Regarding heart disease in the breed it seems to me, based on the many studies, articles and observations available, there are two distinct types. As a cardiac nurse of 30 years I have a fairly good grasp on the basics of cardiac health. I've also had, on occasion, the opportunity to discuss heart health pertaining to dogs, not my dogs specifically but dogs in general, with cardiologists (of humans) at work. I honestly don't see the correlation between true DCM 'ie dilated cardiomyopathy and early onset lethal arrhythmias. Generally speaking, it's fairly common for people to have electrical rhythm disturbances in otherwise healthy hearts thereby warranting either a pacemaker for those who's hearts beat dangerously low or defibrillators for those with a propensity toward ventricular tachycardia. Prior to implanting a defibrillator medications are sometimes tried depending on symptoms, or more accurately lack of symptoms, and frequency and character of those PVC's. To my knowledge there has been no talk of implantable devices for canines at this point in time. And if there were I'm sure they would be cost prohibitive for nearly all. Holter monitors though can identify dogs who, in my opinion, should be removed from breeding programs based on abnormal results assuming the trait is one that could potentially be passed to offspring. Dogs lost to "sudden death" are the dogs described as robust, happy, healthy and sometimes very young dogs who drop to their knees without warning while playing fetch with their owners. These dogs are dying from arrhythmias not DCM. Is there a genetic component to this... I'm not sure but it seems likely there would be.
After a great deal of research that's been ongoing and simmering away, I've come to the conclusion that doing yearly Holter monitoring on my breeding dogs, is a prudent decision and well worth the cost if by doing so I'm able to help to prevent the spread of Dobermans suffering from sudden death related to abnormal and lethal ventricular arrhythmias. While Holters are just a 24 hour snapshot of the electrical activity of the heart and offer no guarantees, they are the best method of attempting to identify those dogs with rhythm disturbances.
The photo of Skye above shows her tolerant and accepting of the equipment used for the study. I must confess, I had some concern I'd wake up to a dog without vest and a vest a heap on the floor but Skye did well. Not perfect but well. My sewing abilities were put to the test by one small tear at the shoulder. It seems though, on the tech end of things, on my end, there are some glitches that still need to be worked through. Skye did her part and wore the vest and monitor for the required 24 hour period. Unfortunately though I wasn't able to transmit her report online per the instructions provided by the company. And... as luck would have it the guy from tech support at Alba took the option to take Friday for a three day weekend. Hopefully, all is not lost and Monday I'll have success with transmission. The lack of my ability to transmit was very disappointing as I had planned to transmit and move right along with Holtering my next in line. Instead I continued trying to the point of total frustration. It'll be more disappointing and frustrating if I find the time and compliance afforded by Skye on Friday will have to be repeated. Hopefully her report and those of the rest of the crew will be forthcoming soon. When available they will be logged under the Pedigree and Health Docs tab for each.