Age estimation in young dogs

PhD research: Martine Van Den Broeckkees compblack comp

Many national laws and European regulations require dogs to be of a certain age before they can be traded or transported. In the Flemish region, for animal welfare reasons, the minimum age at which a pup may leave the nest, its mother and siblings, is set at 8 weeks, as this period in the nest is essential for the development of its social skills, and favourable for the wellbeing and behaviour in the future life.

In the European Union, as a public health safety measure, cross-border transport of animals younger than 15 weeks is prohibited, as it is the earliest timepoint by which a correctly performed vaccination can guarantee sufficient protection against the still fatal zoonotic disease. However, a correct age estimation of pups of the aforementioned ages is very hard to perform with the currently available means.

It is therefore the aim of the present research to provide breed-specific references and develop tools allowing an accurate age estimation in growing dogs. Dental characteristics, radiographic dental and skeletal developmental patterns and biochemical parameters in dogs up to 1 year form the focus of the research. This research is partially funded by the Flemish Government.


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