Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs: Understanding the Mild Inherited Bleeding Disorder

Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is a mild inherited bleeding disorder that affects dogs, as well as humans. It is caused by a partial deficiency of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a protein essential for blood clotting. Dogs with Type 1 VWD have reduced vWF levels, leading to mild bleeding tendencies that can be challenging to detect without specific diagnostic tests. In this in-depth article, we explore Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease in relation to dogs, shedding light on its significance and the measures necessary to support the affected canine breeds.

Understanding Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand factor is a glycoprotein that plays a crucial role in blood clotting. It helps platelets adhere to the site of a blood vessel injury and form a stable clot, preventing excessive bleeding. In Type 1 VWD, dogs have a reduced quantity of vWF, which results in a milder bleeding disorder compared to other types of VWD.

Genetic Basis of Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease

Type 1 VWD is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, meaning that a dog must inherit the mutated gene from both parents to express the disorder. Dogs carrying one copy of the mutated gene (carriers) do not exhibit symptoms but can pass the gene to their offspring.

Symptoms of Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease

The symptoms of Type 1 VWD in dogs can be mild and vary depending on the individual and the degree of vWF deficiency. Common signs include:

  1. Prolonged Bleeding: Dogs may experience prolonged bleeding from minor injuries, surgeries, or dental procedures.
  2. Easy Bruising: Unexplained bruising or petechiae (small red or purple spots) on the skin may occur.
  3. Bleeding from the Gums or Nose: Spontaneous bleeding from the gums or nose may be observed.

Diagnosing Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease

Diagnosing Type 1 VWD in dogs can be challenging based solely on clinical signs. Specific diagnostic tests are necessary to confirm the disorder. These may include:

  1. Von Willebrand Factor Assay: A laboratory test that measures vWF levels in the blood.
  2. Buccal Mucosal Bleeding Time (BMBT): A test that evaluates how long it takes for a small cut on the gum to stop bleeding.
  3. Genetic Testing: Genetic testing can identify carriers of the mutated gene and guide breeding decisions.

Treatment and Management

While there is no cure for Type 1 VWD, management strategies aim to control bleeding tendencies and improve the dog’s quality of life. Treatment options may include:

  1. Avoidance of Certain Medications: Dogs with Type 1 VWD should avoid certain medications that can interfere with blood clotting.
  2. Blood Transfusions: In cases of severe bleeding or surgery, blood transfusions may be necessary to replace clotting factors.
  3. Preventive Measures: Preventing injuries and avoiding activities that may lead to bleeding are essential for managing Type 1 VWD.

Breeding Considerations

Responsible breeding practices are crucial to reduce the prevalence of Type 1 VWD in certain canine breeds. Genetic testing can identify carriers and help prevent the transmission of the mutated gene to offspring.


Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease is a mild inherited bleeding disorder that affects certain canine breeds. Understanding the genetic basis, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and management strategies is essential for dog owners and veterinarians to provide the best care and support for their affected furry friends. Early detection, responsible breeding practices, and appropriate management can contribute to improving the quality of life for dogs with Type 1 VWD and potentially reduce its occurrence in susceptible breeds. By promoting awareness and taking preventive measures, we can ensure that dogs with Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease lead happy, healthy lives as cherished members of our families.