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Article

TeamMate: A Longitudinal Study of New Zealand Working Farm Dogs. III. Factors Affecting the Risk of Dogs Being Lost from the Workforce

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School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
2
Vetlife, Timaru 7910, New Zealand
3
College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: David C. Dorman
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1602; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061602
Received: 12 May 2021 / Accepted: 27 May 2021 / Published: 29 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Health, Behaviour and Performance in Working Dog Teams)
Working farm dogs are essential to many livestock farmers, but little is known about what increases their risk of being lost from the workforce through dying, being euthanized or being retired. A study carried out in New Zealand found that the majority of farm dogs that were lost from work during a four-year period died or were euthanized rather than being retired, and owners reported that acute injuries or illnesses were the most common cause. However, 65% of dogs that died or were retired were at least seven and 38% at least 10 years old, showing that working farm dogs often work into their old age. Data from physical examinations performed by veterinarians showed that lameness almost doubled dogs’ risk of being lost from work, independently of their age. Our results show that further research into what causes lameness in working farm dogs, and how this lameness can be avoided, could make a significant positive impact on the health and welfare of these dogs.
Working farm dogs are essential to many livestock farmers. Little is known about factors that influence dogs’ risk of being lost from work. This paper explores risk factors for farm dogs being lost through death, euthanasia and retirement. All enrolled dogs were working and a minimum of 18 months old. Five data collection rounds were performed over four years. Data about dogs were collected from owners and dogs were given physical examinations by veterinarians. Dogs that were lost from work were counted and owner-reported reasons for loss were recorded. Multivariable logistic regression modelling was used to investigate risk factors for loss. Of 589 dogs, 81 were lost from work. Of these, 59 dogs died or were euthanized and 22 were retired. Farm dogs tended to reach advanced ages, with 38% being 10 years or older when last examined. Acute injury or illness was the most commonly owner-reported reason for loss. Age group (p < 0.0001) and lameness (p = 0.04, OR = 1.8) significantly affected dogs’ risk of being lost. These results expand our knowledge about factors that affect health, welfare and work in farm dogs. Further investigation into reasons for lameness may help improve health and welfare in working farm dogs. View Full-Text
Keywords: risk factors; longevity; death; euthanasia; retirement; longitudinal; TeamMate; working dogs; herding dogs; working farm dogs risk factors; longevity; death; euthanasia; retirement; longitudinal; TeamMate; working dogs; herding dogs; working farm dogs
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MDPI and ACS Style

Isaksen, K.E.; Linney, L.; Williamson, H.; Norman, E.J.; Cave, N.J.; Cogger, N. TeamMate: A Longitudinal Study of New Zealand Working Farm Dogs. III. Factors Affecting the Risk of Dogs Being Lost from the Workforce. Animals 2021, 11, 1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061602

AMA Style

Isaksen KE, Linney L, Williamson H, Norman EJ, Cave NJ, Cogger N. TeamMate: A Longitudinal Study of New Zealand Working Farm Dogs. III. Factors Affecting the Risk of Dogs Being Lost from the Workforce. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061602

Chicago/Turabian Style

Isaksen, Katja E., Lori Linney, Helen Williamson, Elizabeth J. Norman, Nick J. Cave, and Naomi Cogger. 2021. "TeamMate: A Longitudinal Study of New Zealand Working Farm Dogs. III. Factors Affecting the Risk of Dogs Being Lost from the Workforce" Animals 11, no. 6: 1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061602

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