Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) Biomarker Project

The University of Liverpool Cardiology Department supported by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and the UK Dobermann Partnership are currently undertaking a project on the use of blood test biomarkers to identify Dobermanns at risk of DCM.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart muscle disease which may affect over 50% of Dobermanns at some stage over their lives, typically middle-age or older dogs.

Although these biomarkers (Troponin and NTproBNP) have been around for some years now, we have not conclusively proven that these are a suitable substitute for the ‘Gold Standard’ testing – Echocardiography (heart ultrasound scan) and 24 hour ECG recording of the heart rhythm (Holter monitoring).   This is what our project will try to prove


What are cardiac biomarkers?

NT-proBNP: this is a marker of heart muscle wall stress, so it is likely to be high in Dobermanns with abnormal echos and early DCM (levels are very high in Dobermanns with heart failure and symptomatic DCM).

High sensitivity Troponin I is a marker of heart muscle cell damage, which occurs in Dobermanns with cardiac arrhythmias as well as echo evidence of DCM. 


The project currently under way is recruiting Dobermanns over 4 years of age to have both blood tests done, along with an echo and Holter examination so that the results of healthy older dogs can be compared to those with signs of DCM.  Cardiology appointments are available throughout the UK.

These expensive tests are being heavily subsidised by the project so that they can be offered to owners at the significantly reduced price of £150 in exchange for using the data and participating in the research.

Blood sampling clinics for the biomarker blood tests are being organised by the project at various shows although tests can be carried out at your own vet.  

Any Dobermann is welcome to be tested at these clinics at a reduced price of £25 per test – even those under 4 years old or those who do not wish to participate fully in the project.  We would be very grateful however if you would be willing to share your biomarker results with us regardless.

If a dog is found to have early stages of the disease we can use medication such as pimobendan to delay progression into heart failure or sudden death, so identifying affected Dobermanns is very important for each individual dog, not just breeding animals. 

For more information on the project please contact:

UK Dobermann Partnership
Mike Window on 01724 867 510  mwindow@live.co.uk

Project Administrator
Julie West on 07521 416 447   julie@silverstorm.co.uk

Lead Cardiologist at the University of Liverpool

Joanna Dukes McEwan on 0151 795 6100  j.dukes-mcewan@liv.ac.uk