vWd (VON WILLEBRAND'S DISEASE) is suspected to be an inherited disease in Dobermans. It is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Research is in progress in several institutions. An echocardiogram of the heart will confirm the disease but WILL not guarantee that the disease will not develop in the future. A 24 hour holter will record Premature Ventricular Contractions.
DILATED CARDIOMYOPATHY - or DCM is an autosomally (not sex linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. Von Willebrand's factor antigens of 70% 180% are considered to be within the normal range for Dobermans. When dogs are tested through the Elisa assay blood test for vWD, they are tested for carrier status only NOT the disease. It is believed that carrier status tests (Elisa assay) are inaccurate if a dog is ill, received any medication or vaccination within 14 days of testing, pregnancy, bitches in heat or lactation. Stress conditions (infections, parasites, hormonal changes, trauma, surgery, emotional upset, etc.) may have an effect on the outcome of the vWD blood test and might be a contributing factor for bleeding tendencies. vWD carrier status is quite common in Dobermans. A DNA test for vWD is now available - genetically: clear, carrier (inherited one disease gene), affected (inherited two disease genes) - results are not effected by stress conditions, etc.
HIP DYSPLASIA - is inherited. It may vary from slightly poor conformation to malformation of the hip joint allowing complete luxation of the femoral head. Both parents' hips should be Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certified - excellent, good or fair rating. There are other hip labs that are qualified to certify hips.
HYPOTHYROIDISM - is probably inherited and means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormone to adequately maintain the dog's metabolism. It is easily treated with thyroid replacement pills on a daily basis. Thyroid testing (T3, T4, TSH and autoantibodies) should be performed on an annual schedule. Finding autoantibodies to thyroglobulin (T4 autoantibodies) is an indication that the dog has "Hashimoto's Disease". Low thyroid dogs, manifested by a high TSH and a low T4, should be treated and monitored on a regular basis.
WOBBLER'S SYNDROME - is suspected to be an inherited condition in Dobermans. Dogs suffer from spinal cord compression caused by cervical vertebral instability or from a malformed spinal canal. Extreme symptoms are paralysis of the limbs (front, hind or all 4). Neck pain with extension and flexion may or may not be present. Surgical therapy is hotly debated and in some surgically treated cases, clinical recurrence has been identified.
PRA (PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY) - is an inherited condition in Dobermans. Clinically, visual acuity is diminished, first at dusk, later in daylight. The disease progresses over months or years, to complete blindness. A screening test is available and can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) will certify eyes for 12 months from the date of evaluation.
Narcolepsy is an inherited disorder affecting Doberman pinschers. Dogs with the inherited form of narcolepsy typically present between one to six months of age with an inability to stay awake for extended periods of time and episodes of collapse and sleep following positive stimulation such as play or food. Affected dogs fall asleep faster than normal dogs and appear sleepy more frequently. During episodes of collapse dogs have a sudden loss of muscle tone and appear uncontrollably sleepy but may or may not completely fall asleep. Symptoms do not progress after one year of age and affected dogs do not have other associated health problems.
CDA - Color Dilution Alopecia or CDA is a form of follicular dysplasia (FD), it is a skin/coat condition that results in hair loss and thinning coat condition. CDA is mostly on blue or fawn Dobermans. Special consideration should be made about owning a blue or fawn Doberman. They often develop CDA or if they don't, the coat condition at best is much thinner than blacks or reds. Their skin is sensitive from light and sun exposure must be monitored. There is also a known higher occurrence of low/hypothyroid condition associated with blues and fawns. ...that said, it is possible for black or red Dobermans to develop CDA also, but not very common.
ALBINISM - "white coated" and "white factored" Dobermans should NOT be bred. These dogs are *TYROSINASE POSITIVE ALBINOS*. In 1996, the AKC established a tracking system (the letter "Z" will be part of the registration number) allowing breeders to identify the normal colored Dobermans which may carry the albinistic gene. A list with all dogs tracing back to Shebah's (the first Albino Doberman registered) parents is available here. All breeders should require an AKC certified pedigree with colors to check that "white coated" and "white factored" dogs are not present in the pedigree of the dog or bitch to be bred.
Black hair follicular dysplasia (BHFD) is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait and is a type of alopecia (hair loss) that only affects areas of black fur. It is seen in bicolour and tricolour dogs. Pups are born normally, but may show a dulling of the normal dark, glossy black hair. The hair on adjacent white skin grows normally. With time black hairs become brittle and break easily. Black hair fails to grow, and skin can become scaly. It is thought that BHFD may be related to the condition “colour dilution alopecia”, in which hair loss is seen in colour dilute animals (e.g. blue and fawn dogs). Both conditions seem to involve defects in the processing and transport of the skin and hair pigment melanin. With BHFD, the hair follicles in areas of black hair are abnormal, with clumps of melanin, distorted follicles and hyperkeratosis seen on histopathology. These abnormal hair follicles are prone to infection, and so affected areas of skin can develop bacterial folliculitis, an infection that is very irritating and can sometimes lead to deeper skin infection (pyoderma). Treatment is symptomatic only, and abnormal or missing hairs will not be replaced by normal hairs. Topical antiseptics or antibiotics are used for bacterial folliculitis. Antiseborrhoeic shampoos and oil rinses are often helpful, and general skin treatments such as omega fatty acids are often given. Other treatments recently reported of possible benefit include melatonin, etretinate (a synthetic aromatic retinoid) and niacinamide. Affected animals should not be used for breeding. Several breeds now have a DNA test available to them for screening prior to breeding.
Coat Colour Dilution Alopecia: This condition is seen in dogs with a dilute coloured coat and occurs in up to 90% of blue Dobermanns, and 75% of fawns. This condition also occurs in other breeds where breeding for colour dilute individuals occurs, although it does not tend to be seen at such high rates as in the Dobermann, and prevalence rates can vary depending on the breed. Colour dilute Weimeraners do not seem to be affected at all. The reason for the amount of variation between colour dilute animals of different breeds is not known. The main breeds affected (other than the Dobermann) include the Boston terrier, the Chihuahua (blue), Great Dane (blue), Dachshund (blue), Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Pinscher (blue), Shetland Sheepdog (blue), Whippet (blue), Standard Poodle (blue), Yorkshire Terrier (grey/blue), Irish Setter (fawn) and the Bernese Mountain Dog. Colour dilution alopecia is a type of follicular dysplasia, and only occurs when colour dilution is present. A blue coloured animal is the colour dilute form of the normal black and tan colouration, and fawn is the colour dilute form of the normal red colouration. It is thought that there is a defect in the regulation of melanisation (pigmentation) and the structure of the hair cortex, although the underlying genetic defect is not fully understood. Affected animals are born with normal hair coats, but usually signs will be seen between 6 months and 2 years of age, when the hair will begin to break, and patchy alopecia (hair loss) occurs. This usually starts on the back, and will progress to widespread hair loss wherever there is light coloured hair. The skin becomes dry and scaly, and is prone to infections. Hair that is lost will not grow back. Affected dogs are also susceptible to sunburn and cold. There is no cure for this condition. Diagnosis is confirmed with skin biopsy, which will show characteristic changes when assessed by an experienced veterinary dermatopathologist. Treatment is symptomatic, using antiseborrhoeic shampoos and oil rinses, moisturisers and antibiotic therapy or antiseptics for secondary infections.