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Puppy's grandfather died of cardiomyopathy? Help

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  • Puppy's grandfather died of cardiomyopathy? Help

    Hi there, everyone! My husband and I lost our beloved Great Dane rather suddenly just a few days after his 8th birthday and our home and hearts have felt empty ever since. Now we've begun to search for a puppy to hopefully bring home this summer and thought we'd found the perfect breeder, but we've run into a problem. I'm new to the forums, but I hope it's okay to come straight here and post for advice, because I need opinions of people wiser than me!

    The mommy dog is pregnant with puppies due to be born soon. The first thing I noticed that made me wonder was that neither the mom nor the dad have perfect joints (mom's elbows are on the line of having mild issues, though her hips are almost perfect -- dad's elbows are okay, but his hips are fairly bad). After further reading, it seems this would be a fairly common pairing, however, and would be seen as okay because they don't *both* have problems in the same joints -- is this correct, or should I be concerned?

    But onto my bigger concern: the father of the mommy dog died at 6 years of age from cardiomyopathy (well before the mommy dog was bred, so the breeder knew this history before choosing to breed her). I found this out myself by reading the dogs' info online and clicking backwards on the family tree. I assume after further reading that it's dilated cardiomyopathy, but it didn't say specifically. I asked the breeder about it, expecting her to give me an explanation of why she felt breeding the dog was worth the risk, but instead she minimized it, making it sound like cardiomyopathy shows up randomly and will always show up in the breed. She explained that the hereditary nature of heart disease in Great Danes is unclear and that she does extra heart tests on her dogs (ultrasound and EKG) to minimize risk. I did some research and found out that a predisposition for cardiomyopathy *is* believed to be hereditary, but it's complicated and unclear how it's inherited, and I guess that's what the breeder meant. That being said, my research seemed to suggest that a dog whose dad died of heart disease should probably not be used for breeding. Not to mention the tests she does cannot predict whether the disease will come later, *and* I think(?) the mom could be a carrier without having issues herself? On the other hand, I read some breeding guidelines in my country that was sort of ambiguous about it, kinda like: "It's a risk, but if an immediate family member of the dog being bred (parent, sibling, etc.) had heart disease, you maaaybe can still use it if you pair it with a dog whose lines are free of heart disease." So now I'm not sure what to think.

    On the one hand, you can never fully eliminate all risks and if we go with another breeder, we might end up with a puppy with a higher risk for cancer or something else. And of course we would love and take care of the puppy (vet bills and all) no matter what happened. On the other hand, I don't want to support irresponsible breeding or set myself up for heartbreak. The 8 years we had with our last Dane seemed unbearably short as it was. The problem is, I'm not knowledgeable enough in this arena to determine if this is irresponsible breeding, or if the risk is tiny and the breeder is doing nothing wrong. By all other checks that I know how to make, she does seem to be a responsible, legitimate breeder. She wants to meet us in her home when the puppies are 4 weeks old before taking any money to reserve the puppy, and she's offered to show me all the vet papers clearing the mom of current heart issues. However, she's also a small breeder, and after looking at her website, I realized this dog she's bred is the only female dog she has that is old enough to be bred at the moment. So I wonder -- did she really choose to breed her because she felt the genes would improve the breed, or did she decide to use her because the dog fit the absolute minimum requirements and it was all she had on hand?

    Someone help. My gut says it's not a trustworthy breeder. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I'm worrying too much about it and that this risk is no bigger than any other puppy from any other breeder would have for any other major health problem (after all, even a puppy from the healthiest parents could end up with problems). He thinks I'm obsessing over health because of heartbreak from losing our previous Dane -- which might be true to some degree. So should we trust her? Or not?

    Thanks everyone in advance for the help!
    Last edited by hiccups; 04-28-2016, 10:35 AM.

  • #2
    You know the answer here. I can tell by your post.

    One question: Do they show their dogs? Does the dam have her championship?

    Even before I know the answer, I would be cautious about buying a puppy from this breeder.
    Mouse April 2010
    Echo -- run free, Sweetie! Jan 9, 2007 - April 24, 2014 Lost to osteosarcoma at 7 years, 3 months. RIP.


    • #3
      I'm not really sure how to read the show titles, but it looks like the dam has only been to a couple of small dog shows (I don't think she's won any titles). Her dad (ironically, the one who died of cardiomyopathy) seems to have won a couple of titles.
      Last edited by hiccups; 04-28-2016, 10:47 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by hiccups View Post
        Someone help. My gut says it's not a trustworthy breeder.......So should we trust her? Or not?
        Appears you already know the answer to this one. Trust your gut. Last thing you want is for your pup to develop this one genetic disease that you worried about before buying the dog.

        Honestly it seems a bit too many health problems for my liking. I just wouldn't take the chance.
        Last edited by 21softballstar; 04-28-2016, 11:34 AM. Reason: spelling
        Willow and Liv


        • #5
          Generally speaking, breeders should not use affected dogs when it comes to DCM. They should not breed two dogs who have known family history of DCM either. The dam to this litter may or may not be affected - she could be too young herself for a positive diagnosis. And she may or may not carry genes that contribute to the disease.

          If the breeder is health testing and showing (ideally to AKC Championship) then at least they are doing the groundwork to produce quality puppies.

          Personally, DCM and other cardio issues scare me and I stay as far away from it as possible. I will not breed any affected dog and I won't breed to a dog out of affected parents or probably even grandparents either. That said, sometimes you don't know until long after a breeding if the dogs are to become affected - and that is why cardio issues scare me. By the time you can truly rule it out in a bitch, she is too old to be bred. So once you have cardio issues in your line, its very very hard to be sure you are successfully getting away from it.

          If in doubt, I would say move on to the next breeder. Be just as thorough in your research as you have been this time around and remember "no info" is not the same as "clear info". A pedigree full of no health testing is NOT better than a pedigree full of tested dogs with a few issues here and there. Better to know the skeletons in the closet than to not know and think you are clear when that's likely not the case at all.
          Member GDC of Mid-Florida


          • #6
            Your husband may think you are worrying too much until he is plunking down literally thousands of dollars to treat a dog with health issues or he wakes up one morning to find the dog deceased.

            Obviously you can't know what the future holds and you can have health issues with any pup from the best of the best breeders. However, in our breed, a lot of what you need to do is mitigate damages. You truly seek out the best of the best.. not just in health, but in conformation and temperament as well. You want to limit your risk to as minimal as possible.

            For me, I would not even be considering a pup from this breeding. You couldn't give me a pup from this breeding for free. You already know the father died from DCM and has bad hips and the mom has bad elbows. That's like a trifecta of crappy issues. You are increasing your odds from possible to probable .. in my opinion.

            Your husband couldn't be more wrong thinking that the risk is the same for any dog from any breeding. Each breed has issues that are either specific to that breed or it's a large issue with that breed. For danes, it's hips, elbows, heart, thyroid, bone cancer and bloat - to mention a few of the biggies. For example, bulldogs are the breed with the most dysplastic hips. Nearly 70% of the bulldogs tested (764 dogs) were considered dysplastic. On the other hand, 0% of the Italian greyhounds that were tested (283 dogs) were dysplastic. If you want to own a bulldog, you need to make hips a priority when choosing a breeder. That is just common sense. You can't buy a puppy thinking it will never have a major health issue, but you can try to mitigate your future problems by buying from a breeder that does all things right. To me, that's not breeding a dog with known DCM and / or HD.

            There are two things about danes that I can tell you for certain...

            The first is, for their very large size, they can be oddly fragile dogs. You'd think they were built like tanks because of size alone but it's often the opposite. Their size does them no favors. Giant dogs have hearts that have to pump blood through their giant bodies and it's taxing. Their poor joints take a beating from height and weight. They are prone to life threatening gas issues due to the deep chests. Their bones are rapid growing and causes issues and then they are prone to bone cancer that kills them. They are not like other breeds. Danes can have big health problems and as an owner, you want to make sure you are investing in the healthiest you can to avoid not only expensive care but terrible heart break.

            The second is, they are a very expensive breed. Giant sized comes with giant bills. Sure, a vet visit costs the same for a 5 pound dog or a 150 pound dog. But wait until you have to pay for treatment. The 5 pound dog takes 1 antibiotic... the 150 pound dog takes 4. Those extra pills add up. Anesthesia, medicines and treatment are often done by weight. Think normal dog and then times it by 4 and you're probably at a great dane size vet bill. Top all that with even bigger health issues, you can quickly get on the 'bankruptcy by dog' plan. That is another reason it is seriously recommended to get health insurance immediately on any dane pup. Trouble that brews can be swift and ugly.

            For me, I can probably deal with some known stuff in a line, but DCM is not one of them. It's a scary situation and it's one of those things that you don't even know is a problem until your dog is half dead. You can treat it for a short while, but the outcome is never good.

            Above all else, this doesn't even sound like a breeder I'd buy from at all. An ethical and responsible breeder would have all the health tests done, shown to CH for the conformation and be able to discuss known issues with you, without you having to stumble on the facts on the internet. Do yourself a favor.. keep looking.
            Last edited by Angel7292; 04-29-2016, 04:08 AM.


            • #7
              I don't think I'd buy from this breeder either. Heart issues, hip issues, and questionable elbows all in the last 2 generations is way too much for me. I'd keep looking. What country are you from?
              Asaah ~ xxx Asaah LaLa, CGC, registered therapy dog


              • #8
                I would not buy from this breeder either.. too many things hips, elbows, heart.. nope.. I would keep looking.. It doesn't seem like this breeder is doing anything to try to improve the breed.
                Dale AKC CGC Evaluator
                Associate Member GDCNE
                Member GSPCA
                Member NAVHDA
                Member Central Maine Kennel Club
                High Hopes Great Danes & German Shorthairs