Possible inheritance pattern of sudden death in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

6 May 2019 – News

There are some studies relating sudden death with ventricular arrhythmias in German Shepherd Dogs and English Springer Spaniels but this is the first focusing on Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  The study was triggered following contact from a Rhodesian Ridgeback breeder who was aware of four unexpected deaths of related dogs.  They were all younger than two years of age.

Familiar dogs were identified and evaluated for the presence of functional cardiac abnormalities. Pedigree was also analysed to search for inheritance patterns of these conditions. Neither echocardiography nor necropsies demonstrated structural cardiac disease. This is similar to human medicine findings, in which 30% of young patients suffering sudden cardiac death don’t show heart lesions.

Pedigree interpretation suggested that ventricular arrhythmias related to sudden deaths could be inherited by an autosomal recessive pattern characterized by a similar distribution between sexes and the ability of unaffected parents to produce impaired offspring.

The authors recommend Holter monitoring in Rhodesian Ridgebacks with a family history of arrhythmias or sudden death even if there is no evidence of heart disease. In these cases, breeding should be avoided as it is likely that genetics play an important role in these conditions.

Meurs, K., et al. Ventricular arrhythmias in Rhodesian Ridgebacks with a family history of sudden death and results of a pedigree analysis for potential inheritance patterns. JAVMA, vol 248, n. 10, May 15, 2016.