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In our quest to educate the Doberman Pinscher buyer and owners I have republished the 2 most read articles on the Internet on Dobermans with permission with the author

OFA Certification and Hip Dysplasia

If you own a larger breed of dog or are looking for one, you may have heard the term OFA Certified. This refers to the dog's hip joints and is an indicator of potential problems for your dog. Hip problems for any active dog will cause pain and discomfort that will get progressively worse. The unstable hip joint will lead to osteoarthritis.

So, what is OFA certification? The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is the recognized certifying body to evaluate and determine if a dog will have problem hips. The foundation was established in 1966 by John M. Olin after he found that hip dysplasia was affecting his sporting dogs. Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition and can be evaluated by radiographs. The OFA maintains a database for hip dysplasia and now also maintains databases on other genetic disorders.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has defined 7 categories to describe canine hip joints. They are: Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild, Moderate, Severe. There are several different ways to treat hip dysplasia depending on the age of the dog and the severity of the problem.

For young dogs, under the age of 10 months, veterinarians can do surgery to stabilize the joint. This surgery is called triple pelvic osteotomy. It involves cutting 3 places in the pelvic bone, rotating the socket and stabilizing the ball part of the joint with plates and screws. This procedure is only for puppies because once there are arthritic changes in the joint, the surgery is not possible. Another surgical option is a total hip replacement. This is a complex procedure, usually done only at teaching hospitals and large specialty practices. It can cost as much as $1750.00 for one hip, which is usually all that needs to be done.

There are other non-surgical options available. One of the simplest and least expensive treatments includes weight management and exercise. Exercise should start with short leash walks which should gradually increase as the muscles get stronger. Strong muscles will help stabilize the joint and if the dog is overweight, losing weight will put less stress on the joint. This is effective treatment as long as the dog is not having pain from the exercise. You may have to backtrack to shorter walks. Cold and damp weather will aggravate joint pain for your dog, and warmth is soothing. If you suffer arthritis or joint pain and stiffness, your can understand how your dog feels.

Dogs can also be given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Your vet will know if and when this is an appropriate coarse. As with any medications, there are risks for side effects. Don't ever give your dog your NSAID medication. Side effects of these drugs in dogs is the same it is for us. Side effects include, stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite. Some vets may recommend an all natural, human grade, pet supplement for your dog. It has been shown that glucosamine and chondroitin are helpful in rebuilding cartilage in the joint. It can take about a week of giving the supplement before the necessary level for results is reached.

It is important for you to consult with your dog's veterinarian to discuss the best coarse of action for your pooch. With some help from you and the vet, your dog can live a full, active and pain free life.

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Von Willebrand Disease (vWD) is a common health issue in Dobermans. It is a bleeding disease just like hemophilia in humans that can put Dobermans life at risk from surgery or injury. Although it exists in other breeds, such as Poodles, Shelties, Scottish Terriers and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, it is most common in Dobermans. In a study of 15,000 Dobermans screened, 70% were carriers. Most of these dogs were not clinically affected.

Some of the symptoms of Von Willebrands Disease are excessive bleeding, nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums and bloody stools or urine. This requires special consideration before surgery and special attention to injuries. Physical and emotional stress can worsen bleeding. The treatment for a bleeding episode is a blood transfusion. Certain drugs should be avoided in dogs with Von Willebrand Disease. These include, aspirin, antihistamines, sulfur based antibiotics, ibuprofen and amoxicillin. Your Veterinarian will know how to handle treating your dog.

There are 3 types of vWD. Type I is the mildest form of the disease and is the type most common in Dobermans. Type 2 is more severe and is more common in German Shorthaired Pointers. Type 3 is the most severe form and is usually found in Scottish Terriers and Shelties, although as mentioned above, there are several other breeds that can carry this gene.

Besides, surgery or injury, Dobermans are at risk for excessive bleeding during whelping and during the docking of the puppies tails. It is so important to know that your Doberman and his breeding line are tested and do not have Von Willebrand affected breeding dogs.

One way to test for Von Willebrand Disease is a blood titre test called Elisa. This test is not very accurate. We had one of our dogs test positive on the Elisa test but was clear on the DNA test. The only true way to test for this genetic disease is through a DNA test, which is done with a swab and costs around $140.00. There are 3 levels of results for the DNA test, clear, carrier or affected. What this means in terms of breeding Dobermans is somewhat complicated. It is safe to breed a vWD clear Doberman with a vWD carrier. It is estimated that the bad gene would be eliminated over a period of 2-3 generations.

Breeding 2 Dobermans that are affected (actually suffer excessive bleeding) will always produce 100%affected puppies. Breeding an affected dog with a carrier will result in half the puppies being affected and half being carriers. Breeding 2 carriers of vWD will result in 25% of the pups being affected, 50% will be carriers and 25% will be normal. Breeding a carrier of vWD to a normal Doberman will produce a litter of half carrier puppies and half normal puppies.

You might be wondering why a breeder or anyone would breed a Doberman that has any indication of vWD. Why not breed only dogs with no vWD, as affected or carries of the disease? This would be the ideal situation but only 1/3 of Dobermans are normal, meaning they are not affected with, or carrying the disease. Using only normal dogs for breeding would greatly reduce the gene pool which would have a negative impact on the breed. Doberman breeders have worked so long to perfect the Dobermans temperament and health after the problems of the 1970s. To eliminate 2/3 of the breeding population would result in the same problems we worked to correct.

It is important to buy a Doberman puppy from a reputable breeder who has tested his dogs for Von Willebrand Disease. Be an informed buyer.

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