Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart expands and the heart muscle deteriorates. In the Doberman, DCM usually affects the left ventricle and left atrium. Gradual symptoms include irregular heart beat, racing heart beat, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and fluid buildup in the lungs and abdomen. However, this condition often first shows itself with the abrupt symptom of sudden death. One third of DCM affected Dobermans will experience sudden death.

There is no definitive test for DCM. However, certain tests can discover early signs of the disease such as the holter monitor, ultrasound, and electrocardiogram, which monitor the heart beat. These tests are usually done on a yearly basis and have been successful in early diagnosis of DCM. These tests also contribute to the ongoing research on the Doberman’s heart and the search for a genetic marker of the disease.

This condition can occur suddenly. A Doberman could test fine one day, then experience sudden death a day later. Generally, a Doberman diagnosed with DCM has little time left.

Occult or hidden DCM is a form of DCM that does not display observable signs. In this form, tests show an abnormal heart beat, and if caught early treatment can be effective in extending life.

The key to overcoming this disease includes purchasing our Doberman puppies from responsible breeders who research their blood lines and do not breed Dobermans with a family history of DCM. Also by continuing research into general Doberman cardiology and finding the genetic marker indicating DCM.