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DENVER/February 2, 2023 – A new study hopes to change the outcomes for Doberman pinschers affected by chronic hepatitis, a serious and sometimes fatal progressive inflammatory disease of the liver. The study, funded by Morris Animal Foundation, will be conducted by a veterinary research team at Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

Led by Dr. Hille Fieten, Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, the team first will look for genetic changes that influence development of hepatitis in Dobermans. The results could help breeders make informed breeding decisions. In addition, researchers will use banked study samples to look for biomarkers of disease with the goal of developing an early disease-detection test.

“As a clinician, you often feel powerless when you see these patients in clinic,” said Dr. Fieten. “The current research project is aimed at unraveling the hereditary background of Doberman hepatitis. If we can successfully identify DNA mutations and biomarkers associated with disease, it could lead to more insights on disease development. This might not only be useful for the Doberman, but also for other dogs that suffer from similar forms of hepatitis.”

Unlike many hepatitis cases in people, the disease in Dobermans is not viral in origin but most likely is due to destruction of the liver by the dog’s own immune system. Unfortunately, by the time most Dobermans are diagnosed with the disease, liver destruction already is advanced. Medication can slow the disease and improve quality of life, but cures are rare.

“Hepatitis is a serious but often overlooked disease of dogs, including Dobermans,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Morris Animal Foundation Vice President, Scientific Operations. “This study has the potential to provide new insights into this important problem and identify disease susceptibility earlier, which can lead to better clinical outcomes for these dogs.”

About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation’s mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Denver, it is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding more than $149 million in nearly 3,000 critical studies across a broad range of species. Learn more at

Media contact: Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS