Next heart testing clinic early 2014 depending on take up. Book your place now below.

Heart Testing Clinic

We arranged a heart testing clinic last year for some Great Dane owners who were struggling to find a Veterinary Cardiologist to do a heart scanning at an affordable price for those Danes below the age limit for the DCM project which was 4 years old.

Liz Davis of Great Dane Care suggested a name that we could try and shortly after the Great Dane Heart Clinic evolved.

We needed 8 to 10 Danes to run a clinic to get the cost in to the £50 - £60 ball park. That actually only involved 3 breeders so wasn’t hard to accomplish. The clinic was at a committee members house to keep the cost down and each dog was given a time slot for their appointment.

The owner was asked to arrive 5 minutes early to ensure enough time to fill out the Cardiologist form with the dog’s details including name, dam and sire, date of birth and microchip number.


The form was then handed to the Cardiologist at the start of the session. The microchip number was scanned and checked against the form. The heart testing comprised of 3 sections:

1 - Auscultation – That’s listening for any abnormality with a stethoscope. This is completed with the dog standing up relaxed.

2 - ECG – The dog was asked to lie down on either the couch or crash mat on the floor and the ECG leads were attached. The ECG was run to see if there were anything to be concerned about.

3 - The final phase was a heart scan with the dog standing up. The scan was conducted on both sides and measurements were taken and compared to predefined measurement that are deemed normal for large breed dogs.

The cardiologist explains what is going on at each step and what can been seen. You are able to watch the heart scan on the monitor during the session

At the end of the session you are provided with a standard cardiology form explaining what was found.

The sessions are totally confidential. However the breeders involved were happy to discuss the findings. Each dogs results were also sent to the Lupa project to assist with their research. The Lupa project also treats any information provided confidentially.


Most of the 10 participants passed each stage and were classed as normal. However one was found to have a murmur in stage 1 and this was confirmed in stage 3. An 18 month old male was found to have a serious arrhythmia in stages 1 and 2 and we agreed not to progress to stage 3 as he needed to be referred for treatment.

All dogs were classed as fit and healthy and the owners believed at the time there were no issues that would any raise concerns.

Why should you get your Dane scanned?

Firstly watch the DCM video.

Based on the data found in the USA from the Great Dane National heart scanning clinic conducted over 4 years. Approximately 63% were classed as normal when scanned. Results have been published so far for 2008, 2009 & 2010. As this clinic is conducted at a show this means that a large % of the Danes scanned were of breeding age. The owners were not aware of any issues and would potentially breed from these animals. That means that potentially 37% classed as abnormal could have found their way in to the breeding gene pool.

The theory of only breeding from animal with good hip scores and therefore over time improveing the hip status of the breed can also be applied here. If we only breed from animal that pass an annul heart scan we could improve that heart status of our breed. The data also shows that there were a number of Danes that were diagnosed with DCM in these sessions. The current research is suggesting the DCM is an autosomal dominate gene, as with Doberman DCM. That means that you only need one copy of the gene to have the condition and therefore its recommended that any Dane with the condition should not be bred from.

You will be able to read more about DCM here but we are aware that it is usually a late onset disease meaning you may have bred from your Dane before your aware of the problem. You can also read here about an account of DCM in a younger Dane and the American data also suggest that there are exceptions to the rule.

If by scanning we are able to remove these odd cases from the breeding gene pool it will be a step in the right direction.


The 18 month male with the arrhythmias was castrated and also had a 24 hour holter monitor. The scanning suggested he had a serious arrhythmia and in fact this was confirmed it was over 8000 in a 24 hour period. A number of breeders had shown interest in using this dog and had he not have been scanned he could have passed this on to the next generation.

Would you like to attend a Heart testing clinic or even help us host one?

The Great Dane Breeders' and Owners' Association are looking for people to attend the next Heart Clinic. They will be held initially in Westbury Wiltshire and set up based on the demand. For each 8 to 10 Danes that would like attend, we will try and book a clinic.

The cost is approximately £50 to £60.00 per Dane.

These sessions will be run as described above however additional attention will be paid to the length of the ECG in order to increase the chance of detecting any VPC's

Could you host a clinic? We need more of these across the UK so we can reach as many owners as possible. Could you spare your home and a day to help host a testing session. You just need to be able to cope with 10 Danes turning up at their relevant time slot, lunch for the Cardiologist and tea and coffee during the day. You need to be able to provide and area for the testing to take place that can be private.

If your are interested in attending or hosting simply complete the below the relevant form and we will get in touch.

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