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Your_Majesty's avatar

Why domestication seems to decrease animal's life span?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8235points) March 28th, 2010

This is just another example: Research shows that most domestic dog average life span is about fifteenth years. This is of course,different from their close relative,the wolves,which may life for more than 25th years in the same condition(in captivity).
I’m not talking about size here. As we know that smaller dogs tend to live longer than bigger dogs due to the fact that they don’t need to support bigger activities in their body just like bigger dogs. But even so,if we compare a dog and a wolf from the same size and same living condition we’ll see that wolf tend to live longer.

So why domestication seems to decrease animals life span despite their less hazardous and well taken care lifestyle by human? Could it be that because of they lack of genetic diversity that shorten their life span?,evolutionary impact?,or there could be another explaination? Hmm…. I’m curious here.

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19 Answers

KatawaGrey's avatar

Actually, domestication does the opposite. Wolves may live longer because they are an entirely different species now than dogs. Yes, the two can interbreed but they are still different species. This talks about how larger animals tend to live longer than their smaller counterparts and many wolves are larger than dogs. It also talks about how animals live longer in captivity because they are allowed to grow old, there are fewer accidents, diseases can be treated and babies are more likely to live.

anartist's avatar

I am quite surprised to hear about the long life-span of the wolf. Have you compared domestic dogs to feral dogs? Domestic cats live far longer than their feral counterparts.

cazzie's avatar

You can no longer compare wolves with dogs. They are to far separate. You may as well compare donkeys and zebras.
There are genetic problems inherent in the horrific selective breeding that goes on for certain ‘breeds’, but you can’t compare the two species anymore.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I figure it’s less exercise and a fattier diet. Just like humans.

mrentropy's avatar

It increases the life of parrots.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Specific breeding, much like if humans get too inbred causes all sorts of genetic issues… German Shepherds for example have really bad knees, etc.

marinelife's avatar

Domesticity increases animal lifespan, not decreases it.

“The maximum recorded lifespan for a turkey in captivity is twelve years and four months. For turkeys living in the wild, the maximum is less than ten years, but the average life expectancy of a turkey, is males just over 2 years and just over 3 years for females. ” “Source::

“The average life span of a rabbit is between 7–12 years. Though the average life span for wild rabbits is 6–7 years, most of them hardly live for one year, mainly because of the several predators in the wild. :Source

“As it turns out, nature intended horses to live into their mid-to late teens, or perhaps early twenties – not much longer than this.” Source

“Depending on breed, management and environment, the domestic horse today has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.[5] It is uncommon, but a few animals live into their 40s and, occasionally, beyond.” Source

cazzie's avatar

Oh.. definitions are important. Are we talking species we have domesticated, ie bred for domestic purposes or simply animals we keep in captivity?

Dogs are not wolves kept in captivity.. but the parrot someone referred to is…

cazzie's avatar

It’s a very anthropomorphic question this and I’m not sure why it’s gotten under my skin so much. Perhaps because it comes from such a misconceived angle. Species live long enough to breed and carry on their DNA and ensure their progeny has a chance of doing the same. You could ask… ‘Why does any animal live longer than another.’ Perhaps it’s the wolves social pack style that requires a longer life as other female wolves are required to help raise the pack cubs, where as with domestic dogs… they get to look after their babies perhaps 6 weeks and they’re sold off by humans.

There IS a difference between animals we have domesticated and then those that live in captivity. Some animals lend themselves to domestication and others simply do NOT. They can not domesticate the zebra, for example. They have tried to look at this genetically, I’m sure you heard of the famous silver fox selective breeding from the 1950’s.

I think there is a Jared Diamond book that explains this better, but perhaps you can look at it a bit differently now?

davidbetterman's avatar

It’s a question based on a faulty premise. Domestication does not decrease the life span of the domesticated animal. It increases said life span.

Kraigmo's avatar

How come in your question you are comparing domesticated dogs to captive wolves?

That’s not a proper comparison. You would need to compare dogs to wolves in the wild.

Or even better… feral dogs in the wild compared to domesticated dogs of same type.

Without proper comparisons, the statistics are useless.

Trillian's avatar

Domestication incerases the life span for different reasons. Tha animal is fed and sheltered, decreasing the stress of constant looking for food. It does not have to guard against predators, and is able to give birth in peace and quiet. Thus the mother does not have the stress of leaving the pups alone to go and hunt or forage.
The animals are generally treated with regular medical care so they don’t die of the diseases out there and if injured are patched up and infections prevented as well as injuries which would disable them from hunting and feeding themselves.

babaji's avatar

They get fat and lazy.

Hexr's avatar

I am going to assume we’re referring to animals in general…. I would guess that it has to do with domestic animals having consistant nutrition, as well as the absence of natural hazards. Plus, I know for cats and dogs there’s lots of illnesses and parasites that only outdoor animals can get. Same reasons as the increase in human’s lifespan over time

anartist's avatar

My cats have all been indoor/outdoor cats. One lived to be 21. I think veterinary care plays a significant part.

carstairs's avatar

Perhaps what the question is asking is regarding if the process of domesticating a wild species decreases longevity in the resulting domestic species?

cazzie's avatar

Doc D hasn’t even commented here about our comments, so I think I’m done speculating on what the question was trying to get at. Sometimes people post questions not to ask a question.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@carstairs That’s what I meant.

@cazzie Sorry about that. I gone to sleep as soon as I finished post my question. Yes,we’re talking about animals that have been domesticated by human.

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