In the Blood: Genetic disorders like von Willebrand's disease force breeders to weigh their options.
D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
Martha Clark knew from the DNA test results that her Doberman Pinscher, Reuben, had von Willebrand's disease, but it didn't really affect his life.
"He bled a bit as a puppy when he lost a molar, and he got a big hematoma on his side from roughhousing with a particularly rough friend. But he never had a clinical bleeding episode -- until he did," she says.
"When his heart was failing last fall, I hospitalized him," Clark says. "He had never been abandoned, and the stress caused him to have a von Willebrand crisis -- a term I had never heard before. He spontaneously bled from everywhere...he was bleeding from the nose and urinating and defecating blood." Only a transfusion from a dog treated with drugs that combat the disorder finally stopped the bleeding.
For many owners of dogs with vWD, the disease is not a concern. But for others, it can be a matter of life and death -- and certainly of breeding or not breeding.
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