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The Doberman Pinscher Club of America

Von Willebrand Disease in Dobermans



Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is an inherited blood clotting disorder in Dobermans. It is the most common clotting disorder in humans and dogs. Fortunately, Dobermans have the mildest form of the condition, referred to as Type 1.


Genetic testing is readily available by a number of laboratories, ex. Vetgen, Vetnostics, Embark. There are only three categories of results: Clear, Carrier, and Affected; the disease is a simple one-gene recessive disorder. This means that each dog gets one gene from each of its parents. This gene will either be normal or abnormal. If both genes are normal, the dog is “Clear” and therefore unaffected by vWD. If both genes are abnormal, the dog is “Affected” by Type 1 vWD. If the dog gets one normal and one abnormal gene, the dog is a “Carrier” and therefore unaffected by vWD. Dogs that test “Clear” and “Carrier” will never show any signs of the disease. Dogs that test as “Affected” may be at risk for bleeding episodes. That said, many “Affected” dogs never show any clinical problems with bleeding, even during surgeries. If bleeding problems do occur, they are simple to remedy by the administration of plasma intravenously. Veterinarians should be told ahead of time if they are working on an “Affected” animal so they can be prepared to treat them appropriately if a problem arises. Some veterinarians like to pretreat the animal with plasma to prevent the occurrence of a bleeding problem during a surgery. This preventative step is not necessary in most cases of Type 1 vWD but is a safeguard that may be chosen by the attending veterinarian.



It is important for breeders to know the vWD status of all of their breeding animals. Some breeders like to maintain only “Clear” animals in their breeding program. Other breeders manage the condition by breeding “Carrier” and “Affected” animals to only “Clear” animals, insuring that the puppies are not born “Affected” with Type 1 vWD. Other breeders elect to breed litters knowing that there may be puppies born that are “Affected” with vWD. Due to the declining gene pool of our Dobermans, a breeder may elect to potentially produce “Affected” puppies knowing that this condition is one of the least problematic conditions facing the Doberman.


Beverly J Purswell, DVM, PhD - 2020

CoChairman – DPCA Health Committee