Dobermann Health Overview

These health conditions have been identified in the Dobermann Pinscher. 

The ones marked with an *** can be screened sadly the others can not be tested for.

It is important to know the status before breeding a dog or bitch - clinically affected dogs, dogs exhibiting symptoms for any of these conditions should NOT be bred.

The text below is intended as an aid to those seeking health information and should not be used to form a diagnosis replacing regular veterinary care by one's own Veterinarian.

CARDIOMYOPATHY - is suspected to be an inherited disease in Dobermanns. Research is in progress in several institutions. An echocardiogram of the heart will confirm the disease but WILL not guarantee that the disease will not develop in the future. A 24 hour holter will record Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs.  Drs Meurs' and Estrada's Cardiomyopathy presentations at the 2010 National can be viewed online at UStream. 

 HIP DYSPLASIA ***- is inherited. It may vary from slightly poor conformation to malformation of the hip joint allowing complete luxation of the femoral head. Both parents' hips should be Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certified - excellent, good or fair rating.  There are other hip labs that are qualified to certify hips.


 HYPOTHYROIDISM *** - is probably inherited and means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormone to adequately maintain the dog's metabolism. It is easily treated with thyroid replacement pills on a daily basis. Thyroid testing (T3, T4, TSH and autoantibodies) should be performed on an annual schedule. Finding autoantibodies to thyroglobulin (T4 autoantibodies) is an indication that the dog has "Hashimoto's Disease". Low thyroid dogs, manifested by a high TSH and a low T4, should be treated and monitored on a regular basis.

 vWd (VON WILLEBRAND'S DISEASE *** ) - is an autosomally (not sex linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. Von Willebrand's factor antigens of 70% 180% are considered to be within the normal range for Dobermans. When dogs are tested through the Elisa assay blood test for vWD, they are tested for carrier status only NOT the disease. It is believed that carrier status tests (Elisa assay) are inaccurate if a dog is ill, received any medication or vaccination within 14 days of testing, pregnancy, bitches in heat or lactation. Stress conditions (infections, parasites, hormonal changes, trauma, surgery, emotional upset, etc.) may have an effect on the outcome of the vWD blood test and might be a contributing factor for bleeding tendencies. vWD carrier status is quite common in Dobermans. A DNA test for vWD is now available - genetically: clear, carrier (inherited one disease gene), affected (inherited two disease genes) - results are not effected by stress conditions, etc. 

WOBBLER'S SYNDROME  - is suspected to be an inherited condition in Dobermanns. Dogs suffer from spinal cord compression caused by cervical vertebral instability or from a malformed spinal canal. Extreme symptoms are paralysis of the limbs (front, hind or all 4). Neck pain with extension and flexion may or may not be present. Surgical therapy is hotly debated and in some surgically treated cases, clinical recurrence has been identified.

 PRA (PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY *** ) - is an inherited condition in Dobermanns. Clinically, visual acuity is diminished, first at dusk, later in daylight. The disease progresses over months or years, to complete blindness. A screening test is available and can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) will certify eyes for 12 months from the date of evaluation.

ALBINISM - "white coated" and "white factored" Dobermanns should NOT be bred. These dogs are *TYROSINASE POSITIVE ALBINOS*. In 1996, the AKC established a tracking system (the letter "Z" will be part of the registration number) allowing breeders to identify the normal colored Dobermanns which may carry the albinistic gene. A list with all dogs tracing back to Shebah's (the first Albino Dobermann registered) parents. 

Dancing dobermann disease

What is Dancing Dobermann Disease?

Dancing Dobermann disease - also known as Dancing Dobermann Syndrome - is a disease only seen in Dobermann dogs. It is therefore strongly believed to be an inherited disease and can the prevalence of this problem can most likely be kept at bay with stringent breeding programs that aims to breed only dogs free of the disease.

Dancing Dobermann Disease (DDD) is a form of myopathy that chiefly affects the dog’s gastrocnemius muscle. (Myopathy is a term used for neuromuscular diseases where the muscle fibres do not function as they should, thereby causing muscular weakness.) The gastrocnemius muscle is a strong muscle located in the leg of the dog. This muscle is important for both standing and walking.

Both male and female Dobermann dogs can develop Dancing Dobermann Disease.

Dancing Dobermann Diagnosis

A lot of veterinarians are still not very aware of this disease, since it is only found in Dobermanns. Another problem with DDD is the fact that the symptoms listed above can be easily confused for symptoms from a wide range of other health problems, such as inflammation of the spinal cord, spinal tumors, spinal arthritis, lumbosacral disc disease, cauda equina syndrome, and cervical vertebral instability (CVI).

Dancing Dobermann Disease is probably more common than we tend to think, and we will probably see an increased number of diagnoses as more and more veterinarians learn more about this disease.

When a dog with neurological problems come to the vet, most veterinarians will run a number of tests in order to try and find out the reason behind the symptoms. In dogs suffering from Dancing Dobermann Disease, most of these tests will come up perfectly normal – including blood count tests, x-rays, thyroid function tests, and biochemistry tests. 

Symptoms of Dancing Doberman Disease

The first symptoms of Dancing Dobermann Disease normally appear when the dog is 6-7 months old, but the age of onset can vary from just 4 months to up to 10 years. When the dog is standing, one of its rear legs will suddenly flex. Over the course of the following months, the problem will usually start affecting the other hind leg as well. A dog with Dancing Dobermann Disease can end up alternatively flexing and extending each rear leg and this behaviour is the reason behind the name of this health problem. Many dogs will start knuckling over their rear paws and some dogs will eventually avoid standing all together; they will prefer to lie or sit. They can however still be perfectly capable of running around. There is no signs of pain associated with Dancing Dobermann Disease.

Treatment for Dancing Dobermann Disease Unfortunately, there is no know cure or treatment for Dancing Dobermann Disease. On the positive side, most dogs with DDD live to be as old as any other Doberman and the condition appears to be completely painless for the dog. A majority of the affected dogs can still walk. Dancing Dobermann Disease is however a progressing disease that will cause increasingly weak legs and muscle atrophy