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Hey there, I've been worrying like crazy ever since my breeder told me that his bitch (my dog's mom) had passed away due to symptoms similar to DCM. Namely, she had been genetically tested only a couple of months ago and the tests showed that she was DCM-free. However, only a couple of months later, she just dropped dead all of a sudden after a long hike, which indicates heart issues. My dog is currently 2 yo and he still hasn't been tested. I do plan on testing him very soon, but until I do, I wanted to see if anyone knows whether it is possible to just die from DCM even if a genetic test didn't find anything?

I've also read somewhere that those tests aren't that accurate, is that so?

My dog's father is also clear of DCM, and the mom's parents are also clear.

Is my dog at risk of contracting DCM due to his mother's symptoms?


Any information would be of great help. Thanks a lot!
 

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The genetic tests for DCM1 and DCM2 are not predictive of future disease status. So from the standpoint of your dog, he is at risk of DCM by simply being a Doberman. This is a disease that is unfortunately in the breed, all lines.

The best way to determine DCM status on a dog is yearly (at least) 24 hr holter monitoring and echocardiogram, interpreted by a veterinary cardiologists. It is recommended that dobermans be screened on this manner starting at age 2. Early detection resulting in early intervention via medications is statistically known to prolong the dog's life.

Screening for DCM via holter and echo needs to be part of a breeding program. While most dobermans will develop DCM sometime during their life, longevity with the disease developing after 10 (or not at all) is a most desirable trait in a breeding line.

Regarding the 2 genetic mutations that are currently available for DCM1 and DCM2, now that genetic testing panels (such as Embark) are more widely available, researchers have found the same gene mutations in breeds where DCM is not prevalent.
 

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I see you're in Serbia. Those DCM genes have show to have no relativity to DCM in European dogs, as I'm sure your breeder alerted you too. The only tests that can "predict" DCM is an annual holter and echo. Do you know your dog's pedigrees? Serbia has been bad about knowingly inbreeding on dogs that die from DCM because they are "beautiful".
 

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Exactly what Dobe Mom said. The genetic testing is, at this point, mostly valuable from a research perspective, not a predictive perspective. Even the researchers who discovered and identified the genes have warned that they are NOT necessarily predictive of developing the disease and they actively recruit dogs who have tested negative for the genetic markers and develop DCM for more research. They've also warned breeders to be cautious about using the gene tests for breeding decisions.

As Dobe Mom said, the best way to identify if your dog is at risk is to start testing, every year, using echocardiogram and 24 hour holter monitor tests. You want to get a baseline exam at age 2-3 years old, and then test every year after that. Additionally, knowing the lineage of your dog and the history of DCM in the pedigree is helpful, too. Keep your dog lean and healthy. I personally feed fish oil for heart health. Other than that, just knowing the risk is about all you can do.
 

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Ditto to what everyone else is saying ^^^^

In addition, I will add that DCM is a disease that we have to look for. If we wait till a dog shows symptoms (which can often be sudden death), it is really too late to do much about it. The earlier it is caught, the better chance you have to add years to your dogs life with medication.

I will also say that I've been to Serbia - beautiful country! Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see any Dobermans while there. Visited Subotica fall of 2018 - my husband had business there before we did a river cruise out of Budapest. In a couple of months, we will make two stops in Croatia while on another cruise - I've been told by people in Serbia that the beaches in Croatia are the absolute best!
 

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Hey guys,

A huge thanks to everyone for your responses. I've been researching the lineage quite a lot, and have found that some have passed away due to DCM (not that many though), while others lived happily and healthily (8+ years). I will definitely start doing annual tests just to make sure that everything is in check. Better safe than sorry.
@Gretchen_Red I've also heard about that. From what I've seen in his pedigree, his recent ancestors haven't been inbred (all of them are from different kennels), but you can never know for sure.
@MeadowCat Thanks for the tip. I also feed Salmon oil for the same reasons.
@Fitzmar Dobermans Wow, glad to hear that. It's not often that I hear that someone's visited my country! Dobermans were especially popular here during the '90s, but now they aren't as popular as they used to be. However, we still do have a lot of amazing Dobies here, including my boy Bruno. And yes, Croatian beaches are something special for sure! I hope you'll have a lovely time!
 

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I see you're in Serbia. Those DCM genes have show to have no relativity to DCM in European dogs, as I'm sure your breeder alerted you too. The only tests that can "predict" DCM is an annual holter and echo. Do you know your dog's pedigrees? Serbia has been bad about knowingly inbreeding on dogs that die from DCM because they are "beautiful".
This isn't strictly true. PDK4/DCM1 doesn't seem to have had any incidence of predictive possibilities for European Dobermans, but DCM2 has, much more so. Although obviously they're not the sole aspects.

Was an autopsy performed on Bruno's mom? If so it would be prudent to send the result to Dr Meurs from NCSU (who found the genes) as she has a tendency to deny that a clear dog can still die of DCM, and will not accept any reported deaths without an autopsy.
 

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Was an autopsy performed on Bruno's mom? If so it would be prudent to send the result to Dr Meurs from NCSU (who found the genes) as she has a tendency to deny that a clear dog can still die of DCM, and will not accept any reported deaths without an autopsy.
This is a head scratcher for me because many people accept that there are more dcm genes than the ones we now know of so it would make sense that a Doberman can test clear but have dcm genes that are yet to be discovered.
 

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This is a head scratcher for me because many people accept that there are more dcm genes than the ones we now know of so it would make sense that a Doberman can test clear but have dcm genes that are yet to be discovered.
Same, and to be frank when I found this out, it definitely put me off and sort of left me disillusioned a little about her research (several people I know now have had clear dogs die of DCM, reported it back to her, only for her to refuse to include it in her research, and/or claim almost unequivocally that it couldn't have been DCM, and if there was no necropsy they couldn't claim it to be). I mean I can understand not actually including it in reports without a confirmation through a necropsy to know exactly what the COD was, but to be able to claim it wasn't DCM, or to not at least keep track of it, is a little worrisome.

Add to that the study she started up of giving un-Dx'd dogs (that are carriers of one or more copies of either gene or both) medicine as a preventative when we know these meds can trigger or cause heart issues in a healthy heart, I have grown perhaps a little cynical. I will always participate in research as long as I have dobes but... grain of salt and all.
 
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