The Canine Diversity Project
A. Immune system   IMMUNITY

Though some health problems are clearly due to infectious agents and others, such as those described above, are clearly genetic in origin, not all are readily classified.

Immune system problems are one example. Evidence continues to grow that overaggressive vaccination may have harmful side effects. This makes it difficult to determine whether any breeds, or individuals within a breed, are genetically immunodeficient. In The Immune System and Disease Resistance , Dr. Jean Dodds discusses the role of the immune system in maintaining the body's overall health and resistance to disease. The focus is on events which may trigger immune dysfunction leading to either immune deficiency or immune stimulation (reactive or autoimmunity). Of particular concern are the potential risks from combining vaccines, the use of modified live virus, and the frequency of vaccination. Several veterinary schools are now recommending boosters only every three years instead of annually.


B. Fertility   IMMUNITY

Smaller than normal litters, stillbirths, and neonatal death may be the result of inbreeding or specific genetic problems. They may also be the result of infection, exposure of the dam to toxic substances (teratogens and hormone disruptors) during pregnancy, and developmental "accidents" of unknown cause.

Hormone disruptors are synthetic chemicals that mimic legitimate endocrine signals. They may also cause cancer and immune problems. For an overview see:

Endocrine Disruptors (WhyFiles; University of Wisconsin)

 Hormone Disruptors  Lia A. Daborn-  Conservation Council of New Brunswick

For a good discussion of the dangers from viral infection, see:

Stress, Infertility and Herpes Infection , by Mary Wakeman, DVM.
C. Longevity   IMMUNITY

What is a reasonable life expectancy for a domestic dog? This is not information readily available, as neither owners nor veterinarians are obliged to report deaths, and the kennel clubs keep no records. Where such data exists, it has generally been collected by surveys, and the results depend on how representative the sample is of the population.

Doberman Pinscher Club of America Longevity Program

In order to promote longevity as a breeding goal, the DPCA approved the Longevity Program in 1997. A Longevity Certification (LC) is awarded to any individual Doberman dog or bitch who reaches the age of 10 or greater. A Bred for Longevity (BFL) certification is awarded to any individual Doberman of any age whose ancestors are LC.


The Diversity Project's Longevity Study

We have been collecting data that we hope will help us understand the reasons for the differences in lifespan between different breeds and sizes of dogs. Some of our preliminary conclusions may be found in the article Longevity in the Standard Poodle. Please take a look at the data for the Australian Shepherd and Clumber Spaniel as well. [The assistance of all those who contributed data is greatly appreciated.]


Mixed breed survey

Here are  the results of this study.