The Genetics of Longevity

Citation: Coile DC. The genetics of longevity. Dog World. 2007 July; v(i): 22-3.

Location: Hard copy only, back issue not available from Dog World.

Favorite line: “So far 140 BFL-1 certificates have been issued, but only 2 BFL-2.”

Official abstract: Not available.

Rattery-relevant summary:

Longevity may be inherited.  In humans, long-living individuals have long-living siblings, and at least one gene has been associated with longevity.  In both humans and dogs, long-living individuals are relatively free of disease and illness until extreme old age.  Some scientists believe that the immune system is important in increases longevity.  Not only does it fight off normal pathogens, it is also involved in cancer development.  As the immune system works better when it has a variety of genes, heterozygousity seems to be better than having a homozygous genotype.  The best way to ensure heterozygous genes is to avoid inbreeding.  Several studies on dogs have indicated that outcrossed dogs live longer than those with more inbreeding (more than 6.25% in a 10 generation pedigree).  Another method of aquiring longevity is to wait to breed an animal until they are middle aged; one experiment doubled the lifespan of fruit flies in 100 generations by doing this.

One wonderful idea has been put forth by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.  They award Longevity Certification (LC) to dogs that live at least 10 years.  Bred-for-Longevity (BFL) certificates go to those animals with LC parents (BFL-1) and also grandparents (BFL-2).  If you were adopting a pet, wouldn’t this be something of value?  Perhaps URSA could award something like this to those rats who make it to or over 2.

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