BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme - Dobermann

The current BVA/KC scoring scheme for hip dysplasia (HD) has been in operation since 1984 and since then over 250,000 X-rays have been assessed. Dysplasia means abnormal development, and the degree of hip dysplasia present is indicated by a score assigned to each hip. The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine aspects of the X-rays of both hip joints. The minimum hip score is 0 and the maximum is 106 (53 for each hip). The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. An average (or mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme, as is the median (or middle) score. Advice for breeders is to use only breeding stock with scores well below the breed mean score and ideally below the median.

The minimum age for hip scoring is one year, and each dog is only ever scored once under the scheme

PHPV and annual eye tests

PHPV stands for Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous and is a congenital (ie from birth) developmental problem of the eye. This leads to deposits on the lens of the eye, which can lead to mild or serious visual problems, even to blindness. Puppies can be tested for PHPV from about 8-12 weeks of age and, if clear at that age, will be clear for life. Of the test results held by the Kennel Club, only 2% were affected.

The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) recommends annual eye testing, but the repeat testing is for general eye health only and most breeders do not do this as it is not based on evidence about any potential problems, and most of us would prefer to spend this money on annual heart testing. This leads to a confusing situation whereby puppy purchasers might think a breeder is not following best practice by not testing annually.

I have been communicating with the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association about this for some time and the issue of generic testing in all breeds has now been brought forward for discussion by the two groups with a view to making the requirements based on evidence about specific issues. I had argued for a single PHPV test, but it looks as though the KC/BVA might opt for a test before breeding, one in middle age and one in old age. This is, in principle, an improvement, but in practice I suspect most breeders will (quite reasonably in my view) still only carry out the first test, as this testing is a recommendation and not a requirement of the ABS scheme and will still use up money that could better be spent on heart testing.

I am currently waiting for further information from the Kennel Club.

Sue Thorn
January 2017

The Dobermann Breed Council/DCM Screening Programme has now been awarded the funding to carry out trials for this devastating and fatal disease. After many months of negotiations, meetings and writing up the protocols, Nuala Summerfield BSc BVM&S MRCVS Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology) Lecturer in Cardiology at Liverpool University has secured funds from Boehringer Ingelheim, manufacturers of the drugs widely used in the field of DCM.

Pimobendan Randomized Occult DCM Trial to Evaluate Clinical symptoms & Time to heart failure

As part of a joint United Kingdom/Canadian study, Dobermann dogs and bitches between 5 and 9 years of age (inclusive) are being screened free-of-charge by recognised veterinary cardiologists to determine whether these animals have evidence of preclinical (i.e. early) dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The purpose of the screening study is twofold; firstly to learn more about the disease in the breed, and secondly to identify Dobermanns for inclusion in a clinical study to assess the potential benefit of pimobendan in Dobermanns with preclinical DCM.

Details about the disease

The condition is caused by a quantitative or qualitative deficiency of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a protein that plays a central role in blood clotting. Von Willebrand's disease vWD usually comes in two major types, type I and type III. Type III is a severe bleeding disorder with a high risk of spontaneous bleeding as well as a risk of serious bleeding from trauma and surgery. Type 1 is a less severe form.

Clinical Signs

Dogs with vWD are prone to nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums, and prolonged bleeding during heat or after whelping. There may be prolonged bleeding from the umbilical cord at birth or when your pup sheds its baby teeth. Excessive bleeding after surgery or trauma is common, and may be the first sign of this condition in your dog. You may see blood in your dog's urine or stool. The clinical effects reported can range dramatically, with some dogs bleeding profusely, while others hardly showing any signs of bleeding at all.

How it is inherited

The disease is described as an autosomal recessive condition. This means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (from its mother or its father) will have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.

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