Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Congenital Heart Disease in Dogs


Moderate atrial and ventricular septal defects can be repaired surgically with varying degrees of success. This requires open-heart surgery and cardiopulmonary bypass.

Valve dysplasias and large septal defects have a poor prognosis, regardless of the method of treatment. Affected dogs are at risk of congestive heart failure and sudden death.

The treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias is discussed later in this chapter.

Prevention: Most congenital heart defects have a hereditary basis. Breeds with a known predisposition for specific congenital heart defects are shown in the accompanying chart. This list is by no means comprehensive, and individuals of other breeds and mixed breeds may also show these defects.

Breed Predispositions for Congenital Heart Defects

Atrial septal defects


Ventricular septal defects


Aortic and subaortic stenosis

Newfoundland, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Boxer, German Shorthaired Pointer, Samoyed

Tricuspid dysplasia

Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, Weimaraner, German Shepherd Dog

Mitral dysplasia

Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, Bull Terrier

Patent ductus arteriosus

Poodle, Pomeranian, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, German Shepherd Dog, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel

Pulmonic stenosis

Beagle, Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Schnauzer, Newfoundland, Rottweiler

Tetralogy of Fallot

Keeshond, English Bulldog, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer

It is important to identify affected individuals when treatment is most likely to be successful and before the dog is used for breeding. The best time to screen puppies for congenital heart defects is when they are 6 to 8 weeks of age, before being released to their new homes. Screening is done by carefully listening for murmurs with a stethoscope over the four valve areas. The examination is best performed by a veterinarian who is experienced in recognizing heart murmurs. Murmurs heard at this age may not be associated with disease; some will disappear as the pup matures. If the murmur is present at 16 weeks, however, the puppy should be screened using cardiac ultrasound.

OFA maintains a cardiac registry to gather data on congenital heart defects. Dogs are screened at 12 months of age or later by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, and if they are found to be unaffected, they are issued a certificate and a registration number. For bloodlines with an increased incidence of congenital heart defects, it is highly desirable to seek OFA certification before selecting breeding animals.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
Pit bull looking up
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Dog scratching behind ear
dog catching frisbee
Dog Breed RMQ
Lady owner feeding dog
bulldog in party hat

Special Sections