A Dog's Color Could Affect His Life Expectancy
A study found that chocolate Labradors will live less than black or white Labradors. This shows that a dog’s color could affect his life expectancy. Inbreeding is the main risk factor.
A thorough study about a dog’s color
The University of Sydney used 33,000 Labrador Retrievers living in the United Kingdom to conclude that the chocolate-colored variety is more likely to have a shorter life expectancy. In addition, the research showed that chocolate-colored Labradors are more prone to suffer from ear infections and skin diseases.
The average life expectancy of Labradors is 12.1 years, 10% higher than that of the chocolate Labrador. This color, which is recessive in this breed, only occurs if both parents carry the gene that expresses it. That’s why breeders usually resort to inbreeding practices to obtain chocolate-colored puppies. Consequently, this reduces the genetic diversity of the Labrador.
Inbreeding is not only affecting the chocolate Labradors, but the entire breed as a whole. This especially true in terms of the prevalence of obesity and hip dysplasia. The study estimated that 8.8% of Labradors in the United Kingdom alone are overweight, especially in the case of castrated male specimens.
The dangerous consequences of canine inbreeding
Unfortunately, inbreeding among animals is a fairly common practice for unethical breeders. Because of the similarities in the genetic material of offspring from these practices, they can have defective genes or recessive diseases that would not have appeared in traditional breeding.
Some autosomal recessive diseases caused by these practices can seriously affect a dog’s health: epilepsy or cancer, for example, can also be caused by inbreeding. However, some inbred dogs may go unnoticed or their quality of life may be less affected by it.
Regardless, each and every one of those small defects has a cumulative character. This means that the more you cross individuals that are related, the poorer health conditions and the shorter life expectancy the puppies will have.
The worst cases of inbreeding, according to the British association Kennel Club, can lead to infertility or death of the puppies. Genetic testing of prospective parents can help avoid the loss of species genetic diversity. However, responsible purchase or adoption by the owners is ultimately the best long-term solution.