The Kennel club detail Dobermanns as ‘The largest of the Pinschers, the breed takes its name from the man who developed it: Louis Dobermann, a tax collector in Apolda, Germany. He wanted a fierce looking dog to protect him in his work, to act as a deterrent to any would be robbers, and with courage enough to defend and attack when required.’
So do they really make good pets?
The Kennel Club also states that the Dobermann’s intelligence and trainability have been harnessed by the armed forces and the police. They have been used as guard dogs, tracking dogs and in various other roles.
However, they also believe that Dobermanns are loyal and obedient, and that nature equips them well to be an excellent family dog.
But there are certainly a few things to consider when deciding if they are right for you. Firstly, they are a large, energetic and highly intelligent breed. They need lots of physical and mental stimulation. Have you got the time to invest hours walking, training, and keeping your dog mentally engaged? Many problematic behaviours will come from an underestimated and bored dog. So you need to ensure you have accounted for the time and effort it will take to have a happy, healthy and well-trained dog.
They can grow very big, so we need to ensure we invest in positive training and good lead walking skills, impeccable recall and how your dogs should greet other people and dogs when out on walks to avoid unintentional injury.
As with any pets you need to consider your finances before getting them. Do you have resources already available to support preventative care, food and nutrition? Do you also have the funds available, or back up such as good insurance, should your pet become unwell or injured?
Dobermanns can be prone to a few issues, such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), Von Willebrand’s disease, and joint issues such as hip dysplasia, as well as the possibility of other common canine ailments.
The European Society of Veterinary Cardiology states that Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the most common cardiac disease in large breed dogs and is inherited in Doberman Pinschers with a high prevalence (58%). Remarkably, they suggested that ongoing monitoring for the condition should consist of screening for occult DCM in Dobermans as young as three years of age and use both Holter monitoring and echocardiography. Yearly screening over the life of the dog is recommended; as a one-time screening is not sufficient to rule out future development of DCM.
Von Willebrand’s disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder of dogs occurring with particularly high frequency in Doberman pinscher dogs. Because of its method of transmission (autosomal incomplete dominant), the clinical and laboratory severity of the disease varies considerably.
Von Willebrand’s disease has been known since the 1970s; however, there are very few epidemiologic reports on this disease. In the Doberman breed, the reported prevalence of Von Willebrand’s disease type 1 is high: ~50% in the United Kingdom. In 1988, 73% of Dobermans tested had abnormal Von Willebrand’s Factor or vWF:Ag concentration (less than 50% vWF:Ag).
There are three variants or forms of Von Willebrand’s disease (types 1,2,3) defined by the quantity and structure of plasma von Willebrand factor (abbreviated vWF) in affected dogs. Within each breed a single form of Von Willebrand’s disease predominates. Clinical signs of Von Willebrand’s disease range from a mild to severe bleeding tendency. Dogs may “carry” the Von Willebrand’s disease trait without expressing a bleeding tendency. However, in severe cases the disease causes spontaneous bleeding from the nose, mouth, and urinary, reproductive or intestinal tracts.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopaedic diseases in dogs, which leads to chronic arthritis, recorded during the period of this study. It is recommended that the parents of your Doberman have been tested and scored.
A final plea
If you think a Doberman is for you, then please remember one more thing.
We are seeing an incredibly sad increase in dogs being imported with ears cropped. Researchers have identified a strong statistical association with a dog’s breed; with guarding breeds such as the American Bulldog, Dobermann, Italian Mastiff (Cane Corso), Bulldog and Mastiff all significantly over-represented.
Ear cropping is illegal in England and Wales, under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. And Northern Irish and Scottish equivalents ban the practice unless medically indicated. Furthermore, ear cropping of dogs is a prohibited surgical operation in all European states that have ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (Council of Europe 1987). Despite this new figures released in February 2022, show a 621% increase in the number of reports of ear cropping raised with the RSPCA in the last six years.
Please, do not buy or support the purchase of a puppy with cropped ears, it is cruel, it is unnecessary. Your Doberman will be happier with a waggy tail and floppy ears! If you think a Doberman is for you then you will be rewarded with lots of love, loyalty and affection. But don’t forget that to achieve this you will also need to invest in lots of time, training, support, guidance and mental and physical stimulation to keep their active brains amused.