Athletic heart syndrome in dogs competing in a long-distance sled race

P. D. Constable, K. W. Hinchcliff, J. Olson, R. L. Hamlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cardiac effects of endurance training were evaluated by cardiac auscultation and electrocardiographic examination of 48 heavily trained sled dogs (3,000-5,000 km of training), 18 lightly trained sled dogs (300-800 km of training), 19 untrained sled dogs, and 14 mongrel dogs. A grade I-II/VI early- to midsystolic cardiac murmur was auscultated with increasing frequency as training level increased. The QRS duration (66.1 ± 7.4 ms) and QT interval (236 ± 20 ms) were significantly (P < 0.05) longer in heavily trained sled dogs than in mongrel dogs (QRS, 60.6 ± 4.6; QT, 219 ± 11 ms). A long QT interval (>250 ms) was observed in 8 (16.7%) heavily trained dogs but not in the other groups. A significant rightward shift in the mean electrical axis of ventricular depolarization in the frontal plane was observed in heavily trained sled dogs. The auscultatory and electrocardiographic findings in heavily trained sled dogs were remarkably similar to those reported in elite human endurance athletes, suggesting that endurance-trained sled dogs provide a naturally occurring model for the athletic heart syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994


  • QT interval
  • auscultation
  • cardiac hypertrophy
  • cardiac murmur
  • electrocardiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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