• Open Access

Prevalence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers in Various Age Groups


  • Parts of this study have been presented previously at the ECVIM meeting 2009 in Porto, Portugal.

Corresponding author: Gerhard Wess, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM (Cardiology), Dipl. ECVIM-CA (Cardiology and Internal Medicine), Clinic of Small Animal Internal Medicine, Ludwig Maximilians University, Veterinaerstsr. 13, 80539 Munich, Germany; e-mail: gwess@lmu.de


Background: Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Doberman Pinschers is an autosomal dominant inherited disease. The prevalence of DCM in Doberman Pinschers of various age groups in Europe is currently unknown, but this information would be important to develop recommendations for screening programs.

Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of cardiomyopathy in various age groups of Dobermans.

Animals: Seven hundred and seventy-five examinations in 412 Doberman Pinschers.

Methods: Dogs were included in a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Each examination included echocardiography and 24-hour ECG (Holter) examination. A cut-off value of >100 ventricular premature contractions (VPCs) per 24 hours on Holter examination or abnormal echocardiography was considered diagnostic for cardiomyopathy. The cumulative prevalence included all dogs with DCM and healthy dogs >7 years of age.

Results: DCM prevalence in various age groups was as follows: age group 1 (1 to <2 years) 3.3%, age group 2 (2 to <4 years) 9.9%, age group 3 (4 to <6 years) 12.5%, age group 4 (6 to <8 years) 43.6%, and age group 5 (>8 years) 44.1%. The cumulative prevalence of Doberman Pinscher cardiomyopathy was 58.2%. There was an equal sex distribution, but male dogs showed earlier echocardiographic changes than did female dogs, which had significantly more VPCs.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The prevalence of Doberman cardiomyopathy is very high in Europe. Disease manifestation and progression are different between male and female dogs. Yearly screening for DCM by Holter examination and echocardiography is recommended, starting at 2 years of age.