Too often I speak to other breeders who believe that solely giving their Dobermans (usually at a young age) a one-time DNA test for two genes will determine whether they will develop Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is sad that they believe this falsehood and are close-minded to hearing the truth. Currently, all of the genetic markers that are responsible for DCM have not been identified. Some in the genetics field believe that there are many different genes responsible for DCM in Dobermans with some of them being the mutating type. Below is part of an email communication between Alba Medical and myself about DCM testing. Alba Medical has been committed to identifying DCM in Dobermans for a very long time.
“We are not to the point in genetic testing where we can rely on the absence or presence of certain DCM genes to decide on if an individual will or will not develop DCM. I hope that someday we do get there. Echoes and Holters are indeed still the gold standard.”
Genetics tests for DCM is not conclusive. I have read testimonies from people who owned Dobermans that had tested normal for DCM1 and DCM2, but still developed DCM. On the other hand, I have read where some Dobermans that tested positive for either DCM1 or DCM2 lived a full life without developing the disease. Although the genetics testing is not conclusive, I do see the importance of collecting as much data as possible in this phase of mapping out the genome. I would love to see the day that genetic scientists pinpoint all of the genes that are responsible for DCM.
Here at Always Faithful Dobermans, we believe that Dobermans should be DCM tested using auscultation, echocardiogram, and 24-hour Holter monitoring; this is the “gold standard”. Fortunately, AFD has not had a Doberman to be affected with DCM. To any breeders out there reading this, I challenge you to at least start 24-hour Holter monitoring your breeding stock. Another step would be to take your Dobermans to a board-certified cardiologist for an echocardiogram (and auscultation). If the drive to a cardiologist is too far, then see if any local regular veterinarians can do an echocardiogram.