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Personal Reflections on what the new Genetic DCM tests means

Discussion in 'Doberman Health Issues and Questions' started by TrinityDobes, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. TrinityDobes

    TrinityDobes Novitiate

    I have been on an emotional roller coaster today happy and sad, joyous yet afraid of what this news means to the future for me. On the one hand there is great joy that breeders will finally have a tool to help reduce and eventually eliminate DCM in our breed. But on the heels of that joy, as I look around at my dogs I worry about how much of the last 20 years of my breeding will be lost and specifically about who is going to have to be discarded as contributing breeding stock able to carry on the lines I have nurtured for most of my adult life.

    As my mind races on with the possible ramifications of this new test, I am thrilled at the possibility of not dreading the day someone will call to say their beloved pet has DCM. Yet fear slices through to my heart and I feel sick to my stomach because like most breeders I have a 6 year plan for going forward. Heck, I already have 2 prospective stud dogs picked out for my 3 month old female Raven :) – but these plans, my hopes and dreams may now never be realized and most certainly will have to be changed.

    And yes – don’t get me wrong – its so much better for me to experience the loss of my personal hopes and dreams, if it means even one dog is saved from being born with this disease and the people that love them don’t have to experience such gut wrenching loss. Again, I am reminded as a breeder, that I feel a great weight of responsibility for making the best decisions possible for continuing the breed and making the best decisions I can today, that tomorrow’s breeders will have to live with.

    I do want you all to take just a moment and have a bit of compassion for all the responsible breeders who either have newly born pups or ones that are due to whelp shortly, or even those who will be bred before any testing can be arranged – what the eventual DCM test result of "positive" will mean to those sweet innocent young pups, who through no fault of their own or their breeder really, will in all likelihood, now have a very bleak future. The responsibility for their future is as heavy and sobering to me as having a bucket of ice water dumped on me. I hope and pray I am not faced with the prospect of choosing life or death for pups in my next litter, but the fact is, I and every other breeder is going to have to walk this lonely road and bear this burden for the next several generations.

    I am so hopeful that this test proves to be reliable and useful as we need it to be – but after my great joy this morning, I must be honest that this evening I have a very heavy heart as I look to the future. The phrase “breeding is not for the faint of heart” has never been truer than it is today.

    I am going to try and paraphrase below a summary opinion posted by someone on another of my lists that was understandable to me in lay terms but until we hear the announcement details from Dr. Meur this is just supposition.

    If you look at Dr. Meur’s previous determination that the mode of inheritance most likely being a dominate gene this DNA test will likely determine if the individual Doberman being tested is positive or negative for carrying either one or two copies of the mutated DCM gene. Unlike vWD there will be no carriers involved. Just positives and negatives that the dog either has or don’t have the mutated DCM gene(s). If the Doberman is positive, or carries the mutated DCM gene it apparently does not mean that they will develop the disease due to variable penetrance. This means that some individuals with the genetic mutation will not show the disease until they get older and that some individuals with the mutation will NEVER show the disease. However DCM positive individuals can pass the mutated gene to either some or all of their progeny depending on whether they have 1 or 2 copies of the mutated gene. (I am wondering if the test will be able to tell us if the dog has one or 2 copies or just positive?)

    If this test proves to be what we are praying it its, then through careful breeding we can now eliminate this awful disease over the next few generations. Notice I said by the next few generations. If breeders rush to only breed Negative to Negative we will reduce an already shallow gene pool to extinction levels and it will be no different than the problems created by the popular show sire syndrome and offset the good accomplished by having this test.

    Breeding strategies will need to be changed for sure and it may mean that breeders will have to give a little on conformation or even some working temperaments until the number of negative dogs gives us a wider selection of breeding choices. As I said Breeders are going to be faced with an even greater responsibility when breeding in order to eradicate genetic DCM from our beloved breed. Within a couple of generations of judicious selective breeding we should be able to focus on the phenotype we prefer with out the risk of perpetuating the lethal DCM gene.

    This Test is with out a doubt the single most important event that critically affects the future of the Doberman Pinscher breed we all love so much. I am also afraid that the next biggest test result will be that of who passes and fails the associated "ethics" test.
    • Like Like x 13
  2. Dobs4ever

    Dobs4ever Hot Topics Subscriber

    I will only say this - it makes me sick when someone immediately jumps to play the "ethics" card. It has been my experience in life that the vast majority are honest and if it is going to be a no one believes anyone anyway then we might as well throw in the towel now. It means NOTHING in life is true or honest. I will not go there. Shame on who ever threw in that jab makes me wonder about their own ethics.

    Instead we should be glad we have a new tool to help.
    • Like Like x 6
  3. Panama

    Panama Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    And will stored sperm be tested? Many great names have been drawn from and stored...
  4. TrinityDobes

    TrinityDobes Novitiate

    My comment about passing or failing the ethics test maybe should have said Pass/Fail the "truthfulness" test.

    I agree there are many wonderful ethical breeders, but there are also far too many that are not truthful (which equals unethical to me) about the cause of death in the dogs they have bred. We are left with speculation and assumption as to the cause of early deaths. I am a realist and one of the absolute most positive things that will be the result of us having this test as a tool, is that we will know with a certainty what the DCM status of our breeding dogs are. No speculation, no assuming - we will KNOW and this is a huge blessing.

    ---------- Post added at 10:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:21 AM ----------

    upon reading through the information from Dr Meurs with regard to the Boxer CM, I would like to share her recommendations regarding breeding strategy offered to the Boxer community

    Dogs that are positive for the test will not necessarily develop significant heart disease and die from the disease. Some dogs will develop a very mild form of the disease and will live quite comfortably, some may need treatment.

    Removal of a significant number of dogs from the breeding population could be very bad for the Boxer dog breed. Remember that dogs that carry this mutation also carry other important good genes that we do not want to lose from the breed.

    Positive Heterozygous (1 copy of the mutated gene and 1 copy of a normal gene) Dogs that are positive heterozygous should be carefully evaluated for signs of disease (Holter monitor and possibly an echocardiogram). If an arrhythmia (VPCs) is detected, possible treatment options should be discussed with your veterinarian. Adult dogs that do not show signs of disease and that have other positive attributes could be bred to mutation negative dogs. Puppies may be screened for the mutation and over a few generations, mutation negative puppies may be selected to replace the mutation positive parent and gradually decrease the number of mutation positive dogs in the population.

    Positive Homozygous (2 copies of the mutated gene) I recommend not breeding the homozygous dogs UNLESS they are exceptional members of the Boxer community and we need to be sure to maintain their positive attributes in the breed. Dogs that are homozygous for the mutation appear to have more significant disease and will certainly pass on the mutation therefore they should only be bred to a negative dog and over 2 generations of negative crosses a negative puppy could be selected as a replacement. ​

    At the end of the day I am a glass is half full person and am much more hopeful with a "half full glass" today than I was yesterday. I am like everyone anxious to hear the details so that I can process the information, get my dogs tested and then come up with "my plan" for going forward. The positives, and outlook for the future of our breed are more and brighter because of this new tool.
  5. TrinityDobes

    TrinityDobes Novitiate

    It is so important for everyone to stop, take a deep breath and "listen" to the presentation by Dr. Meurs on Monday. I have gone through many emotional peaks and valleys since this huge discovery was announced and have arrived at a calmer state of mind and am ready to "HEAR" and "LEARN" all I can from Dr. Meurs on Monday. The information we receive will have to be processed and its effect will be different to each of us.

    IMHO everyone needs to be patient and not be quick to judge or quick to make assumptions and draw conclusions - DCM is a complex villain. Hopefully this tool can help us in the fight agains this devastating foe. HOWEVER we need to learn the facts as Dr. Meurs knows them before we can all make a plan to go forward.

    I for one, as a breeder, am in this for the long haul. I will not shy away from this breed that I have loved for almost 30 years. Its our duty to continue to be wise Guardians and work to ensure the breed survives.

    Please be patient and remain open to hearing every side of this story, because it is many faceted. Its supremely important that we work together remembering our duty to be guardians of this wonderful breed.

    I would like to point you to an article contained in the Breeders Education section on the DPCA's website. A look down the Bottles Neck. although Part 1 was written in 1999 it is very applicable to where we are today. Part 2 was more recently written and again a point of view some lovers of the breed may not have thought about and again right on for the crossroads we are at today.

    A Look Down The Bottle's Neck

    There is also a really good article by Rod Humphries, Genetics 101 - this though written a while ago was excellent to helping me understand the mode of inheritance and understand the "lingo" that is going to be used by Dr. Meurs. I highy suggest you read it for better comprehension of the information to be presented by Dr. Meurs on Monday

    • Like Like x 7
  6. Lord

    Lord Jr Member

    Lets relax. After all it is too early
  7. Dobs4ever

    Dobs4ever Hot Topics Subscriber

    I got my test kits yesterday and filled out the paperwork. I am glad we have one more piece of the puzzle. I do not believe and as Dr. Meurs stated it is a cure all. It is one piece that can help but will not eliminate DCM even if we totally eliminate this one gene. She indicated that there are most likely more genes involved in DCM which is a very complex disease and that in humans so far they have found 24 different genes. It is a long road. It is not a cure all as so many had hoped. But if we can carefully eliminate this one cause it will be a small step in the right direction.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. cristinalexandru

    cristinalexandru New Member

    hi, my name is Cristina and i have some questions for those who know:
    have already begun testing? someone got the result?
    be made at the puppies for several weeks?
    thank you, i am very interested.
  9. TrinityDobes

    TrinityDobes Novitiate

    Christina, yes they have begun testing - I have sent mine in but have not got the resutls, I am guessing it will take several weeks for them to handle the initial repsonse from everyone wanting to get the test done. I do know a few people have goten results, but no results have been posted in the lab's on line database
    and puppies of any age can be tested, I am not sure if that was your last question or not
  10. cristinalexandru

    cristinalexandru New Member

    Thank you for your answer

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