in New York named Chanel.

Otto’s claim to the record was approved this week. Mrs. Jones, 53, has owned Otto since he was six weeks old.

They attribute his longevity to “plenty of love, plenty of good food” and regular veterinary check-ups.

Otto has arthritis, and doesn’t appreciate walks like he used to. “He gets about ten yards down the road then looks back over his shoulder as if to say ‘I want to go home,'” Mrs. Jones said. “But he’s still playful. He can still jump all over people when they come round.”

The oldest dog on record was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who lived to 29 years and five months before having to be put down in 1939.

Dogs joining humans in enjoying longer lives

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Although it’s difficult to find any studies that back it up, dogs seem to be living longer — a result of improved veterinary technology, healthier diets and, we’d like to think, pet owners taking their reponsibility more seriously.

Veterinarians say it’s no longer unusual for some dogs and cats to reach 15 years or more, according to a recent MSNBC report, and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting that.

The MSNBC report, for instance, mentions Chanel, the wire-haired dachshund who when she died last month at the age of 21, was heralded as the world’s oldest dog, according to Guinness World Records. It also mentions Max, a terrier mix whose owner thinks he deserves some heralding as well. He is 26 and going strong.

While there don’t seem to be statistics to support it, it seems dogs, like people, are seeing their life expectancy stretch to new lengths.

“Just as the average life expectancy for people keeps reaching closer to the century mark, we’ll continue to see the same parallels in our pet population,” says Martha Smith, director of veterinary services at Boston’s Animal Rescue League.

Melanie Otte, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine at Florida Veterinary Specialists in Tampa, believes someday it will not be uncommon to see dogs routinely reaching 19 years of age, according to an article in South Florida’s News-Press.

That strong bond between an owner and their pet is one reason why dogs are living longer, some experts say.

My guess is, in some cases, it’s one reason people are living longer, too.

(Photo by John Woestendiek)