Determining the age of adult wild dogs. I. Pulp cavity : tooth width ratios

In order to determine the age of adult wild dogs, we compared two methods (that of Thomson and Rose (TR method) and that of Knowlton and Whittemore (KW method)) of measuring and calculating pulp cavity : tooth width ratios on upper and lower canine teeth from 68 mixed-sex, known-age wild dogs of 9 months to 13 years of age reared at two localities. Although significant relationships (P = 0.0001) were found between age and pulp cavity ratios by both methods, the TR ratio calculation and measurement showed heteroscedasity in error variance whereas the KW ratios had a more stable error variance and were normally distributed. The KW method also found significant differences between pulp cavity ratios between teeth of the upper and lower jaws (P < 0.0001) and sex (P = 0.01) but not geographic origin (P = 0.1). Regressions and formulae for fitted curves are presented separately for male and female wild dogs. Males show greater variability in pulp cavity decrements with age than do females, suggesting a physiological difference between the sexes. We conclude that the KW method of using pulp cavity as a proportion of tooth width, measured 15 mm from the root tip and averaged over both upper canines, is the more accurate method of estimating the age of adult wild dogs.

Author Kristan Kershaw, Lee Allen, Allan Lisle and Kerry Withers
Date 18/10/2005
Year 2005
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 32
Number 6
Pages 581-585
Notes Notes