Before You Adopt a Doberman Pinscher Puppy
- Things You Need To Know

If you are considering adopting a Doberman Pinscher puppy (or any other breed for that matter), there are many things you should know beforehand. If you are not familiar with the breed, research is a must — with the Internet today, there is an abundance of information available at your fingertips. The more popular the breed, the more information there is out there. However, don't believe everything you read. There are many, very good and informative sites on the Doberman Pinscher and there are others who simply praise the breed as the best with no downside whatsoever. The fact is, every breed as its downside. Whether it is health problems, temperament or behavioural problems, too big, too small, too loud, too quiet. They are all different and you need to be sure that your choice of a Doberman Pinscher is the right one, before you make the purchase. A dog is a family member and a lifetime commitment. If you have any doubts — Don't buy a Doberman Pinscher! At least not until you are sure of your decision. Far too many of these beautiful and wonderful dogs end up in rescue organizations, shelters, or worse!

Once you've done your research on the breed, including sifting through all the Doberman websites and reading all the good books on the breed, the next step is to find a good and responsible breeder. Whether you are looking for a companion; a show dog; a dog who competes in obedience, agility, tracking, Schutzhund, or any other sport; or you want a dog you can work with in Search and Rescue, Police work, Therapy, or for any other activity, the bottomline is you want a dog who is healthy, mentally sound, and attractive. Contact and visit many breeders. Talk to them and don't be afraid to ask questions. A breeder should always be more than willing to provide you with all the answers to your questions and then some. The breeder should be open and honest about health and temperament testing, and provide you with certificates as requested. In return, you should expect to be questioned (or rather, grilled) as well — A responsible breeder is always very particular about who he/she sells his/her dogs to. Essentially, because a good breeder cares about the dogs. If you visit a breeder and you feel that you have revealed very little about yourself and yet the breeder is ready and willing to sell you a pup with virtually no questions asked — Walk away! This is not a responsible breeder.

A responsible and ethical breeder's main goal is to produce only the highest quality Doberman Pinschers that will better the gene pool. Therefore, health and temperament tests are always done and only dogs with titles earned are used for breeding. The responsible breeder also always studies the pedigrees for quality, health, longevity, temperament and working ability, often having to travel great distances to find the best male to match the female. It is very rare that the male and female live in close proximity to one another.

The importance of finding a reputable breeder cannot be stressed enough. It doesn't matter if you simply want a great companion dog and have no intentions of showing, competing or otherwise working with your dog — you still need to find a healthy and mentally sound puppy. The only place to find this is through a responsible breeder.

For more information on finding a responsible breeder, see:

Keeping in mind that you should never, ever buy a puppy from a pet store and that many responsible breeders do not advertise their puppies in newspapers, the best places to go to find a breeder include the following:

  • The Canada's Guide to Dogs' website Breeder Listings has links to Breeder websites where you can learn more about the breeder, if and when puppies are available, the pedigrees of the parents are sometimes made available, and some sites have indepth breed information available.
  • Contact the Canadian Kennel Club who can provide you with a breeder listing.
  • The national breed club in Canada is The Doberman Pinscher Club of Canada which includes a breeder listing on their website.
  • Regional clubs are also a good place to go to get breeder listings.

Please note, however, a breeder's membership in any of the clubs listed does not guarantee responsible and ethical breeding.

Like all breeds, the Doberman Pinscher is susceptible to certain inherited/genetic health conditions. Because a responsible and ethical breeder's main goal is to produce only the highest quality Doberman Pinschers, in general, testing may include the following:

Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia

Breeders send their hip and elbow x-rays for evaluation, to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or they may send their hip x-rays to PennHIP. Breeders may also choose to register test results for thyroid and cardiac testing.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

The biggest health concern in the Doberman Pinscher today is Dilated Cardiomyopathy.     (see Doberman Health Issues for more information.) Breeding dogs should have annual cardiac ultrasounds and electrocardiograms. Verify that this has been done with your chosen breeder.

Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)

VetGen is now offering DNA tests for Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD). By testing the parents of a litter, a breeder can advise what vWD status the puppies will have.

Thyroid Disease

In the Doberman Pinscher, thyroid testing is done routinely by responsible breeders. Normally, routine tests begin around the age of 18 months and, because the results can vary with age, the testing is normally repeated every 12 to 18 months throughout the dog's lifetime.

Eye Problems

Eye testing for the presence of inheritable eye diseases is registered through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. CERF certificates are valid for one year so ask the breeder for the date and result of the CERF eye testing.

Normal Liver Function

Chronic Active Hepatitis may also be a problem in the Doberman Pinscher breed and now that breeders are recognizing this fact, more and more are having annual liver panel testing done.

For more information:

The "White" Doberman

Albino Dobermans are mistakenly referred to as "whites", "white-factored", "creams", "cremellos" or "rare" Dobermans. A breeder of albino/albino-factored Dobermans is purposely breeding dogs with a known birth defect. Albinism is a defect and many more health considerations may be an issue for these dogs. If you are considering a Doberman Pinscher, ensure that the puppy does not carry the gene for albinism. In the U.S., the AKC uses a "Z" at the beginning of the litter registration number to identify that the gene is present. For more informatin on "White" Dobermans, see The Albino or "White" Doberman.

Additional References on Doberman Pinscher Health Concerns:

The breeder should provide you with proof of all tests and results.

Note: There is no genetic test available at this time to screen for Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and/or Wobbler's Syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI)). Therefore, a breeder cannot tell you that his Dobermans are guaranteed free of these diseases.

Ear Cropping, Tail Docking, Dew Claws Removed

In Canada, the tail is docked at approximately the second joint and should appear to be the continuation of the spine. This is normally done around the age of 3 to 4 days. Dew claws may or may not be removed and would be done around the same age. Ear cropping may or may not be done, but is normally done between the age of 7 and 10 weeks. Normally, a breeder will ensure that the ears are cropped prior to the puppy leaving for his new home because the breeder wants to ensure that the cropping is done correctly and to provide immediate after-care of the ears. The breeder may also want to retain the traditional look of the Doberman which, historically, the Doberman is a cropped breed.

The Canadian Kennel Club Doberman Pinscher Breed Standard describes the Doberman's appearance and temperament. Conformation to the breed standard is a basis for a healthy dog. You should avoid breeders who purposely breed "over-sized", "giant" or "king" Dobermans. Responsible breeders, of any breed, breeds according to the standard.

In Canada, in order for any of the CKC recognized breeds to be legally sold as "purebred" dogs, they must either already be registered with CKC or they must be eligible to be registered with the CKC within six months of the date of sale. This is the law.

In addition, breeders in Canada are fully responsible for registering the puppy at their expense. Avoid the breeder who offers you a puppy at a cheaper price without papers.

Further Information:

Consider an Adult Dog

Have you considered an adult Doberman Pinscher? If you can't wait for the well-bred puppy, consider adopting a homeless Doberman from a rescue organization. Many of these dogs end up homeless through no fault of their own and all legitimate rescue organizations ensure that the dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and they will work with you to ensure that the dog meets with your requirements — the last thing they want is to see the dog come back to them.

Another consideration is that sometimes breeders may have young adults available. There are several reasons why a breeder may have a dog available: (1) A buyer may have returned a dog for some reason — In most cases, responsible breeders will take their dogs back rather than have them go to a shelter. (2) The breeder may have decided to keep and show the dog for a while. (3) The breeder may have initially kept the puppy for breeding purposes but has since changed their mind. There could be a number of reasons why a breeder could have on hand an adult or young adult dog available.

There are many advantages to adopting a dog that is beyond the puppy stage — housetrained, crate trained, obedience trained, health testing may already have been done, to name a few.

Please note, the information provided here is intended as a guideline to help you in your search for a physically and mentally sound Doberman Pinscher. Before you buy — Do your research, learn about the breed, and be certain that this is the dog for you. Once you are absolutely positive about it, take the time and effort to find a good breeder. Remember that this dog will become a member of your family and he should never be treated as anything less.