Doberman Pincher is one the most popular breeds in the
world. The breed was at one time highly employed as a guard and
police dog. Some of the aggressive tendencies have been bred
out of the Doberman in more recent years to make it a well
tempered companion dog. This breed of dog, more commonly than
any other breed, is affected by a weakening of the heart called
dilated cardiomyopathy. Along with other large working dogs,
the Doberman is also prone to Wobbler’s Syndrome. The lifespan
of the Doberman Pinscher is 10 to 12 years.
Primary Health Conditions of the Doberman Pinscher
Nearly 40% of the diagnosed cases of cardiomyopathy are
diagnosed in the Doberman Pinscher. This terminal disease
causes weakening and enlarging of the heart. Breeders attempt
to limit its impact, but it is still common. The Doberman
Pinscher is also subject to Wobbler’s Syndrome, a malformation
of the neck vertebrae causing an uncoordinated gate. Steroids,
neck braces, and surgery are options, although many affected
dogs can live well without treatment, despite looking a bit
silly when they move around. The Doberman is also at risk for
von Willenbrand’s disease, a condition that impairs blood
clotting. Those considering a Doberman should seek a breeder
who does not mate dogs with the condition.
Secondary Health Conditions of the Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher can be prone to gastric torsion, in which the stomach
bloats with gas and becomes twisted. Dogs experiencing this
condition experience a great deal of pain and an emergency trip
to the veterinarian is mandated. Many breeds of dogs suffer
from hip dysplasia, and the
Doberman is no exception. In this condition, the bones of the
hip and the hind legs do not properly meet, causing discomfort
or pain in the dog, and for which surgery and weight control
are common treatments.
Doberman Pinscher Exercise and Walking Needs
The Doberman Pinscher was bred for work and endurance and as
such has high exercise needs. Walks are usually insufficient.
The Doberman needs room to run freely. This dog will also enjoy
long games of fetch and ball play and can go on long runs with
its owner. The loyal and intelligent Doberman Pinscher is not
known to run off, and so can be given a good deal of latitude
Doberman Pinscher Nutritional Needs
The high energy of the Doberman Pinscher gives this dog a
hearty appetite. Its muscle mass requires a high protein diet
to give it the energy it needs to romp and run. This is not to
say, however, that the Doberman cannot be overfed or that it is
not prone to being overweight. Dobermans whose activity levels
are low due to advancing age or time constraints on its owner
should be fed less, should the dog’s weight begin to rise.
Veterinarians should always be consulted when changes to
diet are in question.
Doberman Pinscher Behavior
Pinscher breed was developed by a late 19th century
German tax collector who wanted a loyal, intelligent traveling
companion who would look intimidating and protect him if
necessary. Those traits are seen today in modern Dobermans.
These intelligent, energetic dogs need owners who can provide
plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, proper socialization
and solid training to
bring out this breed's best traits and prevent the development
of behavioral and aggression problems.
Dobermans are devoted family dogs. They need to be in their
owners' homes and included in their activities. A young
Doberman kept outdoors and isolated from family activities
will develop into an adult dog who distrusts people and
exhibits fear-based aggression. It is important
to socialize your
Doberman properly, so that your dog is confident and knows
how to behave around unfamiliar people and dogs. Take your
Doberman along when you go outside your house. Ensure that
the dog's experiences with meeting people are positive.
Give your dog treats to reinforce those positive feelings.
Dobermans generally get along well with other animals and
children, but they can be impatient with young children who
bother them with unwanted attention. Keep visits with
children positive, and always supervise. Teach all children
who visit not to bother or tease your dog.
Doberman pinschers are active, athletic dogs. Because they
are bred to work as guard dogs, police and military dogs,
or in fields such as search and rescue, Dobermans need
activities that engage them both physically and mentally.
Dobermans without something to do are easily bored. Engage
your dog in a variety of activities and games, such as
fetch or hide-and-seek. Use games to teach your dog basic
obedience commands, and vary the training to keep your
dog's attention focused. It's a good idea to join local dog
training classes or a dog training club where you can both
train and socialize your Doberman.
A Doberman pinscher left alone at home will suffer
separation anxiety and boredom. Given the run of your
house, an anxious, lonely Doberman is likely to find some
comfort in chewing your furniture and belongings. It is
important to create a safe and secure place for your
Doberman to stay during times when you must be away. It is
a good idea when you first introduce a Doberman puppy to
your household to place a large, comfortable dog crate in
your bedroom, where your puppy can sleep near you at night
during the important bonding time. This crate then serves
various functions, providing a familiar, comfortable
den-like refuge for your dog, as well as an aid in
housebreaking and a place where your Doberman can safely
stay and feel secure when you have to be away for a time.
Be aware of your dog's needs, such as water and the need to
potty, so that the crate is never associated with
discomfort. Never use the crate as a punishment. If your
Doberman must be alone for several hours, have a dog walker
visit at intervals to take your dog out for some exercise.
Some Doberman pinschers exhibit behaviors that can result
in self-inflicted injuries, such as obsessively sucking and
licking a chosen spot on a leg. This anxiety-related
behavior creates a condition called acral lick dermatitis,
or lick granuloma, which are open sores that can become
infected. Causes of such behavior may include separation
anxiety, lack of socialization, lack of proper exercise or
If your Doberman exhibits such behavior, discuss possible
causes with your veterinarian and inquire about
anti-anxiety medications that could help your dog.
Medication can provide some relief to the dog's stress
while you make changes to your Doberman's environment.
Increase the dog's exercise and activities. Provide your
dog with lots of interesting toys to play with to help
prevent or end obsessive behaviors.
Because of the Doberman's intimidating size and some
incidents involving aggression, Dobermans are banned in
some cities, according to the American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Dobermans should be bold
and intelligent, but not aggressive. The American Kennel
Club names shyness and viciousness toward people or other
animals as serious faults that will disqualify a Doberman
from AKC events . Exposure to other people and animals
through obedience training classes helps to prevent issues
with both aggression and dominance. In training or dealing
with your Doberman, never use negative training methods
such as harsh corrections or yelling to teach your dog.
Dobermans don't react well to such methods, and they can
actually cause your dog to become aggressive with people.
Use positive methods such as praise and treats to encourage
Many Doberman pinschers will exhibit dominant behavior in
their interactions with other dogs, and sometimes with
their owners as well. Dobermans generally need experienced
dog owners who can handle dominance issues firmly and
Some Dobermans may aggressively protect food and toys, a
behavior called resource guarding. Such dogs may threaten
or attack anyone who approaches while they are eating. If
you notice the start of resource guarding tendencies, you
can employ some techniques to help head them off.
Hand-feeding your young Doberman while keeping the food
bowl in your lap allows your dog to know you provide the
food and you are in control of it. Teaching your dog basic
obedience commands, including "Sit" and "Leave it," and
rewarding your dog for dropping a toy on command or sitting
to receive a meal can also help with guarding and dominance
Doberman pinschers generally have a high prey drive, and
they enjoy chasing small animals such as cats, rabbits or
small dogs. Dobermans may not make the best of pets in
multi-pet households, especially around cats. Dobermans can
also be dominant toward other dogs. Keep your dog on a
leash when out for a walk.
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This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your
veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or
other qualified professional with any questions you may have
regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking
professional advice due to what you may have read on our