A guide to health testing Dobermann and how we approach this at Lunascura...
As a breed Dobermann are generally healthy. However over recent years the popularity of the breed has caused more and more people to start breeding without fully understanding what they are doing or listening to those around them who have the experience.
In the UK under the UK Kennel club there is no requirement to health test animals that are to be bred from and worse they will register puppies from parents with known genetic disorders that are also known to be hereditary. Therefore any dog with severe health problems (even if known) could become a Champion and be widely used as a stud dog or a brood bitch and pass the problems on to all their pups and the unknowing people who pay good money for a pup from a champion! So people buying dogs just because they have so many champions in their last 5 generations really are missing the point! We have stated elsewhere on this website that although we think that beauty and temperament are very important that without the dog being healthy then it is not the complete deal!
As standard we test all of our Dobermann before breeding from them and have and will continue to remove any dog from our breeding programme if there are any health issues. This has included several imported Dobermann that were imported at high cost and we hope that this demonstrates that we will not compromise on health as being a foundation to good breeding.
Below are some of the more common health issues in Dobermann and how we approach them at Lunascura:
(Please Click on the Link):
DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)
DCM is the Dobermanns' 3rd biggest killer after old age and cancer. The DCM gene or genes is estimated to be carried by around 50% of the breed worldwide. DCM can occur in several breeds including Dobermann and causes weakening of the valves in the heart and muscle walls.
DCM is hereditary and dogs can and do die under 4 years old. It is important not to breed into known DCM bloodlines to ensure that the condition is not continued.
There are several tests available. The first is a relatively new DNA test that is provided by Washington State University and can be done by post. This test is based on the one KNOW gene that can cause DCM in Dobermann and will tell us if the dog is Clear, Hetro or Homo Affected. Hetro meaning it has one clear and one affected gene and Homo meaning both are affected. A dog that is Homo Affected is almost certainly going to suffer from DCM while a Hetro Affected dog may suffer but there will be other factors at play such as fitness and weight etc.
A clear dog can only pass clear genes so combinations between 2 clear parents will lead to clear puppies so this is the best combination however due to the previlance of DCm in our breed Washington State University recommend we do not remove Hetro affected dogs from breeding but ensure to mate them to other dogs that have tested clear.
It is important to remember however that this test is only for ONE gene and even clear dogs can develop DCM due to other causes. However testing to rule out this gene is better than NOT TESTING as not testing means that this gene could also be in play so as far as we are concerned there should be no excuse for not testing and 100% of our dogs are tested!!!
It is also possible to have your dogs tested for clinical signs of DCM by a canine Cardiologist however it is also not possible from this test to guarantee that a dog will not develop the disease and for this reason we do not carry out routine testing of this type as the dog could be clear today and not next week. This is not a decision due to funding (as thanks to the new Boehringer Ingelheim funding for all registered Dobermanns between the ages of 5 and 9 can be tested free of charge at Liverpool University) it is a calculated decision that the DNA test provides facts but this test does not unless the dog is affected at the time of testing.
You may feel that this is not a solution however we combine the use of the DNA test in our breeding decisions with the review of LONGEVITY. Much as with humans, if you have a relative with a heart condition then the doctor will actively check your heart etc from an early age. If all you ancestors have lived long healthy lives without any heart conditions then it is likely that you will also lead the same long life. We believe that it is the same in dogs and we cover this in the next section.
NEW ARTICLE ON DCM MAY 2011: LINK
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One of the best indications of health of a dog has to be the longevity of the parents/relatives. Our dogs pedigrees can be found on their profile pages see OUR DOGS. The average lifespan of a Dobermann is 9 years, but with better breeding programmes including fresh bloodlines from Europe this may be slowly improving. Below are some of the dogs in their pedigrees.
- Crislea Centrefold of Aritaur - Died aged 13
- Kramnaraks Black Jack - Died aged 13
- Britta Alanâ€™s proud â€“ Died aged 10
- Nitro Del Rio Bianco â€“ Died aged 10
- Ch Holtzburg Mayhem - Died aged 9
- Ch Tamerlan iz Slavnoi Stai - Died aged 8 (stomach cancer)
- Zhemchuzhina Chernozemija Gerts â€“ Died age 5 (infected tick bite)
- Jowendy's Jazz Club â€“ Alive 2008 aged 12
- CH Dallas Royal Bell â€“ Alive 2009 aged 10
- Honeymoon Woodoo Majesty â€“ Alive 2008 aged 9
- Imidz Dasenka Valjur Land â€“ Alive 2009 aged 7
- Eko Royal Bell â€“ Alive 2008 aged 7
- Fâ€™Hiram Abif Royal Bell â€“ Alive 2009 aged 6.5
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VON WILLEBRANDS DISEASE (VWd)
VWd is a blood disorder that causes affected animals, who are cut, to continue bleeding. In some ways it is similar to haemophilia in humans. Thankfully the gene marker for this disorder has been identified and it is possible to carry out a DNA test to identify if your dog is clear, a carrier or affected. The test is done using a swab in the mouth or through taking blood and sending it to a lab. Some vets test by making a small cut on the dog and timing how long it takes to stop. This test is not accurate nor suitable for making breeding decisions as bleeding depends on other health conditions and the levels of Von Willebrands 'factor' in the blood.
Using the chart below you will see the statistical outcome of various combinations of Clear, Carrier and Affected dogs. Producing Clear animals is the optimal outcome however there is no risk in producing carrier animals as long as people continue to test before breeding. Carriers cannot bleed and live normal risk free lives. All our dogs at home are tested for Von Willebrands Disease unless we know both parents were also clear, and w only have mostly clear and some carriers.
| ||Clear Male||Carrier Male||Affected Male|
|Clear Female||100% Clear||50% Clear|
|Carrier Female||50% Clear|
|Affected Female||100% Carrier||50% Carrier|
Puppies will not have the disease gene although 50% of the resulting pups in the Carrier to Clear mating could carry the gene and should be tested before mating the puppies when they are adults.
While no dogs will be affected 100% will be carriers and therefore all future mating from this line have the potential to pass on the gene. We would only recommend this mating combination when there are significant other beneficial factors at play such as last of a bloodline or where the male is of excellent quality and far beyond any other available. There are rarely males that would fall into this category in this situation although using a male carrier on a clear female is acceptable.
While there are no affected puppies in this mating we would never have or agree to a mating where the mother is affected due to the risk to her. Quite often matings can result in the need for a C-section which if the mother is VWd affected could be fatal for her.
Any of the red Combinations can produce affected pups Some puppies are likely to be carriers, and some puppies are likely to be affected. Therefore we would never support or agree to these combinations and insist that our dogs are VWd tested before mating to ensure that none of these combinations are made unwittingly.
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PHPV (Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous)
PHPV is an eye disease which can occasionally cause loss of vision. It is also called Dutch Eye Disease. The space at the back of the eye, behind the lens, is normally filled with a clear jelly. This jelly is called the vitreous. Dogs with PHPV are born with a hazy, scarred vitreous. The hazy vitreous blocks light passing to the back of the eye. This leads to blurred vision. Sometimes when an unborn puppy is growing in the womb not all parts of the eye develop normally. In dogs with PHPV the first (primary) vitreous that grows in the eye fails to become clear. It grows too much (hyperplastic) and becomes hazy and scarred. Usually it would disappear and become clear but instead it stays (persists). This is why the condition is called Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous. This leads to blurred vision and other eye conditions sometimes developing. Nobody really knows why the vitreous sometimes does not develop correctly. Most cases of PHPV occur by chance although some cases are known to run in certain lines.
Very few dogs are tested in the UK and a grading is not given as it is in some European countries, so we do not know how much of a problem it is in the breed in the UK. Between 1967 and 1987, in the Netherlands 3,775 Dobermans were examined for hereditary eye diseases. In 238 of these dogs severe persistent hyperplastic tunica vasculosa lentis and primary vitreous (PHTVL/PHPV) was diagnosed. After a brief description of the clinical features the results of breeding over the recent years are discussed. The incidence (1978-1987) of severely affected dogs in the litter controls decreased from 5% to 1% in the individual controls from 19% to 8%. This is an encouraging downward tendency. Better results are to be expected once test mating and progeny-testing methods are accepted as breeding methods in dog breeding. All the dogs in our kennel and pups we have bred have to date tested PHPV Clear!
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WOBBLERS (Cervical Spondylomyelopathy)
While genetic factors are likely play a role in the development of this Wobblerâ€™s Syndrome, excess dietary calcium and protein appear to contribute as well. In some progressive cases the prognosis may be guarded. Wobblerâ€™s Syndrome is so named because affected dogs, usually Great Danes and Dobermans, appear to wobble or be unstable. Wobblerâ€™s Syndrome is a disease of the bones of the spinal column in the neck area.
So canine spondylomyelopathy is actually a more accurate term for this syndrome as the instability of the bones of the spinal column causes damage to the spinal cord. The symptoms of Wobblerâ€™s syndrome seem to manifest differently in Great Danes and Dobermans. Most Great Danes with cervical spondylomyelopathy will show signs at a young age-anywhere between three and twelve months. This form develops slowly. Dobermans are more prone to developing acute symptoms between the ages of five and seven years. These dogs experience neck pain and have front leg problems as well as the rear. While the symptoms in these cases may occur more quickly, these animals may respond better to surgical intervention than the slow onset cases.
The fact that two breeds of dog are prone to this syndrome points toward the potential for a genetic basis. The other potential contributing factor may be hyper-nutrition. Diets with high levels of protein and calcium may contribute to malformation of the cervical vertebrae, causing pressure on the spinal cord. None of our dogs have suffered from Wobblers nor have we breed from dogs who have had any evidence of Wobblers in their lines to the best of our knowledge. We also ensure that all puppies are raised on a well balanced diet and all new puppy owners receive a full puppy pack including a feeding guide.
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HYPER/HYPO - THYROIDISM
This is a hormonal disorder of a lack or excess of thyroid hormone in the Dobermann, usually occurring around 2-5 years of age. Symptoms depend on whether the dog has hyper (producing too much thyroid hormone) or hypo (insufficient) thyroid-ism. Hypo leads to lethargy, hair loss (usually bilateral on the flanks) and coarseness of the hair, and obesity. Dogs that are affected will be lethargic, feel the cold and often shiver, huddling close to a source of warmth. The most common clinical features of hyper-thyroidism are elevated heart rate, weight loss, increased appetite, nervousness, increased water intake and urination, and increased activity.
Diagnosis is achieved by means of a blood test. Treatment is by means of a daily dose of Thyroxine for life or removal of any growth or cancer on the thyroid gland in the case of Hyper (which can then lead to Hypo). We have not to date tested our dogs for this but after researching for adding health information to our site we have decided to look into testing all of our dogs.
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This is not a widespread problem within the Dobermann breed, however like any medium to large breed dog, there can be instances where Hip Dysplasia occurs. Hip Dysplasia (HD) is the malformation in the development of one or both ball and socket joints in the hip. The hip joint is composed of the socket which is formed by the bones of the pelvis and the "ball" (head) of the thigh bone (femur). Normally, this joint is very tight fitting, however if suffering from dysplasia there will be too much movement in the joint leading to pain and lameness. Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a genetically based disease which is greatly influenced by environmental factors.
The mode of inheritance of HD is complex and the degenerative changes occur with growth if the genetic and environmental factors are present. Due to this complexity, normal hipped dogs can produce offspring with all degrees of dysplasia and dysplastic dogs can produce normal offspring. Breeders can x-ray the dogs they intend to breed from and have these x-rays "scored" by professional veterinary graders.
The current BVA/KC scoring scheme for hip dysplasia (HD) has been in operation since 1984 and since then over 100,000 X-rays have been assessed. Dysplasia means abnormal development, and the degree of hip dysplasia present is indicated by a score assigned to each hip. The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine aspects of the X-rays of both hip joints. The minimum hip score is 0 and the maximum is 106 (53 for each hip). The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. The minimum age for hip scoring is one year, and each dog is only ever scored once under the scheme.
An average (or mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme and advice for breeders is to use only Dobermann with scores well below the breed mean score. The average score for a Dobermann in the UK is 10 (the sum of both hips).
Brindi â€“ HD (4:3) = 7
Vasco â€“ HD- A1 (Italy) = Max 4
Tess â€“ HD â€“ A1 (Italy) â€“ Max 4
Natrix â€“ HD (4:4) = 8
Ursula â€“ HD A1 (Germany) = Max 4
Havana â€“ HD A1 (Germany) = Max 4
Romance â€“ HD A1 (Germany) = Max 4
Flame â€“ HD A1 (Germany) = Max 4
AVERAGE LUNASCURA DOBERMANN = 4.6
As a rule we Hip Score all our Dobermann before breeding from them and only use tested stud dogs.
The following table compares the scores recognised by Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFI), FĂ©dĂ©ration Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Verein fĂĽr Deutsche SchĂ¤ferhunde (SV).
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While DNA PROFILING is not strictly health testing we are covering it under this section as it best sits here. The profiling and registering of your Dogs DNA is in our mind important as the whole UK KC system is based on trust... forms are completed and sent in via the post and as such you only have the word of a breeder that the puppy is from the parents stated.
With DNA PROFILING you no longer have to trust as you can contact the kennel club and have your own puppy DNA profiled and this will prove that the puppy is from the parents stated if they are profiled.
We have profiled all the dogs we have had litters from to date and will continue to profile the dogs we own in the future.
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