Appeared on Mersey Kennels Web Page
Prepared by Jennifer Tomes
Von Willebrand's disease is a bleeding disorder common in a number of breeds, including Manchester Terriers (both standards and toys), Doberman Pinschers, Scottish Terriers, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Affected dogs can bleed to death from relatively minor injuries because their blood does not clot properly as a result of a deficiency or dysfunction of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a plasma protein. The prevalence and severity of the disorder depends on the breed of dog. Little information is available that deals specifically with Manchester Terriers, but they do not appear to be as severely affected as some other breeds. Information provided by VetGen (a company that provides tests for vWD) indicates that approximately 59% of the Manchester Terriers genetically tested to date are clear of vWD, 35% are carriers and 6% are affected with the disorder.
vWD is a genetic disorder and the gene responsible has recently been identified. Prior to this discovery vets used to offer blood tests to diagnose the disorder. Now a genetic test is available from VetGen. The blood test (which is still available) is cheaper, but the results can be affected by a number of factors (e.g. hormonal cycles). The VetGen test is genetic, only needs to be done once, and is conclusive. The test tells you if your dog is affected (has the disorder), a carrier (does not have the disorder but does carry the gene and could create affected puppies if breed with another carrier) or clear (does not have the disorder or carry the gene responsible for the disorder).
If you are considering purchasing a Manchester Terrier, either a standard or a toy, you should ask your breeder about vWD in their line. Many breeders are using the genetic test and can tell you if there is any chance of the puppies having the disorder. If you do get an affected dog, there is no cure. There are some treatments to help improve clotting time, but it's unclear how effective they are or how long affected dogs generally live. And you would have to be VERY careful about injuries. It's best just to avoid breeders producing affected dogs.
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