How To Breed Doberman Pinschers – Background, Health, Litter Size, etc.

how to breed dobermans

If you are wondering how to breed Dobermans of high quality and sound health, your focus should be on the lineage, training, and socialization. Breeding Doberman Pinschers is not hard since the breed is easy to work with.

As a reputable Doberman breeder, you need to decide early on whether you want to breed working dogs (guard dogs) or family pets. None is better, it’s a matter of preferences and budgeting. Working dogs require a lot more pedigree blood and their prices are a lot higher. You will also spend a lot more money with a working Doberman due to professional training and intense socializing.

This article is here to help future or existing Doberman Pinscher breeders in improving their breeding programs.

Background of Doberman Breeding

A straight, erect and elegant posture, alert eyes and strong built greets you when you look at a Doberman Pinscher. Their agility and strength have proved to be of much use over a period of decades.

Doberman dogs are one of those breeds that have been vilified to the extent that some countries have even banned them.

However, contrary to popular belief, Dobermans are actually good family dogs if socialized well and trained right. They can be loyal and protective and can be left around children, without apprehensions. The only glitch – Doberman dogs tend to get attached to only one person instead of the whole family. Let’s look at most attacks on families by Doberman dogs. They happened because the dog was particularly attached to just the one person. And they often tried to protect that person from the rest of the family. As ironical it is, it is also a little sad that a breed that is so brilliant has been reduced to villainous stature now.

Origins

It is not every day that you can say that man is the father of a dog. In this case, it holds true. Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, in Germany, created the Doberman breed by combining several dog breeds. Being a tax collector, Karl wanted a ferocious, loyal and devoted dog to accompany him on his rounds. That is what gave birth to the idea of a dog that was a combination of many traits.

While they were originally bred to make for good guard dogs, Dobermans have transcended their roles into becoming excellent police and military dogs as well as helpful and sympathetic rescue and therapy dogs as well. Their high levels of intelligence mixed with their alertness make them excellent in all these roles.

It is worth a mention that the first ever Doberman was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1908.

Popularity

The Doberman is the second most popular dog breed in all of the United States. Dobermans also rank 16 on the list of the most popular dog breeds in the world. While they aren’t the most favored dogs across the world, they are fairly popular as domestic family dogs. They are preferred for military and security owing to the aloofness and intelligence. But having said that, they aren’t entirely averse to human touch either.

They also have a certain perception towards other human beings, making them excellent rescue dogs as well as therapy dogs.

And speaking of popular Dobermans, Cappy deserves a mention too! A Doberman that saved the lives of over 200 US Marines and suffered fatal casualties. He was the first ever dog to be buried in the war dog cemetery as well!

cappy (military doberman)
A statue of Cappy at the National War Dog Cemetery and Memorial, in Guam.

Tail Docking & Ear Cropping

A dog such as the Doberman looks wildly funny with a really short tail and cropped ears. But not many know that they’re not born this way. In fact, Dobermans are born with long curly tails and floppy ears, which are shortened and trimmed to help them achieve a good posture and an intimidating stature. Such practices are called tail docking and ear cropping.

A lot of activists are vehemently opposing these two practices that they call “acts of going against nature”. To them, we disregard the dog’s choice and alter its appearance to suit ourselves.

Those in favor of these practices strongly believe that it is for the dog’s own safety as well as for those they are responsible for. Dobermans are usually bred to serve as military and guard dogs and these dogs need to showcase a daunting enigma and severe looks. Floppy ears aren’t going to do that for you. They are also easier to catch with longer ears by someone else, or even another animal.

Temperament

Dobermans are calm and devoted dogs, which tend to work well in unusual situations too. Infamous for a short, almost fiery temperament, the Dobies are highly misunderstood and misjudged also. They get attached to their owners in a fiercely protective sort of way, which lends them a bad name. Their predisposition towards the need to protect is what makes them attack when they sense something amiss around their owners.

Dormant aggression or instinctive predispositions lie in a few dogs. However, everything depends on the dog’s socialization and training. If trained to attack, Dobermans will attack. But if trained to be loyal family dogs, they can also prove to be friendly companions.

Doberman Pinschers are highly trainable, obedient and adaptable. Amongst many studies that are conducted to research and understand behavioral patterns of canines, many have concluded that Dobermans aren’t an aggressive breed. While aggression may be a genetic trait in Doberman Pinschers, it has been proved that contemporary Dobermans aren’t as aggressive as their ancestors were.

Working Dogs

Dobermans were originally bred to be ferocious dogs. They were born to attack and protect. While they do much better as war dogs or police dogs, over a period of time, their temperament and aggression have toned down quite a lot. A lot of intelligence agencies, know how to harvest a Doberman’s innate quality to perceive, their smartness and their intuitive nature.

Dobermans have served nations by fighting wars, aiding rescue operations and much more. After having utilized their aggression and protectiveness to the fullest potential, their workability was put to more use. This was when studies revealed that their obedience and loyalty could be used to look after people as well.

So much so, that today the Doberman breed serves as therapy dogs for children and adults alike.

Due to their obedience and intelligence and their ability to intimidate, they serve excellently well as military dogs. They have a heightened sense of smell as well as hearing. They are known to be quiet perceptive towards incoming danger. More recently, Dobermans have also lent their services to war veterans and have done a fabulous job with it. They are being trained to handle patients with PTSD, monitoring their heart rates and bodily conditions.

From fighting wars to serving those who fought wars, the breed has truly been one of a kind.

Health Concerns When Breeding Dobermans

The Doberman breed originated from a German breeding program. The breed itself is a mix of many other dog breeds. Despite their lean and strong built, Dobermans are prone to many diseases and health issues. Some believe that these problems are due to the assorted genetic pool that they carry.

Lifespan

Dobermans generally live to an age of 13 years, and often even longer. The statistics in the Doberman’s cases are slightly skewed, owing to the fact that those Dobermans who actually act as war or police dogs may live a lot less and die of unnatural causes.

The top cause of natural deaths in Dobermans is a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. While it affects other dog breeds too, it doesn’t affect them as much as it affects Doberman Pinschers.

doberman smart dog breed
Dobermans are very smart and easily trainable.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is an inflammation of the heart muscles. Nearly 40% of Doberman dogs die of this condition. While the dog dies a peaceful death, it is a traumatic experience for a Doberman breeder or a trainer or owner. This is because Dilated Cardiomyopathy does not show up in tests. There aren’t any visible symptoms or any signs of a heart ailment. Internally, it causes progressive heart failure spanning over years or even months and then one day, the dog suddenly dies.

As the name suggests, DCM causes the protective wall around the heart to become dilated and stretched thin. This causes a congestive heart failure, which then leads to choked lungs. The congestion gives rise to a fluid buildup around the lungs. Before you know it, the dog’s heartbeat becomes abnormal (arrhythmia). The heart doesn’t pump enough blood to circulate around the body – resulting in a quick death.

To diagnose DCM at an early stage, you must make the dog undergo 24-hour electrocardiographic monitoring to check for abnormalities in heart rates. This is especially important if you are a Doberman breeder because DCM happens to pass genetically. It has been proved that if a dog dies of dilated cardiomyopathy, the offspring might have abnormalities of heart too.

Cervical Vertebral Instability

Cervical Vertebral Instability compresses the spinal cord causing a lot of pain to the dogs and eventually leading to another disease called the Wobbler Syndrome. Usually, middle-aged Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers are the breeds affected most by this condition. This condition develops slowly and progressively worsens, causing pressure on the spinal cord.

A sure shot way of knowing that your Doberman is in pain is that once affected, the dogs start holding their heads down. They do this to relieve the pressure on their spine. Because it affects the spine so badly, it also makes the hind legs weaker and wobblier. So if your dog is walking funny or drags its hind legs when moving forward, you must see a vet immediately.

Once affected, it is very difficult to relieve the dog from the pain. In some cases, euthanasia is the only answer. This problem is also attributed to the mutated gene pool in Dobermans. The condition may or may not pass on to all the puppies in a litter, but it is impossible to know which puppies will grow up to get affected by Cervical Vertebral Instability.

It is somewhat ironical that a breed that is so sturdy and posturally erect can be affected by an inflammation of the spinal cord and cause instability.

Prostatic Disease

Prostatic disease is rampant in a lot of dog breeds, including Dobermans. Owing to a genetic defect, a Doberman can be prone to it. Indeed, every male dog has a small gland, the size of a walnut, located near its bladder. This little organ is called the prostate. Its function is pretty simple – it is responsible for producing some of the fluid found in a dog’s semen. See our guide to the canine reproductive systems.

Another important function of the prostate gland is to house the urethra. The urethra is a tube and a small portion of it passes through the prostate. Dogs who have a prostatic disease, encounter an enlarged prostate gland. When the gland becomes swollen and inflamed, it obviously compresses the part of the urethra that passes from inside it. This creates a lot of pain and difficulty in urination for the dog.

The prostate can be inflamed due to a number of reasons, including:

  • cysts
  • abscesses, and
  • bacterial infections.

There are a total of seven various inflammations that can happen on a dog’s prostate gland.

If you find your dog straining to urinate or defecate (in worst cases when the prostate is very enlarged) it is mostly a case of prostatic disease. This too runs in the family and it is best to get your Doberman checked for signs by an experienced veterinarian.

von Willebrand Disease

This von Willebrand Disease is a genetic disorder that leads to the absence of some elements in the blood, resulting in excessive bleeding. von Willebrand Disease basically causes problems in the clotting process of the blood. The blood is too thin to coagulate and thus chances of extreme blood loss are very high.

Now we may think that bleeding out is the worst that can happen, but we couldn’t be more wrong. The worst that can happen with a Doberman suffering from von Willebrand Disease is if they start bleeding internally. This may cause unimaginable pain, if the skull or a joint in the body begins to bleed out, uncontrollably, with no outlet whatsoever. This can be caused by an injury or accident.

von Willebrand Disease is a single gene autosomal recessive condition that can be prevented or at least detected at a very early stage. A simple genetic test will do the trick and prepare you for what to expect. Avoidance of the mutant gene during the breeding process can be done, to curb it. However, it is a complex process and requires a practicing and skilled vet.

Other medical issues

Doberman Pinschers are more prone to structural and genetic diseases than other dog breeds. This is attributed to their severely mutated gene pool.

Apart from the aforementioned diseases, Dobermans have also been shown to suffer from canine hip dysplasia, which in simpler terms, is arthritis in dogs. It is painful, to say the least, and may cause permanent damage to the dog’s limbs.

Another common predicament Dobermans suffer from is hypothyroidism. If your dog is showing reduced immunity and has lost its glow if the fur is falling out and is dry and if they aren’t showing any signs of interest in things they usually enjoyed, they may be suffering from low thyroid function.

Dobermans are also susceptible to skin disorders like demodicosis, wherein microscopic insects attack the skin and fur. Gastric dilation is also another issue where the stomach stretched because of gas.

Overall, Dobermans are brilliant dogs and are vulnerable to disorders for many anatomical parts. As a Doberman breeder, you must health check thoroughly your breeding stock and gain feedback from customers years later. Be cautious and never hesitate to dismiss a specific dog from your breeding program if you see alerting signs.

How To Breed Doberman Pinschers

Breeding Dobermans is fairly easy as the breed is adaptable, physically strong and very obedient. They are low maintenance dogs and generally have healthy litters.

Doberman Pinschers are basically the dream dog breed for any breeder. A Doberman’s pregnancy generally goes well without the need for human assistance.

Here are some best practices on how to breed Dobermans for the best possible litter.

Litter Size

On average, Dobermans give birth a litter of six to eight puppies. If birthed without too many complications, the litter is usually very healthy and playful.

While the puppies are energetic, as a breed, the Doberman is known to mature slower than other dogs. So you can expect your 2-year-old Dobie to still act like a puppy because it hasn’t fully matured.

Before mating your dog, ensure that both the Dobermans get genetically tested to ensure that neither is suffering from abovementioned genetic disorders. This ensures that as a Doberman dog breeder you will be providing clients with a foolproof gene pool.

Common Birthing Problems

When a female dog is having complicated labor it is known as dystocia. Most likely, the causes of dystocia are related to the mother first, then the puppies.

If the mother’s uterine canal is narrow or if the uterus isn’t strong enough for contractions, birthing can be difficult. Sometimes, it is also the size of the puppies – if they are very large, it may result in difficult labor. In some cases, rarely though, puppies die in uteri and birthing a dead puppy can be very painful, physically and emotionally, for a mother.

But while genes can cause some dystocia related problems, a Doberman is so strong that a cesarean is rarely ever performed on them. No matter the complication, the breed is known to naturally birth the offspring.

Clientele

Dobermans, as they originally are guard dogs and watchdogs, are preferred by homeowners, who would like them to watch and guard their homes. The popularity of the Dobermann as home and family dogs have surged over the past few years owing to their ability to be devoted family dogs and ferocious watchdogs at the same time. As a Doberman breeder, a lot will depend on how you breed your Doberman.

Apart from homeowners, Dobies are in demand with the military, police, detective and rescue agencies and more recently by therapists who prescribe them as therapy dogs. Depending on how you breed and train them, you could build your clientele.

Pricing

Adult Dobermanns can fetch anywhere above USD 1,000 depending on how well-trained they are. Puppies may fetch anywhere around USD 300 to USD 1,000.

The logic is simple, if you have put time and effort into training the dogs well and raised them to be sociable as well as good watchdogs, the efforts will pay. However, if it is an accidental litter, born without any formal gene testing, you might fetch a lot less.

karl friedrich louis dobermann
Herr Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann was a tax collector, police officer, night guard, and dog catcher.

Doberman Dogs – FAQs

We’ve scoured the web to find some very common questions asked by Doberman fanciers. Here is the compiled list with our short and to-the-point answers.

How much exercise do Doberman dogs need?

Dobermans are highly energetic and active dogs. They need a lot of exercise in either mental or physical form.

Dobermans are also extremely intelligent as a breed. You must provide them with a lot of physical exertion and mental stimuli to keep them engaged and active. If not given enough physical exercise, a Doberman could turn frustrated, irritable, and aggressive.

What are the grooming needs of Dobermanns?

Dobermanns are a low maintenance dog breed. With their short fur and elegant bodies, they don’t need a lot of washing all the time. However, they do shed all year round and need to be brushed quite often. Baths need to be given every month to prevent skin disorders.

Are Doberman Pinschers good with children?

Dobermans are perfect with kids. They are protective and loyal and very careful about being around small children. They are very playful and, if left to play in an open space with kids, they can do wonderfully well.

However, you must train your children well and you must learn to identify the signs of irritability in a dog. If a child physically harasses or irritates (tail pulling, ear pulling or any contact that may hurt the dog) the Doberman, at some point the dog may react negatively (nip or attack, in some instances).

Do Dobermans make good family pets?

Yes, Dobermans make for great family pets. They are fiercely loyal and devoted. They are sociable and if brought up well and trained to be around people and a loving family. The Doberman breed is also really friendly with other pets as long as boundaries are respected.

Due to their inherent nature, they will also double up as excellent guard dogs.

What are the differences between the Doberman Pinscher and the German Pinscher?

For starters, the German Pinscher is one of the dogs that contributed to the making of the Doberman Pinscher.

Size is a high deciding factor, as the Doberman is larger than the German Pinscher. A Doberman is known to grow up to 25-27 inches while a full-sized Pinscher will not go beyond 20 inches.

Other than that, some very stark physical differences between the breeds are that of the teeth and the heads. While Dobermans have a few missing canines (pun intended), the Pinscher has a mouthful of them. Another defining quality of the two, otherwise similar-looking breeds is, that while the Doberman moves with his ears upright and alert, the German Pinscher does not.

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