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Doberman Pinscher Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Doberman Pinscher

Start your Doberman Pinscher off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.


Jump down to this list of
Doberman Pinscher Health Problems


Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Doberman Pinscher puppy or adult dog:

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How many vaccinations does your Doberman Pinscher puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Doberman Pinscher be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Doberman Pinscher? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

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Doberman Pinscher

Complete list of Doberman Pinscher health problems

Heart disease in Doberman Pinschers

The most serious disease facing Doberman Pinschers today is hereditary heart disease, specifically cardiomyopathy, but also:

  • septal defects
  • valve disease
  • pulmonic stenosis
  • patent ductus arteriosus
  • and others. The heart is definitely a problematic organ in this breed!

One tragic form of heart disease can cause an apparently healthy young- to middle-aged Doberman (usually a male), who is romping and playing in the yard, to suddenly drop dead in his tracks.

All Doberman Pinschers should have their hearts tested annually for the ominous first inklings of heart disease. A European study found half of all Dobermans over 8 years old had an abnormal heart test. That expense should be factored into your budget if you're considering this breed.

Wobbler's disease in Doberman Pinschers

Doberman Pinschers are the 2nd most likely breed (after the Great Dane) to suffer from a very serious disease of the neck vertebrae called Wobbler's disease. It's a form of intervertebral disk disease, which also occurs in Dobermans.

Other orthopedic diseases in Doberman Pinschers include osteochondritis (especially of the shoulder and stifle), hypertrophic osteodystrophy, panosteitis, luxating patella, and occasionally craniomandibular osteopathy.

Carpal flexion syndrome is common in Doberman Pinscher puppies. Affected pups have a "flexed" wrist, with the paws turned inward when standing. Fortunately, it usually goes away on its own.

On the plus side, hip dysplasia, which causes pain and lameness, is less common in Dobermans than in most other large breeds. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 17,000 Dobermans and found 6-7% dysplastic. That's better than most other large breeds.

Blood-clotting disease in Doberman Pinschers

von Willebrand's blood-clotting disease occurs in Doberman Pinschers more than any other breed.

About 30% of the breed are affected, while another 50% are carriers. That means three out of every four Dobermans are either affected or carriers of von Willebrand's.

Fortunately a simple DNA test is available for vWD so you can find out at any time whether your Doberman has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it.

Thyroid disease in Doberman Pinschers

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases include diabetes and hypothyroidism. Up to 20% of Doberman Pinschers have low thyroid levels that require daily supplements.

Skin diseases in Doberman Pinschers

Skin diseases abound in Doberman Pinschers – allergies, bacterial infections (pyoderma), lick granuloma, follicular dysplasia, sebaceous adenitis, seborrhea, pemphigus, vitiligo, calcinosis, and zinc-responsive dermatosis.

A severe skin disease called color dilution alopecia is very common in blue Doberman Pinschers. It causes patchy hair loss resulting in a moth-eaten look, along with chronic skin infections that require medicated baths.

Demodectic mange is regularly seen in Doberman puppies and adolescents.

Cancer in Doberman Pinschers

Many Dobermans are stricken with cancer in the prime of their lives. The most common cancers in Doberman Pinschers are histiocytic sarcoma, melanoma, and osteosarcoma.

Bloat in Doberman Pinschers

As with all deep-chested breeds, Doberman Pinschers are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.

Neuromuscular diseases in Doberman Pinschers

Some odd neuromuscular diseases occur in Dobes, including head tremors, narcolepsy, and polyneuropathy, an inherited disease of the central nervous system.

Polyneuropathy is referred to as Dancing Doberman Disease, because the misfiring nervous system creates "spasticity" in the rear legs, alternately flexing and straightening the legs so the poor dog is forced to shift his weight to and fro, as though dancing. Gradually the muscles waste away, but the disease progresses slowly over several years, so affected dogs can often function pretty well.

Eye diseases in Doberman Pinschers

Eye diseases include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), retinal dysplasia, cataracts, entropion, and cherry eye.

White Doberman Syndrome

Let's talk about "white" Doberman Pinschers.

"White" Dobermans are not white like white Boxers or white German Shepherds. White dogs have dark eyes, a black nose, and dark skin under their white hair.

No, "white" Dobermans are actually albino. They have blue or yellowish eyes, a pink nose, and pink skin.

Albino results from a defective pigment gene, which also produces abnormal development of the eyes. Albino Doberman Pinschers are forced to squint, and have vision problems in bright light.

Albino Dobermans are also more prone to sunburn and skin cancer.

And albino Dobermans frequently have skittish, nervous temperaments.

So if you're researching albino Dobermans because you're thinking of getting one, please don't.

The only people who breed Dobermans with these defective genes are ignorant or irresponsible. If you buy one of their pups, they'll breed more of them and it's cruel to keep breeding dogs whose lives will be uncomfortable.

Miscellaneous

Other health issues in Doberman Pinschers include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, immunoglobulin deficiencies, kidney disease, pancreatic insufficiency, liver shunt, and a severe liver disease called chronic active hepatitis.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

My best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Doberman Pinscher in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.