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. To learn more about the ear cropping procedure in dogs, go to Ear Cropping for Dogs.
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.