Health problems common to the Doberman Pinscher dog breed

Health problems common to the Doberman Pinscher dog breed

Health & Safety

The Doberman Pinscher is a highly appealing looking medium sized dog that originated in Germany, and has long been used across the world for a variety of working roles, such as guarding, security and personal protection. Despite the fact that the Doberman in films and on TV is often portrayed as a stone cold, vicious predator or aggressive attack dog, they are actually supremely kind natured, loving and calm, as well as forming strong bonds with their families. It is the adaptability and intelligence of the Doberman Pinscher dog that has led to them holding so many different working roles throughout history, and this same trait that makes them excellent pets and companions too.

If you are looking for a medium sized, loyal and intelligent dog breed that can thrive within all different sorts of living environments, then the Doberman Pinscher might be the right choice of pet for you.

However, when you take the Doberman Pinscher in comparison with other dogs of a similar size and build, the Doberman tends to fall towards the shorter end of the scale in terms of longevity, with the average age reached by the breed being just nine or ten years old. While some Doberman Pinschers will live for much longer than this, nevertheless, the breed as a whole is rather more prone to a range of potential genetically inherited health problems than most other breeds, all of which may affect the dog’s longevity and quality of life.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common Doberman Pinscher health problems that can affect the breed, and what these mean for affected dogs.


Hypothyroidism is one of the most common conditions to affect the Doberman Pinscher, and symptoms of the condition’s onset usually present themselves after the age of four.

Hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of production of the thyroid hormone that is necessary to maintain metabolism and allow the dog to gain the appropriate nutrients out of their food, and can lead to a range of problems that often start with inexplicable weight gain. A poor quality coat, dry skin and lethargy often accompany the condition too, and in order to counteract these problems, your vet will need to prescribe lifelong medications to accommodate for this.

Dilated cardiomyopathy

The term “dilated cardiomyopathy” refers to a disease of the heart, which causes the muscles of the heart’s chambers themselves to become progressively weaker over time. This impairs the ability of the heart’s muscles to pump blood through the chambers of the heart in the normal manner, and can mean that the valves of the heart begin to leak blood back. This in turn heightens the chances of congestive heart failure developing in the dog, and often, there are no obvious symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy until the condition becomes quite pronounced.

As the conditions progressively worsens, it may lead to congestion of the lungs, weakness and fainting fits, as well as oedema of the skin.

Chronic active hepatitis

Chronic active hepatitis is the term used to refer to a range of different diseases and conditions that affect the liver of the dog. These conditions may be brought about by problems such as bacterial or viral infections, or the prolonged usage of certain types of medications.

The Doberman Pinscher breed as a whole is known to have a particular genetic predisposition to developing chronic active hepatitis and other related liver conditions, and females of the breed are particularly prone to problems of this sort.

The first symptoms of chronic active hepatitis to be aware of may include weight loss and an associated loss of appetite, vomiting, and excessive drinking and urinating.

The wobbles

The condition that is sometimes colloquially referred to as the “canine wobbles” is actually a medical condition called cervical vertebral instability, and this affects the inter-vertebral discs and caudal cervical vertebrae of the spinal cord. Over time, this condition progresses to myelopathy, or a secondary compression of the spinal cord. This leads to potential pain and discomfort in the area of the spine, and the signature wobbly gait or apparent instability when walking that accompanies this problem.

The condition is not unique to the Doberman, but does seem to affect the breed more than most others, and usually develops or shows clinical signs before the age of two years old is reached.

Von Willebrand’s disease

Von Willebrand’s disease is a condition that can affect both dogs and humans, and is similar in many ways to haemophilia. Like haemophilia, the condition is always genetically inherited, but unlike haemophilia, can affect both males and females equally as opposed to mainly affecting only males.

Von Willebrand’s disease refers to a lack of a blood-based protein called the Von Willebrand factor, which acts as a coagulating agent to heal wounds. A lack of sufficient amounts of this protein mean that the dog affected will have problems clotting their blood to heal cuts, bruises and other injuries, which can lead to a potentially life-threatening loss of blood.



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