One oddity on the list of Doberman illnesses is von Willebrand’s Disease. It is a genetic disease that, in people and dogs, causes a shortage of the protein von Willebrand factor. This protein is secreted from the inner walls of blood vessels when they are injured, and acts as a glue, holding platelets together. Simply, von Willebrand’s Disease can cause an excessive bleeding disorder.

In the 1970’s, the canine genetic indicator was discovered, so now dogs with the gene that causes von Willebrand’s can be identified with a relatively simple DNA test. Using this test, 60 breeds have been identified as having members who carry the gene, including the Doberman.

Some breeds have a serious form of von Willebrand’s. Some have a mild form, including the Doberman. In fact, Dobermans with the gene do not have a bleeding disorder. So, from the Doberman owner’s perspective, von Willebrand’s disease is an extremely small threat to their Doberman.

The fact that there is no bleeding disorder prevalent in the Doberman breed is proven with the tail doc and dewclaw removal. If a bleeding disorder is not revealed here, later during the ear-crop it likely would.

If a prevalent bleeding disorder did exist in the Doberman breed, all of the systematic cutting of the Doberman would certainly reveal it. At least some Dobermans would bleed excessively, but this is extremely rare.

So why is discussion on von Willebrand’s disease so common in the Doberman community – when it’s not a real problem? I suspect it has much to do with the simplicity of the test, and breeders who love to flaunt a passed test regardless of its importance.

If you don’t plan on breeding your Doberman, testing for von Willebrand’s disease is not necessary. For breeders, it is not currently a concern and so many breeders do not hold the von Willebrand’s gene in high regard when forming their breeding plan. Removing all von Willebran’s positive and more so von Willebran’s carriers from Doberman breeding would significantly reduce the Doberman gene pool. In order to get ride of this possibly bad gene, we would have to sacrifice countless good genes.

However, our understanding of this gene and the genome in general is at its infancy. Doberman breeders should keep an eye on this one. Because it’s not causing problems now doesn’t mean it never will in the Doberman breed.