Natural history of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy in the boxer dog: a prospective study

J Vet Intern Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;28(4):1214-1220. doi: 10.1111/jvim.12385. Epub 2014 Jun 24.


Background: Boxer arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a disease that may result in sudden death or heart failure.

Hypothesis/objectives: To prospectively study the natural history of Boxer ARVC.

Animals: 72 dogs (49 ARVC, 23 controls).

Methods: Boxers >1 year of age were recruited for annual reevaluation. CONTROLS were defined as being ≥6 years of age and having <50 ventricular premature complex (VPCs)/24 h. ARVC was defined as ≥300 VPCs/24 h in the absence of other disease. Dogs were genotyped for the striatin deletion when possible. Descriptive statistics were determined for age; VPC number; annual change in VPC number; and left ventricular (LV) echocardiographic dimensions. Survival time was calculated.

Results: Controls: median age of 7 years (range, 6-10); number of VPCs 12 (range, 4-32). Median time in study of 6 years (range, 2-9). Seventeen of 23 were genotyped (5 positive, 12 negative). ARVC: median age of diagnosis of 6 (range, 1-11). Median time in study 5 years (range, 3-8). A total of 33% were syncopal and 43/49 were genotyped (36 positive, 7 negative). Yearly change in VPCs was 46 (range, -7,699 to 33,524). Annual percentage change in LV dimensions was 0, and change in fractional shortening (FS%) was 2%. Two dogs had FS% <20%. Although ARVC dogs died suddenly, there was no difference in survival time between groups. ARVC median age of survival was 11 years, and for controls was 10 years.

Conclusions/clinical importance: Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is a disease of middle age and frequently is associated with the striatin deletion. Syncope occurs in approximately 1/3 of affected dogs; systolic dysfunction is uncommon. The prognosis in many affected dogs is good.

Keywords: Boxer; Holter; Striatin; Sudden death; Ventricular premature complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / genetics
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / veterinary*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Death, Sudden / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ventricular Premature Complexes / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Premature Complexes / veterinary