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Dobermann Health



There are several diseases and conditions that may take our dogs away from us earlier than we want.

As breeders we aim to health test our dogs for all  known conditions that affect the breeds we own and breed. Whilst we can take every precaution we cannot prevent them all, there is an element of genetic lottery but by publishing ALL of our results of our dogs and the stud dogs we use, we aim to be transparent with our results regardless of outcomes and all copies of health testing results can be provided and discussed.We aim to use the information we have available to us about our dogs to further the breed, health testing is no guarantee that problems  will not arise in the future but health testing does mean a breeder has an interest in the health of their dogs and their potential offspring.

Please click the appropriate picture below to be taken to health information specific to our breeds.


























There are 5 main health problems that are known to affect the Dobermann as a breed and that we can take measures in order to test for :

  • VWD (Von Willebrands disease) 

  • PHPV (Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous ) Eyes

  • Hip Displasia

  • Thyroid

  • DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

VWD - Von Willebrands Disease






Von Willebrand disease is a single gene autosomal recessive condition. Only occasionally will heterozygous dogs (those with one normal and one mutant gene) show any clinical signs and these are mild. Homozygous dogs, those with two copies of the abnormal gene, are more severely affected and have very low levels of von Willibrand Factor (vWF) in their blood. The mutant gene does not prevent the production of vWF but reduces the rate of production such that the blood concentration of vWD may be 10% of that in normal dogs. In heterozygous dogs the concentration of vWF is typically about 50% of normal  (Stockham & Scott 2002).

It is usually possible to determine an individual dog’s status as carrier (heterozygous) or normal non-carrier by measuring blood concentration of von Willibrand factor (vWF) and this has long been available. However, because of the variation in vWF levels due to non-genetic effects (eg normal day-to-day variation, effects of other illness and drugs and of the oestrus cycle) it is quite common for results not to be clear-cut and for repeat testing to be required. More recently, a genetic test has become available that clearly shows whether an individual has two copies of the mutant gene (homozygous affected), one copy (heterozygous carrier) or no copies (homozygous normal). Details for DNA Genetic testing for VWD status are available at: Vet Gen ( or Labkolin (

Using the genetic test, it is possible to discriminate between homozygous affected, heterozygous carrier, and homozygous normal Doberman pinschers. The test can be run on a saliva sample from a mouth swab or using a blood sample and can be used prior to breeding age so there is no need to ever breed from a Doberman with an unknown status for the disease. It should be possible to develop a breeding strategy to eliminate the mutant gene and this disease from the Doberman pinscher but, as far as we are aware, there is no such scheme at present.  However, in the UK, the Kennel Club accredited breeder scheme for Dobermans requires use of the genetic test to assess all dogs and that dams and sires are registered with the Kennel Club.

(Source: UFAW)

PHPV - (Persistant Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous)

Lancashire Heeler


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The gene in DNAthat is responsible for the PHPV condition has not yet been isolated, and so in the UK at this time dogs are assessed to be either affected or clear using an eye examination in regards to PHPV.

PHTVL / PHPV Persistent hyperplastic tunica vasculosa lentis (PHTVL) and persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV) refer to the persistence of the embryonic vascular system of the lens.PHTVL /PHPV is a congenital eye anomaly which has been described in many animals as well as in man.

The lens and nearby structures can be examined for PHTVL as early as 7-8 weeks of age. The examination should be done by a veterinarian specialized in eye diseases and with proper slit-lamp biomicroscope equipment. The examination is peformed after inducing total enlargement of the pupils and needs no sedation. It is a common practice to re-exam the dogs before their use in breeding. It is not very easy to discover the grade1 anomaly in a very small and lively puppy at the age of 7 weeks. There appears to be some differences in the results made in a puppyhood compared to the adult result so it is suggested testing in adulthood. The anomalies grading higher than 1 are more easy to be recognized even in an early age.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopaedic problem of dogs and a wide number

of other mammals. Abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to subsequent joint deformity. ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal

growth. The developmental changes appear first and because they are related to growth, they are termed primary changes. Subsequently these changes may lead to excessive wear and tear. The secondary changes may be referred to as (osteo)arthritis (OA), (osteo)arthrosis

or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Later one or both hip joints may become mechanically defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and cause lameness. In extreme cases

the dog may find movement very difficult and may suffer considerably.


Hip dysplasia (HD) is a genetically-transmitted condition but environmental factors may influence the final score

achieved. The score does not therefore absolutely reflect the potential for transmission of HD of an individual animal butshould be regarded only as an indicator of possible transmi

ssion of the condition. For the Scheme to be meaningful andsuccessful it is important that images from EVERY dog radiographed be submitted fo

r scoring, whether or not the animalis required for breeding and whatever the state of the hips, in order to provide the widest possible information for use by a geneticist and for generation of estimated breeding values (EBVs). Further information about hip dysplasia and the use

of the scoring scheme is available in the Canine Health Schemes section of the BVA.

The Breed Specific Statistics include the Breed Median (BM) for the last fifteen and five years and the rolling five year median, which are calculated from the scoring records of eachbreed to give a representative overview of the HD status of the dogs scored in that breed.

The Breed Specific Statistics are also available on the BVA and Kennel Club websites.

The current BM for the Dobermann is a combined score of 10.

It was in the light of this knowledge that the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club (KC) developed a scheme some 40 years ago to assess the degree of hip deformity of dogs using radiography. To date radiographs (X-rays) from more than 250,000 dogs have been assessed providing a standardised reflection of the HD status of those dogs that have been examined. This information is primarily of use for breeders.



DCM- Dilated Cardiomyopathy

DCM is a disease which is likely to have a long pre-clinical phase where there are no clinical signs or symptoms but there may be evidence of heart enlargement, deterioration in heart function and/or abnormal heart rhythms. During the clinical phase of the disease there are signs such as fainting or collapse, weight loss, breathlessness, coughing and/or fluid retention resulting in distension of the abdomen.  Sadly Dobermans with DCM can also experience sudden death which is likely to be due to abnormal rapid heart rhythms.

The diagnosis of this disease is made based on the combination of the history mentioned above, clinical signs suggesting poor heart output, echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), an ECG to record heart rhythm and also a Holter monitor which is a heart monitor that dogs can wear at home to record heart rate / rhythm over a longer period such as 24 hours.

The Holter monitor weighs about 150g and is attached to the dog using 3 adhesive pads called electrodes. The monitor is carried in a pouch inside a specially designed vest.  By recording heart rate and rhythm over 24h and then analysing the recording we are screening for abnormal beats which may occur singly or as multiple consecutive beats – this abnormal rhythm is known as ventricular tachycardia (VT) which may be life threatening.  Some dogs with abnormal heart rhythms require treatment with medication and follow up Holter monitoring to assess the effectiveness of therapy.

Other treatments for dogs with clinical disease include diuretics to reduce fluid retention, pimobendan (“Vetmedin”) to increase the force of heart muscle contraction, ACE inhibitors to improve blood flow and also ameliorate the harmful side effects of diuretics.


Screening dogs is of benefit to the individual as well as to the breed.

The ideal screening test is accurate and therefore detects all cases of disease with no false positives or negatives, it should be capable of detecting disease at a very early stage, the test should be non-invasive, widely available and also reasonably priced.

Suggested screening tests

  • Echo and Holter-These tests would be the current gold standard for screening Dobemans for DCM.

  • NTproBNP-BNP is a substance released into the blood in response to stretching of the heart muscle.  New sample tubes are available so sample no longer needs to be transported frozen however this test can be affected by concurrent disease.One study reported a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 75% to detect all stages of DCM in Dobermans.

  • Troponin-This is a substance released into the blood in response to heart muscle damage. One study reported sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 74%.

  • 5 minute ECG -This test involves recording an ECG for 5 minutes and has been reported to have lower sensitivity (64%) and higher specificity (97%).  The lower sensitivity suggests that it is less suitable as a screening test.

  • Genetic test-A genetic test for this disease would be a fantastic development allowing us to detect cases at an earlier age.  There are several tests marketed at present but the results are conflicting and further research is required.

  • As DCM is generally a disease of middle aged and older dogs, screening should be repeated annually.

Some dogs may have equivocal results which is an understandable source of frustration for both owners and vets.  In these cases tests may have to be repeated at a later date.

( Source:  Dr Ruth Willis RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cardiology)

Lancashire Heeler Health

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Although Lancashire Heelers are a mainly healthy breed often living well into their teens, here you will find health news and links to sites that can give you more information on conditions that may affect the breed. 



Before buying a Lancashire Heeler it is important to find out whether the parents of the dog have been health tested.  All responsible breeders will know the status of their dogs before breeding and certificates should be available for you to see.  Don't be fooled by a breeder who says their dogs do not have problems, so they don't need testing, as they have no way of knowing without carrying out certain tests.  With effect from 1.7.11 it is a KC requirement that Accredited Breeders must have their dogs DNA tested for PLL before breeding.




Listed below are several conditions that can affect the eyes of a Lancashire Heeler.  The breeder of your dog should have explained why it is important to have your dog eye tested at least every 12 months.  This must be done by a specialist eye vet, who has the proper equipment to carry out an in depth examination.  If you notice any changes in your dog's eyes, such as inflammation, weeping or red eyes, change of colour or if your dog has got one or both eyes closed then you need to have him examined without delay by your vet, who will probably refer you to a specialist.  Urgent treatment may be necessary otherwise it is possible your dog may lose his sight.



This is the most important condition.  If your dog has not been DNA tested for Primary Lens Luxation you can request a test kit consisting of cheek swabs, which then have to be submitted to the Animal Health Trust at  Newmarket.  They will carry out the test and the results will be emailed to you, and also published on the Kennel Club website.  The results will show whether the dog is clear, affected or a carrier of the condition.  If you are unlucky enough to have an affected dog, there is lots of information available to help you through this difficult time.  Many dogs have lived a relatively normal life even though affected, sometimes with the adminstering of eye drops on a daily basis, whilst some can be operated on to remove the lens, and others might need no further treatment for quite some time.  In a very few cases carrier dogs can go on to become affected, and the Animal Health Trust are continuing their research into why this might happen.  Some dogs may be certified as 'hereditarily clear' which means both parents have got clear certificates, so the puppies should not be affected.



This condition may be detected at the puppy litter screening stage as it is congenital (present at birth).  Whilst it does not usually affect the dog in any way care should be taken to ensure the condition is not passed on and there is a DNA test available for it.  It is a KC recommendation that Accredited Breeders have their dogs DNA tested for CEA before breeding.






This is being investigated at present and although cases are few and far between it can be an unpleasant condition resulting in loss of sight.  No test is available as yet, so openness on the part of owners of affected dogs is the only tool we have at present.





As puppies develop, sometimes there are remnants of tissue remaining in the eye which have the appearance of cobwebs.  Quite often these have disappeared by the time a dog is eye tested as an adult, but monitoring is important especially if you intend to breed from your dog.



The patella is the equivalent of the kneecap and a luxating patella is one that moves out of its normal location.

It is usually, but not always, found in small breeds. Several affected Lancashire Heelers have been reported lately, some requiring surgery. Although some cases are the result of accidents, most researchers believe it to be inherited, though the mode of inheritance is not known. Hopping or skipping are often indications of patella luxation. Some countries have an official testing scheme and the BVA is examining the possibility of introducing one in this country.

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)

Collie Eye Anomoly (CEA)

Hereditary Cateract (HC)

Persistant Pupillary Membrane ( PPM)

Patella Luxation

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