Epidemiology, Economics and Risk Assessment

The Dogslife Project

The Dogslife project investigates the genetic and environmental factors which keep dogs healthy.

Adult Labrador

Background and aims


At present, large and rigorous population-based studies of dog health have not been performed. Reports of factors which might be associated with the risks of disease are either largely anecdotal or based on specialist veterinarians or insurance data, and are thus imprecise and subject to inaccuracies. Furthermore most of these studies are cross-sectional and do not follow dogs for long periods of time – as we know, problems can occur at any point in the clinical, lifestyle, environment, diet or reproductive history of individuals. Perhaps more importantly the frequencies of the most common veterinary presentations, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infection and parasite infestation are impossible to calculate from studies utilising secondary referral centres, as these conditions are normally treated at the primary practices or at home. The Dogslife project aims to recruit and survey a cohort of Labrador Retrievers to investigate what the true frequencies of disease are in a large population of dogs and to discover genetic and environmental factors associated with health and longevity.


Our work


The Dogslife project is a revolutionary clinical research project which aims to recruit information about canine health using a website based platform to study the factors which affect the health and illness (epidemiology) of domestic dogs. The project is a collaboration between The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research at the University of Manchester, Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool and The Kennel Club. Labrador Retriever dog owners are encouraged to enrol onto the project through advertisement when they register their puppy with the Kennel Club. Subsequently, owners are requested to submit further information on their dog's health on a monthly basis for the first year (and three-monthly thereafter) of their dog's life using a web-based data capture system; the "Dogslife" website and via sending us postal samples. The data collected is provided through owner description of symptoms and other aspects of the dog's life, veterinary diagnosis and analysis of DNA and faecal samples sent to us.




We have been involved in many collaborations with other research groups including the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS), Generation Pup, the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust, The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET), Banfield, Vet Compass, GOdogs and Dr Jeffrey Schoenebeck’s and Professor Ian Jackson’s research groups at the University of Edinburgh.


Related Links



Selected publications


Woolley CSC, Handel IG, Bronsvoort BM, Schoenebeck JJ, Clements DN. (2020) Is it time to stop sweeping data cleaning under the carpet? A novel algorithm for outlier management in growth data. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0228154. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0228154

Pugh CA, Bronsvoort BMC, Handel IG, Querry D, Rose E, Summers KM, Clements DN. (2017)  Incidence rates and risk factor analyses for owner reported vomiting and diarrhoea in Labrador Retrievers - findings from the Dogslife Cohort. Prev Vet Med 140:19-29. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2017.02.014

Pugh CA, de C Bronsvoort BM, Handel IG, Querry D, Rose E, Summers K, Clements DN. (2016) Cumulative incidence and risk factors for limber tail in the Dogslife labrador retriever cohort. Vet Rec. 179(11):275. doi:10.1136/vr.103729

Pugh CA, Bronsvoort BM, Handel IG, Summers KM, Clements DN. (2015) Dogslife: A cohort study of Labrador Retrievers in the UK. Prev Vet Med. 122(4):426-35. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2015.06.020.

Pugh CA, Summers KM, Bronsvoort BM, Handel IG, Clements DN.  (2015) Validity of Internet-based longitudinal study data: the elephant in the virtual room. J Med Internet Res. 7(4):e96. doi:10.2196/jmir.3530

Clements DN, Handel IG, Rose E, Querry D, Pugh CA, Ollier WE, Morgan KL, Kennedy LJ, Sampson J, Summers KM, de Bronsvoort BM. (2013) Dogslife: a web-based longitudinal study of Labrador Retriever health in the UK. BMC Vet Res. 9:13. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-9-13.