One of the most serious breed-related health problems in the Doberman breed is cardiomyopathy, which causes an enlarged heart. Dobermans suffer from cardiomyopathy more than any other dog breed. 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, however, a puppy of two parents without the disease can still develop it.
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. In dogs that are not severely affected, symptoms can be managed to a certain extent, and some dogs may experience some relief from surgery. Sometimes complete paralysis results.
Top Conditions and Diseases for Dobermans
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.
Choosing a Doberman Puppy
To increase the chances that you will be getting a healthy puppy, choose a reputable breeder. Start your search for a good breeder at the Doberman Pinscher Club of America website. Locate a breeder who has agreed to abide by its Code of Ethics. Get your puppy from a breeder who has DPCA Working Aptitude certification for his parents.
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.
You may also want to consider getting an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group since many Doberman health defects can hide until maturity.
Take your puppy or adult Doberman to the veterinarian soon after you adopt. Your vet will be able to spot signs of potential problems and to help you set up a regimen to help avoid many health risks.
To learn more about the Doberman pinscher breed go to Everything Your Family Needs to Know About the Doberman Breed.