Shiloh Shepherd Breeders endeavor to breed the healthiest dogs possible.  Healthy Hearts are part of that goal. There are two parts to testing… 1) Holtering – this tests the electrical system of the heart, and 2) Cardiologist Echos – this helps rule out structural defects of the heart. 
Have you holtered a puppy? Submit your results [HERE] to help compile data for the breed. Help us better understand how GSD IVA is affecting the Shiloh Shepherd.

GSD Inherited Ventricular Arrhythmias (GSD/IVA)


GSDIVA is an inherited electrical issue within the heart that is found in GSDs and Shilohs. It can cause sudden death in young dogs and has no outward or obvious symptoms. IVA (Inherited Ventricular Arrhythmia) itself is an excess of single early beats and does not typically threaten the life of a dog. When these irregular beats occur in pairs or runs the resulting condition is known as VT (Ventricular Tachycardia), this is what causes sudden death. These conditions are typically outgrown by age 2 and can be treated with medication if diagnosed.


A 24-Hour Holter Monitor test is required to diagnose these conditions. Because the arrhythmia may not occur all the time it is easily missed with typical Ausculation and Echo-cardiograms. With this test a small patch is shaved on each side of the dogs chest and electrodes are attached. The monitor is secured in place with a vest that is similar to a thunder shirt. Results are downloaded to a company that interprets them and provides a report to the owner. The monitor is easy to use and can be connected by the Shiloh owner or their vet. YouTube videos are available.


All dogs under the age of 1 should be tested, especially breeding dogs. This condition can go unnoticed for generations and then strike suddenly. While there are certain lines where we may see a greater prevalence than others, none should be considered clear until tested.


With thorough testing of all breeding dogs and their littermates, this deadly condition could be eradicated from the breed.


Between 4 to 9 months is recommended, 7 to 9 months is optimal. The onset of GSDIVA occurs around 14 weeks of age and seems to peak around 9 months. It is important to test early as to avoid cases of sudden death. All testing should occur prior to 12 months as it is usually outgrown by then if not sooner.

If you have a potential breeding dog over the age of 2, it’s still not a bad idea to test. While the test will not rule out if your dog had GSD/IVA and outgrown it, it will rule out whether or not it is still there.


You can obtain a holter monitor from various sources including ALBA Medical, Veterinary teaching hospitals, ISSDC Chapters or from breeders who have purchased them. The local chapters and breeders are the most affordable options.

  • ISSDC |
    contact Stacey Andres, for more information and cost
  • ISSDC Mid-Atlantic Region |
    contact Avril Williams, for more information and cost
  • North Carolina State University
    Vest is overnighted to you with instructions for placing the monitor. Cost is $110.00 including interpretation and $60.00 for each additional dog done at the same time.
  • Pet
    Cost is $125.00 including interpretation. Owner may apply the monitor.
  • PNW Shiloh Shepherd Health Initiative
    Estimated cost approximately $48.00; options available for multiple dogs within the same geographic area.
  • TSSR The Shiloh Shepherd Registry |
    Rental fee: $25US for the first dog + $5US each additional dog tested at the same time; Shipping fees (round trip) are not included and are the responsibility of the renter; Renter is responsible for all Alba testing fees incurred
  • Washington State University
    Cost is $275.00. Owner may place the monitor.
    (including shipping, analysis and cardiologist interpretation with report)

Interested in buying a holter? visit ALBA Medical’s online store [HERE]

Alba Recommendations v.1/3/2017

The following is provided on an informational basis only; a discussion with your breeder is recommended and encouraged. As holter testing for GSD/IVA in Shilohs is fairly new, this information may change as new information is discovered.

Recommendations per Dr. Carl Sammarco, Alba Medical, on January 3, 2017

Age to Holter:

  • 4M – optional in an effort to save puppies from early demise
    if choosing this option, a repeat holter at 7-9M would be recommended
  • 7-9M – recommended age to holter; especially breeding dogs
    Ideally, if only doing one holter screening, the 7-9M age would be recommended


  • >100 single PVCs may be considered abnormal
  • >50 VPC’s, but pairs, triplets or runs present, then abnormal
  • >50 with NO pairs, triplets or runs, equivocal, may ask to repeat before older than 9M
  • <50 VPC’s with pairs, triplets or runs is equivocal, may ask to repeat before older than 9M
  • <50 VPC’s is normal

A flyer summarizing why we holter test. Free download [HERE]
Lecture presented by Dr. Carl Sammarco at the ISSDC International Event Weekend (IEW), September 2015. Free download [HERE]

What is VT? and How Does it Relate to GSDIVA & SAS

VT .:. Ventricular tachycardia occurs due to a problem with the heart’s electrical impulses. Ventricular tachycardia is a pulse of more than 100 beats per minute with at least three irregular heartbeats in a row. It is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system. Your heart rate is controlled by electrical impulses that trigger each contraction and determine the rhythm of the heart.

Shiloh Shepherds have at least two disorders in which VT can present:

  • GSD/IVA as detailed above (diagnosed via holter testing), and
  • SAS (Subaortic stenosis) which is a narrowing (stenosis) of the area underneath, the aortic valve, that causes some degree of obstruction or blockage of the blood flow through the heart. The narrowing can be mild, moderate, or severe; if moderate or severe, it can force the heart to work harder and potentially be harmful to the heart’s health. (diagnosed via cardiac echo)  [read more]


  • Not ALL cases of SAS cause arrhythmia (VT)
  • You CANNOT rule out SAS from a passing holter
  • Failing holters SHOULD be followed up with a cardiac echo to rule out SAS