Some great news for boxer owners and lovers. A veterinary cardiologist at Washington State University has identified a defective gene responsible for one of the heart diseases that plague the boxer breed according to an April 27, 2009 press release from the university. Boxer cardiomyopathy, or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), has long been know to have a hereditary component and is one of the disorders responsible for the short average life span of the breed.
Our first boxer, Bridget, suffered from a severe arrhythmia most of her life – though apparently it wasn’t the typical boxer cardiomyopathy. After a series of syncopic episodes (fainting spells) – they were very scary – a holter monitor test identified the problem. Bridget survived another 3 or 4 years with the help of Sotalol, a drug used to treat arrhythmias. Though we thought this condition would lead to her death, she died with the arrhythmia, not from it. It was cancer – another disease that beleaguers boxers – that took her in the end.
The good news about this discovery is that breeders will be able to test their boxers for the faulty gene and avoid using those that carry the gene in their breeding programs. Over time, it might lead to an end to this affliction in boxers. A simple cheek swab test should be available some time this summer, according to the press release.