Kennel Club Announces New Dna Testing Protocol For Dilated Cardiomyopathy In The Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer is a giant dog breed that tends to be fairly robust and healthy, and which has an average lifespan of around 10-12 years, which is quite a long life for a dog of this size. Giant schnauzers are of course the largest of the three recognised schnauzer size variants, and there is certainly a lot to think about when you make the commitment to buy and care for such a big dog.

Giant dog breeds like the giant schnauzer can be very expensive to keep, because everything costs more for bigger dogs – from their food to their bed and accessories, to their flea and worming treatments and even certain veterinary procedures too. Choosing and buying a healthy giant schnauzer when you make your purchase is very important of course, and you cannot tell just by looking at a dog if they are healthy or not.

Like almost every dog breed in the UK, the giant schnauzer can suffer from a small number of hereditary health conditions that are passed on from their parents, and which may not become evident until later in life.

For some such health conditions a DNA test can be performed on breeding stock to identify the markers of the genetic anomalies that cause them, and both breed-specific clubs and organisations and the Kennel Club in the UK sometimes introduce and recommend new tests for specific dog breeds as and when they become available.

In December 2018, the Kennel Club in the UK announced the introduction of a new DNA testing protocol for giant schnauzers, to test for the markers of a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. This is a type of heart condition that can affect both the heart itself and other vital organs and systems too, and which can affect the quality of life and longevity of affected dogs.

In this article we will explain what giant schnauzer dilated cardiomyopathy is, how it is inherited, what the Kennel Club DNA test for giant schnauzer dilated cardiomyopathy involves, and how and why you might want to get your own dog tested. Read on to learn more.

What is dilated cardiomyopathy in the giant schnauzer?

Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM is a type of genetic heart condition that leads to the heart becoming enlarged, which in turn means that it is unable to pump blood around the body efficiently. This affects not only the heart itself, but may also affect the liver, lungs, and other vital organs too.

When a giant schnauzer has dilated cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart’s ventricles become stretched and thin, which leads to enlargement of the heart as a whole. DCM can also lead to the blood within the dog’s circulatory system backing up instead of circulating properly, leading to poor oxygenation of the body and causing fluid to pool in the lung tissue.

All of these issues can affect the quality of life of affected dogs, and potentially, shorten their lifespans too.

Why has the Kennel Club introduced a new DNA test for giant schnauzer dilated cardiomyopathy?

The Kennel Club works side by side with formally recognised breed clubs and organisations for all major dog breeds, to monitor the health of the breed as a whole, identify new health issues that develop within the breed, and work to develop testing protocols to diagnose them in breeding stock and so, limit their continued spread across the breed.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the latest DNA health test to be approved by the Kennel Club for the giant schnauzer dog breed, and whist participation in this health scheme is not mandated for giant schnauzer breeders, it is strongly recommended.

How is dilated cardiomyopathy in the giant schnauzer inherited?

Dilated cardiomyopathy in the giant schnauzer is passed on from parent dogs to their young by means of autosomal recessive heredity. A dog may be either clear of the condition (and so, unable to pass it on) or affected, but they may also be a carrier – which means that whilst they themselves will be healthy, they can pass the gene fault for the condition on to their own young, who may in their turn be affected by it.

If you have two prospective parent dogs DNA tested for the markers of dilated cardiomyopathy and so, know the status of both dogs, you can work out the status their pups would have, as follows:

  • Two clear dogs will have a clear litter.
  • Two affected dogs will have an affected litter.
  • Two carriers will produce a litter within which each pup has a 50% chance of being a carrier, a 25% chance of being affected and a 25% chance of being clear.
  • A clear dog and an affected dog will have a litter of carriers.
  • A clear dog and a carrier will produce a litter within which each pup has a 50% chance of being clear and a 50% chance of being a carrier.
  • An affected dog and a carrier will produce a litter within which each pup has a 50% chance of being affected and a 50% chance of being a carrier.

How to get a giant schnauzer DNA test for dilated cardiomyopathy

In order to get your giant schnauzer DNA tested to find out their status for dilated cardiomyopathy, you first need to ask your vet to take a DNA sample from your dog in the form of a blood sample or a cheek swab.

This sample is then sent off to one of the Kennel Club’s approved testing laboratories, who will return the results of the tested dog’s status to their owner.


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