There are many things to carefully consider before choosing the Doberman as the breed for you. With the right person, a Doberman will make a loving member of the household where he/she can be a wonderful pal and protector for children as well as an obedient companion and loyal friend.
Owning a Doberman, or any dog, requires a lengthy time commitment. A dog is for life, not just until it is inconvenient. Dobermans have been labeled as Velcro dogs for a reason. They want your attention, and will do whatever it takes to get it, regardless of what you are doing. Dobes want to be near you all the time. For the most part, you can forget about even going to the bathroom alone. If you are looking for an outdoor pet, do not consider a Doberman. A Doberman wants to be a member of your family. He will not be satisfied with an occasional pat and kind word.
Dobermans require firm, yet loving training and guidance. Obedience training is a must. Dobermans are too smart to be permitted to misbehave. To own a Doberman you must be one step tougher and smarter than your pet. Do not think that tough means harsh or abusive. Harsh owners need to look for another breed because Dobes are very sensitive and will not deal well with rough treatment. Abusive treatment will quickly result in a Doberman with a broken spirit and, quite often, aggressive temperament.
Exercise is vital to a Doberman. However, they should not be permitted to run loose. Dobes are generally very active dogs that need something to do. Keeping our pets mentally stimulated is always a challenge. Many Dobermans excel at obedience and agility competition.
Do dogs have inherited diseases? Over 350 inherited diseases have been recognized in dogs. Many are restricted to particular breeds but others such as hip dysplasia occur in a wide range of breeds. The different types of diseases can affect almost every part of the dog’s body including eyes, heart, skeleton, liver and skin.
The genes responsible for inherited disease are found in the complex DNA molecule which is the genetic blueprint for every individual. Over the last five to ten years scientists have begun to identify individual genes and DNA-based technology has been developed to test animals for the presence of disease-causing genes. At the moment there are only a few tests available, but tests for many more of the common inherited disorders will become available in the future.
Some of the underlying health conditions and genetic problems that can appear in the Doberman are described below.
CARDIOMYOPATHY is a genetically predisposed disease of the heart muscle. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the term for advanced cardiomypathy with a failing heart muscle. In essence, it is the inability of the heart muscle to contract normally. The best way to identify this condition is with an ultrasound of the heart. The genetic mutation believed to cause this disease was identified in 2010 and DNA testing is now available. Although the gene can be recognized in a particular dog, there is no guarantee that it will develop the disease.
HYPOTHYROIDISM is a fairly common problem and means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones to adequately maintain the dog’s metabolism. It is easily treated with thyroid replacement pills on a daily basis. Thyroid testing (T3, T4, TSH and autoantibodies) can be performed by your vet.
vWd (VON WILLEBRAND’S DISEASE) is an autosomally (not sex linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. When dogs are tested through the Elisa assay blood test for vWD, they are tested for carrier status only, NOT the disease. It is believed that Elisa test can be inaccurate if a dog is ill, received any medication or vaccination within 14 days of testing, pregnant, or is a bitch in heat or lactating. Stress conditions (infections, parasites, hormonal changes, trauma, surgery, emotional upset, etc.) may have an effect on the outcome of the vWD blood test and might be a contributing factor for bleeding tendencies. vWD carrier status is quite common in Dobermans. A DNA test for vWD is now available and the results are not affected by stress conditions, etc.
WOBBLER’S SYNDROME (Cervical Vertebral Instability) can also occur in Dobermans. In this disease, the vertebrae in the neck (usually the base) become unstable and move around, pinching the spinal cord. Wobbler’s rarely strikes young dogs, and can cause pain and/or paralysis. Surgical therapy is hotly debated and in some surgically treated cases, clinical recurrence has been identified.
CANCER does not have a genetic test nor do we know the mode of inheritance but some of our Dobermans will get cancer during their lives. This is a cause of grief for many owners and causes the early deaths of far too many of our beloved animals. If you find your Doberman is limping, has a growth, a wound that won’t heal or any unusual sign, the sooner you get to the vet’s office to be examined the better. Some owners choose to pursue aggressive chemotherapy for their Doberman. Others pursue herbal treatments. Early detection will, of course, help your odds as you and your veterinarian decide which course to choose. Many Veterinary teaching hospitals have cancer treatment programs.
HIP DYSPLASIA is not as huge a problem in Dobermans as some other breeds. Reputable breeders have done a good job of testing and decreasing the numbers of Dobermans with hip dysplasia. However, it is still a concern. It may vary from slightly poor conformation to malformation of the hip joint allowing complete luxation of the femoral head.
DANCING DOBERMAN DISEASE (DDD) can mimic many other conditions such as lumbosacral disc disease, cervical vertebral instability (CVI), inflammation of the spinal cord, spinal arthritis, cauda equina syndrome, some nervous system maladies, and spinal tumors. It is likely the condition is more prevalent than previously recognized because there is a general lack of awareness on the part of veterinarians and breeders, and therefore, the condition is often overlooked as a diagnosis.
The Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Ettinger and Feldman, 4th Edition, contains a description of this disease if you want to look it up at your library, or ask your veterinarian about it. A simple description would be that of a progressive disease, usually presenting with a holding up of one rear leg while standing. The age at onset can be anywhere from 4 months to 10 years. Both males and females are affected. Most affected dogs have normal findings on other tests, including blood counts, biochemistry, x-ray, and thyroid function. Over several months the condition progresses with a wasting of rear leg muscles, and a more constant shifting of weight on the rear legs to resemble a dog “dancing”, hence the name “Dancing Doberman Disease”. Frequently these dogs will knuckle over with their rear paws and ultimately prefer to sit or lie down rather than stand. The dogs show no sign of pain and are perfectly capable of running in the yard, chasing a ball or a squirrel, etc. Generally they live out their lives comfortably as pets although the condition is progressive, incurable, and at present, untreatable. It must be considered a genetic disease because it has never been reported in any mammal, let alone any dog breed other than the Doberman Pinscher.
Just because most breeders and many veterinarians are unaware of DDD doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Although it may not be widespread at this time, it represents a diagnostic conundrum because its symptoms are easily confused with other diseases stated above. Recognition that there is a condition known as DDD is important so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Accurate diagnosis of any disease is the key to treatment and prognosis and can only be made if there is an awareness of all possibilities.
Dr. Jan Steiss, in a grant funded by Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Doberman Pinscher Foundation of America, has completed the most recent research on DDD. She is preparing a manuscript for veterinary publication and, when available, information will be updated on the DPFA web site. http://www.dpfa.org/DancingDobeDis.html Dr. Jan Steiss is no longer withAuburnUniversity.
MORE ABOUT DANCING DOBERMAN DISEASE:
COLOR MUTANT ALOPECIA (Blue Doberman Syndrome) is a hereditary disease of the skin, seen most often in fawn and blue coated Doberman Pinschers, but occasionally seen in blue Great Danes, blueNewfoundlands, Chow Chows, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds.
Puppies are born with normal hair and skin, but at an early age (as early as 4 months old), the dog’s skin becomes rough and scaly, the coat becomes dry, brittle, thin, and looks “moth eaten”, and acne-type pustules appear on the skin. Some dogs do not exhibit these symptoms until several years old.
Treatment: There is no cure, so any treatment is aimed at relieving the skin conditions and keeping the dog comfortable. Specially formulated homemade diets and warm water/peroxide baths can be helpful. Due to the hereditary nature of this disease, affected dogs should not be used in a breeding program.
ALBINISM In the mid 1970′s, there occurred a spontaneous MUTATION in a litter sired by RASPUTIN VI and the dam DYNAMO HUMM—this was a “WHITE APPEARING” female that was eventually registered by the AKC as a “white”, named PADULA’S QUEEN SHEBA.Shebawas the first “Albino” Doberman ever registered by the AKC. Testing onSheba’s hair and test breedings withSheba’s offspring have proven that she is “A TYROSINE POSITIVE ALBINO” and NOT WHITE at all. The AKC erroneously registered her as such. A “WHITE” dog has dark eyes, skin, nose and dark pigment. The “ALBINO” has pink skin, nose, blue eyes (or light yellow in a few specimens). The Albinos have “photosensitivity” to sunlight. They have problems related to sight due to this problem. This can be reflected in temperament or insecurity problems. The DPCA has the warning and recommendation that these Dobermans with blue eyes, pink skin, nose and pads, are “ALBINO’S” and should NOT BE BRED, and the trait not be proliferated or propagated. Albino is a “Deleterious Genetic Mutation” and carries with it many traits that are harmful and not conducive to proper Doberman temperament and health. REMEMBER—ALBINO is not a color—it is a GENETIC CONDITION that is not now, or ever has been in the past—including back to the formational years when the breed was being developed by Louis Dobermann—something that is desirable, sought after or considered good for a Doberman guard or personal protection dog. There are breeders that seek to “make money” and “exploit” the Doberman by telling the “PUBLIC” that the Albino is “RARE” and WORTH MORE THAN NORMAL COLORED DOBERMANS. Please study information about the Albino Doberman, before you make an uninformed choice and possibly a mistake in choosing an Albino. The DPCA’s position on the ALBINO is that it should not be bred, promoted or propagated and should be given Limited Registration.