A UK Boxer Cardiomyopathy Update:  9/29/08

In a 9/22/08 email from Bruce Cattanach, there has been a major effort by the UK Boxer Breed Council Health Committee these past few years to research and find resolution for Boxer cardiomyopathy (BCM or ARVC).  Based on the above, the Breed Council has now endorsed a Breeding and Testing Control scheme produced by the Health Committee. 


Boxer Cardiomyopathy Update:  1/24/08

 I haven’t updated the heart information on my website in quite some time and want to share what I have learned over the past several years.


There are a great number of boxers with varying heart issues.


Before age 5 – This is the age during which Boxer Cardiomyopathy strikes.   Boxers should be 24-hr. holter-monitored for a baseline between 1.5- 2 years.  Depending on the results, retests should occur every 1-1.5 years.  I hear more and more cases of young boxers dying.


After age 5 – Initially, I thought that once boxers were heart-cleared and turned 5, there was no further threat.  What I have learned is that there are a great many heart problems all lumped under Cardiomyopathy.  As dogs get older, they can develop clogged arteries and blockages just like people.  Unfortunately, I do not think that “stints” are being put in dogs.  Nor do I know if cholesterol medication is given.  The medication prescribed for boxers doesn’t vary much and usually begins with Sotalol (Betapace). 


If you think the boxer outlook is bad, ask yourself how many people over age 60 do you know that are taking some form of heart or cholesterol medication?  Yes, some of this could have been avoided with different diets.  


I, for one, have probably been responsible for clogging some boxer arteries by feeding them liver sausage  and also rich gravies mixed with their dry dog food because I felt bad giving them the same food everyday.  It didn’t help their pancreatic levels either.  So, I admittedly accept the blame for that. 


Conclusion – You should watch your boxers for any symptoms their entire life and test whenever you feel something just isn’t “right” with them.  If a heart problem is caught early enough, you may avoid damage to their heart and they may be able to live a long life on medication.


For those boxers who experience heart problems, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.  

For those lucky boxers whose hearts never give them a problem, be thankful!

Our boxers are dying.

It is with great despair and sadness that I announce our “Jack”, Ch. Interlude’s Bavarian Hummel, was diagnosed with Electrical Mechanical Heart Disease. His condition was diagnosed (April 2003) as a result of annual testing.

This information is provided to educate and help save the lives of our boxers. Bavaria’s Boxers personally want to thank Dr. Jay Randall and Dr. Jo Randall for their sincere and compassionate care of our boxers as well as the vast amount of information they have researched and provided.

Boxer Cardiomyopathy, also known as Electrical Mechanical Heart Disease and Boxer Arrythymogenic Dysplasia, is a dreadful, genetic disease that has touched too many of our boxers’ hearts. It is a silent killer that strikes in the early years of their lives, usually killing them before the age of 5. It is genetically inherited from a parent who has the disease. Heart disease is in so many boxer breeding lines.

The arrhythmias are referred to as PVCs or VPCs. People and dogs have PVCs without adverse effects, however, in the case of BCM, these PVCs become numerous and cluster which will kill.

At this time a 24 hr. holter monitor is the only thorough way to determine if a dog has BCM (Boxer Cardiomyopathy). An EKG may detect the disease if the arrhythmias are already severe. Fainting is also an indicator, however, may only occur in advanced cases.

In 2004, I purchased my own Digital 24 hr. heart monitor. This digital monitor can provide hardcopy results within 24 hrs. The results are read and diagnosed by a local cardiologist, not sent out for independent analysis.

Medication will prolong and improve the boxer’s life. The medication must be given diligently as it wears off and the boxer will begin having PVCs soon after.

Click on the links below for additional information.

Info To Purchase a Digital 24 hr. Holter Information

NEW 12/12/06!!  Discount Heart Meds at Target $4.00 for 30 pills

Letter to Jack’s Puppy Owners

Ch. Max Good Test Results

Ch. Jack’s Test Results

Ch. Jack’s Results On Medication

Status of Jack’s Pups Test Results - updated 8/12/08

Status of Rachel’s Pups Test Results

Roxie, Tiffany & Rachel Good Test Results

My Digital 24 hr. holter monitor is available for a nominal fee to reduce the annual holtering costs. Analysis will be done by a heart cardiologist.

My hope is that the information I have shared will impel all breeders and owners to 24 hr. holter test their boxers annually. As breeders, we can breed only heart-cleared boxers and produce healthier boxers who live long lives. As owners, we can prolong the life of our pets with annual testing.


Links to American Boxer Club Heart Information - Updated 11/9/03


Genetic Diseases

Understanding Boxer Cardiomyopathy - Purina Pro Club Boxer Update

Boxer Cardiomyopathy - Wendy Wallner, DVM

Current Research Protocols - American Boxer Charitable Foundation  & AKC Canine Health Foundation

Holter Information




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Vera Anderson
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