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What Doberman Pinscher Owners Should Know About Von Willebrand Disease

Updated on February 23, 2017

All fans of Doberman Pinschers planning to adopt a Doberman Pinsher one day should be educated about Von Willebrand disease. And of course, any individual planning to breed Doberman Pinshers should not do so until they have screened the breeding specimens. Any specimens testing positive therefore, should be excluded from the breeding pool. Testing for Von Willebrand disease can be a fact that distinguishes often serious responsible breeders from back yard breeders breeding their dogs solely for profits. If you are purchasing a Doberman Pinsher puppy, always ask if the parents were screened for Von Willebrand's. If the breeder says no or if he or she doesn't even know what the disease is, run away and don't look back!

What is Von Willebrand's disease?

While Von Willebrand's disease may basically affect any dog, it is however particularly common among Doberman Pinshers. It is a hereditary blood clotting disorder meaning that in affected individuals that blood does not coagulate as it is intended to. In simple words, when a dog with Von Willebrand's disease scrapes its skin and causes it to bleed, the blood platelets which are supposed to stick together to stop the bleeding in order to create scar tissue (a process known as Von Willebrand factor) instead are unable to clump together causing the wound to bleed more than necessary. What these affected dogs really lack is sufficient production of specific proteins that are responsible for triggering the production of fibrin which is the material scar tissue is made of.

How is Von Willebrand Disease Diagnosed?

Unlike Hemophilia in humans which is sex linked, Von Willebrand's disease affects both sexes and it would affect any dog breed. A simple blood test can test a dog's Von Willebrand factor. According to Marvistavet, a normal Von Willebrand factor in dogs is calculated in percentages and is generally between 70-180%, borderline values are between 50-69% while abnormal values are under 49%. Depending on the results of this blood test dogs are considered either clear, carriers, or affected.

Symptoms of Von Willebrand Disease

The disease usually is recognized when the dog is a puppy. The Doberman may be affected by unusually long bleeding episodes after the spay or neuter surgery . In other cases, dogs develop visible symptoms of Von Willebrand disease after the dog undergoes a stressful event. Symptoms suggesting Von Willebrand disease are as follows:

  • Excessive Bleeding
  • Excessive Bruising
  • Unexplained Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding Gums
  • Blood in urine and feces

Treatment of Von Willebrand Disease

Treatment is based on replacing what is lacking. In other words, a Doberman that is bleeding and is suspected of having Von Willebrand disease, will benefit from a transfusion of Von Willebrand factor.

The ugly part of Von Willebrand disease is that it is often undiagnosed until a bleeding episode occurs. Owners of Doberman Pinchersshould always keep this disease in the corner of their mind. Or better, for peace of mind they should have their dog tested. Aspirin should be avoided because it thins blood. In case of surgery, owners of Doberman Pinshers may feel reassured by requesting their vet to keep on hand fresh frozen plasma or clotting factors. Awareness is always step forward toward prevention.

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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i have a female age 4 i just got her fixed they found a big blood clot by her ovaries does anyone know if this disease is deadly?

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      What breeds are affected by von Willebrand's disease?

      Type I vWD: This is by far the most common form. The gene for the condition is widespread in the Doberman pinscher population, and is also relatively common in the Scottish terrier and Shetland sheep dog. There is an increased risk of the disorder in the Golden retriever, standard and miniature poodle, Welsh Pembroke corgi, miniature Schnauzer, basset hound, German shepherd, Rottweilers, Manchester terrier, Keeshond, and standard and miniature dachshund. This disease occurs in most other breeds and in mixed-breed dogs as well.

      Type III vWD: rare, occurs in the Scottish terrier, Shetland sheepdog, and very sporadically, in the Chesapeake Bay retriever

      Type II: extremely rare, German short-haired pointer

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      May I just highlight that humans can also get Von Willebrand's disease too- the article seems to make the disease sound like the dog equivalent of haemophilia. Also, if you do have a dog with Von Willebrands, like in humans (such as myself), you need to ask which type your dog has. Type 3 is far more serious than type 1, which is a minor affliction, and type 2 is a different problem- the clotting factors are the wrong shape.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      12 years ago

      Yes, unfortunately it has been reported in over 50 breeds of dogs. Some are Doberman pincher, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Scottish terrier, Shetland sheepdog and Golden retriever.

    • profile image

      Gypsy willow 

      12 years ago

      You do know a lot about dogs! I've never heard of it before. I'm very unlikely to choose a doberman but my trusty lab x heeler is eleven so in the not so distant future I will be making a choice. Are there any other breeds affected? Thanks for the info.


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