Everything Your Family Needs to Know About the Doberman Breed
If you’re thinking about getting a Doberman pinscher, here’s what you and your family should know about the Doberman breed. Officially recognized in 1900, the Doberman is a relatively new breed. Developed in Germany, the Doberman breed was imported to the United States. By 1921, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded and the dog quickly gained popularity as a working breed. The Doberman was originally developed as a fiercely protective guard dog, but its temperament has been toned down to be a loyal, loving and devoted, yet still protective, family pet. On average, the Doberman breed has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years and is one of the smartest of all dogs.
Although the Doberman breed has a reputation as an attack dog, he is also considered a loving and loyal companion. A good Doberman is a stable and friendly dog, but all of that changes if you threaten his family.
Is Doberman Ear Cropping Necessary?
The adult Doberman pinscher stands 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 60 to 100 pounds. The Doberman has a wedge-shaped head and the ears may or may not be cropped. Uncropped ears naturally hang and the tail is docked.
Doberman ear cropping is very common. Ear cropping is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the dog’s ear is removed, producing ears that stand erect. The procedure is most often performed on Doberman puppies at around 8 to 12 weeks of age. The ears are then taped to a hard surface for several weeks while they heal. This is done so that the ears will stay upright.
Ear cropping is an elective surgery for dogs. It’s a choice. It has no known health benefit and is done solely at the dog owner’s preference. Ear cropping in the Doberman breed has long been routinely done to achieve a certain appearance. And while this routine procedure is not banned or regulated in the United States, it is becoming more controversial. Some states are considering legislation to ban ear cropping, but they have not yet done so.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that ear cropping is “integral to defining and preserving breed character” in certain breeds like the Doberman pinscher, but the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes ear cropping in dogs. Because the procedure is purely cosmetic, they believe it poses unnecessary risks to the dog.
Ear cropping is becoming less common. Less veterinarians are willing to perform the surgery, and dog owners are becoming more aware of the controversial nature of the surgical procedure. If your Doberman competes, you should know that the AKC says dogs without docked tails or cropped ears are just as likely to win at dog shows.
To learn more about ear cropping in the Doberman breed, go to Is Doberman Ear Cropping Necessary?
What You Need to Know About the Doberman Breed’s Health History
One of the most serious breed-related health problems in the Doberman breed is cardiomyopathy, which causes an enlarged heart. The diseased heart muscles become enlarged and weak, making it harder and harder for the heart to pump blood. Eventually affected dogs die from heart failure. Early signs of the disease might include depression, coughing, exercise intolerance, weakness, respiratory distress, decreased appetite and even fainting. However, many dogs with this condition are asymptomatic. To help catch this condition early, you should have your dog examined every year. No dog with cardiomyopathy should ever be bred.
Cervical vertebral instability (CVI), commonly known as Wobbler’s disease, is another breed-related condition affecting the Doberman breed. In this condition, the vertebrae in the neck are malformed. This puts pressure on the spinal cord, which leads to weakness in the hindquarters and a wobbly gait. Sometimes complete paralysis results.
Here’s what you need to know about Doberman health. In general, the Doberman is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:
- Wobbler’s disease is a malformation of the bones in the neck resulting in neck pain and a characteristic wobbly gait.
- Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
- Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that results in a large, thin walled heart muscle.
- Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.
- Von Willebrand’s disease is a disorder that results in the inability to clot blood. Affected animals will bleed extensively following trauma or surgery.
- Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.
- Cutaneous Histiocytoma – is a benign tumor of the skin that can affect young dogs.
- Lipomas are benign fatty tumors of the subcutaneous tissue.
- Fibrosarcoma is a type of cancer that arises from the fibrous connective tissues.
- Alopecia is a disorder resulting in a loss of hair.
- Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
- Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
- Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
- Lick granuloma is a condition in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed.
- Parvovirus is a devastating gastrointestinal virus that primarily affects unvaccinated puppies.
- Chronic hepatitis is a chronic and progressive inflammation of the liver of dogs that leads eventually to the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue.
- Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a malformation of the blood flow associated with the liver. Blood is shunted away from the liver, resulting in accumulation of blood toxins and subsequent profound illness.
- Drug reaction to a group of drugs called “sulphonamides” may cause skin reactions and polyarthritis in this breed.
- In addition, the Doberman is prone to acne, osteosarcoma and elbow dysplasia.
To increase the chances that you will be getting a healthy puppy, choose a reputable breeder. Careful breeders screen their dogs for genetic diseases and breed only the best specimens. Still, there are no guarantees that the puppy will not develop one of these conditions despite good breeding practices.
To learn more about Doberman health, go to What You Need to Know About the Doberman Breed’s Health History.
What Are Doberman Pinschers Like with Kids?
Have you been thinking about a Doberman pinscher with kids? The Doberman loves human companionship but is not the best breed for small children. Despite being loyal and protective, if improperly bred or raised, the breed can be mean or aggressive. The Doberman is intelligent but can be domineering and is not the best breed for the first time dog owner.
When it comes to a Doberman pinscher with kids, there are many pros and cons to consider. For instance, Dobermans are no longer the vicious, aggressive dogs we see on TV. Many of these characteristics have been bred out of the breed, giving you a dog that is very loving, playful and affectionate – as long as you take the time to train your dog that way.
Some say that Dobermans are great with kids as long as they are raised together. As long as the dog is well trained and the children have been taught to respect the dog, everyone should be able to get along together. However, there are those who say that a Doberman is not a suitable family dog with small children. A Doberman puppy is very playful and rambunctious, and may not understand that small children can get hurt with this behavior. Also, children may play a little too roughly with a Doberman puppy, causing the dog to lash out at the child. Another problem area may be when your children’s friends come over to visit. If your Doberman observes rough play between them, they are naturally protective and may attack your child’s friend.
To learn more about Dobermans and kids, go to What Are Doberman Pinschers Like with Kids?
The Doberman Temperament: Here’s What to Expect
Doberman temperament has changed over the years. The Doberman pinscher was developed as the ideal guard dog and companion. The original Dobermans were more aggressive than the dog of today. Now, the Doberman is friendlier, but is still a good watchdog. With proper socialization, the Doberman pinscher is affectionate and loyal and will guard his master to the bitter end.
It could be that the Doberman pinscher is simply too much for the average household. This is a very athletic dog that needs brisk walking every day and a good run as often as possible. Mental exercise is also very important. With a Doberman, too little exercise and too little companionship can lead to restlessness and behavior problems.
Before getting a Doberman pinscher you must consider Doberman temperament. Most Doberman pinschers are reserved with strangers and very protective of their family. Some Dobermans are dominant with other dogs and may not be the best companions for cats. Early and extensive training is a must. You must show consistent leadership with a Doberman. To learn more about the Doberman temperament, go to The Doberman Temperament: Here’s What to Expect.
A Doberman may not be the right dog for you if you cannot provide enough exercise and activities to keep him satisfied. You must be willing to put in the time to train and socialize your Doberman so that he will not be aggressive. Another consideration with this breed is potential legal liabilities. You may experience an increased chance of lawsuits and may not be able to secure homeowners insurance if you own this breed.
To learn more about the Doberman breed, go to Choosing a Doberman Pinscher.