von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)

What is vWD? How can it be tested for?

vWD is a genetic bleeding disease, similar to haemophilia, to which dobermanns have a genetic predisposition.  Dogs can be affected, carriers, or clear. There are three types of vWD and affected dobermanns suffer from type 1, the least severe. Nonetheless, affected dogs may bleed excessively if cut. Carrier dogs would not suffer any ill effects themselves, but could pass the disease on to their progeny if mated with an affected or carrier dog. On average (ie if counted across hundreds of litters and averaged), the following will occur:

Parent 1

Parent 2

Progeny

Affected

Affected

100% affected

Affected

Carrier

50% affected, 50% carrier

Affected

Clear

100% carrier

Carrier

Carrier

25% affected, 50% carrier, 25% clear

Carrier

Clear

50% carrier, 50% clear

Clear

Clear

100% clear

 

There is a simple genetic test for vWD that requires only a cheek swab, and the Kennel Club publishes records of test results. In addition, progeny of clear parents are designated as hereditarily clear (although it may be worth retesting every few generations to ensure this is correct). It is therefore easy to avoid breeding affected puppies and in this day and age there is no excuse for it. However, in every year since 2003, there have been some positive results registered at the Kennel Club, so it is very important to check this.

Advice for puppy purchasers

Prospective purchasers of dobermann puppies are strongly advised to ascertain the vWD status of both parents before purchasing and to ensure it is stated clearly in the breeder’s contract. If in doubt, contact Laboklin or another provider to carry out a simple test. 

Advice for breeders

Breeders who are members of the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme (ABS) must test for vWD if the status is not known by parentage. However, all breeders are strongly advised to ensure that the vWD status of both dam and sire are known and also registered at the Kennel Club before breeding. If the test is carried out via Laboklin in the UK, the results will be sent direct to the Kennel Club. If other suppliers are used, this may not be so. In either case, breeders are recommended to check that the results have been applied to the dog’s KC record.

Health Menu