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2015 AGM Health Report



DCM continues to be a ‘hot topic’ in our breed and quite rightly so.  Having recently spent 2 days during Crufts doing ‘discover dogs’ I can assure you that the public are ‘catching on’ to the fact that this disease is prevalent in our breed and it is left firmly at the door of responsible breeders to ensure that the dogs they are breeding from have been properly (ie gold standard) screened before they are mated to ensure that we do all that is possible to try to reduce the incidence.  I had far too many heart-breaking conversations with people whose dogs had either dropped down dead at a young age or had gone through the distress of watching them fade away so quickly and we need to take the bull by the horns and stop burying our heads in the sand; our Dobermanns are dying, many of them far too young but we can, if we want to, make a concerted effort to try and push this disease into old age where it belongs.

It is well documented that the working party of the UKDP has secured a grant from the Kennel Clubs charitable trust, £ 23,348 that has been paid over to the University of Liverpool under the guardianship of Dr Jo Dukes-McEwan.  In addition to this, the remaining funds from the breed council and funds that have been raised by individuals from sponsorship, donations and profit from merchandising have, I believe, also been sent to ‘add to the pot’.  The aims of the study are:

1) To investigate the sensitivity and specificity of the high sensitivity cardiac Troponin I (hs cTnI) assay to identify Dobermanns with DCM compared with the “gold standard” of echocardiography and Holter monitoring.

2) To investigate the sensitivity and specificity of the new 2nd generation N-Terminal pro-BNP (NT-proBNP) assay to identify Dobermanns with DCM compared with the “gold standard” of echocardiography and Holter monitoring.

3) To investigate whether the combination of hs cTnI and 2nd generation NT-proBNP improves sensitivity and specificity and whether this combination of biomarkers can reliably be used as a method of “heart testing” for DCM in Dobermanns on an annual basis.


Having read through the proposal; my understanding is that it is hoped that the biomarker, if it is deemed the sensitivity & specificity are sufficiently high, will prove to be an acceptable method (in terms of cost) of annual screening for DCM as apposed to expensive echo & holter screening. It would seem that the majority or even all of the dogs that will be required for the research will be taken from those dogs that were Troponin tested under the breed council subsidised scheme. 

Whilst this research is very exciting in terms of cheaply identifying dogs that may be clinically affected or require further investigation, my understanding is that it is NOT looking to replace the current ‘gold standard’ screening that is recommended by cardiologists for testing breeding stock prior to mating.  Only echo & holter can detect the minute changes that take place in the pre-clinical phase of DCM – any blood test is looking for enzymes given off by a damaged heart…we don’t want to continue breeding from dog’s with damaged hearts! As ‘painful’ as it may be to incur extra costs when contemplating a litter, this testing should be seen as part & parcel of the cost of a litter; the same as the stud fee & the vetbeding because nothing can be as painful as watching your beloved dog die from this horrible disease.

We recommend the following:

DCM Testing/Screening

All breeding stock should be tested clear of DCM by Echocardiograph Doppler scan combined ideally with 24 holter monitoring no longer than 12 months prior to mating.

Owners should ensure that scanning is carried out by a Diplomate qualified Cardiologist.

No breeder should knowingly breed from stock with any signs of DCM.


All stud dogs should ideally be tested at regular intervals of no more than 18 months apart.  As long as they are fit and well, they should continue with stud work into their senior years. 



It is not to be frowned upon to use 4/5/6 year olds for breeding, breeders should consider outweighing any other hurdles that may occur with age against DCM.



It is recommended that breeders endeavour to breed from stock whose parents have lived to a good age in excess of  8/10 years old.

Breeders should endeavour to keep accurate records of their stock and include the age at death of their breeding stock . Breeders could consider marking each pedigree with age at time of death.



Breeders are encouraged not to breed too closely in their lines.  This is not the cause of DCM but to help reduce the incidence of carrying the gene.

Breeders are encouraged to use the KC Mate Select to compare the coefficient score of progeny produced from matings. This facility is a guideline tool for breeders, along with temperament, conformation and other health issues prior to mating.  Details of Mate Select can be found on the Kennel Club’s website.



Ideally owners should be made aware of the potential diseases on the purchase of their new puppy.


Our local specialist cardiologist is: 

Sarah  Smith  MA Vet  MB Cert VC. MRCVS

Ivy Court, Willington Road, Etwall, Derbyshire. DE56 6JG  Tel. 01283 733 766

Costs can vary but you should expect to pay around £ 300 for Echocardiograph scan and around £ 450 for 24 hour holter monitoring.

The Midland Dobe Club are offering subsidised screening until the end of July if you’re a member of their Club: £180 for EITHER echo OR holter or BOTH for £ 430 however, there is an amazing deal being offered by a referral centre in Bristol for DCM screening:

Echocardiography (including Doppler echo): £150 first animal, £130 subsequent animals on the same day, Or Echocardiography and Holter (including Doppler echo and 24 hour ECG):
£280 first animal, £240 subsequent animals on the same day  Both including full physical examination, auscultation and heart testing certificate.

If any of our members are interested, I would be happy to try to organise a multi-appointment session with the costs being shared equally between all – we may even be able to arrange shared transport & fuel costs to keep the charges to a minimum for everyone; please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kieran Borgeat Bsc (Hons) BVSc MVetMed CertVC, MRCVS, DipACVIM (Cardiology)
Highcroft Veterinary Referrals, 615 Wells Road, Whitchurch. Bristol. BS14 9BE

Under the KC/BVA Schemes the following Health Tests Are Also Available:


HD-Hip Dysplasia KC/BVA testing scheme.
(Requirement of the KC Assured Breeders Scheme)

Testing is voluntary, results are added to the dogs registration documents and published in the BRS (Breed Record Supplement) . 

The 2013 data is the latest that is available 1581 dobermanns scored with a breed mean score of 10.7 calculated over a 15 year period.  The good news is that over the past 5 years, this has reduced to a BMS of 10.2 so, whilst only a small change, it is in the right direction.

KC registration documents need to be produced at time of test and dogs must be microchipped.                                                               

You can either contact your own vet or the nearest local specialised centre is Nantwich Vet. Group in Cheshire - they charged £ 137.16 inc BVA fee. Last year.  Charges will vary from practice to practice, as may the results – choose carefully.

PHPV (Persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous)

Adult testing is recorded on the registration doc’s. and published in the BRS.

Recommended to all owners and breeding stock also recommended by the KC Assured Breeders Scheme

Litter testing available but not added to registration documents.  Again, in the past 15 years, 749 dogs have been tested with 20 of them (2.67%) being affected & 729 (97.33%) unaffected.

All dogs must be identified by microchip.

Local Clinic  Mr. Goodyear

Glenthorne Practise.  25, Ashby Road, Burton-on-Trent. DE15 OLG
Tel. 01283 519090

KC registration  documents to be produced at the time of test.

Cost in 2015 is £ 52.00 including the BVA fee.

For those of you that show, you can usually get this testing done at certain champ. Shows at a vastly reduced rate; I had Edna tested at Crufts for just £ 20.00!!


von Willebrand disease

Until 2012, testing for vWD was done via the Kennel Club at the Finnzymes lab with the results being annotated onto registration documents.  Testing your dogs is now voluntary, but a requirement of a KCABS.  Remember that it is only by en masse testing and selective breeding over the past 10/15 years that we have managed to get our gene pool to be of predominantly “clear” dogs.  We should not rest on our laurels on testing for vWD or we will soon find this disease creeping back into our breeding stock and once again face breeding affected dogs. 

Puppies from clear and carrier matings should be routinely tested so that we do not breed carrier to carrier and there is even good reason to randomly test puppies that have been born “clear by parentage” after a couple of generations as mistakes can happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

There are two companies who test DNA for Type 1 vWD whose results the KC will acknowledge:

Laboklin in the UK -  2015 charge £ 88.00

VetGen in the USA -  2015 charge $ 95.00 = £ 64.00 (23.03.15)  with todays’ favourable exchange rate.


This is unfortunately, quite common in Dobes but fortunately, relatively easily managed with synthetic thyroxine that is taken in either tablet or liquid form for the rest of the dogs’ life.  Regular blood tests are required to ensure that the levels are correct.  This disease is thought to be hereditary.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight gain

  • Hair loss

  • Recurring skin infections

  • Lethargy or listlessness

  • Anaemia

  • Slow heart rate

  • Nerve disorders: facial paralysis, head tilt, constipation, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle wastage and stiffness.



Cancer in it’s many forms continues to be the single biggest killer of all canines; lymphoma and bone cancer seem to be amongst the more common ones that affect our Dobes.


KC Health Reporting

At the end of 2014, the KC launched another pedigree health survey; it has been reported that 367 live & 95 deceased dobes had information submitted by their owners.  It has been 10 years since the last survey in 2004 when 129 live & 100 deceased dogs were reported on.

Registrations in the past 10 years have totalled 19,409 dogs; the 462 dogs that have been reported on in this survey represent just 2.38% of dogs registered in the 10 year period so whilst we will welcome reading the report when published, it must be read bearing this statistic in mind.


Yvonne Cox

Health Coordinator

March 2015

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