A dog’s life: Pup owners sought for major study to track 'lifestyles' of 10,000 dogs

It may sound like jargon describing a particularly brazen population cohort, but Generation Pup has nothing to do with stratifying society according to birth years.

A dog’s life: Pup owners sought for major study to track 'lifestyles' of 10,000 dogs

It may sound like jargon describing a particularly brazen population cohort, but Generation Pup has nothing to do with stratifying society according to birth years.

It is, in fact, an ambitious research project, billed by its backers as having “the potential to be the largest study of our canine companions of this generation”.

Amelie Veale, 11, and her 14-week-old lurcher Zoe at the launch of Generation Pup, a new research project by Dogs Trust and the University of Bristol. Picture: Fran Veale

Amelie Veale, 11, and her 14-week-old lurcher Zoe at the launch of Generation Pup, a new research project by Dogs Trust and the University of Bristol. Picture: Fran Veale

It aims to track the “lifestyles” of 10,000 dogs of all breeds from puppydom to adulthood, here and in Britain.

Conducted by researchers at the UK Dogs Trust and the University of Bristol, Generation Pup is described as a “birth cohort study, like the well-known Children of the 90s study, which has had a massive impact on knowledge about child development, health and disease, and informed many aspects of public health policy”.

Generation Pup aims to use its research findings to deliver “vital insights on our dogs’ development from an early age” and potentially paving the way “for effective preventative measures to be put in place, or lead to new approaches for therapy or treatment for our dogs”, according to executive director at Dogs Trust, Suzie Carley.

The researchers hope that by collecting information about each puppy, they can build up a picture of a whole generation of dogs across Britain and Ireland.

The team will investigate whether aspects such as environment, social interaction, diet, exercise or daily routine are important in the development of a range of health and behaviour conditions which impact on the well-being of dogs.

Those who sign up must have puppies aged 16 weeks or less, with the exception of puppies that came through quarantine, and which can be registered up to 21 weeks of age.

At a basic level, participants will be required to complete questionnaires regularly throughout the life of their dog and to allow access to their pet’s veterinary record so that researchers can investigate how often commonly occurring diseases are diagnosed by vets, and whether particular dog lifestyles are associated with the development of problems, such as bowel disease, arthritis or diabetes.

UK owners will also be asked to consider collecting samples, such as mouth swabs or urine, to allow researchers investigate diseases which impact on dogs and the genetic influences on both disease and behaviour. This option is not open to dog owners in the Republic of Ireland.

Participants also have the option of turning their puppy into a “media star” if they agree to promote the study through the media.

Details supplied by participants will be held securely and available only to the immediate study team.

Owners can opt out of the study at any stage.

The paperwork begins with a questionnaire one week after bringing the puppy home, then at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks and six months, with timeframes between questionnaires extending as the puppy grows.

Dogs Trust has been working in Ireland since 2005.

For more information about the study, see generationpup.ac.uk

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