The Doberman Pinscher is also known as a Doberman, Dobe, Dobie. They have a medium built, powerful, muscular body with a deep, broad chest. They are typically black with brown or red markings, but also come in a steel blue, red, or fawn. Rare cases have been reported of a white or albino Doberman, the first one being born in 1976. The Doberman's head is long and wedge-like and they have a strong bite with scissor-like teeth. The short, hard, thick coat lies flat. They are born with floppy ears and long tails, resembling a hound dog, but the ears are traditionally cropped to stand erect, and the tail docked at the second joint.
Tail docking and ear cropping are practices that have been done for many ceturies. Tail docking was thought to prevent rabies, strengthen the back, increase the animal's speed and prevent injuries when ratting, fighting and baiting. In hunting dogs, tails could collect burrs or foxtails or be subject to injury while moving through dense brush or thickets. In guarding dogs such as the Boxer or Doberman Pinschers, docked ears are thought to make the breed look more ferocious rather than the cute droopy puppy ear look. Though personal choice, these practices are controversial, and outlawed in many countries. A Doberman's ears are cropped usually between 7 and 9 weeks of age. The pup's ears have to be taped for a couple of months to make them stand up. The tail is usually docked at the age of 3 days.
This breed began in Germany in the late 1800s. It was developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a tax collector. He wanted a dog who would protect him so he would not be robbed of his cash that he carried around town. The breed actually has several different dogs in its ancestory, including the old shorthaired shepherds, the German Pinscher, Rottweiler, Beauceron, Manchester Terrier, and Greyhound. Mr. Dobermann wanted to create a dog who had protective qualities such as strength and fearlessness, but also to be refined and elegant as a pet, and since he also ran the local dog pound he had access to a number of different dog breeds that had the characteristics he was looking for. The Doberman was first presented in a dog show in 1876 and was a big success. It was first recognized by the AKC in 1908.
The Doberman Pinscher is well known as an intelligent, alert and loyal companion dog, probably best known for its guarding qualities. The Doberman is said by some to be the 5th smartest dog in the world, as well as the 2nd best guard dog in the world, outranking the Rottweiller and German Shepherd. Dobermans were once commonly used as guard dogs or police dogs and have therefore developed a reputation as a viscious dog. Today's Doberman, however, is being bred away from aggression to have a less menacing temperament, and is much more gentle and affectionate. The modern Doberman Pinscher is an energetic and lively breed suitable for compansionship and family life. The Doberman is a watchful and protective dog who has no trouble distinguishing between friend and foe. These versatile dogs excel at many things including police work, search and rescue and therapy dog work. They are a determined and willful dog that needs consistent training and leadership. They are an energetic breed and need regular, daily exercise, both physical and mental, to be happy and fulfilled.
Recent studies do not rank the Doberman as the most aggressive breed, but their size, strength and aggression towards strangers makes them potentially dangerous. This is a dog who is perceptive, intuitive and sensitive. Your Doberman will not just place itself between you and a visible threat, he will anticipate that threat to you and your child. But that guardian instinct is balanced out with the world's most loving heart and sense of humor that will keep you laughing its whole life long. Dobermans are nick-named "Velcro dogs" because they loyally stick to their humans. Deep down this is a loving dog who wants, above all else, to please its owner.
Some Dobermans are extremely sensitive to stress or emotional upheaval in the home and can display physical symptoms such as upset stomachs and nervous behaviors if the people in their home are having family problems.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The standard height of the Doberman Pinscher is 24-28 inches, with a weight of 66-88 pounds.
The Doberman Pinscher is prone to several inherited health issues. Among them is a condition called Von Willebrand's Disease, a genetic bleeding disorder in which a clotting factor is missing. They are also prone to a disease caled Wobbler's Disease, a neurological spinal condition that causes their limbs to shake. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in Doberman Pinschers. It is characterized by a markedly enlarged and weakened heart muscle which results in irregular or abnormal heartbeats and can result in sudden death. Doberman Pinschers have shown this disease more than any other breed. The average age of developing symptoms of DCM is 7.5 years of age. Other health concerns include skin issues, bloat, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.
About 10-13 years.
GROOMING AND CARE
The Doberman's smooth, short coat is easy to goom. They are an average shedder. They are very vulnerable to cold weather and would benefit from a jacket or coat in winter.
With proper training, Dobermans can do well with children and household pets. Dobermans like the company of people and are not suited to kennel or backyard life. They need human interaction and leadership. The Doberman can be a good family member with proper training, exercise and care. This breed is very sensitive to cold weather and would not do well as an outside dog. That is why police are not able to use them in areas where it gets cold.
Dobermans are intelligent and very easy to train. They need to be socialized when young so they don't develop aggression issues. The Doberman is not a breed for everyone. They need an owner who will display a natural authority over the dog. All family members must be firm, confident and consistent, setting rules and sticking to them. Dobermans can be stubborn and willful if allowed to have their own way. Since this is a powerful breed with protective instincts, it is imperative that owners begin obedience training and socialization as early as possible.
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.