Cardiomyopathy


*Recently there has been new research on Dialated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) which has been a source of early death in Dobermans.  Dr. Meurs at Washington State University has discovered "a" mutant gene associated with DCM. Here are free video presentations shown at the DPCA National Show. The first is on the discovery of the mutant gene for DCM presented by Dr Meurs and the second is on the new DCM therapy using Stem Cells http://www.ustream.tv/user/DPCA/shows . 

Dr. Meurs (Washington State University) has discovered a gene mutation that is consistent amongst all the dobes in her study group. While this discovery is a piece of the "genetic puzzle" in solving the DCM problem in Dobes, unfortunately its significance is still questionable. In fact, 15% of the negative dogs came up with early signs of DCM. So out of the 1,280+  dogs nearly 200 dogs that tested negative come up with DCM.  Dr. Meurs has stated that she suspects there will be more than one gene that is a player on the DCM stage. But this first identification of a gene mutation is a step in the right direction for our breed.  I contend that there HAS to be other factors involved, so this test alone is not going to be valid in determining the gene for DCM.  It is inconclusive at best.  Many breeders are waiting for the next round of tests which is suppose to be forth coming from a researcher in Germany and it is proported to be a much more reliable test on identifying mutant genes which are related to DCM.  As soon as that information is released I will update the info on my site.

This gene mutation is genetically autosominal dominant with Varied Penetrance. There is a DNA test available from WSU available at this link http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/deptsVCGL/Orders/doberman.aspx Test results will be one of the following. 

Negative – no gene mutation 
Positive/Heterozygous – 1 copy of the gene mutation 
Positive/Homozygous – 2 copies of the gene mutation 

According to Dr. Meurs, having a test result of Positive (either Heterozygous or Homozygous) is NOT predictive of "when" or even "If" your dog will get DCM - heart disease because of the varied penetrance of the mutated gene. Dr. Meurs did state that dogs that tested Pos-Homo did "appear" to manifest DCM earlier and have much worse symptoms once DCM was clinically apparent. Conversely, she also stated that dogs that came back Negative could not be guaranteed that they would NEVER get DCM.   In fact, there have been a significant number of cases where a dog that tests negative has had early onset of DCM and dogs that test positive-positive (homozygous) live long, unaffected lives.   So as important as this new discovery is it is also very frustrating as it is not one bit predictive of which dogs absolutely WILL or WILL NOT get DCM. 

This is because she suspects that it is highly likely that the mutant gene she found is probably not the ONLY gene that could cause the Negative dog to develop DCM. There are also other environmental causal agents like diet, virus and exercise that could "cause" DCM to manifest in a Negative dog. She also felt we could be dealing with two forms of DCM the enlarged heart and the fibrillation type of DCM disease.. 

I think it is important that we get our dogs tested, if for no other reason to help in the research to slow down, or even stop, this disease.  For now the best test, I feel to guard against DCM is to know the family history and longevity in your dog's line.  The best "test" at the moment has to be that dogs in the line have lived a long time (longevity) and have had no evidence of DCM in at least 6 generations. 

"I am also feeling better because even if I have Positive dogs in my lines – there has to be another causal agent or agents at work that affects... each dog.. Otherwise the current dogs and their ancestors would not have enjoyed the longevity validated by the Bred for Longevity and Longevity certifications in my pedigrees. I just don’t believe that those (like myself) who have studied pedigrees, bred with health and temperaments in mind and have demonstrated longevity have produced these dogs by accident, luck or coincidence. " (Gail Forrest) 

I agree whole heartedly with Gail.  Dr. Meur’s said it would likely take 3 generations to breed out DCM.   Dr Meurs also strongly advised against whole scale culling of every positive dog out of the breeding pool – that would be disastrous. Breeders need to utilize the heterozygous dogs bred to negative dogs – create retain genetic diversity and increase the number of negative dogs. 

I have tested Gable.  He has tested Negative for the gene with the WSU test.   Again, even testing negative does not guarantee no early onset of DCM, nor does testing Homozygous mean the dog will have an early onset of DCM as far as the WSU test goes.  Until we have more answers and other genes are identified, the longevity in the lines has to be the valid test at this point.

April 2017
DCM / / Cardiomyopathy is such a sinister disease that it is now in 60% of all Doberman lines.  Some people think you need to constantly out-cross these lines for better chance at not having this diseease but recenntly a friend of mine had a pup in her litter die at 13 months after doing what was she thought was a carefully selected out-cross.  My philosophy and hence practice  is after doing an outcross to come back to ensured line breedings to keep the healthy lines which can  dominate over possible "wild card genes" that will produce DCM.



It's funny I've always felt we have to be cautious about doing a lot of out crossing without going back to our healthy lines and line breeding as well. I make it a practice to outcross the linebred dogs that I kknow will dominate and then you will have a better chance of getting what you want, including health! It's comforting to know that the vets who specialize in this reinforce my beliefs and practices!
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It's funny I've always felt we have to be cautious about doing a lot of out crossing without going back to our healthy lines and line breeding as well. I make it a practice to outcross the linebred dogs that I kknow will dominate and then you will have a better chance of getting what you want, including health! It's comforting to know that the vets who specialize in this reinforce my beliefs and practices!
Chat Conversation End

  This is what she found out and conveyed to me:
"...I went back (with all of my information and documentation) to Auburn and I spoke with a panel of 2 board certified Cardiologists and 3 geneticists at Auburn University of who at least one person specializes in both types of DCM, and one of the things they told me, was when doing an outcross breeding, ALL the buffers a succinct line breeding gives you are lost and not only do you lose all predictability of temperament, it also sets loose the wild cards that can come from any number of the ancestors in the pedigree. This stuff is NOT as clear cut and easy as many people like to try and tell us. It is a very scary disease, and can appear at any time. We know Cases Sire passed from DCM at 8, but because we did the outcross and lost the buffer a line breed would possibly have given us we opened ourselves up to a very probable disaster ... Which happened .... "