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sandee396's picture
Joined: 2010-12-17

I just lost my 5 year old Dobe, Chevy to Cardiomyopathy, my 4th Doberman that has had this awful condition. He started w/a cough and 26 days later, I had to put him down, he was so bad.
I have always loved this breed I have had 5 Dobes all from the same breeder out of the 5, 4 have had Cardiomyopathy all dying at young ages not over 6 years of age, I don't understand the importantance of getting so called 'early testing' for DCM, by the time they diagnosis it your dog is on borrowed time.
I have seen it over and over again. I have spent a small fortune in tests , EKG's Ultrasounds chest X-rays blood work ups, only to be told' sorry we can't do anymore'
Is it good to know in advance that your beloved dog is going to die of this? I knew my Chevy had it the day I heard him cough, and each day after that I started seeing more and more of the signs, labored breathing, weight loss, my Vet wanted me to take him once again to the University, for what I asked, he breathing so bad couldn't even lay down, and his poor heart looked like it was going to jump out of his skin and I'm going to drag him to the University like I did all the others for usless test and un necessary stress on him, for the little time, or I should say minutes that I had left?
No not this time, I don't want to sound so critical, or resentful , I just wish and hope that they can some day do more than just diagnosis it. It's such ashame to lose a dog at such a young age, 5 years is so very young.And to make matters worse 3 weeks ago I had to put down Chevy's best friend my 7 year old Lab, Maxine to Liver disease, and Wednesday night I had to put down Chevy.
Not having a good month at all....................

DJ's Dad's picture
Joined: 2010-10-04

Pet Profiles

I am so saddened by your post.  My sister in law just lost a 4 yr old dobie female to the same heart disease two weeks ago.  She went through many of the tests and diagnosis as you did, but decided that the best thing she could do for her dog Ruby Jo was to make her as comfortable as she could and just enjoy her while she had her.  None of the vets or University techs could give her a guarantee that her dog would be ok---in fact, most of them told her to prepare for the worst because there really wasnt anything that they could do to un-do the heart damage.  I, myself, lost my female doberman and best friend ever to cancer last year when she was only 6 years old.  It is such a sad thing to lose such a remarkable animal.  I feel badly for you.  Thank you for posting during this trying and hard time.

Lady Kate's picture
Joined: 2009-10-28

Pet Profiles

It is without a doubt the most heartbreaking thing to have to go through..and I am just so sorry to hear about it.. There's another Forum I used to visit that posts the Rainbow Bridge and those who cross it.. I cannot even read about it without breaking down, getting maudlin and totally losing perspective. Not knowing Sofia's history had me nuts till I realized that I wouldn't' do anything about it even if I knew the worst.. and that the only thing we CAN do is treasure each and every day these magnificent animals give us.. They are truly a gift and we will always cherish our time with them

glengate's picture
Joined: 2009-07-22

I am sorry for your loss of Chevy.  I've had kind of the opposite experience.  I've owned Dobermans for 30 years, and fortunately, have only lost one that had dcm and he was 11.  I attend the Doberman cardiac studies at the Ontario Veterinary College and my Dobermans have annual echocardiograms and Holter monitoring so we did catch it early with Rocket, and he did start treatment.  He responded very well and was comfortable for the next 8 months.  Ironically enough, I had to decide to euthanize because he also had degenerative myleopathy and was just having a really hard time getting around.  I often wonder how long he could have gone on on the cardiac meds if it weren't for the other. 

I also had the fortune of finding that one of my girls was having too many ventricular premature contractions (arrhythmias) several years ago when she was 10 and we got her started on sotalol.  I lost her to something else more than 2 years later when she was 12. 

Please don't think that early testing won't help.  It often does.  Didn't your vet / cardiologist start treatment with the drugs that we have available to help?  Rocket was on lasix, Pimobendan, sotalol and benazapril, and as I said, we got him under control at least so we could have more quality time. That's from the pet issue side.  Hopefully, anything you've learned about your pets has been passed on to the breeder so that they can make better breeding decisions in the future? 

I don't know if you're aware, but there is a new DNA test on the market for one mutation known to cause dilated cardiomyopathy.  Hopefully, if you choose to acquire another Doberman from a breeder, you'll buy from someone who is using everything available - annual echocardiograms, Holter monitoring, the new DNA test *and* careful and extensive pedigree research as it relates to longevity, in particular. 

Although dilated cardiomyopathy is fatal, diagnosing it should lead to treatment at least.  Pimobendan, in particular, has been a Godsend in helping many Dobermans with dcm.  Dr. O'Grady at the Ontario Veterinary College has done some work with pacemakers but I'm not sure it's been very successful.   

sandee396's picture
Joined: 2010-12-17

Thanks everyone , my first Dobe, Chevelle just dropped dead, from Cardiomyopathy, showed no signs, just one big yelp and down she went, she was 5, my second Dobe Malibu, use to faint, my third dobe Chevelle #2, started with the labored  breathing, I rushed her to the University of Illinois Veterinary Collage, they have a study there for DCM on Dobes, they did everything, all the test you could possible think of and medication, I left her there overnight and after talking several times with them, they had actually convinced me that she might do well on medication at least for a while. I had hopes.

Then I get a phone call telling me she failing, and how fast can I get there, I'm an hour away, all I could do was tell them to please stop her suffering and put her down.

They requested to do a autopys on her for further study on the disease and I consented, hoping that someone could find a cure or even a treatment for this.

I swore I would not do that again leaving her there with strangers, the breeder who I contacted, of course felt so bad over all my losses, he gave me a deal, if you want to call it that, on a puppy, telling me what a good healthy pedigree this puppy has, all I want I told him is a healthy dog that will live long, don't really care about pedigrees or breeding, he swore, that this dog should live long, against everything I felt I got the puppy, I just missed my dobes so much I couldn't see not having one in my life. When Maxine my Lab got sick, I again was at the University, and again they told me she was to far advanced liver disease, they wanted to keep her, but we picked her up to bring her home one last time, so she could see her friends here, poor Chevy started coughing the next day after Maxine was put down that was the 19th of November, 26 days to the day I had to put down Chevy, and up until that day he was running around in the barn chasing cats, and having a good time by evening he couldn't lay down, he was so bad, the Vet gave him  a shot of lasix, and pills but Chevy wouldn't eat , all he did was drink a ton of water. His gums were pale, and I sat on floor with him, his head on my shoulders and just rubbed him, his heart was beating so fast,  he would look at me like please help me, by 10 pm I had to make the phone call to the Vet , it was so sad, he was my baby. It was bad enough losing Maxine so suddenly. I don't know if its a pure bred thing, that all these dogs are so imbred, Maxine was a pure Lab and Chevy a Dobe my other 2 dogs are mutts, one is 13 years old and so far healthy.

 I wish I had heard of Pimobendan, my Vet did recommend Pacemaker, but at Chevy's stage it wouldn't have done any good. I think I taught my Vet more about Cardiomyopathy, since he doesn't deal with it that much, we are small farming community most farmers just have outdoor dogs, not couch potatoes like mine, much less Dobermans.

My husband says no more Dobes, he can't take losing them again, its so sad tho as I love the breed so much, their such affectionate dogs, but I feel these breeders need to research more and keep track of pedigrees, and survival of the dogs ,I would like to know out of a litter of 12 how many puppies die of Cardiomyopathy, these are things that breeders need to do.

And I am going to look into the DNA testing also and appreciate all the infor you gave.


I'm so sorry to hear of ALL of your losses with the Dobes, how devistating!

We just put our oldest Doberman down this summer at age 12.5 with Cardio, we were devistated. It started with the cough and in less than 2 weeks she was gone. All the meds they had her on she wasn't responding and had constant seizures. What comforts me is the fact we had her for that many years and at that age you know their time is limited. It would be so awful to loose them at a young age from this.

I can feel your pain as you share your experience with your babies and what has happened.

Glengate gave wonderful words of wisdom with this and I agree 100percent with everything. I hope that you will not give up  your love for this breed through your pain. There are many breeders that DO care (they are hard to find) and do the very best to breed appropriately utilizing the latest testing and annually testing their breeding stock. This process is not cheap however so most backyard breeders will not go the full mile to test what is appropriate. It is our jobs as buyers to research and ask the important questions.  It is important that people stay aware of what tests are available and buy puppies from people who do care, research, test and tell.

Again Im so very sorry for your loss. Nothing is more hurtful than loosing a loved one.

Q Tip's picture
Joined: 2009-03-22

Pet Profiles

Thanks for this thread and im so very sorry to hear of your loss Sandee. Ive had an experience with Q today that needs to be reviewed once the public holiday period is over.

Q had a bout of vomitting and liquid stool for two days just before xmas which laid him incredibly low and he was treated with a course of antibiotics...his stool fully formed today and Q appeared his normal bright self.. so a walk was in order.

Weather wise....rain on the outgoing walk.....cloudy with some sun coming home...I guess the temp was mid seventies? Q had a run....not much of one and i popped him on the lead taking into consideration his unwelness.

I noticed Q extemely short of breath on our way home, panting and what appeared to me like laboured breathing and gave him water which i carry.

On getting home his breathing remained laboured and continued for a good 20 minutes afterwards......I wasnt sure if this was an over heating problem or cardiac or just too much after his bout of sickness, but i know this is not normal for my dog. he looked distressed.

He had a drink and laid down as soon as we got home. I covered him with a damp/wet towel (to cool him) and stayed with him until his breathing returned to normal. I counted both dogs resps Sophies being around 50....she did have a good run, Q's around the 80, both dogs sitting now on 20 (a minute)

Maybe it was just too much after his unwell bout but reading these threads makes me need to get it checked out.

Hope you are all well


sandee396's picture
Joined: 2010-12-17

Yes check it out always a good thing to do, could be just a side affect from his recent illiness.

My dog never had any sickness prior to the Cardiomyopathy, the first sign I saw was a cough or gaging when he laid down, and it was only one time, but I new something was wrong since I had 3 others that also died from it. Then I noticed when he laid down at rest you could hear him breath, if you know what I mean, the day he died he ran in the barn chasing cats,like nothing was wrong, untill he climbed on the couch and started  wheezing, I knew it right then that this was serious, I took him right to the Vet who said his arrhythmia was so bad he was surprised that the dog didn't pass out, by 10 pm the poor dog could lay down, he just couldn't breath, his heart was just racing,  it was so sad, I sat on the floor with him and all he did was look at me with those big dark eyes, I knew what I had to do. I couldn't let him suffer like that, so back to the Vet durring a snow storm.

I hope and pray your Dobe is healthy, they now have a DNA test available , please check it out .

Ria I hope Q is okay please update when you take him in.


Sandee...I hope you understand that the cardio test they have is not full proof and doesn't cover all kinds of cardio. There is much to still be learned from this. So just because a dog tests negative for this particular test does not mean that they wont develop cardio. Example would be humans which have over 100 different genes of cancer, Meurs located one for the dog. This is a start and she will be the first to tell you this.

We are lucky where we live as Dr. Meurs practices at the university WSU which is a few hours away. Our dog club brings her out annually to host echoe clinics for the community as well as our dogs.

I'm a firm believer in testing for what is available and will be testing my dogs for this as well as their holter monitors and echos. This is just another tool to use. If people that breed dont use the tools available then we run more of a risk of passing on this type of thing. Some breeders like to hide their heads in the sand thinking that it wont help. I know of many dogs that were getting tests like these done as part of a responsible breeding practice and have failed in one way or another. This allows breeders to make educated choices as to breed or not. When I go to buy another dog you bet I will be looking for breeders that utilize EVERY test available to them and are honest with the results.

sandee396's picture
Joined: 2010-12-17

Yes thank you I have listen to Dr Meurs seminar,  and it is very informative ,I was however wondering if anyone has any idea what the percentage is of Dogs that test Negative, how many of them do get Cardiomyopathy? which of course would prove that there are more mutation responsible for DMC.

This is going to be down the line a ways. Boxers had this test available a few years ago and they are still no where close. While it is a huge step in the right direction and I believe everyone should test we still have so much more to discover.

Quick summary from the Doberman DCM webinar: Of a total 1026 samples tested so far: 7% are homozygous positive, 39% are heterozygous positive, and 53% are negative. They are seeing the occasional negative dog with DCM, which suggests that there are additional genes that cause the disease.

This is such a small sampling don't let the numbers fool you on the negative side. You can also follow on the WSU website out of the breeders owners who want it public knowledge what the test results are. We would have to have our heads in the clouds to believe that 53 percent are totally negative. Yes negative for this ONE gene found but not the disease itself as is proof with the negative testing dogs that develop DCM

It will be extremely important to keep up on the info as it develops.

sandee396's picture
Joined: 2010-12-17

Yes thank you so much for the information, I need to check out the University a buyer we need to be more aware of this information and ask the right questions when purchasing a puppy, in the past I was not, I bought from the same breeder all 5 of my Dobes and unfortunately 4 of the had DCM. I do blame the breeder, as he promotes everything else but what is important, health.

I hope with all this new information available, that people will do the research before they buy.