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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2016 Jan 4;6(1):a026633. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a026633.

The Companion Dog as a Model for the Longevity Dividend.

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Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602.
Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294.
Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602.
Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health, The Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Herts AL9 7TA, United Kingdom.
Departments of Pathology and Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.


The companion dog is the most phenotypically diverse species on the planet. This enormous variability between breeds extends not only to morphology and behavior but also to longevity and the disorders that affect dogs. There are remarkable overlaps and similarities between the human and canine species. Dogs closely share our human environment, including its many risk factors, and the veterinary infrastructure to manage health in dogs is second only to the medical infrastructure for humans. Distinct breed-based health profiles, along with their well-developed health record system and high overlap with the human environment, make the companion dog an exceptional model to improve understanding of the physiological, social, and economic impacts of the longevity dividend (LD). In this review, we describe what is already known about age-specific patterns of morbidity and mortality in companion dogs, and then explore whether this existing evidence supports the LD. We also discuss some potential limitations to using dogs as models of aging, including the fact that many dogs are euthanized before they have lived out their natural life span. Overall, we conclude that the companion dog offers high potential as a model system that will enable deeper research into the LD than is otherwise possible.

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