World’s Tallest Dog Helps Promote Heart Disease Test

Gibson is a great Dane owned by Sandy Hall, a breeder from Grass Valley, Calif.

Veterinary Diagnostics Institute of Irvine, Calif., has teamed up with the Guinness World Record’s tallest living dog to promote a new blood test designed to help diagnose heart disease or heart failure in dogs.

Gibson is a great Dane owned by Sandy Hall, a breeder from Grass Valley, Calif.

“Great Danes are among those breeds of dog commonly affected by heart disease,” says Steven R. Ness, president and chief operating officer of Veterinary Diagnostics Institute, also known as VDxI.

“In fact, about 15 percent of dogs have some form of heart disease, often with no noticeable signs.”

Ness says some dogs with heart disease are asymptomatic and others may exhibit signs that may be mistaken for other health problems.

“Some signs include cough, lethargy and difficulty breathing,” Ness says.

The company is promoting its new Canine CardioCare blood test that measures brain natriuretic peptide levels, or NT-proBNP. These levels flag potential cardiovascular disease and help veterinarians create diagnostic protocols to diagnose various diseases of the canine heart.

Veterinarians interested in testing a patient’s NT-proBNP levels can visit VDxI’s website to sign up as a client. VDxI then sends a complete supply kit for collecting and submitting serum or plasma samples to the company’s laboratory in Irvine. The total cost to veterinarians is $45, which includes shipping and handling.

The company will also offer testing for cats in January and horses near the end of 2007, Ness says.

Plans for a rapid point-of-care test for in-clinic use are in the works, too. Dog and cat versions are scheduled for release in June, Ness says.

Ness says that partnering with Gibson to educate the public about canine cardiovascular disease is a perfect fit.

“Gibson is the poster child for heart disease prevention,” Ness says.

At just over 42 inches high, Gibson, a 4 1/2-year-old harlequin great Dane, holds the Guinness World Record’s title as the world’s tallest living dog. Hall, Gibson’s owner, says Gibson’s size began catching people’s attention early on.

“After people kept commenting on how large he was at just over 1 year old, I became curious about how big the tallest dog really was,” she says. “I looked it up on the Guinness World Record website and decided to keep an eye on how big Gibson might be once he was full-grown.”

In August 2004, Guinness World Record representatives verified him as the new title holder.

Gibson was one special puppy in a litter of 12 reared by Hall in her breeding facility, Great Danes Exclusive, which has been open since the 1980s. Hall, a professional musician for 32 years, named the dog after her favorite jazz guitar, a Gibson.

Weighing in at 170 pounds, Gibson boasts the personality typical of any well-mannered, well-trained Dane–happy-go-lucky.

“He would pretty much go home with anyone,” Hall says. “He’s just that friendly.”

Aside from romping with his dog family of two Dane sisters and one Dane niece at home in Grass Valley, Gibson also shines bright during his countless press junkets, interviews and television appearances on shows such as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” among others.

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