top of page

Dobermann Health

While the breed is generally healthy, Doberman Pinschers, like every other breed, are prone to certain health problems and genetic disorders, such as:



Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) - Bloat


GDV is a condition caused by a twisting of the stomach and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain and eventual death if untreated. It is an emergency, requiring immediate veterinary action. This condition is most often found in large, deep chested dog breeds. Anyone owning a deep chested breed, susceptible to Bloat should be prepared to handle the emergency procedures necessary, including having readily available the name and phone number of emergency clinics and/or after-hours Veterinarians.

Symptoms: Continuous pacing and/or lying down in odd places, salivating, panting, whining, unable to get comfortable, acting agitated, unproductive vomiting or retching (may produce frothy foamy vomit in small quantities), excessive drooling, usually accompanied by retching noises, swelling in abdominal area (may or may not be noticeable).





Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)


DCM is most commonly seen in large breed dogs and usually in young adult males (between the ages of four and six years). Dilated cardiomyopathy is an acquired disease that is characterized by a markedly enlarged and weakened heart muscle. In the Doberman it affects mainly the left ventricle and left atrium.

Dobermans normally show one of two common symptoms:

The most common symptom is respiratory distress, usually seen as a cough, wheeze, or laboured breathing. The clinical signs often start suddenly and include typical signs of heart failure, difficulty breathing, a cough, feinting, exercise intolerance, a swollen abdomen, loss of apetite and weight loss. The second symptom, sadly, is sudden death. One third of all Dobermans who acquire DCM will experience sudden death. DCM is always rapidly fatal in Dobermans. It is more common in large breed dogs, especially in the Doberman Pinscher, and it is believed to be a genetic predisposition in the Doberman.



Chronic Hepatitis


Chronic hepatitis is a diagnosis for several diseases associated with liver disease. Causes may include viruses, bacterial infection, and some medications. A predisposition to the development of chronic hepatitis exists in the Doberman Pinscher breed, predominantly in the female.



Wobbler's Syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI))


Wobbler's is a painful condition caused by an abnormality in the spine. It is a chronic, progressive disease and without treatment, the dog's condition will gradually deteriorate. Wobbler's Syndrome mostly affects large, fast-growing dog breeds.

In the Doberman Pinscher, symptoms start to develop between the age of 3 and 9 years. This condition is believed to have a genetic component but it is not known how it is inherited. A puppy buyer is advised to ask the extent of this problem in the pedigree, siblings and offspring of closely related dogs.

Symptoms of Wobbler's include weakness, uncoordination and confusion (ataxia). The symptoms worsen slowly over several months. Over time, an affected dog may develop a stiff, high-stepping, and exaggerated gait that gradually worsens. Eventually, all four legs are affected with the hind legs affected first and more severely. Doberman Pinschers have been known to experience severe neck pain as well as rigid front legs.



von Willebrands Disease (vWD)


von Willebrands Disease is an autosomally inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available - genetically: clear, carrier (inherited one disease gene), affected (inherited two disease genes). Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they can be at risk whenever they have an accident or need surgery.





Canine Hypothyroidism is the most commonly diagnosed hormonal disease found in dogs and is commonly found in the Doberman Pinscher. Every Doberman's thyroid level should be tested. The term hypothyroidism simply means the underproduction of thyroxin, the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located on the trachea (wind pipe) of the dog, just below the voice box. It exerts its influence on the dog's body by producing and releasing thyroxin into the blood stream. This hormone, and thus, the thyroid gland itself, is very important in controlling growth and development and maintaining normal protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism of the dog.

Hypothyroidism usually occurs between the ages of two to six years. The most common sign is an increase in body weight. Lethargy and some form of skin disease (i.e., thin coat, loss of hair, dandruff, oily skin, increased scratching) are also common signs of Hypothyroidism.

The treatment is through thyroid hormone supplementation given orally once or twice a day. Usually thyroid supplementation improves the clinical signs associated with the disease within four to six weeks. All the clinical signs of hypothyroidism are reversible, once treatment is started.



Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA)


Blue and fawn coloured Dobermans often suffer from a condition known as Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA). It is a form of follicular dysplasia (FD). The symptoms include bilateral balding that usually starts on the flanks or along the topline and spreading down the back. Typically, the coat will begin to thin between the ages of one and three years. In severe and rare cases, all of the blue or fawn hairs will fall out. Most often, however, a dog with CDA will end up with a very thin coat along the back and flanks but will not go completely bald. Despite the thin coat, the dog will remain healthy. It is almost always just a cosmetic problem resulting in a varying degree of hair loss. If you are interested in blue or fawn Dobermans, you should learn more about CDA.





"white coated" and "white factored" Dobermans should NOT be bred. These dogs are *TYROSINASE POSITIVE ALBINOS*. In 1996, the AKC established a tracking system (the letter "Z" will be part of the registration number) allowing breeders to identify the normal colored Dobermans which may carry the albinistic gene. A list with all dogs tracing back to Shebah's (the first Albino Doberman registered) parents is available from the DPCA. All breeders should require an AKC certified pedigree with colors to check that "white coated" and "white factored" dogs are not present in the pedigree of the dog or bitch to be bred.





PRA is an inherited condition in Dobermans. Clinically, visual acuity is diminished, first at dusk, later in daylight. The disease progresses over months or years, to complete blindness. A screening test is available and can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) will certify eyes for 12 months from the date of evaluation.





Hip Dysplasia is inherited. It may vary from slightly poor conformation to malformation of the hip joint allowing complete luxation of the femoral head. Both parents' hips should be OFA certified - excellent, good or fair rating.




Human Foods and your Pets



Bad foods



They contain a toxic component called persin, which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in many animals. This fruit is very toxic to dogs, cats and most animals.



Alcoholic beverages can cause the same damage to an animal's liver and brain as they cause in humans. But the effects can be deadly on animals since they are much smaller than us. The smaller the animal, the more deadly the effects can be. Even a small amount of alcohol may cause vomiting and damage the liver and brain.



Walnuts and macadamia nuts are especially toxic. Effects can be anything from vomiting to paralysis to death. Within 12 hours of eating the nuts, pets start to develop symptoms such as an inability to stand or walk, vomiting, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate. These symptoms can be even worse if your dog eats some chocolate with the nuts. The effect can cause kidney failure, often leading to death.



Chocolate contains theobromine, which can kill your pet if eaten in large quantities. Dark and unsweetened baking chocolates are especially dangerous. Giving your pup a piece of chocolate cake or even letting him lick the chocolate icing on the cake could cause him to become ill. Theobromine can also cause a dog or cat's heart to beat very rapidly or irregularly, which could result in death if the pet is exercising or overly active.



Candy or anything containing Xylitol (a common sweetener found in some diet products) can cause a sudden drop in an animal's blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures. If left untreated, the animal could die.



Coffee, tea or any product that contains caffeine stimulates an animal's central nervous and cardiac systems. This can lead to restlessness, heart palpitations and death, depending on how much the animal consumes.


Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill them. And the effects are cumulative, which means that even if a dog eats just one or two grapes or raisins regularly, the toxin that builds in his system will eventually kill him.



Onions are another common food that can be highly toxic to pets. They can destroy an animal's red blood cells and lead to anemia, weakness and breathing difficulties. Their effects are also cumulative over time.



Hide medicine from your pets just like you would from your children. The most common cause of pet poisoning is from animals ingesting a medicine or drug normally prescribed for humans.

And this is not just because furry pals are getting into their pet parent's medicine cabinets. In many cases, pet owners give their feline and canine friends an over-the-counter medication to ease an animal's pain. But acetaminophen and ibuprofen, the active ingredients in many common pain relievers, are extremely toxic to dogs and cats. They can cause gastric ulcers, liver damage, kidney failure and sometimes death.




Good foods


Although these foods are normally harmless, some animals have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts. So even these healthy treats should be avoided if they cause gastrointestinal upset for your pet. Keep in mind that these and other "extras" should not make up more than 5 to 10 percent of the pet's daily caloric intake.


Lean meats

Any cooked lean meat should be fine for most dogs. High-fat meats, chicken skin and fat from steaks or roasts are not recommended. Ingestion may lead to gastrointestinal upset or even pancreatitis. This can be a very painful condition for dogs. In addition, most companion animals do not need extra fat in their diets. Never give your pet meat with the bone in it. Animals can choke on the bones, and they can splinter as well.



Carrot sticks, green beans, cucumber slices and zucchini slices are all OK.



Apple slices, orange slices, bananas and watermelon are all OK. Make sure the seeds have been taken out; seeds are not good for your pet!


Baked potatoes

Plain baked potatoes are fine, but make sure they are cooked — no unripe potatoes or potato plants.



Plain cooked bread is fine; just make sure there are no nuts or raisins added.


Rice and pasta

Plain, cooked pasta and white rice are OK. Often veterinarians recommend plain rice with some boiled chicken when gastrointestinal upset is present.



**** BEWARE ****

Common signs of poisoning include muscle tremors or seizures; vomiting and diarrhea; drooling; redness of skin, ears and eyes; and swelling and bleeding.



bottom of page