Dear Daisy Dog
Our great Dane bloated and, during emergency surgery, he died. When we search for a new puppy, are there any physical characteristics to look for that might indicate a decreased (or increased) risk of bloat?
Yes, starting with the breed.
Dogs predisposed to bloat and twisting of the air-filled stomach, called gastric dilatation/volvulus (GDV), are usually large- or giant-breed dogs.
An epidemiological study determined that great Danes bloat more often than other breeds. Also at high risk are bloodhounds, Irish wolfhounds, Irish setters, Akitas, standard poodles, German shepherds and boxers.
Dogs at greatest risk for GDV have deep, narrow chests, so look for a puppy whose parents have relatively short, wide chests. Measure chest depth and width if you want to compare dogs.
In addition, your pup’s risk of GDV is lower if his relatives haven’t bloated. Don’t hesitate to ask. If a breeder isn’t open with this information, look elsewhere.
Researchers also learned that dogs who bloat are more likely to have nervous or aggressive personalities, so look for a mellow puppy.
Finally, the study demonstrated that most dogs who develop GDV are lean, fast eaters who ingest a single large daily meal of dry food.