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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-17-2014 08:26 PM
RubyTuesday Most of the GSD I've seen that lived past 14 were in poor shape & had (IMO) a seriously compromised quality of life. GSDs living 11/12+ good years aren't (again, IMO) dying at a drastically young age. Far too many die at 8 or 9, sometimes younger. Even more disturbing, the incidence of apparently healthy, sound dogs dying at 4 or 5 is not the vanishingly rare event that it should be. But what is most disturbing (& infuriating) is the propensity of some breeders to look to anything & everything but their own deeply flawed breeding practices.
01-17-2014 08:02 PM
onyx'girl Bringing up a well known SL who sired many litters...he died suddenly at 8(I think) I wonder if his progeny will live long? Too bad the database to track health and pedigrees isn't active enough to help with research.
01-17-2014 04:47 PM
Muskeg Thanks for continuing the responses. I think you probably do need to be in breeding for a while to actually know how your dogs age. Choosing a healthy sire is also important- although some traits do seem to be passed along more strongly though the dam's side, maybe because they rely more on mitochondrial DNA?

It seems to me like there is a split- some dogs succumb to illness or disease at 11-12, other breeze on by to live to 15-16. It would be nice to lean toward the 15-16 end of things, but longevity is a complicated deal. I guess you try to stack the odds in the puppies favor as much as possible and then re-evaluate as you go along with defining lines/kennel type.

I agree, that health and longevity should be important considerations in any breeding program, although temperament, working ability, and breed standards are also way up there. I think it is easier to predict that a dam with ring titles throughout her pedigree and a sire with ring titles throughout his pedigree will probably produce healthy, driven dogs suited for ring sport. I think longevity and senior health of the dog are much trickier traits for which to breed. A dog is usually titled by age 5 and often retired as a working k9 by age 7 or 8. That makes it a bit hard to determine how the dog fared into old age, which can be very important to even working-dog owners who value their dogs as companions. I guess it may be something you learn through experience and familiarity with the dogs and lines you are breeding.
01-17-2014 12:58 PM
Galathiel I think breeders who keep a mother line going will have a good idea of the longevity of their lines (from that side). They can research the stud's lines and choose accordingly as long as his other traits complement their female. My opinion. Humble.. anyways.

My breeder has had her lines since at least the 80's.
01-17-2014 12:42 PM
RubyTuesday Breeders should select breeding stock from long lived, sound & healthy extended families. They should pay particularly close attention to the dogs that are most closely related. Unfortunately in many breeds, & lines within those breeds, health, vigor & longevity have been sacrificed to careless &/or bad breeding. Too much of this masquerades as 'good breeding' *spit*.

AI can actively select for dogs that lived to a ripe age although there are drawbacks to using AI rather than natural breeding.

Breeding plans/goals s/b long range & the top priorities should always include health & longevity. Too often little more than lip service is paid to some paramount characteristics of genuinely good breeding.
01-03-2014 09:56 PM
onyx'girl Wouldn't selecting for longevity have to do with the breeders that are actually keeping dogs back from their program for future generations? Hard to track things when the lines are dispersed. I've found most of the dogs from the breeder I got my male from are for the most part free of health issues and so far the A litter is living to a good age. They are now into the 3rd generation of breeding the foundation lines and the A's are almost 12.
Truthfully, though, I've seen some GSD's that were pushing 15-16 and they were living, though barely.
I think most GSD's are long lived if they hit the 13-14 mark, past that they seem to be struggling to keep up day to day.
My childhood dog(spaniel/collie x) lived to be almost 18, but she should have been released to the bridge around 17, her last year was not what she would have wanted, if she was given the option. This was in the 60-70's when dogs were fed horse meat based food and minimally vaccinated, seldom were spayed/neutered early in their life.

Ted Kerosote has good info in his books, and it isn't his opinions but what has been researched.
01-03-2014 08:36 PM
jocoyn I hope some breeders will hop in on it. I have not used any herbicides (roundup) in my yard now for a good 4 years and am very cautious with flea / tick meds. I don't remember dogs getting cancer like they do now.
01-03-2014 06:37 PM
Muskeg Thanks for that interesting article, Nancy. I often hear that if a dog can make it past 9 to11 years old cancer-free they often live to the age of 15 to 17. I guess one of the keys to longevity is to try to avoid breeding dogs that carry genes making them more cancer prone.
01-03-2014 06:20 PM
jocoyn I read that in Merle's door but there is so much backmassing that I wonder if it really makes that big a difference?

My longest lived GSD (15) was heavily linebred on Lance of Fran Jo. My most recent 3 dogs are all outcrosses for 5-6 generations. Two died of cancer by age 9.

What is the difference between outcrossing and backmassing? - Akron German Shepherd | Examiner.com
01-03-2014 05:33 PM
Muskeg
Breeding for longevity

How does a breeder select for longevity?

I ask because a bitch is of prime breeding age from 2 to 8 (or so). This is well before a breeder knows if the dog will live to an advanced age and how well she will age.

With studs, the dogs can be bred a bit later, but in general, one is not breeding a 16 year old stud dog either, and it might even be ill-advised for puppy health- not to mention the stud's health.

I realize you can look back at pedigrees and see how long dogs lived, and talk to breeders to see how well they aged, but unless a breeder has been at it for a long time, and selecting for longevity, this seems difficult. Also, a few generations back the age of death is often not recorded and how well the dog aged is difficult to determine, unless the dog was titled at 10 years old or competing actively into advanced age. This is not usually the case.

I've also seen breeders claim that the less inbreeding, the healthier the stock (as espoused in Merle's door).

Breeders who select for longevity- how do you go about this?

Does selecting for longevity ever interfere with selecting for working ability, appearance, or temperament?

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