Chocolate Labradors have lower life expectancy
Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed of dogs in Australia but they are highly predisposed to many health disorders. They are often of a stocky build and have a tendency to eat beyond their physiological needs, therefore prone to obesity, which can lead to elbow and hip dysplasia. Labradors also face increased prevalence of skin disorders and a risk of ear inflammation.
Clinical health records of 33,320 Labrador retrievers were explored in the UK-based VetCompass™ database where the dogs were under veterinary care during 2013. The program collects electronic patient record data on dogs attending UK primary-care veterinary practices while disorder and mortality data was extracted from a random sample of 2074 (6.2 per cent) dogs. The demographic analysis covered all 33,320 Labrador retrievers in the database.
The prevalence of acute moist dermatitis was at 1.1 per cent in black dogs and 1.6 per cent in yellow dogs, but in chocolate dogs, it rose to 4.0 per cent.
The findings revealed of all the Labradors, 46.4 per cent were female and 53.6 per cent were male. Females were also more likely to be neutered than males. The most common recorded colours were black, yellow and chocolate. The median longevity of Labrador retrievers overall was 12.0 years. But the median longevity of non-chocolate-coloured dogs at 12.1 years was longer than for chocolate-coloured animals at 10.7 years.
Out of the random sample of Labradors, 61.6 per cent had at least one disorder. The most prevalent disorders recorded were otitis externa (ear inflammation), overweight/obesity and degenerative joint disease. The prevalence of otitis externa in black dogs was 12.8 per cent and in yellow dogs it was 17.0 per cent. Surprisingly, in chocolate dogs, it rose to 23.4 per cent. Similar results were seen for the prevalence of acute moist dermatitis — at 1.1 per cent in black dogs, 1.6 per cent in yellow dogs, but in chocolate dogs, it rose to 4.0 per cent, indicating that skin and ear diseases are significantly more common in chocolate dogs than in black or yellow dogs.
This research was replicated by the University of Sydney and revealed that the life expectancy of chocolate-coloured Labrador retrievers is much lower than that of yellow or black Labradors. The results of the study can help in prioritising health issues within Labrador retrievers and can inform pet owners to breed-specific health issues and health checks.
Source: Canine Genetics and Epidemiology
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