Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Von Willebrand’s Disease


What is Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD)?

Primary Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD), a blood clotting disorder similar to hemophilia, is extremely rare in Aussies.  The disease can also be secondary to thyroid disease

 How do I know if my dog has VWD?

Affected dogs may show a tendency to bleed excessively any time blood vessels are opened through accident or during medical treatments.  Damage to blood vessels that does not break the skin may manifest as swelling in limbs or other areas.  Diagnosis can be made either with blood tests to detect deficiencies of the VWD clotting factor or with DNA tests.

 What does it mean for my dog if it has VWD?

There are three forms of the disease, Types I, II, and III.  Type I is the least severe and Type III being the most.  Type 1 dogs may be sub-clinical.  Type III dogs have a serious clotting deficiency and the disease can be life-threatening if not treated.  Gene therapy treatments have been developed for this disease.

 How common is VWD in Aussies?

VWD is extremely rare in Aussies

 Is VWD inherited?

Yes, if it is primary disease.  If it is secondary to autoimmune thyroiditis it isn’t, but the thyroid disease is.

 Is there a DNA test for VWD?

There are DNA tests for all three types of VWD.  All are recessive, so dogs will either be clear, affected, or carrier.

 What does VWD mean for my breeding program?

Affected dogs, whether or not they show clinical signs, should not be bred.  Carriers may be bred to clear-tested mates with preference given to clear-tested offspring to carry on with.  First-step relatives of tested carrier and affected dogs which are to be used for breeding should be tested so their own status is known.