Heart Problems in Whippets?

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Heart Problems in Whippets?

Postby chelynnah » Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:37 pm

From: leeannen (Original Message) Sent: 11/11/2005 16:30
I feel as if I am opening a can of worms here - but I'm hearing so many different things, I'm not sure what to believe. I have had breeders I respect, tell me that all whippets have murmurs (as a result of their strong hearts and deep chests) and I have also heard from breeders that I respect, that their is a growing problem with genetic heart disease in whippets (the valve) and that we really need to thoroughly look at our breeding stock, and eliminate the whippets that have this condition from the breeding pool. I have heard lots of whispers about this dog or that dog - but only know one owner that will readily admit that their whippet has a congenital heart problem (and I've even heard others say that owner is making it a bigger deal than it is, for other unrelated reasons).

I wonder what you all think is going on, especially those that have been in the breed a long time. Is there a growing problem with genetic heart problems in whippets or isn't there

I decided to err on the conservative side. I have already had Rocky and Kestrel Cerf'd and Baer'd and because we may breed Rocky one day, I decided to take Rocky and Kess to the cardiologist to have their hearts listened to. I had hoped to get away with the cheap Auscultation ($35/dog) but the cardiologist heard a 1-2 murmur on Rocky in an area that could be a problem, so I decided to bite the financial bullet and get Doppler echocardiography - which resulted in a Pass sign-off for Normal and No evidence of congenital heart disease -thank goodness. Now, I feel as comfortable as I can, that should I ever breed Rocky, he will not pass on anything bad to his puppies. Looking at the dog owners that were in waiting room, with tears in their eyes as they dealt with these health issues, I feel very lucky indeed

Still, when some people have approached me about breeding to Rocky, when I mention that I feel that the bitch should also have these tests, it seems that most of the potential breeders suddenly find another dog more interesting. I would like to breed Rocky eventually, to the right bitch.

So tell me, am I making too big of a deal of the testing? I really am looking for your honest opinions - and trust that the WW group can take this on thoughtfully and respectfully.

Lee Anne and Chad
Rocky and Kestrel

From: SueHop Sent: 11/11/2005 17:16
For me I say stick to your guns and make sure the bitch has been tested as well. That way you can feel more sure that you will be breeding healthy offspring. Good for you for having your dogs tested.

I have been in whippets too short a time to really be able to tell if it is a growing issue or not, but my own opinion is that it is. Maybe it is just that they are showing up in younger and younger dogs. I don't think it is too unusual for an older dog to have a murmur. I don't know if my Gracie's heart problems are genetic or not, but it doesn't matter to me. I feel like her offspring should not be bred. She also has head tremors - sort of like a petit mal seizure. I don't know the cause of this either and I don't know if it is something common in whippets or not.

You can't change what anyone else is doing with their breeding program, but you can do what you can to ensure that any dogs you breed are as healthy as they can be.


From: BrigitteGreen Sent: 11/11/2005 18:09
I love the fact that you're insisting on having the potential Moms tested. Brilliant! I have a neutered boy with a low-grade murmur, what they call an ``athletic murmur'' that doesn't raise a lot of alarms. Still, we monitor it regularly for signs of any changes. With the number of people I have heard about who have Whippets with heart murmurs, I think everyone should be insisting on such testing for dogs/bitches being considered as breeding prospects. It's just a start, but I think an important one, if this problem is ever to be seriously addressed by the fancy.


From: shawnie1101 Sent: 11/11/2005 18:11
Well, first off, let me say that I am not a breeder. I just adopted a senior whippet who has two heart murmurs though. He has been altered and I have no plans on ever breeding, but I am curious to hear other opinions too. I am debating on whether to run an echocardiogram on him as well to determine if it is genetic or something he acquired with age. I would agree though - stick to your guns to ensure this isn't a trait being passed down. The last thing we want is more of our beloved whippies having heart problems if they can be avoided. It's tough on the dogs and the owners.

From: MSN_Whippet Sent: 11/11/2005 18:42
When I got my first Whippet, I was told that this breed was one of the healthiest out there genetically - that there were very few genetic problems with this breed, and while I still think that is a fair statement to make (compared to other breeds), it doesn't come without some caveats from me any more. 15 years ago, breeders hardly tested for anything in Whippets. "We don't have that in our breed" was the statement, but in actuality, we DID have it in our breed and it's now spreading and widening as our gene pool grows.

There ARE heart problems in our breed. How severe the overall problem is has yet to be fully determined. Is it a genetic problem - yes, I fully believe it is. Are there any lines totally free of it - no, I don't believe there are any that are 100% free of heart problems.

I think knowing age of onset is almost as important as knowing the dog (or sire or dam) is affected by the disease itself. It's much more tragic for a 3 year old to be in cardiac failure than for a 12 year old to be. The heart is an organ that works 24/7/365 and as such will wear out given enough time. Does that make it age related in the 12 year old or genetic? I still think genetic for my part, but it might be more reasonable to gamble on the dog who developed a murmur at 10 than on the one who produced a murmur at 3. Educating each other about the when and where is just as important as the who in this situation.

I also have to ask if heart problems in Whippets can be brought on or aggravated by diet and exercise (or lack thereof) as it is in humans. I think it probably is. This is where more testing will shed light on our dilemma.

As what I hope is considered to be a responsible breeder, I'm testing our breeding stock and breeding carefully with what's available, has the right match for my bitch in other areas and is clear of known issues at the time of breeding. That's the best I can do right now with what genetic information that's available to me.

How we discuss and share information with each other is key to getting down to the bottom line on genetic issues. Witch hunts are not productive and whispering behind backs is equally non-productive. Such tactics only serve to obscure the issues and ends up hurting everyone, not just the person being attacked, but mostly hurts our BREED.



From: surreyhill Sent: 11/11/2005 21:10
Mitral-type mumurs have been relatively common in the breed ever since WE got into it (1979) and before. Most of those dogs do make old age and have few problems until they are getting fairly elderly. The genetics of this are not clear enough at this time to allow breeders to really confront it in an intelligent and systematic way. For now, we can only not breed dogs who show evidence of heart problems, but as mitral murmurs can come on and show themselves for the first time in otherwise healthy dogs who even had successful performance careers long after that dogs performance and breeding years are finished, this makes it a very difficult problem to confront based on the usual standard breeding practices and tests.

I don't think it's fair to say that all Whippets have murmurs. Most young or youngish Whippets do not. A vet who is very inexperienced listening to sighthound hearts might think they are hearing some sort of echo, and the aescult will sound a little different than on, say, a Labrador or poodle, but that's not the same as saying they have a murmur.

What has been my experience is that many of my own dogs have had murmurs come on at over the age 7 or 8. Sometimes, these dogs died of heart problems by age 10 or 11, but most of them made quite old dogs and died (or were put down) for problems unrelated to the murmur.

I think Mitral Valve murmurs are extremely widespread in the breed, and most of the time, they don't cause problems while the dog is still in its prime. Cardiomyopathy is a different kettle of fish entirely. And there are some other heart problems which show up, too. But Mitral Valve is the biggie. I hope that since now we have some studies going on with this, we can get better information for the future. Echos are great but they are really too costly for most people to use for routine screening. I would probably only do them on stock I was seriously interested in breeding, and probably not even then if the dog's heart was perfectly normal on aescult. But if there comes a time when it can be shown that dogs who will develop mitral valve murmurs later can be early diagnosed using echocardiograms, then I will change my mind.

From: Romewhip Sent: 11/11/2005 23:57
I think you're just be wise and careful! Yes, there are some heart problems in whippets. But, they are still one of the healthier breeds out there. Hearts should be checked in breeding stock, regardless. I had a vet suddenly find a possible soft Grade 1 murmur in Julie, further testing revealed that it is actually a friction rub, her heart hits her chest wall, but I know she comes from a line prone to murmurs. The testing was worth it, to avoid any future worry. My older girl Ridge has a definite Grade 3-4 murmur, happily she's spayed and won't chance passing it along. You are right to insist on the bitch being tested, it may cost some stud fees but you will have taken all precautions possible.

Jenny and the Rome Whippets

From: whippetmom Sent: 11/11/2005 23:59
I don't know much about this. All I know is that, when I took Niven and Nell to the vet for the first time, he heard heart murmers in both of them. Nothing serious, though. He just said it was something to keep tabs on. Next time they went, the vet didn't hear it. ??????? Niven is now 8 and Nell is almost 6.

Trish Scanzello (Whippet Mom) & Niven, Nell and Nigel

From: surreyhill Sent: 12/11/2005 00:03
Trish, there are so many instances of Whippets who had a murmur heard one time by one vet, but whose murmur did not get heard a second time by a different vet, that I think every person who has a young or puppy Whippet diagnosed with a "murmur" should see a cardiac specialist OR wait a year and have the heart listened to by a vet who is truly used to hearing sighthound hearts before pushing the panic button.

I think that this is why many breeders make light of low-grade murmurs in puppies. It may indeed be due to a transitory physical stage or to inexperience in listening to young sighthound hearts on the part of the Vet.

Multiple diagnoses combined with an echo which shows backflow or regurgitation through the valve should be mandatory before one should think their Whippet has an actual pathological cardiac condition.

Whippet ribcages and hearts ARE different.

From: Dmichele2 Sent: 12/11/2005 00:13
I think it you are absolutely right to be careful about the bitch. It's heartbreaking and expensive to have your whippet diagnosed with a murmur.

Thank you for being responsible.


From: leeannen Sent: 12/11/2005 01:07
Being the information hog I am, I've been trying to answer my own question ever since I asked it -Please feel free to comment on my understanding (or lack thereof) but here's what I think I've come to understand...through OFA http://www.offa.org

"Many congenital heart defects are thought to be genetically transmitted from parents to offspring; however, the exact modes of inheritance have not been precisely determined for all cardiovascular malformations." (I think this means that congenital defects are probably inherited and more importantly, since they are congenital - present at birth - they can be detected after 1 year of age and prior to breeding by the doppler echocardiography. However, not all heart disease is congenital and that may or may not have some genetic components to it and therefore an older dog that was clear of congenital heart problems may still develop heart problems and may indeed pass those on to it's young. Which translates to me, I can't rule out everything, but at least I can rule out congenital and that definitely helps)

"While there are exceptions, virtually all common congenital heart defects are associated with the presence of a cardiac murmur. Consequently, it is recommended that cardiac auscultation be the primary screening method for initial identification of CHD and the initial classification of dogs. The noninvasive method of echocardiography with Doppler is the preferred method for establishing a definitive diagnosis in dogs when CHD is suspected the clinical examination." (Cardiac Auscultation (only $35) was the first test I had for Rocky, which suggested a slight murmer which the much more expensive doppler echocardiography showed to be an innoncent murmur.)

Innocent cardiac murmurs are believed to be related to normal blood flow in the circulation. Innocent murmurs are most common in young, growing animals. Innocent heart murmurs are less common in mature animals than in puppies are less likely to be a source of confusion. Furthermore, the murmurs associated with some mild congenital malformations become more obvious after a dog has reached maturity. While it is quite reasonable to perform preliminary evaluations and provide provisional certification to puppies and young dogs between 8 weeks and 1 year of age, final certification, prior to breeding, should be obtained in mature dogs at 12 months of age or older. Trish you may find this interesting, based on your earlier response -I don't know how young they were when a vet heard the murmur, but perhaps it was just because they were young and that's why it wasn't heard later.

Finally, I looked at the OFA's statistics page and found the whippet statistics here -
Now I'm assuming that numbers are distorted from reality, since entering your information into the data base is completely voluntary and they were very few shippet entries compared to other breeds. Even so whippets were ranked 5th amoung the breeds for abnormal cardiac results - that is high! As an aside whippets were not even ranked in any of the other categories (BAER, Elbow, Hip or Thyroid).

I think therefore, that I have decided that at $35 it is reasonable that I ask that the bitch's owner to have a Cardiac Auscultation done before breeding to my stud dog. If no murmur is present, then there is no need to go further. I can certainly understand not wanting to spend the money on the doppler echocardiography, and if there is no murmur present, or there is no plan to breed.

Thanks for all the great info and I hope there will be more discussion to come.

Lee Anne and Chad
Kestrel and Rocky

From: WildAboutWhippets Sent: 12/11/2005 01:47
I appreciate all the great information being shared on this subject. However, I will strongly recommend anyone wanting a heart auscultation or echo, on their whippet, go to a cardiologist. I have a feeling too many people find a vet that will echo the heart for $100 and are happy with a "normal" heart. A true cardiologist will interpret an echo with doplar and send accurate results. I can guarantee it will cost more than $100 (unless the echo is partly funded the the Whippet Health Foundation).

Be smart. I've had two of my dogs echoed that presented with heart murmurs. Both echos were read by board certified cardiologists and were found to have no problems. I did not have have Vegas echoed because she has never presented with a murmur. Perhaps I should have her echoed just to be safe. I know what the echo and interpretation costs are in Indiana, but what does everyone else pay? I'm just curious.


From: leeannen Sent: 12/11/2005 01:55
Great point on cost for the cardiologist - doppler echocardiography was $330.00 in Lawndale, California - near LA Not cheap, but I was really impressed with all the things she looked at and how she explained her conclusion that the murmur was innocent - there was an abundance of knowledge caming from this specialist.

However, the cardiologist told me that if I want to book a date and get a group of 15 whippets together, they could do each one for $150. If anyone is interested in doing this let me know.

Lee Anne and Chad
Kestrel and Rocky

From: surreyhill Sent: 12/11/2005 01:57
Echo cost me 450 dollars in Delaware.

This really does impact the number of dogs I'm likely to echo.

From: WildAboutWhippets Sent: 12/11/2005 02:02
I should have added that the echo and interpretation in Indianapolis, Indiana is approximately $375.

Thanks for sharing your costs in other areas.


From: heythorphunt Sent: 12/11/2005 02:41
Jack has a murmur. I dont know when it started but it was not there up until the time he was 2. He is now 5. so sometime inbetween it started.

Jack is from sporting fields and Luke is his father. I told Debbie and she said she would keep a close eye out for more problems

From: Romewhip Sent: 12/11/2005 06:54
Here in the Pacific Northwest the cost was $700, and it can be higher depending on what additional testing may be necessary. It is worth it if there's breeding at stake, but it's a major expense and not one I'd be inclined to spend on if it wasn't a dog I wanted to breed.

One other thing to keep in mind- young pups, going to their first vet visit, who just went to their new families or may have travelled a long way can become dehydrated. Dehydration can make a pup sound like it has a murmur, given a few days of normal routine and plenty of time to recover from the trip or stress of new home and they no longer have any sign of a murmur.

Jenny and the Rome Whippets

From: SueHop Sent: 12/11/2005 07:34
I took Gracie to the Washington State University School of Veterinary Sciences and it cost $350 for a full days worth of testing. Even though they cleared her to continue racing I decided to retire her.

Here is what they diagnosed:
1. Mild Subaortic Stenosis
2. Mild Mitral Valve Regurgitation
3. Mild Aortic Regurgitation
4. Radiographic changes suggestive of pulmonary hypertension
5. Radiographic evidence of Bronchiolar pattern (differential diagnosis could include, but are not limited to infectious, inflammatory, neoplasia, or heartworm disease).

She was tested for heartworm and found negative.

Lungs ausculted within normal limits, and abdominal palpation was within normal limits. Lymph nodes were palpably within normal limits.

Eyes, ears, nose and throat appeared within normal limits. Cardivascular system had some abnormalities, including a murmur auscultable over the left (3'd and 4'h rib space at the base ofthe heart) and right (4s rib space) side of the thorax; this murmur displayed both ejection and plateau qualities. lt was graded a lll by the cardiology service. Occasional jugular pulses were noted.

Neurologic Exam: No abnormalities detected.

Radiographs (Dorsal ventral and left lateral): Radiographs revealed a mild bronchial pattern of the caudal dorsal lung fields. Mild enlargement of the pulmonary vasculature, especially thepulmonary arteries, was noted. Mild enlargement of the left ventricle was noted. The heart otherwise appeared within normal limits.

ECG: A normal sinus arrhythmia was noted, with a deep Q wave.

Blood pressure: l63 mmHg.

Echocardiogram: Evidence of mild mitrial regurgiution, mild subaortic stenosis (Aortic velocity 2.7 m/s), mild aortic regurgitation. Fractional shortening was 33o/o,<o:p></o:p>

Test results pending: Heartworm results are pending; we will call with results.


Medications: None at this time.

Diet: Gracie can remain on her normal diet.

Activity: No change in activity at this time; if she appears to have trouble with coughing or increased breathing, she should be allowed to rest.

Bronchiloar pattern could potentially indicate infectious disease, inflammatory (bronchitis/chronic obstructive pulmonary) disease, neoplasia, or heartworm disease. We will call you with results of the heart worm test; however, pending these results, further diagnostics may be pursued, including CBC/Chem /UA, and/or broncho-alveoloar lavage with cytology. The mild subaortic stenosis is unlikely the cause of her cough at this time. lt should not cause any other symptoms, but may increase her risk for endocarditis. This disease is a genetically linked disease. There is no treatment necessary at this time.

From: Bheki Sent: 12/11/2005 16:02
I had Daphne checked .I did not do an echo though.No murmer was found.And from history of her siblings and linage didnt do an echo.I will put my part in that, would not have stopped me from useing a stud, if stud owner required the extra test..Just my input that that doesnt stop someone from useing a stud dog.Or chooseing another.Thats why i looked over a year before finally decideing..Bheki

From: Gracedog01 Sent: 12/11/2005 16:25
An echo and interpretation at Michigan State University (by a board certified cardiologist) is approximately $350.


From: BrigitteGreen Sent: 13/11/2005 02:55
I paid about $350 to have one done on Rudolph a couple of years ago.


From: BrigitteGreen Sent: 13/11/2005 02:56
I should add that it was done in Rockville, Maryland, at a cardiology clinic.


From: mccole607 Sent: 13/10/2007 15:50
I found this thread in the archives. Thank you so much for all the info, Lee Ann. Tasha, my 3 year old, had something in her ear and it was so far done they were planning to sedate her to get it out. My vet in extremely cautious and does a lot of work before he puts any dog under. He called me last evening and said he decided not to do it because she had an irregularity in her ECG (I think that's what it is called.)

I'm taking her back in on Monday to see if it still shows up and then, if it does, we will move forward to a cardiologist ($550 in SJ, CA) for all the tests. I was wondering how people manage their dogs murmurs. Does this result in surgery in most cases? Can she still run? I realize I'm jumping the gun a little, but I want to be prepared.

Thank you,
ashley, tasha, and harry

From: ccbboyer Sent: 13/10/2007 20:00
I want to emphasize two things that I think are important:

First, use a board certified cardiologist to begin with. You can often find one doing low cost ausculation at shows and sometimes echos as well. The King Charles Spaniel people have shows sanctioned by their own organization and they always have a board certified cardiologist as their breed really does have a problem. You can find out about the KCS events at http://www.cavalierhealth.org/breeders.htm Check frequently as they sometimes post late. A look at the premium for AKC shows is more reliable for AKC events.

If a board certified cardiologist finds a murmur, then the echo is certainly worth the cost.

Second, and more important to my mind, please not only test your dogs but also report the results to OFA and to Whippet Health. I think it is important to develop a data base with a larger sample before we can draw any conclusions about the whether the breed has a problem. And I think comparing what we know now to the past is pointless as there is better communication now and there were fewer tests actually performed then.

For many breeds it is practically mandatory to report results of tests considered important to OFA. If we think heart disease might be a problem in the breed, let's get a bigger sample reported so we can draw valid conclusions from the data.

BTW, I have both my girls tested at a KCS event every summer. And now that I know about it, I report the results to both OFA and the Whippet Health data base.


Cheryl Boyer
Corky & Mo the 'ho

From: sitehnd Sent: 15/10/2007 07:40
My first Whippet was diagnosed with a murmur late in life. He went on to get Congestive Heart Failure. Another old Whippet of mine ended up with Heart disease.

I was told that Whippet puppies are often misdiagnosed with murmurs by non-Sighthound vets due to their relatively large hearts for their size.

I used UC Davis and a very talented Cardiologist. Derek's tests were part of a study. I gladly cooperated to share all of his health issues. I was told he had only 6 weeks of life and he made it a year more. He was a tough little guy. He passed at 10. Willow passed at 15.

I will always test for anything relevant to our breed if I plan a mating for my dogs. Working at a Vet has made me very very gun shy about health issues. We will never know how prevalent heart problems are if people conceal things or don't add to the data base.

Tina Graham
Coursair Whippets
Cara and Misty

From: Templarwhip1 Sent: 15/10/2007 15:35
I had Spice done at the National this past year and was pleased that she was normal, no murmur, no swishes or gurgles that shouldn't have been there. This is a great service provided at a much lower cost if you are able to attend the National. I plan to have at least one done this coming year as well.

But back to the original question. Do I feel it is an upcoming issue in whippets? Yes, definitely. I have personal knowledge of at least three young (4-7 yr olds) that have died of cardiac related issues over the past 2 years. Funny that all of them are male. Wonder if there are any statistics on the differences in the sexes.

Paula Knight

From: engelsmom2 Sent: 15/10/2007 19:33
I would add one more young male - my boy Samson dropped dead of heart failure at the age of 7 and his mom Jessica died in August at the age of 12 from Congestive Heart Failure.


From: Jacquchter Sent: 15/10/2007 20:39
yes, i agree it is an issue (not as big as some health issues in other breeds, but still one to be aware of) my jacques died at 9.5 (a year ago last friday) from complications of the following: dilated cardiomyopathy, mitral valve regurgitation (his murmur jumped from a 2 his whole life to at least a 5 on a 6 grade scale within a week of his dying), and congestive heart failure. his dad, though still alive, is dealing with them as well. I commend you for trying to be responsible about it, because i think it can be reduced genetically. Hang in there and you'll find a great bitch to breed to with an owner who feels like you do about this issues. I wasn't able to get my dog to the regional cardiologist because she was on vacation....but i really think it was too late at that point, and would have just paid a lot of money to confirm what we already knew....and he was neutered, a pet instead of breeding potential

From: Iamadreamhealer Sent: 16/10/2007 14:46
I haven't been writting but this subject led me to post. I only know about heart mummers from my own experience (2 whippets). My first - my darling Celeste - had a heart mummer which was diagnosed when she was about 3 and through carefull medication and treatment, lived untill agee 10. At the time, I hadn't heard about any "health problems in Wippets". My puppy now (10 months) was diagnosed right away with a heart mummer stage 1 and only on one side. I was devastated as having to go through this again is something that right now I can't handle. When I got in touch with the breeder she said that she had never had it in her line and wanted to take Midnight to her cardioligist but it wasn't convenient for us at that time. My Vet here is not worried and has handled many greyhound and whippets with this problem. He cleared her for agility and lure coursing. My breeder was going to send me some articles on whippet health after she had taken her two whippets to have their tests. At the moment, I have e-mailed her 4 or 5 times and she won't get back to me so - - - I don't know what the tests showed for her other whippets. It seems to me that I have only had two whippets and they both have heart problems. I just wish that my breeder would get in touch with me and let me know what is going on. I do take Midnight on long bike rides for exercise right now and no matter how fast we go. she never shows signs of any breathing problems or distress. My Vet's attitude is just to wait and monitor her several times a year and take one day at a time. Love and Blessings Johanna

From: JaamaWhpts Sent: 16/10/2007 16:22
There are different types of heart problems in Whippets that can cause murmurs. One is a congenital heart defect which dogs are born with. A dog with a congenital heart defect will generally adapt to their deficiency and survive just fine provided the defect is not severe, and many times the defect will not change throughout their lifetime.

Another more serious type is acquired heart disease. According to a canine cardiologist I spoke with about this, a young dog (less than 12 months) who is diagnosed with a murmur via echo w/doppler, is more likely to present with a congenital defect. Whereas if the dog is 3+ years of age when the murmur is first detected, most times it is a sign of acquired heart disease, which will get worse over time. That is why it's important to have suspect Whippets echo'ed with doppler and then repeat again 12-24 months later, since that will give you a good baseline for progression of disease, if any is present.

So in answer to the question, are there heart problems in Whippets, I agree with those who posted before me, that yes there are problems in the breed, but the prevelance of the problem is unknown at this time. It will be a number of years before the cardiac study funded by the Whippet Health Foundation yields any valuable data, but in the interim it is imperative that we all screen our dogs in our breeding programs and remove any affected dogs and their close relatives from them before it becomes common place for Whippets to drop dead at 6-8 years of age.

Just my humble opinion.

Mary @ Jaama

From: VersatileWhippets Sent: 16/10/2007 23:43
In answer to the original post ... yes, there are heart problems in the breed. A number of years ago we did a favor for a friend of a friend who had a "cardiac" Whippet. The FOF was travelling and asked if we would consider keeping this dog for a week as he needed special meds multiple times a day. Her concern was that her dog sitter wouldn't medicate him on the schedule he needed. So "X" came to stay. He was a great dog and good with ours.

We happened to have a litter of puppies (another breed) at the time and had a friend who is a board certified cardiologist come to the house to do clearances on our puppies. He saw "X" and asked about him. His history was intriguing so our good friend took a listen. Well, his face went gray. He immediately asked how long we were to have this dog (4 more days!) and instructed us to not allow him to play with our dogs and to severely limit his activity. EEEK!

We called the FOF who told us that she knew he was very fragile but that she felt he was in good hands and if something happened she would know that we did all that we could. He was safely delivered to his mom days later.

She called back in a couple of weeks asking if he could stay with us again. While he would be on those meds for life, she assured us that he wasn't as fragile as one might think as she'd bred him to a couple of bitches that week. He ended up staying for months and only went home when FOF had bitches to breed to him. This made us uncomfortable and after months we sent him home for good. He died shortly thereafter.

Because cardiac issues are discussed in our other breed we asked FOF about her using the dog in her breeding program and others. Was his condition common knowledge with those who were using him? No, it wasn't common knowledge but she felt that he had enough other things to offer the breed that this shouldn't be a concern. Indeed, he was a lovely dog to look at ... so much so that he has been linebred on within her program and others.

As long as there are people out there who feel this way and as long as bitch owners don't insist on using only cardiac cleared males, there will be an increase in cardiac issues in this beautiful breed ... especially if popular studs have a known issue and they are bred anyway.

Please don't write to ask who FOF is, or who the dog was. I have great hopes that someday she will honestly share this information herself. But please DO protect yourself and protect the breed when you plan a breeding. No, a cardiac clearance doesn't guarantee that no heart problems will come up in puppies, but it sure does reduce the chances!

BTW, I have been contacted by two people seeking puppies to replace whippets lost to cardiomyopathy and two to congestive heart failure since announcing the arrival of our litter. That's another sign to me that we need to be aware of cardiac health in the breed.

Thank heavens the Whippet Health Foundation has been proactive in bringing forward more awareness and has made clinics available. This breed is VERY lucky to have such dedicated fanciers. Don't take this organization for granted!!! Most breeds don't have the resources WHF offers and consequently they trail behind whippets in health/welfare. I wish my other breed could unify in concern as the whippet folk have!


From: Karasar1 Sent: 17/10/2007 05:42
Lorie wrote:

<<In answer to the original post ... yes, there are heart problems in the breed. A number of years ago we did a favor for a friend of a friend who had a "cardiac" Whippet. The FOF was travelling and asked if we would consider keeping this dog for a week as he needed special meds multiple times a day. Her concern was that her dog sitter wouldn't medicate him on the schedule he needed. So "X" came to stay.

She called back in a couple of weeks asking if he could stay with us again. While he would be on those meds for life, she assured us that he wasn't as fragile as one might think as she'd bred him to a couple of bitches that week. He ended up staying for months and only went home when FOF had bitches to breed to him. This made us uncomfortable and after months we sent him home for good. He died shortly thereafter.

Because cardiac issues are discussed in our other breed we asked FOF about her using the dog in her breeding program and others. Was his condition common knowledge with those who were using him? No, it wasn't common knowledge but she felt that he had enough other things to offer the breed that this shouldn't be a concern. Indeed, he was a lovely dog to look at ... so much so that he has been linebred on within her program and others.>>

Lorie and others.

I am sorry if this sounds harsh but this is the kind of attitude that is dooming our lovely breed to the same fate as other pure bred dogs. There is absolutely NO STUD DOG ALIVE that has "Enough other things to offer the breed" that should have been used at stud without FULL DISCLOSURE of his health condition to the owners of the bitches he was bred to. These people could be linebreeding on this dog and producing more dogs with this condition. The vicious cycle could then repeat itself. You should absolutely do the right thing and disclose who this dog was to the general public to help protect the future of the breed.

I have literally had Whippets almost my entire life. I am 50 years old and my parents got our first Whippets when I was around 5-6 years old. I love this breed more than anything and have devoted my life to it. I am absolutely stunned and shocked at the attitude of people. This FOF is not a protector and does NOT care one iota about this breed. If she was, she would come forward and tell everyone about her stud dog. People are understanding that NO dog is perfect and there are going to be health issues that come up. But we are not helping by putting our heads in the sand and not being honest about problems that come up. I do think most breeders do their best, but I do know of many FAMOUS and "Greatly Admired" Whippet breeders who are like FOF,........ what a pity. I guess they feel they can just produce another litter.......

Lorie is correct when she mentioned that owners of bitches should ask about health clearences for dogs that they are interested in using at stud. AND owners of stud dogs should do the same for possible bitches coming to be bred to their stud dog. Nothing is perfect but at least if a problem comes up later, you have done all you could to try and prevent it from happening. I myself have refused to let my males be used at stud to bitches when I KNOW for a fact health issues that I consider a problem in her line. I will not be a party to producing more animals that already come from a line with known health issues. NO stud service is that important. People have been very upset with me, and I have lost so called friends, but I stand by my decisions.

In all the years I have been breeding Whippets I have probably bred one with every problem that can come up with in dogs, and there might be some I am not even aware of. That is just the law of averages and it is going to happen if you are around long enough. All one can do is try their best to test and guard against it happening again.

Mary Alderman did an excellent job of explaining the different heart issues in the breed. When we first got Whippets in the 1960's "Heart Murmurs" were well known in the breed but we NEVER heard of dogs dieing at these relatively young ages. This has been a more recent problem from my experience.

It was very brave Lorie to post her comments to a public forum. She did the right thing by "Sending him home for good". I hope she will continue to do what is best for our breed and others also.

Kerrie Kuper
Karasar Whippets since 1967

From: surreyhill Sent: 17/10/2007 14:43
My only question about Lorie's sometime boarder is--"how old was this dog at the time and at what age was he diagnosed?"

If the dog was 14 years old and diagnosed with a heart problem for the first time at the age of 12 and a half, then that puts quite a different complexion on the situation than if we are talking about a six year old dog who has had a bad murmur all along.

I agree it looks pretty bad for the FOF's ethics based on the description provided, but I am curious as to the age of this dog.

If developing a cardiac problem requiring medication during the geriatric years after a youth and middle age of good health is now to be considered a damning health problem, then most of our parents probably wouldn't qualify as "breeding stock" either.

I do think cardiac problems are becoming worse in our breed with more dogs dying at younger ages. And it does seem to be mostly the males.

Karen Lee

From: kentruth Sent: 17/10/2007 17:04
To all concerned in this discussion;

Let's keep this discussion on heart issues and not venture into discussing breeders or dogs by name or it will be seen as violating the code of conduct. It would a different matter if the breeder/owner of a dog chose to come forward and discuss their dog's health issues. For any of us to do so is a violation.

WW Asst. Manager

From: Karasar1 Sent: 17/10/2007 22:51

Karen Lee wrote <<My only question about Lorie's sometime boarder is--"how old was this dog at the time and at what age was he diagnosed?"

If the dog was 14 years old and diagnosed with a heart problem for the first time at the age of 12 and a half, then that puts quite a different complexion on the situation than if we are talking about a six year old dog who has had a bad murmur all along.

I agree it looks pretty bad for the FOF's ethics based on the description provided, but I am curious as to the age of this dog.

If developing a cardiac problem requiring medication during the geriatric years after a youth and middle age of good health is now to be considered a damning health problem, then most of our parents probably wouldn't qualify as "breeding stock" either.

I do think cardiac problems are becoming worse in our breed with more dogs dying at younger ages. And it does seem to be mostly the males.

Karen Lee>>

Karen is correct of course. Older dogs do develop all sorts of issues, and heart problems are just one of the thing that can happen in OLD age. There have been well known male Whippets that have been used at stud (What I consider extensively) that were DEAD from heart problems, from what I gather, at 10 years old or less. This is the type of problem that we have to watch out for or our breed is going the way of the Doberman for example. I also do know of females dying young, but we do seem to hear about the males more often. On an UP note, I do know of one dog out on the W. Coast of the USA who has been advertised and people have inquired about using this dog at stud. The owner, to her credit, has admitted that the dog has severe heart problems and refused to let the dog be used. I believe the dog was 2-3 years old at the time. The owner said they expect the dog to be dead in a couple of years. I am not sure if he is or not at this point.

My issue is not disclosing, apparently, to the owners of the bitches this dog was bred to. AND I never expected Lorie to disclose on a public forum the name of the dog and or breeder/owner but it SHOULD BE! I understand the code of conduct on this forum. There are others though.....

I cannot believe I seem to be one of the few that is shocked or upset about this. Where is the outrage?? I am very dissapointed more members of this board are slient on this problem. OR about the ethics of FOF!!!

Kerrie Kuper

Karasar Whippets since 1967


From: Dmichele2 Sent: 17/10/2007 23:32
I don't breed, but having had a dog with a congenital heart murmur (her dad died young), I think it is immoral NOT to test both prospective parents for murmurs and not to immediatekly remove bitches and dogs with murmurs from the breeding pool -- regardless of what other qualities they are preceived to contribute to the breed. I'd love to hear the reasons for not pulling those dogs.

I spoke with a breeder once who admited to me that one of her dogs had a murmur, but said that, because it was slight (he was just about three), she did not think it was wrong to continue to use him. I totally and completely disagreed with her. But at least she warned me and gave me the opportunity to make an educated decision about buying a puppy from her. (I did not.)

Just my two cents as a whippet owner.


From: Chelynnah1 Sent: 18/10/2007 15:01
Kerri, I don't believe for a second that anyone thinks the ethics of FOF are right, and I don't believe for a second that people aren't appalled by it. But there's not much they can do, so I suspect they're just not posting (as I didn't) because there's not much else that can be said, and your post did say very well what most of us were already thinking. I think disclosure is paramount.

Am I shocked at the behaviour of FOF? Unfortunately not. I know it goes on - not just with this issue, but with others. I WISH people would inform others of what is in their lines - even if it's small, then at least an informed choice could be made whether to continue with the breeding or not.

I suspect the lack of response is only because people don't know what to say. You can only say 'how shocking' and 'how horrible' so many times, but it doesn't do much good to the advancement of the thread.

The caution was given to not out anyone on here - that isn't just about an arbitrary Code of Conduct, it goes to the protection against libel and slander against the individuals who might be involved in the 'outing' as well as the board itself.

Do I think people who do this should be outed. Probably, but this isn't the place, and that's all Lesley's general reminder was about.

This discussion has been very educational - both in 2005 when it started, and now where it's been picked up again. I hope that it will give people some tools and incentives to use to fully check into the lines behind dogs they wish to use - not just for this issue, but for any issues.


From: gracie_n_taz Sent: 18/10/2007 21:07
I am happy to say that Gracie - who I posted about back at the beginning of this thread in 2005 - has not progressed much further than the grade 4 murmur she was diagnosed with at age 4.5 years old. (She also has subaortic stenosis and regurge along with mitral valve regurge). She has episodes where she coughs alot and wakes up gagging and choking, but she gets through them and goes right back to chasing the devil boy out in the yard. I do believe that there was one grandchild or great granchild of Gracie's that died at approx. 2 years of age from heart disease. I don't know any of the details, so can't be positive exactly what happened.

I don't breed, but I am greatly disturbed by the FOF's using the dog at stud and not giving the proper health information to the owners of the bitches. Possibly none of the bitch owners asked - so she felt fine keeping it to herself. The age of onset does matter, but this just doesn't sound right to me. I have a huge problem with people breeding dogs/bitches that they know to have a serious health issue - it's wrong and will come back and bite the breed in the butt.

Just my $.02 FWIW


From: Marcia_in_NM Sent: 19/10/2007 05:31
I got Tessa's heart tested at a AWC National, and the test was partially subsidized, which was great! She got her CERF and BAER testing done at the National, too. The whippet Tessa will be rendezvousing with soon has had his heart tested this year, and previously. Having done the testing and having selected a dog that had it done makes me feel comfortable that I've done what I can.

He's been CERFed and BAER tested, too. Many whippets get their CERF done so that their puppies can qualify to be shown in the futurity at the AWC national specialty. Is there any talk of setting up any kind of an event where the eligible entrants would be the offspring from heart-tested parents? I


From: surreyhill Sent: 19/10/2007 12:56
This is just my opinion, but CERF as a requirement for the Futurity passed because of one breeder who came forward about a cataract problem that she had encountered in some of her dogs back in the 1980's. This breeder was, and is, highly respected, dealt with the issue as best she could, moved forward and is still very successful today with many winning dogs in all areas.

People did kind of go into a tizzy about it at the time, though.

At the same time, a push to study vitreous degeneration in Whippets passed because of a SINGLE dog who had lens luxation, owned by a friend of one of the important breeders in the AWC who is also a veterinarian, and had to have both eyes removed which was thought MIGHT be related to vitreous degeneration. In the subsequent decades, I do not know of a single other case where vitreous degeneration (which is rare, but present in the breed) has led to an eye problem of that magnitude.

I don't think it can be argued that there aren't genetic defects far more widespread and more likely to affect the health and longevity of more Whippets in more lines than eye problems. There are also people whose problems are taken more seriously because of their stature and the size of their megaphone.

There were two more important factors at play in the decision to pass CERF. First of all, there was an agency (CERF) which was already in place which would look at the results and classify them as to "Hereditary" or "Not Hereditary/Acquired/Breeder Option". Breeder Option, in CERF-speak, means there's something odd about the eye, but CERF doesn't yet have enough data to render an opinion if it's a genetic problem or not. So, it's up to the judgment of the breeder--and hey, good luck with that.

Second of all, there was widespread sentiment on the part of the AWC Membership that this was a problem that could be effectively nipped in the bud through eye examinations.

I think most people do get their Whippets eyes screened at least once or twice but maybe not every year or for every litter. But with CERF requirement, it pretty much assures that the bigtime stud dogs who are widely used will be obliged to be tested more or less yearly, and this has been a positive thing IMO.

There isn't really anything comparable for any other health defect that I'm aware of. The BAER test would be the easiest to add because it's pretty simple--if the dog is deaf or has hearing in only one ear, it should not be bred from. I don't know why this one-time test that can be done at any age from 6 weeks on and be considered valid for the lifetime of the dog isn't getting more consideration. Unilateral deafness is probably still rare, but it is definitely more common than serious eye defects. It's the cheapest health clearance you're ever gonna get.

I'd like to see the cardiac clearance added to the list, but I think there needs to be an age cutoff. If your dog's heart is clear by the age of 10, perhaps, then you don't need to have it done again to have your senior veteran male continue to sire. Old age-related valvular disease is prevalent in all breeds and mixes, and I see no reason why a dog who has reached 13 years old before developing a negligible valvular murmur shouldn't be able to sire as such as a dog may well live to 15 and die of something else entirely.

Also, it needs to be clear if this is an aescult requirement, or the full cardiac workup. I do believe that to have a FULL workup, which can easily go 400-500 dollars, depending on location, would be a great hardship on many breeders if it had to be done on a yearly basis throughout the bitches' reproductive years. I do not think that a full workup should be required if the aescult is clear.

That said, I would be in favor of a clear aescult requirement, or cardiac workup which reveals no hereditary cardiac problems, on all dams and all sires under the age of 10.

The problem, as I stated two years ago, is that MOST Whippets don't show evidence of cardiac problems until their breeding career is well-established. Eight years old to ten years old seems to be the hot zone. Certainly, I have never bred a dog or a bitch who had a heart murmur (to my knowledge) at the time that they were used, but I have had some who developed those problems later, after I'd used them.

This is why maybe as a breed, breeders need to more actively seek out senior stud dogs who still have excellent cardiac clearances. I TRY to use older males most of the time, but occasionally, the temptation to use a beautiful and exciting youngster is too strong to resist.

Here is another thing, too. I have never ONCE been asked to verify the identity of any dog I CERF'ed, BAER'ed, or had otherwise screened by DNA swab, microchip, or tattoo. If you are a dishonest person and inclined to lie and cheat, testing isn't going to be much of a problem for you to get round. You simply get a dog who is roughly the same color and sex as the dog you want to clear, and take that dog in instead and get his healthy clearance and slap it on under your dog's name.

In the end, we still have to rely on people's honesty and integrity.

From: Chelynnah1 Sent: 23/04/2008 11:53
Just adding a link to a recent thread: "mitral valve regurgitation in whippets" [Thread reprinted in the post following this thread]


From: NicPep Sent: 19/05/2008 05:57
Hi all,

We have not posted many times at WW, and we are strangers to most, if not all.

We have two whippets, our boys, Loki and Singer. We found Loki in March of 2001 via Whippet Rescue as he was one of a litter that a family was looking to place in good homes. We happily welcomed him to our family as a 6 or 7 week old 4lb pup. He's been our baby ever since, and he has always been a firecracker. Our 7 year old puppy. Even yesterday, before the acute signs set in and we took him to an emergency vet - he appeared as strong as an ox. He has always had a voracious appetite - a chow hound. Morning feeding he gobbled and stood by to lick his little brother's bowl when he finishes. Yesterday evening he did not eat a bite and he wouldn't even take a treat. TEars.

Our second boy, Singer , is known by some on WW. We adopted him in January of 05 through Whippet Rescue, and we are forever thankful that he has been a part of our lives. We don't know his age, his pedigree or anything like that. Just one loving, sweet, very special boy. He has blossomed from a guy that would not play and would cower at the sight of a leash or the sound of a loud word to one who is always anxious for a romp in the house or yard with the (let him think that) ALPHA Loki. One that goes beserk with a tail flying so fast it's barely visible when the word 'walk' is spoken. Anyway....he has come miles and miles. What a wonderful boy.

Singer was diagnosed with a mitral valve deficiency after a murmur was detected. I think it was first detected about two years after our adoption as a 5. He went through all the blah blah at Auburn University's Veternary College, and he has been back once for a follow up (this January.) It appears it has progressed slightly, but he is still doing well. No fluid, coughing, etc. We don't know his age, although the vets at Auburn suggested possibly 9+ on our last visit.

Loki was diagnosed today with dilated cardiomyopathy at the same Auburn Vet College. He is being held tonight and he will undergo extensive testing and prodding tomorrow. His is not yet 7 and a half, and I fear he won't make it to 8. That from a boy that teaches us so much about living life with zest to the fullest for TODAY! You never know, I suppose.

We have never dealt with breeders, so I cannot comment on that aspect of the post. We have two whippets, and we have been a whippet family for only 7 years; however, we are batting a thousand for whippet heart disease. Of two completely different types.

I wonder at this moment....are there environmental causes that could possibly lead indirectly to weakening of the heart muscles/structures that end up as heart disease or failure? The rubber stamp answer seems to be no. I ask....do we really know?

Just our two cents....thanks for listening.


From: Whippetmom4 Sent: 19/05/2008 10:26
Two of my four Whippets have heart murmurs...the smallest two: Niven and Nell. They are both murmurs in the #2 range, so not too bad. I'm wondering if the two bigger guys DON'T have a murmur because their hearts are more attuned to their size.....

Trish Scanzello (Whippetmom4) & Niven, Nell, Nigel and Nickleby

From: surreyhill Sent: 19/05/2008 13:16
it's been awhile since I have seen this thread, and since then, I got involved in a discussion of health issues in UK Whippets, and I must say that I am very VERY proud of the way that both the AWC Health Foundation AND many of the major breeders in the US are addressing this subject. There is a clear-eyed, realistic, and shared consensus that mitral valve and Cardiomyopathy are affecting too many Whippets at under the age of 10, and that it is very important to consider that this is likely to be genetic and that screening is important, as is doing the best one can to avoid doubling up tightly on dogs known to have developed cardiac problems at younger ages.

Although not every breeder is equally concerned (or needs to be) or equally open, as a group, I think the US breeders have the right attitude about this. I am really hoping that over the next few years if we get great participation in the ongoing studies we will have more answers that will be useful to breeders.

The biggest problem as has been repeatedly raised is that these dogs often are well-established as foundational breeding stock before their heart problems manifest. A way to detect problems earlier would certainly be useful. Also, it would be useful to know if there are any environmental factors which might speed up the development of mitral valve degeneration.

Karen Lee

From: Patience Sent: 19/05/2008 13:55
Craig, I am so very sorry to hear about Loki. I sincerely hope and pray that he has a good response to his treatment. I found the following on Mayoclinic.com:
Most of the time, the cause of the cardiomyopathy is unknown. In some people, however, doctors are able to identify some contributing factors. Possible causes of cardiomyopathy include:

Long-term high blood pressure
Heart valve problems
Heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack
Chronic rapid heart rate
Metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease or diabetes
Nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins or minerals, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1), selenium, calcium and magnesium
Excessive use of alcohol over many years
Abuse of cocaine or antidepressant medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants
Use of some chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer
Certain viral infections, which may injure the heart and trigger cardiomyopathy
Of course these apply to humans. I do know that in dogs, as in humans, a cause of heart valve problems is poor oral hygiene; bacterial infections of the gums can "seed" and infect the valves, or the lining of the heart. Keeping our dogs' teeth brushed is one thing we can do. But there are many other factors, including heredity, and dogs with sparkly clean teeth are not immune to cardiac disease.

I'm sure the generous vets on our group will have much better information than this. Again, I'm sending all sorts of positive energy to Loki.

Patience and the Warburton Waggle

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Re: Heart Problems in Whippets?

Postby chelynnah » Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:39 pm

Continued thread from the above post as it had exceeded maximum length

From: elegantboy11 Sent: 19/05/2008 14:15
Thanks everyone for your informative postings. It's most helpful.

Sandi, Bernie & Kevin

From: BrigitteGreen Sent: 19/05/2008 14:50

I'm so sorry to read that your boys are experiencing heart problems. I do hope that we have answers to these questions some day soon. In the meantime, I would say that people need to ask these questions of breeders, particularly about health testing. One of the reasons we decided in the end to bring Summer to an older stud was this very issue. I think it's of great concern to the entire community. Please keep us posted on Loki & Singer.


From: elegantboy11 Sent: 19/05/2008 15:01
Another question to ask: is cancer in the line?

Sandi, Bernie & Kevin

From: JaamaWhpts Sent: 19/05/2008 15:02
As breeders, there is never a guarantee that we will not produce a dog with a problem, but through education, careful selection of breeding stock, and repeated testing, we can greatly reduce the odds of producing a problem.

The hardest thing for a breeder to do is face the fact that they have bred themselves into a "problem producing" corner, but for the sake of the future health of the breed, it is prudent that those breeders be honest and forthcoming about the problems, and discontinue offering dogs at public stud who have shown a propensity to produce said problem. Instead we still have people in this breed who intimidate owners of affected dogs from their line, to the point that those owners hide the problem, and other people continue to unknowingly breed to the affected dogs siblings, parents, etc., thus the problem continues.

I commend those breeders who are honest and forthright about both their accomplishments and failures. It is through honesty and hard work that we can breed to improve this breed, and to insure its long term health.

Just my $.02.

Mary @ Jaama

From: GreyFind Sent: 19/05/2008 16:35
You can ask if there's cancer in the lines but in whippets you have to take that info with a grain of salt. Whippets aren't like Goldens, who get hemangiosarcoma at the drop of a hat, or Boxers, where basically you suspect every lump is cancerous and treat it aggressively from the start, even before the biopsy comes back (I was told that by a vet I worked for). For example, my whippet has had 2 cancerous masses, mast cell and liposarcoma, one at age 10 and one at age 11. Both were removed without incident. None of his relatives that I know of have problems with cancer and they've all lived long (some to 16+) happy lives. If Nemo was a breeding dog (which he isn't) would 2 treatable lumps that showed up at 10+ be a cause to freak out and condemn all his descendants? Probably not, but maybe now you can understand why we don't want people mentioning breeders or dogs by name, because some people might. It doesn't take much for a witch hunt to start and a breeders reputation to be ruined over nothing.

I do think we need to test for everything we can, hearts, eyes, hearing, but we have to remember that not everything is genetic. Not everything can be laid at the breeders feet. Sometimes it's just bad luck, sometimes its just aging.


From: elegantboy11 Sent: 19/05/2008 16:48
Bernie's Mom died @ 14 from cancer. I don't know if any of Bernie's littermates had cancer. I know a breeder, who got started in breeding Whippets from my breeder, noticed cancer appearing in a couple of his dogs & had them neutured - a very responsible breeder IMO. There are other factors besides genetics that can cause cancer. But heart murmurs is another story.

Sandi, Bernie & Kevin

From: phasion5 Sent: 19/05/2008 18:19
In my experience with whippets, this is what I had. First whippet Kneehi, died of heart faliure. Second whippet Duke, had heart murmor, grade 3, but died from AIHA from the booster shots. Third whippet Cameo, died from heart failure, with Kideny failure complications. Fourth whippet Holi, died from heart failure. Fifth whippet Shadow died from heart faliure. 4 of the 5 were not related at all. I have one whippet left Jackie and her heart (knock on wood) is very good and she is going to be 13 in July.
Everyone keeps asking me if I will get another whippet or two since I just lost 2 a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I am scared to do that, because of the heart issues. It has been a struggle for me and the family dealing with medications, expensive vet trips etc...If I were to get another whippet, I would look deep into the health of the dog, and thats still no guarantee.

From: Karasar1 Sent: 19/05/2008 18:46
Oh my heavens Kim...WOW!

I think Kim's post answered the original subject of this discussion. YES...

I would be interested in seeing the pedigrees of these dogs and knowing their ages when they passed on. I am sorry for your problems.

Kerrie Kuper
Karasar Whippets since 1967

From: NicPep Sent: 19/05/2008 20:45
So sorry Kim, we truly are. That is a tough story. Hopefully Jackie will keep on going strong!

Our boys are not related, and Loki never showed any signs other than always being full of energy and life.

It is interesting to hear of such a large number of heart issues with whippets. We did what we thought was due diligence before picking our forever friends (knowing, of course, that they will not live forever anyway,) but this flag was never raised.

When you read about CHF or DCM, the same handful of breeds are always mentioned, starting with DOBERMAN in caps and bold. It seems to be dependent on the proportions at the puppy mills. These are an abomination, but they are breeders as well.

I am considering that maybe we should not rescue - maybe we should look for our next dogs with a breeder; however, I don't think this ever guarantees anything. After all, it has always been an experiment in genetic engineering since wolves were domesticated.

From: NicPep Sent: 19/05/2008 20:52
After postinig and reading the last, I am sorry I said what I did about not rescuing again. We will absolutely rescue our dogs over and over. The love we have received from our two boys in the last years far outweighs the heartaches (and headaches) they have given us. It has been such a joy to watch Singer change from a closed bud to a wide open and beautiful flower of a boy. He has been such a precious gift to us, as has Loki. I hope there are not people considering adoption/rescue that would be turned away by my statements.

From: Karasar1 Sent: 19/05/2008 21:12

Your original post about rescue is CORRECT. The health problems you encountered IS the reason to get your Whippet or any other purebred dog from a responsible breeder. It increases your chance of getting a healthy dog, of course there are NO guarantees.

I have absolutely NOTHING against people wanting rescue Whippets. I think that many people open their hearts to dogs that need them, and people working with these dogs deserve a pat on the back. BUT I have noticed over the years that MANY people who want a "Rescue" Whippet are really looking for a "Low Cost" Whippet!!! I know one person in particular who contacted a reputable breeder wanting a Whippet when their "rescue" Whippet passed on at a fairly young age. When told the price, NOT outrageous BTW, they contacted a rescue group and got another dog. This dog has cost them in time and $$ MUCH more than if they would have just gotten a dog that was raised correctly and obtained from a reputable breeder. They were penny wise and pound foolish, if I have the saying correct. Of course they regret their decision now.

The reason to get a purebred dog from a reputable breeder IS to increase your chances of having a healthy dog, in mind and body, and have a wonderful member of your family around for many years, and of course follow up and help from the breeder. I think that we as breeders need to emphasis this more to the general public. I am probably remiss in not giving this more emphasis myself !!!. Breeders who test and try to create or carry on a healthly line need to explain that the added costs of health testing go into a price of the puppy/adult dog.


Kerrie Kuper
Karasar Whippets since 1967

From: BrigitteGreen Sent: 19/05/2008 21:43
Getting a Whippet from a breeder is no guarantee that the dog will not have heart or other health problems. Where do you think the Rescue Whippets come from? Not all of them are from puppy mills.

Many of the Whippets in the Rescue program come from so-called ``reputable'' breeders who don't take their own dogs back once the people they sold them to decide to dump them. These ``reputable'' breeders have already made their money, so suddenly these dogs are worthless to them. That's how we get many of the dogs in Rescue.

And where did those blasted puppy mills get their breeding stock? Many of them started out with dogs originally from so-called ``reputable'' breeders who failed to properly screen homes.

I would say if you're looking at heart problems with Rescue Whippets, it's just a reflection of the overall Whippet population.

I'm not speaking for Rescue or anyone else. I'm speaking for myself. That's my .02 cents.


From: NicPep Sent: 19/05/2008 21:51

Thank you for your post, and I do not argue it for a moment. We opted for rescue not as a low cost option, but instead to give a home to those overlooked beautiful dogs that need one as well.

I truly believe it is a crap shoot either way. Each time you mentioned the word 'reputable,' it should be replaced by REPUTABLE AND ETHICAL.

I am definitely not pointing fingers, etc, at anyone. It's just that I know that not all people fulfill their obligations as represented. No more, no less. I have nothing against breeders at all. We just chose a different path. But if you are going to sell me insurance for a dog that I buy, I will laugh whole heartedly.

I would appreciate if everyone here would not treat the rescues as if they are less worthy of love and affection. And our hard earned dollars.


From: elegantboy11 Sent: 19/05/2008 23:41
I agree with Brigette.

Also, I don't believe people go to WRAP because they are cheaper - WRAP isn't cheap, they have expenses to pay to keep the Whippet in their home and in some cases, have the burden of taking care of the sick Whippet. When I was looking for another Whippet, some breeders were just happy to place the older Whippet in a good home, one asked if I would pay to spay, which I would have gladly done. It is sad when people turn in senior dogs to WRAP because they no longer can take care of them or afford the Vet expenses. I was under the impression that if someone no longer wants the dog, then the breeder takes them back.

Sandi, Bernie & Kevin

From: Pantheon-Whippets Sent: 20/05/2008 00:01
I have to for the most part agree with Kerrie. "So-called" reputable is just that, "so-called". I'm sure she's talking about TRULY reputable breeders who test and take their dogs back --- in that case, the odds of getting a healthier dog should increase (like she said, there are no guarantees).
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Re: Heart Problems in Whippets?

Postby chelynnah » Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:46 pm

Mitral Valve Regurgitation in Whippets

From: whippet_one (Original Message) Sent: 16/04/2008 01:47
I'm flipped out at the moment.

I just lost my beloved Casey (a Maestro great-grandson) at the age of almost 16. He crossed over on Good Friday (the perfect day for my prince); he was at home & I was with him. I hadn't posted yet about my loss because I haven't had the heart of put his picture up and talk about it...maybe someday.

In the meantime, I learned that my baby daddy (lol) (the sire of my Odie who just turned 3)) has a heart problem. The only two of Odie's litter-mates who have been evaluated by a cardiologist show mitral valve regurgitation. I'm afraid Odie may have it too.

My first whippet had a murmur which was first detected at age 5. He lived to be 13 and died from other causes, but I'm scared to death about this. I know the AWC if actively screening for heart problems, but I've heard of young dogs (age 5, and it may be rumor more than fact) who have just dropped dead from heart problems. How serious are these whippet cardiac problems?

I'm waiting to hear back from a vet at University of Illinois Vet Med (the doc who treated Casey for his soft-tissue sarcoma) about a possible cardiac eval. for Odie.

I got my first whippet in 1990 and I'm concerned that whippet hearts have become progressively worse over the years. It's also possible that these problems have existed all along and that we (the whippet community) have just become better at screening for/reporting them. Any info. would be greatly appreciated
thanks, beth

From: Tkar4 Sent: 16/04/2008 02:29
We're sorry to hear your news.... hopefully it won't amount to anything or slow them down.

We have 2 whippets (Mason & Hayley) both are from Annie (WildaboutWhippets). When we first met her she said that both of the dogs she was breeding had echocardiograms.... .... at the time we thought she this may have been a little bit much, but after 3 years in the breed and reading hundreds of posts and articles, we appreciate the thought, time, (and money) that she put into the breeding.

Trent & Kim

From: Whippet-Woman Sent: 16/04/2008 02:54
Beth - please accept my sympathy for your loss. It's always hard to loose one of our beloved creatures no matter how old they are.
Heart disease IS a problem inWhippets. I suspect that we're just getting better at diagnosing it, tho I also believe that the tendency for people to breed to a very popular sire has something to do with an increased incidence of heart problems too. If that dog happens to be carrying any bad gene, it can spread thru the gene pool frighteningly quickly. You can go the the Whippet Health Foundation database and search for dogs with heart disease. Of course, the WHF is helping support the heart study that Dr. Rebecca Stepien at the University of Wisconsin Vet school is heading. The cardio clinics at each National are part of that study. Dr. Stepien has written articles for both the Whippet News and the Whippet Annual. We're trying to get as much data on these conditions as possible so as to help future generations of Whippets and their owners. I'd like to use this opportunity to encourage breeders and owners to enter their dogs in the database. If you have problems Lisa Costello, Diana Laratta, or I would be glad to help you. The web address is: http://www.whippethealth.org.
Connie B

From: whippet_one Sent: 16/04/2008 05:04
Thank you so much for your kind support and information.

The scary thing is that, I believe, both the sire and dam were "OFA cardiac normal" prior to breeding.

Does anyone know how these animals fare long-term, in general, if they should (heaven forbid) have this condition?


From: surreyhill Sent: 16/04/2008 16:27
It depends on how severe the murmur and what the cause of it is.

There are a lot of Whippets who stay Grade 1/2 for a decade or more.

There are others who progress rapidly and do not make it much past 5-7. It's hard to know what sort you have the first time that the murmur is detected.

I know of some bitches who've lived to past 14 with murmurs and weren't symptomatic or needing medication until they were 12-13, but they were basically Grade 1/2 until they reached 10 years old.

The study that is ongoing is supposed to help us answer these questions, but for now, there isn't a hard and fast answer especially when you can't even give us the diagnosis right now.

From: Whippet-Woman Sent: 16/04/2008 21:07
My foundation bitch developed a grade 2-3 of 6 mitral murmur at 7 years of age & lived to be almost 15, dying from metastatic splenic cancer. She never had any clinical signs of heart disease. I have only had one dog in all these years who actually died from heart disease. She was over 15 and did have some clinical signs in the last 3-4 months of her life.
Connie B

From: gracie_n_taz Sent: 16/04/2008 21:35
My Gracie was diagnosed with a grade 3/4 at age 4.5 years old. She is now 8 and is showing little to no symptoms at all. I retired her from coursing and racing, but she is still very active chasing Taz and generally living a very full and happy life.


From: whippet_one Sent: 16/04/2008 23:32
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post.

I am feeling a little better knowing that some dogs can do relatively well, even with heart problems. I was spoiled because Casey lived to be almost 16 and had the best heart and set of lungs on him until the very end.

I became frightened when I learned that Odie's Dad, brother and sister (the only two litter-mates checked so far) show problems. It is hard to speak freely because I am not a doctor and I can not professionally interpret the reports I have been able to locate. In addition, the breeders are friends (or friends of friends, some of whom have been (presumably) ethical breeders for 20+ years) and I would not want to misrepresent someone or a "situation".

I am waiting to hear back from a couple of vets who may be able to help me interpret the information I have, and ODIE NEEDS A HEART WORK-UP. In the meantime, I am a little happier knowing that dogs CAN live long lives with murmurs. Thanks again

From: whippet-mom Sent: 17/04/2008 11:07
I had a dog who went from nothing (in his year exam at the age of 9 years) to a grade 6 (my vet always called it a 6 +++++) at the age of 10 years. they put him on medication and he lived to be almost 15 years old. he did well on the medication and only the last year of his life did they suggest for him to go in for a work up.

It never did seem to bother him - he lived a very full and happy life and it was not his heart that gave out. he did what ever he wanted and enjoyed life to the fullest. up until his last year, he walked 2x daily anywheres from 1/2 mile on each walk to 2 miles - he ran and played and even played with the lure.

like i said it was not his heart but his rear that gave out which considering he had several disc removed from his neck at the age of 10 years and went on to take the breed at a local show from the veteren's class at almost 11 years of age -

i do remember that at one point that my vet was shocked that he was still being so active - but it was his choice - he did what he wanted to do.

good luck and hope that you luck is as good as mine was


From: whippet_one Sent: 17/04/2008 15:18
O.K., I heard back from Casey's doc at U. of I. (I needed to thank her for taking such good care of Casey and for her condolence card. By the way, if anyone needs to know about soft-tissue sarcoma, I can tell you that Casey lived 4+ years with his tumor (until almost 16) and died WITH his cancer, not FROM his cancer, so that's encouraging).

Anyway...we know that Odie needs to be checked, but, at the very least, his Dad, brother and sister are affected, so I worry for our dogs as a whole. Two things seemed to concern Casey's doc the most: first, the dogs are young (+/- 3 years of age when the problem was first noted) and also that the mitral valve problem was audible upon auscultation (i.e., did not require an echo. to diagnose) I am so glad the WHF seems to be taking this issue so seriously.

From: elegantboy11 Sent: 17/04/2008 18:50
Hi Beth,

Sorry to hear of your loss. I can't add any info to what has already been posted, but when I was looking for a playmate for Bernie, that was my first question to the breeders, "heart problems", second question, "has cancer been found in the line"?

Bernie's mom died @ 14 from cancer and I know a breeder who started his line from my breeder. He also found cancer and had the good sense to spay/neuter so the gene isn't passed along.

I wish Odie a long & healthy life.

Sandi, Bernie & Kevin

From: whippet_one Sent: 17/04/2008 19:47
You guys are the best

From: whippet_one Sent: 19/04/2008 02:16
I am very pleased to report that I took Odie to a doctor today (not a cardiologist, but an experienced vet) who listened to him on both sides for quite some time and heard no murmurs!! Yeah!

I know we're not out of the woods forever, but, considering the family history of concurrent mitral & tricuspid disease at an early age, that is a really good report. We'll keep checking him every 6 months or so.

In the meantime, thank you so much for your support and information. I am happy that people seem to be trying hard to give our dogs the best possible future they can have. Thank you again


From: PAWhippets Sent: 19/04/2008 02:57
My first Whippet, my beloved Tigger , was diagnosed with a murmur at age 10. It did not cause him any problems at that time but we stopped coursing him, which we had been doing occasionally, at that point. At 13 he began having episodes of collapsing, and through extensive exams and testing we found that in addition to a significant murmur he also had severe mitral valve disease with regurgitation (as well as kidney issues). We were told that his prognosis was "not favorable", but he enjoyed almost a year and a half of quality life (on a variety of medications) before having a stroke and then going into kidney failure.

Our Kira, who is a cousin of Tigger's, is now going on 15. She was first diagnosed with a murmur about 2 years ago and it is getting louder and louder, but as far as we can tell she is not showing any symptoms from it. She has never been one to exert herself, though ;o)

I hope Odie enjoys many more happy and healthy years!


From: whippet_one Sent: 19/04/2008 03:01
Thanks, Lois.

I hope Kira's condition remains stable and that you are able to enjoy her for a good long while


From: Whippetmom4 Sent: 19/04/2008 03:10
I already know from another of your posts that Odie is okay...thank God. But I want to express my sympathy for your loss....how very sad....but his living until 16 is a testament to your good care and love. You'll see him again one day....it's just the waiting that hurts so much. Again, I'm sorry for your loss and I'm covering you and Odie with prayer.

Trish Scanzello (Whippetmom4) & Niven, Nell, Nigel and Nickleby

From: Patience Sent: 19/04/2008 14:36
In humans, a grade 1 - 2 murmur can be a NORMAL physical finding. It can be functional, meaning that it is the sound of normal blood flow across a normal valve. A human cardiologist who diagnosed ANYTHING by auscultation only (listening to a heart through a stethascope) without an echocardiogram with doppler flow study, a chest xray, and an EKG would have his license to practice medicine yanked.
In elderly humans, it is also very common to begin hearing murmurs, as the valves lose their elasticity. And one of the reasons for a diseased mitral valve is endocarditis (a bacterial infection of the heart liningand/or valves) frequently caused by poor oral hygiene.
The cardiac study that is ongoing in whippets, funded (in part ?) by the Whippet Health Foundation, is so exciting and important for the very reason that they are doing these valuable diagnostic tests on lots of whippets, and following whippets over the years.
So, brush your dogs' teeth, get out your checkbooks and send a donation to

Whippet Health Foundation, Inc.
Susan Bolduc, Treasurer
Box 598 Miner Rd.
Otis, MA 01253-0598


From: whippet_one Sent: 21/04/2008 03:36
Thanks, Patience. You're absolutely right.

My impression, after speaking with a doctor who is actively involved with the WHF (re: information already in the database for close relatives of my dog) is that one of the most important things we can do for our breed is to open up the dialogue; some people have not really wanted to talk about health problems that may exist. Maybe the heart study will help to change that mindset. Then more data can be gathered (especially longitudinal) and we can be in a better position to help our breed long-term.

I know this is supposed to be a "fun" place, so I'm sorry for taking on such a serious topic


From: Chelynnah1 Sent: 23/04/2008 11:50
Beth don't apologise. Whippet World isn't just for 'fun' it's for education too, and this topic is right up there with other important things. I think we have a thread in the Health section on Heart Murmurs in whippets, and if so I'll add a link to this in that thread :D

I'm glad to hear Odie is clear!


From: whippet_one Sent: 23/04/2008 17:21
Thanks Wendy. I have learned so much from the information you and others have provided. Last night, I also read Dr. Stephen's write-up in the 2006 Annual (pp. 344-347) on "Whippet Cardiac Screening Clinics 2003-2006". I live within ~ 150 miles of Dr. Stephen. Since she is heading up the heart study, has examined my dog's sire (who is participating in the heart study), and isn't far from me, I think I will take Odie to see her. He should probably go into the database, as well.

I fear that whippet hearts have worsened since my first whippet (a son of Surrey Hill's Houston) was born in 1987. Although I attended my first National in 1992 and have spent years reading, studying pedigrees, etc., I still feel like I have SO much more to learn . I hope people understand the enormous responsibility that goes along with being a breeder. I still do not consider myself "qualified". The quality of the lives of these animals, not human egos, must come first. Not everyone who wishes to be a breeder is prepared to do that.

In my heart (because people here shall remain nameless) I have the utmost respect for the breeder of my dog's sire for openly sharing her findings, placing her dog in the heart study, removing him from "service" and placing him in a loving pet home. "Our dogs" came before her ego and her kennel name and she is to be commended for that. I pray for her boy (Odie's Dad), he is a beautiful dog, that he will live a long, healthy life


From: whippet_one Sent: 23/04/2008 19:05
Forgive me for being a mental I don't know why I wrote "Stephen" (twice!); I meant S-t-e-p-i-e-n

-need more coffee


From: whippet_one Sent: 19/05/2008 23:04
I decided to bump this thread forward since I noticed the re-emergence of the heart discussion.

I am still waiting to hear back from Dr. Stepien. I had sent her an email around the time of the National (and I presume she was at the National, involved in the heart screening?), letting her know that Odie's sire is participating in the heart study and asking her whether she thought it was advisable for me to bring Odie to her for an evaluation. Her voicemail says that she's out of town until the 19th, so, hopefully, I'll hear something back from her soon.

-still sending up prayers for our dogs in the meantime


From: whippets65 Sent: 19/05/2008 23:17

My friend Joanne drives once a year to Dr Stephen's from Maryland in order to have her dogs cardiac exams done and the information put into the WHF study - she has also done my dogs at the National - can not recommend her highly enough!!! If you can go to her, it will be worth the trip!

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