Researchers here propose that the domestic dog population is overlooked as a cost-effective source of data on aging. It is certainly the case that there is a broad variation in life span as well as size between canine breeds, and comparative biology between and within species with disparate life spans is a strong thread in aging research these days:
With many caveats to the traditional vertebrate species pertaining to biogerontology investigations, it has been suggested that a most informative model is the one which: 1) examines closely related species, or various members of the same species with naturally occurring lifespan variation, 2) already has adequate medical procedures developed, 3) has a well annotated genome, 4) does not require artificial housing, and can live in its natural environment while being investigated, and 5) allows considerable information to be gathered within a relatively short period of time.
The domestic dog unsurprisingly fits each criterion mentioned. The dog has already become a key model system in which to evaluate surgical techniques and novel medications because of the remarkable similarity between human and canine conditions, treatments, and response to therapy. The dog naturally serves as a disease model for study, obviating the need to construct artificial genetically modified examples of disease. Just as the dog offers a natural model for human conditions and diseases, simple observation leads to the conclusion that the canine aging phenotype also mimics that of the human.
Genotype information, biochemical information pertaining to the GH/IGF-1 pathway, and some limited longitudinal investigations have begun the establishment of the domestic dog as a model of aging. Although we find that dogs indeed are a model to study aging and there are many independent pieces of canine aging data, there are many more "open" areas, ripe for investigation.