Dilated Cardiomyopathy 1 and 2 in Doberman Pinschers

Quick Summary

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart has a decreased ability to pump blood. Two mutations associated with dilated cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers have been identified. Testing for these mutations can identify individuals at risk for developing clinical symptoms of disease.
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Phenotype: Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart condition in which the muscles degenerate, causing the walls of the heart to become thin, resulting in reduced contractibility. This can lead to congestive heart failure.

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal dominant with incomplete penetrance

Alleles: N = Normal, DCM1 = dilated cardiomyopathy 1 variant present, DCM2 = dilated cardiomyopathy 2 variant present

Breeds appropriate for testing: Doberman Pinscher

Explanation of Results:

  • Dogs with N/N genotype do not have either of the known DCM variants.
  • Dogs with N/DCM1 or N/DCM2 genotypes are at risk to develop cardiomyopathy. If two heterozygotes with the same mutation are mated, approximately 75% of the puppies are at risk of developing disease. Dogs heterozygous for both variants, N/DCM1 and N/DCM2, are at greater risk to develop clinical symptoms relative to those with only one variant.
  • Dogs with DCM1/DCM1 or DCM2/DCM2 genotypes are at risk to develop cardiomyopathy. All puppies produced from matings of dogs with either of these homozygous genotypes are at risk for developing dilated cardiomyopathy.

Results of this test can be submitted to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)


$50 single test per animal ($5 discount on 3 or more dogs)
$30 as additional test on same animal

Note: DCM1 and DCM2 are two separate tests. To test for both mutations, please make sure to select both tests on the order form. Alternatively, both DCM1 and DCM2 are included in the Doberman Pinscher Health Panel.
Panels Available
Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.
Additional Details

Dilated cardiomyopathy is an inherited, potentially fatal heart disorder. In affected dogs, the left ventricle is often dilated, resulting in a progressive thinning of the wall and irregular heartbeat, thus decreasing overall cardiac function and output. This lack of adequate circulation can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs as well as other parts of the body. Affected dogs can show progressive deterioration leading to death or can be relatively asymptomatic and then die suddenly.

In humans, over 60 different genes have been identified that result in inherited cardiomyopathy. Dr. Kate Meurs and colleagues at North Carolina State identified mutations in two independent genes that have been associated with dilated cardiomyopathy. Specifically, a deletion of 16 DNA bases in pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4 g.20,829,667_20,829,682del), known as DCM1, results in a gene product suspected to cause cardiac issues. The DCM1 variant is predicted to alter the mitochondrial PDK4 protein assembly pattern because it eliminates a splice site. Since mitochondria are one the major sites of energy generation within a cell, the resulting negative impact of reduced energy generation within cardiac tissue is hypothesized to result in cardiomyopathy.

The second associated variant is a missense mutation in titin gene (TTN, g.22321955C>T, p. 8898G>R) known as DCM2. The DCM2 variant, which changes an amino acid conserved across mammals, is predicted to alter one of the gene products (protein) immunoglobulin -like (Ig) domains. The Ig domains function like springs within a muscle fiber, and the variant is predicted to reduce the elastic nature of the protein, negatively impacting cardiac function.

For DCM1 the risk of developing cardiac disease is 7 fold for animals with one or two copies of this variant. The relative risk for DCM2 has not been determined. Dogs with both DCM1 and DCM2 have been reported to be at the highest risk for developing disease.

A single affected copy of either gene is necessary to develop symptoms, but not all dogs with DCM1, DCM2, or both mutations will develop disease. Since a single copy of either mutation can increase risk for disease, this trait is considered a dominant trait. However, since not all dogs with these mutations go on to develop disease, these mutations are thought to be incompletely penetrant. Other factors likely explain the incompletely penetrant nature of this disease, and studies to investigate additional genetic and non-genetic risk factors are ongoing. Recently it was noted that in a European Doberman Pinschers sample set, the DCM1 mutation was not as correlated with disease risk as it is in the original Doberman study cohort.

Further, not all Doberman Pinschers with dilated cardiomyopathy have either of these mutations. Therefore, it is also likely that additional as of yet unidentified variants in these or other genes are involved in disease presentation and progression. Continued research is needed to identify additional genetic and non-genetic risk factors.

However, these DNA tests can help owners and clinicians identify at-risk dogs for careful clinical evaluation. Further, breeders can use the results of this test in assisting with mate selection.

Note: These tests are specific for the autosomal dominant mutations present in the Doberman Pinscher. Other as of yet unidentified variants that cause dilated cardiomyopathy are thought to be present in this breed.


Type of Test
Results Reported As
Test Result Dilated Cardiomyopathy 1 (DCM1)


Dog does not have the variant associated with Doberman DCM1.


*Heterozygous. Dog has one copy of the Doberman DCM1 associated variant and is at risk to develop dilated cardiomyopathy.


*The dog has two copies of the Doberman DCM1 associated variant and is at risk to develop dilated cardiomyopathy.

Test Result Dilated Cardiomyopathy 2 (DCM2)


Dog does not have the variant associated with Doberman DCM2.


*Heterozygous. Dog has one copy of the Doberman DCM2 associated variant and is at risk to develop dilated cardiomyopathy.


*The dog has two copies of the Doberman DCM2 associated variant and is at risk to develop dilated cardiomyopathy.

*Dogs with results indicating one or more affected alleles in both genes (N/DCM1 or DCM1/DCM1 and either N/DCM2 or DCM2/DCM2) are at greater risk for developing disease.


Meurs, K.M., Fox, P.R., Norgard, M.M., Spier, A.W., Lamb, A., Koplitz, S.L., & Baunwart, R.D. (2007). A prospective genetic evaluation of familial dilated cardiomyopathy in the Doberman pinscher. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 21(5), 1016-1020. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2007.tb03058.x

Meurs, K.M., Lahmers, S., Keene, B.W., White, S.N., Oyama, M.A., Mauceli, E., & Linblad-Toh, K. (2012). A splice site mutation in a gene encoding for PDK4, a mitochondrial protein, is associated with the development of dilated cardiomyopathy in the Doberman pinscher. Human Genetics, 131(8), 1319-1325. doi: 10.1007/s00439-012-1158-2

Owczarek-Lipska, M., Mausberg, T., Stephenson, H., Dukes-McEwan, J., Wess, G., & Leeb, T. (2013). A 16-bp deletion in the canine PDK4 gene is not associated with dilated cardiomyopathy in a European cohort of Doberman Pinschers. Animal Genetics, 44(2), 239-239. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2012.02396.x

Meurs, K.M., Friedenberg, S.G., Kolb, J., Saripalli, S., Tonino, P., Woodruff, K., Olby, N.J., Keene, B.W., Adin, D.B., Yost, O.L., DeFrancesco, T.C., Lahmers, S., Tou, S., Shelton, G.D., & Granzier, H. (2019). A missense variant in the titin gene in Doberman pinscher dogs with familial dilated cardiomyopathy and sudden cardiac death. Human Genetics, 138(5), 515-524. doi: 10.1007/s00439-019-01973-2

License Info

The test for DCM2 is performed under a license agreement with North Carolina State University.