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What do you need to know before you adopt a Doberman Pinscher? We asked the experts!
Doberman Pinschers are not for everyone. This is a dog that requires lots of work on the owner’s part to raise a well-rounded, happy Doberman. These dogs are not meant to live away from their human pack, nor can they mentally or physically tolerate living outdoors. They are very intelligent and need daily mental and physical stimulation or they can become bored and destructive. If you’re planning to adopt a Doberman, you need to be willing to commit, for at least the next ten years, to providing the proper activity and stimulation to keep your Doberman happy. This is a highly active breed, if you’re looking for a couch potato, you will not find it in the Doberman breed. They need to be socialized at a very young age; if they are not, they can potentially be fearful or aggressive as they grow up to be adults. Dobermans do have some diseases to be aware of, namely cardiomyopathy, Von Willebrand's, and hypothyroidism.
Dobermans need an experienced owner, or someone willing to enroll with a professional trainer from week one to insure a well-balanced temperament in their dog. They are highly intelligent and, although very loving and affectionate by nature, they need a strong leader who understands how a dog thinks.
Dobermans have a moderate energy level, and can usually adapt to most any lifestyle, whether active or laid back. Dobermans under two years of age, like most breeds, need more exercise and activity while they are still in their puppy years.
Dobermans are highly trainable.
Dobermans prefer to be very close to their family, and prefer to be kept indoors due to weather. They are very lean by design, with no fat and very short thin hair so they do not do well in the cold, and they also do not like the heat, so indoors is their best environment, and that’s where they both prefer and need to spend most of their time.
Dobermans, like most large-breed dogs are more prone to hip/elbow dysplasia and should be started on joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin as early as prevention. We recommend starting this by four years of age.
Dobermans, like other deep chested dogs, are more prone to gastric bloat and torsion, which can kill them in four hours. All owners of deep chested dogs need to read and study how to help prevent bloat, and to recognize symptoms so they know to rush the dog to the emergency vet if they are ever suspicious.
Dobermans are not natural swimmers. While some love the water, most panic and sink. They do better when wearing a life jacket that helps them float as they first are introduced to water deep enough that they can not touch the bottom (lakes/pools), but most love water they can touch like the slope entry into lakes, the shore of the ocean, and shallow creek beds. Dogs also can not see steps in swimming pools and many family pets drown each year in swimming pools. It is best to get the dog in the water to show him where the exit steps are several times until you feel confident they have learned the exit area.
The best pairing of Dobermans is male/female. Most females are "alpha" dogs and do best with males. Many male Dobermans will fight with other male dogs. Two females and two males can and are placed together often, but it must be the "right" fit. In a male/female pair, the male is usually the more laid back dog in general.
When left alone outside often for long periods of time, a Doberman can become bored, destructive, aggressive, depressed and sick. They are also more likely to have skin and coat issues if left outside alone for long periods of time.
Dobermans prefer soft surfaces on which to lie down such as carpet, dog bed, and rugs. Their frame is bonier than most and they are most often not comfortable on hard surfaces and they are quick to develop calluses on their legs, elbows, and hocks if left on hard surfaces too much.
Doberman are a breed commonly overfed or underfed. Their ideal structure is to lean but not bony like a Whippet or Greyhound, and certainly not fatty like a Rottie or Labrador. A Doberman of an ideal weight will show a "shadow" of the ribs, even less of a shadow of rear hip bones, and a well-defined, tucked-up waist line. Overfed dogs are even more likely to develop heart conditions, diabetes and hip/elbow dysplasia, and overweight large-breed dogs are proven to have shorter life spans.