DCM continued ... 1st feature : Sudden death by heart failure (cardiomyopathy)
Many dog breeds are affected at various frequencies but in the death-rate statistics of all breeds the Doberman by far takes the sad first place in both the USA and in Germany. Mr. Kraft (1989), from the University of Munich, presents heart death statistics from dissection materials of different pathological institutes where frequently the Doberman stands before the Great Dane, the St. Bernard and the German Shepherd Dog. Beyond it Mr. Kraft presents the result of a regional survey of the Doberman Club (VDH) from South Germany. From 92 cases of deaths, 24 died of death by heart failure. The extensive statistics of death by heart failure in pedigreed dogs, by Calvert and Pickus (1982, 1989) from the USA, look like the situation in Germany. The Doberman by far leads the Great Dane, the Irish Wolf hound and the St. Bernard.
The majority of affected Dobermans die at the age 3 to 5 (van der Zwan 1987). Both in North America and in Europe there is an increasing reduction of the death age (Kollenberg 1998). In general, two progressive forms can be distinguished in the Doberman, dependant on the quickness of death and on other features (van der Zwan 1987, Schuler 1997). Type A: arrhythmia. With this most frequent type of death by heart failure the death occurs allegedly without (2?) external warning. All of a sudden the dog collapses and dies. There were few publications about the diagnosis of the dog's arrhythmia but in the long-term ECG it should be similar to that of a human being. Type B: heart muscle weakness. With this less frequent type of death by heart failure a lingering development for a prolonged period is diagnosed. The dog often coughs in the morning as a result of water accumulation in the lungs. Diagnostically, heart enlargements and vessel changes can be located long before the death occurs.
A partly X-chromosome polygenetic hereditary transmission can be assumed because, according to the statistics, approximately 3/4 of all Dobermans that died of heart failure, are males. The noticeable frequency of death cases over several generations (Fig. 1) can be identified in the German and American Dobermans' pedigrees. The heredity of sudden death by heart failure must be assessed as average to high. A complicated polygenetic hereditary process could exist because the symptom of death by heart failure is based on different heart defects and proceeding on the assumption that these defects were affected by certain environmental impacts. The cooperation between breeding clubs and genetic scientists is necessary for a better understanding of genetics. Calvert and Pickus recommend that the clubs utilize as many breeding animals as possible, along with their descendants, to take a standardized heart examination. A combination of several methods is useful, like for example, a long term ECG for diagnosis of function changes and fan ultrasound test for size recognition identification and x-ray.
The crossbreeding of another breeds as a breeding method may be less popular among dog breeders but it represents a frequently used standard method for most domestic animal breeds; e.g. - in horse breeding. In almost all warm blooded animals the performance and health tested elite studs of the breeds "English or Arabian Thoroughbred" are permanently interbred in dependence on this breeding strategy. For the Doberman it is thinkable to use the Beauceron, the German Shepherd Dog or other Shepherd Dog breeds, the Weimaraner or other Short-haired Pointers.by Dr. Reinhard Haberzettl 2002
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