Developing a DNA Test for Von Willebrand's Disease

Developing a DNA Test for Von Willebrand's Disease
VetGen IS IN NEED OF MORE SAMPLES FROM GREAT DANES! If you have a Dane with a low enough ELISA score to be considered a carrier of vWD or a Dane who is actually affected by this disease, we desperately need you to contribute DNA to our study.

And if you are planning any sort of surgery for your Dane & are willing to plan ahead, help collect DNA samples, Dr. Robert Loechel <> would like to talk to you.

VeGen agreed in 2004 to take samples from Great Danes with von Willebrand's disease (vWD) in the hopes of developing a "gene test" for this bleeding disorder specific to our breed. In the past 6 years only a handful of dogs have offered samples, so we are still greatly in need of Dane owners to help us solve this disease that can kill & is inherited.

VetGen has already developed DNA tests for this disease in several dog breeds. With the sort of gene test they have developed, individuals can know for sure, through a simple and non-invasive DNA test, if their dog is "clear" (no genes for the disease), a "carrier," (one gene for the disease they can pass on) or "affected" (two genes for the disease and in danger of being affected by von Willebrand's Disease--a hereditary bleeding disorder). 

There is no cost to the GDCA or to the individual owners for this research; VetGen will be paying for the work in anticipation of being able to develop a commercially available DNA test. Cheek cell samples using a simple brush to collect DNA samples are all that are necesssary, and VetGen will supply the kits. Confidentiality is assured & VetGen will work directly with the owners.

BOTH defined as "vWD affected" & those with a low enough ELISA score to be considered "suspect" or "carriers" are needed. Ideal dogs for this research would have had the vWD blood test (ELISA) with low results (~20% or below), and have had serious bleeding problems/clinical symptoms which have defined them as having vWD. But please contact John Duff (email below) if you think your dog might fit in the study. 

If you have a Dane you think can help us find a gene test for this disorder, or to find out more information or request swab kits, contact "John" at VetGen:

VetGen: 1-800-483-8436

Currently vWD is not a widespread disease in the Great Dane, but it is a devastating disease for those individual dogs who inherit it. And it's expression can be completely controlled when there is a DNA test, as carriers can be identified. To date, it has proven to behave as a simple autosomal recessive in the breeds for which a test is available. Some of the breeds have a point mutation; Dobermans have a splicing defect: each breed to date has had a different mutation, so we need samples from Danes to find out what mutation results in the disease in our breed. I hope those in our breed who have come across this disease can now take advantage of this opportunity to participate in this research. Hopefully, we will get the needed samples soon, and, if we are lucky, perhaps the Great Dane will match up with one of the existing tests for vWD that VetGen has already developed, so as to have a DNA test rapidly available. If that is not the case, then, as long as we have appropriate samples submitted to VetGen, they will then see about developing a new test based on the Great Dane data. More about VetGen's canine research here:

Best Regards, JP Yousha
Chairman, Health and Research Committee, GDCA


Permission to reprint as submitted for educational purposes is given. 
Submitted by JP Yousha, Chair, H&W Committee, GDCA 2004. Updated 2010.

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