Dogslife: a cohort study of Labrador retrievers in the UK

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Studies of animals that visit primary and secondary veterinary centres dominate companion animal epidemiology. Dogslife is a research initiative that collects data directly from owners about the health and lifestyle of Kennel Club (KC) registered Labrador Retrievers (LR) in the UK. The ultimate aim is to seek associations between canine lifestyle and health. A selection of data from Dogslife regarding the height, weight and lifestyle of 4307 LR up to four years of age is reported here.

The majority of the dogs were household pets, living with at least one other pet, in families or households with more than one adult. The dogs typically ate diets of dried food and daily meal frequency decreased as the dogs aged. Working dogs spent more time exercising than pets, and dogs in Wales and Scotland were exercised more than their counterparts in England. Dogs in households with children spent less time exercising than dogs in other types of households. There was considerable variation in height and weight measurements indicative of a highly heterogeneous population. The average male height at the shoulders was 2-3 cm taller than the UK breed standard. Dog weights continued to increase between one and four years of age. Those with chocolate coloured coats were heavier than their yellow and black counterparts. Greater dog weight was also associated with dogs whose owners reported restricting their dog's exercise due to where they lived.

These findings highlight the utility of wide public engagement in the collation of phenotypic measures, providing a unique insight into the physical development and lifestyle of a cohort of LRs. In combination with concurrently collected data on the health of the cohort, phenotypic data from the Dogslife Project will contribute to understanding the relationship between dog lifestyle and health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-435
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number4 Sp. Iss. S1
Early online date7 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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