Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a genetic disease of the muscle of the heart that reduces the life-span in the Doberman Pinscher. A study in 2010 found 58% of Dobermans in Europe were either carriers of or diagnosed with DCM, and the number of Dobermans affected in the United States is growing. This disease causes progressive loss of heart function as well as abnormalities of the heart beat rhythm. Inadequate blood circulation results in fluid build up in lungs or other parts of the body and can cause chronic malaise whose nature depends upon which parts of the body are affected. Unfortunately, a dog often shows no obvious signs of DCM for several years and then may die suddenly or after several weeks or months due to progressive heart failure.
Testing for DCM
A genetic blood test has recently become available for detection of dogs which have the mutant gene. Since breeding from affected or carrier dogs will perpetuate the problem, it is important that you make sure to research a puppy’s pedigree before purchase.
Dobermans with heart disease may live for may years without heart failure. These dogs will probably seem normal to their owners and have no significant health issues. Fortunately, CDM can be detected by an electrocardiogram (ECG– which records the electrical activity of the heart over an extended period of time) using a Holter monitor. The Cavalier Doberman Pinscher Club strongly recommends getting a baseline Echocardiogram when your Doberman is between 2-3 years old, and then use a Holter monitor yearly from age 5 on. In our fight against DCM, the Cavalier Doberman Pinscher Club has purchased a holter monitor, available for rent by members and non-members alike, to assist in early detection of the disease.
For detailed information, please refer to this helpful article, “Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals”.