Platelet-Type Von Willebrand Disease (VWD): Understanding the Unique Clotting Disorder

Platelet-Type Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is a rare clotting disorder in dogs, characterized by abnormalities in platelet function. Unlike the more common forms of VWD that affect von Willebrand Factor, this type primarily impacts platelet function, leading to bleeding tendencies. In this in-depth article, we delve into the unique features of Platelet-Type Von Willebrand Disease in dogs, understanding its diagnosis, management, and implications for canine health.

Understanding Platelet-Type Von Willebrand Disease

Platelet-Type VWD is a hereditary bleeding disorder that primarily affects platelet function, leading to impaired clot formation.

Genetic Basis

  1. Inherited Autosomal Trait: Platelet-Type VWD is passed down from a dog’s parents, typically following an autosomal recessive pattern.
  2. Mutation in GPIb Receptor: The disorder is caused by a mutation in the gene encoding the GPIb receptor on the platelet surface.

Platelet Dysfunction

  1. GPIb Deficiency: The mutation results in reduced or dysfunctional GPIb receptors, which are crucial for platelet adhesion and clot formation.
  2. Impaired Aggregation: Platelets fail to aggregate effectively, leading to difficulty in forming stable clots at the site of injury.

Clinical Presentation

  1. Bleeding Tendencies: Dogs with Platelet-Type VWD may experience spontaneous bleeding, prolonged bleeding from wounds, or excessive bleeding during surgeries.
  2. Gingival Bleeding: Bleeding from the gums (gingiva) is a common presentation in affected dogs.

Diagnosis of Platelet-Type VWD

  1. Clinical Evaluation: History of bleeding tendencies and clinical signs are crucial in suspecting the disorder.
  2. Specialized Tests: Specific coagulation tests, including Platelet Aggregometry and genetic testing, aid in confirming the diagnosis.

Management and Treatment

  1. Preventive Measures: Avoiding activities that may cause injuries and traumas can minimize bleeding risks.
  2. Medication: Some dogs may benefit from medications that support platelet function, although efficacy may vary.

Genetic Counseling and Breeding Considerations

  1. Breeding Risks: Carrier dogs (heterozygous for the mutation) may not show clinical signs but can pass the disorder to their offspring.
  2. Genetic Testing: Genetic testing allows for informed breeding decisions to reduce the prevalence of Platelet-Type VWD.

Canine Health Implications

  1. Quality of Life: With appropriate management, affected dogs can lead a good quality of life.
  2. Challenges in Diagnosis: The rarity of Platelet-Type VWD can pose challenges in diagnosis, necessitating specialized testing.


Platelet-Type Von Willebrand Disease is a rare clotting disorder in dogs, characterized by abnormalities in platelet function. Understanding the unique features of this condition, its diagnosis, and management is essential for providing tailored care and support to canine companions affected by this rare bleeding disorder. Genetic testing and informed breeding decisions play a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of Platelet-Type VWD and promoting the overall well-being of our beloved canine friends.