Holter Monitor Q&A

1. How close are we to getting a DNA marker for cardio?

A: We are not researching for the presence of a DNA marker.  That work is important and hopefully others are addressing it. I think the Doberman Foundation has been funding people in that field.  Our study has and will continue to be, “trying to find methods of early detection of the disease in the occult phase and working to prolong the onset of congestive failure”.

Part two of our work is trying to increase the length of time and the quality of life for Dobermans in congestive heart failure due to DCM. Our work deals with:

  1. looking for markers for DCM long before the onset of symptoms
  2. investigating the effect of new therapies to delay the onset of symptoms
  3. investigating the effect of new therapies to improve the quality of life for Dobermans with symptoms and extend survival
  4. investigating new tests to predict which dogs will do well with therapy and which dogs will not do well.


2. Does the use of Holter to identify Dobermans with occult DCM:

A: We do not know whether the Holter is more useful to identify occult Dobermans than the echo.  Our current work is attempting to answer this question. Heart disease can manifest as either electrical problems (showing as arrhythmias or PVCs) or functional problems (showing as an increase in heart size or loss of heart strength).  Some dogs show more evidence of abnormality in one of these areas over another.  We still don’t have enough evidence to indicate a number of PVCs per hour, on a Holter, greater than which indicates DCM is coming.  We do suggest that more than 50 PVCs per hour likely indicates a Doberman is in the occult stage of the disease.  It is likely that many fewer PVCs per hour also indicates occult DCM.  If one is worried as to the presence of occult DCM then do both the Holter and echo.


3. Are we (at the University of Guelph) using pedigree data analysis?

A: Yes we are collecting pedigree data on our dogs.  No we are not involved in analyzing the pedigree data.  We continue to hope to collaborate with experts knowledgeable with pedigree analysis.


4. What is the current lifespan of the Doberman?

A: I don’t know.


5. Do you include DNA samples in your research?

A: No.  My expertise is not in molecular biology.  See  Question 1 above.


6. Do you start senior Dobermans in your program?

A: Yes.  We are keen to study both elderly and young Dobermans.


7. How old was the youngest Doberman you have seen with DCM?

A: About 1.5 years.


8. What was the oldest age of a Doberman that you have diagnosed with DCM, that was previously clear throughout his/her life through your research?

A: I don’t have that data at my fingertips.  We have shown that 25% of Dobermans develop DCM after the age of 10 years.  This is clearly disappointing news for folks that hope after the age of say 8 years that their dog is over the potential to develop this disease.


9. Are German/Euro bred Dobermans less likely to develop DCM than North American bred dogs?

A: Our data is incomplete to thoroughly answer this question.  As of now it is my belief that German/Euro bred Dobermans have the same potential to develop DCM as our North American dogs.  Some very early work suggest that DCM in Dobermans in Sweden is different than in North America (less likely to develop atrial fibrillation and/or PVCs) and less prevalent.  I wonder if Dobermans in Costa Rica have less DCM than our Dobermans?


10. When North American bloodlines are mixed with German/Euro lines or any other total out cross, do you find a big drop in the number of cases of DCM? Does hybrid vigor play a part in DCM?

A: Again we are not performing pedigree analysis hence I have no idea. As for hybrid vigor, this is my guess  and it is a genetic disease and so if parents are carrying the appropriate gene (s) responsible they can play a part in DCM regardless of hybrid vigor.