Health Issues for the Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans are generally healthy but, like other breeds, they do have some health problems that they can be susceptible to, including:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) - Bloat
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Chronic Hepatitis
- Wobbler's Syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI))
- von Willebrands Disease (vWD)
- Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA)
Additional information about these and other health issues can be found in the Health and Nutrition section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.
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 can be subtle. You should learn to recognize them:
- 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)
If ANY combination of these symptoms are noticed, CALL YOUR VET and get the dog there as fast as possible. Bloat is LIFE-THREATENING.
For more information on what you can do in the case of a Bloat emergency and before you can reach your Veterinarian, see First Aid for Bloat.
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.
For further information, see:
- Have a Heart The Holter Monitor Project at the University of Guelph and the Doberman Breed need YOUR support. Project Overview: To examine the utility of Holter recordings of asymptomatic Doberman Pinschers to predict the likelihood of developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the near future.
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. For additional information, see Chronic Hepatitis in the Health and Nutrition Section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs web site.
Wobbler's Syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI))
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 sever neck pain as well as rigid front legs.
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.
- Wobbler's Syndrome
- Wobbler syndrome, cervical spondylomyelopathy, cervical vertebral deformity Canine Inherited Disorders Database
- von Willebrand's DNA Test Type I - Bernese Mountain Dog, Doberman Pincher, Kerry Blue Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Poodle and Papillon.
VetGen scientists, in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, proudly announce the discovery of the mutation that causes Type I von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) and the offering of a DNA test to detect vWD in the above breeds.
- DNA Studies in Doberman von Willebrand's Disease.
- Color Dilution Alopecia
- Special Care for a Blue Doberman
- colour dilution alopecia - Canine Inherited Disorders Database
von Willebrands Disease (vWD)
vWD is a blood disorder, a deficiency in clotting factor VIII antigen. This substance is called "Von Willebrand's factor." Dogs affected by the disease do not effectively utilize their platelets for blood clotting and therefore are more likely to have excessive bleeding episodes upon injury. This is similar to hemophilia in humans.
vWD is a common inherited disorder. Certain breeds have a higher than normal incidence of this disorder.
The main symptom of vWd is excessive bleeding, generally occuring after an injury or surgery. Dog's with Von Willebrand's disease may also develop nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums; bleeding in the stomach or intestine may also occur; and some dogs may have blood in their urine. Symptoms similar to those of arthritis may also occur if bleeding is into the joints.
A genetic test (seebelow) is now available to identify whether a Doberman is genetically clear, a carrier, or affected. It is important to note that many affected Dobermans never experience a bleeding problem, but when it occurs, it can be serious.
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. (For Blue and Fawn Dobermans, also see CDA below.
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.
Note: This is only a partial listing of some of the health concerns that can be seen in the Doberman Pinscher and should not be considered as a complete listing. This section is provided as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.