Photos courtesy Will Harris

It is said that you do not own a dobermann, they own you.

If you have never owned a dobermann before then please do some research so you have a clear understanding of the breed and what their characters are like.

Dobermanns are the most demanding and fun loving dog that you could ever own. They want and strive for your undivided love and attention. They are highly intelligent and need mental stimulation and like nothing more than being challenged with obedience training and agility. They respect and respond to leadership. They will thrive at whatever task you set them given the correct training. They were originally bred to protect and are a great family dog and love to be part of it. They are also a working breed and need appropriate daily exercise consisting of lead walking and free running. Exercise is paramount for a stable mind set and to socialise with humans and other dogs.  

If you like to travel and are out a lot then this breed is not for you. No dog should be left to its own devices for extended lengths of time and with an intelligent dog like the dobermann it is a recipe for disaster. A pat on the head and being left to their own devices isn’t good enough.

Don’t buy a dobermann if you are not prepared to give the time and energy that this breed will need.

The Dobermann was originally conceived and created by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann in the late 19th Century. Dobermann was a tax collector in the city of Apolda located in the state of Thuringia, Germany. He was also responsible for the catching and keeping of stray dogs. To protect him whilst collecting the tax duties he started to breed from the stray dogs he had caught and the dogs he produced became known as ‘Dobermanns Dogs’. Records unfortunately do not show the exact breeds he used but it is believed that the breed combined the strength and intellect of the Thuringia shepherding dog, the shape and size of the Rottweiler and Great Dane, the agility and determination of the German Pinscher. The speed of the Greyhound and tenacity of various breeds of terrier including the Manchester Terrier which gave the Dobermann its sleek coat and figure.

Otto Goeller who was also from Apolda became interested in the Dobermann and founded the von Thüringen Kennels in 1901. He is credited as being the person who refined and stabilized the breed as it is known today. He became the founder of the Dobermann Pinscher Club which later became the National Dobermann Pinscher Club of Germany.

The Dobermann breed came to the United States of America in 1908 and the Dobermann Pinscher Club of America was established. The breed standard had been written in Germany and was adopted by the American Kennel Club in 1922. The name Pinscher which means terrier in German was later dropped

The Dobermann was virtually unknown in Great Britain until 1947. The Kennel Club which had been  established since 1873 subsequently adopted the breed and now sets the breed standard in this country.

In April 2007 the docking of tails in this country was banned.

After the controversal BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, aired in August 2008, the Kennel Club undertook a review of the breed standards of all pedigree dogs. After consultation with the breed clubs, in January 2009 the breed standard for the Dobermann was revised. As a result of the consultation two changes were made relating to the tails and dew claws.

1. The reference to dew claws removed has been deleted and they can now be left on.

2. The description relating to undocked tails has been ammended

General Appearance
Medium size, muscular and elegant, with well set body. Of proud carriage, compact and tough. Capable of great speed.

Intelligent and firm of character, loyal and obedient.

Bold and alert. Shyness or viciousness very highly undesirable.

Head and Skull
In proportion to body. Long, well filled out under eyes and clean cut, with good depth of muzzle. Seen from above and side, resembles an elongated blunt wedge. Upper part of head flat and free from wrinkle. Top of skull flat, slight stop; muzzle line extending parallel to top line of skull. Cheeks flat, lips tight. Nose solid black in black dogs, solid dark brown in brown dogs, solid dark grey in blue dogs and light brown in fawn dogs. Head out of balance in proportion to body, dish-faced, snipy or cheeky very highly undesirable.

Almond-shaped, not round, moderately deep set, not prominent, with lively, alert expression. Iris of uniform colour, ranging from medium to darkest brown in black dogs, the darker shade being more desirable. In browns, blues, or fawns, colour of iris blends with that of markings, but not of lighter hue than markings. Light eyes in black dogs highly undesirable.

Small, neat, set high on head. Normally dropped, but may be erect.

Well developed, solid and strong with complete dentition and a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Evenly placed teeth. Undershot, overshot or badly arranged teeth highly undesirable.

Fairly long and lean, carried with considerable nobility; slightly convex and in proportion to shape of dog. Region of nape very muscular. Dewlap and loose skin undesirable.

Shoulder blade and upper arm meet at an angle of 90 degrees. Shoulder blade and upper arm approximately equal in length. Short upper arm relative to shoulder blade highly undesirable. Legs seen from front and side, perfectly straight and parallel to each other from elbow to pastern; muscled and sinewy, with round bone in proportion to body structure. Standing or gaiting, elbow lies close to brisket.

Square, height measured vertically from ground to highest point at withers equal to length from forechest to rear projection of upper thigh. Forechest well developed. Back short and firm, with strong, straight topline sloping slightly from withers to croup; bitches may be slightly longer to loin. Ribs deep and well sprung, reaching to elbow. Belly fairly well tucked up. Long, weak, or roach backs highly undesirable.

Legs parallel to each other and moderately wide apart. Pelvis falling away from spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees. Croup well filled out. Hindquarters well developed and muscular, long, well bent stifle. Hocks turning neither in nor out. When standing, hock to heel perpendicular to the ground.

Well arched, compact, and cat-like, turning neither in nor out. Long, flat deviating feet and/or weak pasterns highly undesirable.

Previously customarily docked.
Docked: Docked at 1st or 2nd joint. Appears to be a continuation of the spine without material drop.
Undocked: Appears to be a continuation of the spine without material drop, kink or deformity. May be raised and carried freely when the dog is moving or standing.

Elastic, free, balanced and vigorous, with good reach in forequarters and driving power in hind quarters. When trotting, should have strong rear drive, with apparent rotary motion of hind quarters. Rear and front legs thrown neither in nor out. Back remains strong and firm.

Smooth, short, hard, thick and close-lying. Imperceptible undercoat on neck permissible. Hair forming a ridge on back of neck and/or along spine highly undesirable.

Definite black, brown, blue or fawn (Isabella) only, with rust red markings. Markings to be sharply defined, appearing above each eye, on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet and below tail. White markings of any kind highly undesirable.

Ideal height at withers: dogs: 69 cms (27 ins); bitches: 65 cms (251/2 ins). Considerable deviation from this ideal undesirable.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

We believe in the health testing of all our dogs used for our breeding.

The average life span of a Dobermann is 10 to 12 years of age but they can live longer and have been known to reach the age of 14 to 17

Dobemanns are a relatively healthy breed but there are conditions which Dobermanns can be susceptible to and it is recommended that the relevant health tests are carried out before consideration is given to breeding. All responsible breeders should health test and if they don’t ‘Ask Why?’

Dilated Cardiomyopathy(DCM)

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle.

It has been estimated that DCM is responsible for 25% of all premature deaths in the Dobermann breed. Dogs affected are usually aged between 5 to 9 years of age.

Although it is known that DCM can be caused by specific nutritional deficiencies, in many cases the cause of the disease is unknown. There are various theories, however. These include genetic factors, viral infections, exposure to chemical toxins and, amino acid deficiency. In DCM the heart fails to pump effectively. The contractions of the heart are weak and blood is not supplied to the body as efficiently as previously. In addition, the heart stretches and enlarges.

Because the heart’s ability to pump is impaired, circulation is also impaired. For a time the dog’s body may make adjustments to allow it to cope. However, at some point, the disease overrides the adjustments that have been made and the dog can become unwell and shows signs of heart failure. Sudden death may also occur without any previous warning or symptoms.

Signs of heart disease can initially be quite mild and so may be difficult to pick up. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms can become more severe. In DCM the disease tends to progress very quickly. Signs include:

  • Lack of energy/depression
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Laboured breathing
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Swollen abdomen (ascites).

Every Dobermann in this Country can take part in a National Screening Programme for DCM.
The administrative co-ordination centre is based at Liverpool University. There are 8 Cardiologists taking part Nationally with the qualifications to heart scan using the Echocardiography Doppler System. Appointments can be made by the owner contacting the screening centre or you can be referred from your own veterinary practice.

There is no discrimination on the sex, colour, age or health of any Dobermann taking part. The age limit starts at 3 years upwards.

Only the nominated Cardiologists taking part in the scheme can carry out the free screening programme. After the initial heart scan screening is then continued every 12 to 18 months. Individual results remain confidential.

The aim of the screening programme is hoped to establish the cause of DCM and to establish if there is a genetic inheritance and the type of inheritance with a view to finding an effective treatment and ultimate cure.

To find out more about the scheme and where the screening centres are located contact Liverpool University’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital on 0151 795 6100

October 2010

Important breakthrough-Genetic mutation identified

Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs DVM PhD of the College of Veterinary Medicine-Washington State University, USA, has identified a genetic mutation in a gene which is responsible for the production of protein responsible for the rhythm of the heart in Dobermanns. The mutated gene is believed to be one of the causes in the onset of DCM. The research is an important breakthrough but there are believed to be many different genetic mutations which can cause the disease. In humans for example 24 have been identified.

Washington State University have developed a test for the mutated gene which consists of the taking of two mouth swabs from the inner cheek. Kits can be obtained by contacting the University at

The current interpretation of the test is;


The dog does not have the mutated gene but this Does Not mean that it will never develop the disease.


Dogs that are positive will not necessarily develop significant heart disease and die from the disease. At this time the percentage of Dobermanns which have the positive mutation are not known. If the test is positive then the dog can be evaluated for signs of the disease using echocardiogram and Holter monitor.

The Positive dogs fall into two catagories

Positive Heterozygous – 1 copy of the mutated gene and 1 copy of a normal gene

Positive Homozygous – 2 copies if the mutated gene

At the present time the importance of the test is in the decision as whether to breed or not.

It is recommended that a Positive Heterozygous should only be mated with a Negative dog. Progeny may be screened for the mutation gene and over a few generations mutation negative puppies may be selected to replace the mutation positive parent so decreasing the number of mutation positive dogs.

Positive Homozygous is not recommended to be mated as progeny will also carry the mutated gene

25.06.2012 Dobermann Cardiac Troponin (cTnI) Testing Scheme

As a result of research conducted by Gerhard Wess in Germany the Dobermann Breed Council adopted a Troponin (cTnI) testing scheme. The test consists of your vet taking a blood sample which is then sent off to a nominated laboratory for testing.

Wess research indicated that Increased Troponin levels from the age of 2yrs of age correlated to early signs of echo cardiographic  status  of dobermanns which could indicate early stages of heart problems, including dcm.

A reduction in the cost of the test has been negotiated with the IDEXX Laboratories. The correct test to ask for is the IDEXX high sensitivity troponin-I test. Your vet should put the code TNID on the form for entitlement to the discount. If you have five or more dogs tested the cost is further reduced for each dog. Ask your vet to put the code TNIDB on the form to claim the discount. Your vet will also charge you a fee for taking the blood sample.

Upon receiving the results of the test please forward the results to Sue Thorn who is Health co-ordinator for the newly formed UK Dobermann Partnership. To obtain the contact address email Sue at

von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)

vWD is a recessive bleeding disorder where the blood fails to clot. It is similar to haemophilia in humans. In Dobermanns there are 3 groups that dogs fall into: clear, carrier or affected.

There is a DNA test which will identify which group your dog falls into. The test consists of taking two swabs from the inner cheek of the dog. Depending on its grouping determines which DNA group type it should be mated with.

A genetically clear dog will be clinically clear and cannot pass on the mutant gene to its offspring.

A carrier dog will also be clinically clear of vWD, but will pass the mutant gene onto approximately half of its offspring.

A genetically affected dog will be clinically affected and will pass a mutant gene onto each of its offspring.

It is therefore vital that all potential breeding stock are DNA tested for vWD before they are used in a mating programme so that breeders can avoid genetically incompatible pairings that might produce clinically affected offspring.

An affected dog should not be mated to another affected dog or a carrier dog. There is the added complication that genetically affected dogs are also clinically affected and so a decision to mate such an affected bitch would require a consultation with a veterinary surgeon to discuss the potential risks that pregnancy might bring.

A carrier can be used for breeding but should only be mated to a DNA clear dog. A litter produced from such a mating will contain both carrier and clear puppies.

The ideal pairing is 2 clear dogs when none of the litter will carry the affected gene.

There are a number of  companies who do the test which vary in cost from around £47 to £88. Vetgen and Laboklin are two of the companies. To obtain a swab kit for the test contact the mailing agent for the UK Suzanne Santoriello on 01234 851647 or email

When you receive the test result send a copy of the certificate to the  Kennel Club so they can include it on there health test database. Also send a copy to the health co-ordinator of the newly formed UK Dobermann Partnership Sue Thorn email


The current BVA/KC scoring scheme for hip dysplasia (HD) has been in operation since 1984.

Dysplasia means abnormal development, the degree of hip dysplasia present is indicated by a score assigned to each hip.

The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine aspects of the X-rays of both hip joints. The minimum hip score is 0 and the maximum is 106 (53 for each hip).

The lower the score the less degree of hip dysplasia present. An average (or mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme.

The minimum age for hip scoring is one year, each dog is only ever scored once under the scheme.

Contact your local vet to arrange an x-ray.

Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV)

Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous, or PHPV, is a congenital condition of the eye caused by the retention of elements of the foetal vascular supply to the lens. The condition results in variable amounts of fibrovascular plaque on the posterior lens capsule and possible posterior cortical cataract. PHPV is inherited in Dobermanns although the precise mode of inheritance is unknown.

For over 30 years the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has operated a hereditary eye disease screening programme in conjunction with the Kennel Club (KC) and the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS).

There are 31 appointed eye panellists around the country who can issue official certificates. The current list is held on the BVA eye scheme website.  You can arrange an eye examination directly with them or through your vet.


Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

The thyroid gland is one of the glands that make up the endocrine system. Endocrine glands are glands that produce hormones and chemicals that are distributed by the blood stream round the body. They affect almost every aspect of life, from reproduction and growth, through to food metabolism and stress. The thyroid gland is particularly involved in metabolism, and thyroid hormone affects almost all tissues in the body.

The Dobermann is one of several breeds of dog where hypothyroidism is especially prevalent. Symptoms usually start from the age of five but can be confused with a range of other illnesses.

Symptoms include:

Loss of appetite
Weight gain despite normal levels of feeding
Hair loss
Recurring skin infections
Lethargy or listlessness
Slow heart rate
Nerve disorders, including facial paralysis, head tilt, muscle wastage and stiffness
constipation, vomiting or diarrhoea

If  hypothyroidism is suspected your vet will carry out  tests. If diagnosed with hypothyroidism treatment is fairly simple. Your dog will be given synthetic thyroxine, either in tablet or liquid form, which it will need to take for life. Periodic checks will  ensure thyroid levels remain normal. There is no reason why your dog should not have a normal lifespan and lead an active life.

Rescue / Rehoming Groups

There are many reasons why a dobermann may need rehoming and unfortunately it is usually due to no fault of the dog. If you feel that you can offer a permanent loving home then please contact us or one of the dobermann rescue associations who will be able to help you with the right dog to suit your family circumstances.

Dobermann Welfare

Treasurer & Rehoming Coordinator is Sue Garner 01895 253578


Dobermann Rehoming Association

Rehoming Coordinator is Chris Omar 01276 855326 (Office hours) Fax 01276 855063



Dobermann Rescue

Main Kennels are Cranfield Kennels, Cranfield Park Road, Wickford, Essex SS12 9LG

Contact Mr & Mrs Gibbins 01268 733353

Hollows Boarding Kennels, The Hollows, Sheffield Road, Woodhouse Mill, Sheffield S13 9ZD

Contact Dot 0114 269550


If Unable to contact the main kennels then you can contact the following

Manchester Judith Balshaw 0161 7635423 email

Suffolk Helen Townsend 01473 832301 email

Barnsley Sue Thorpe 01226 286741

Brighton Allison Bradley 01273 684830

Essex Ann Gibbins 01268 733353

Friends Of Northern Dobermanns FOND

Rehoming and General Enquiries Pam Hall 01346 532227 email

Rehoming North East Lincolnshire Paula Teal 01472 398427 email

Membership and Donations Louise Greig 01224 868977 email


The Dobermann Trust

Registered Office. Jubilee House, East Beach, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire FY8 5FT

Contact 0330 111 4466 email


Dobermann In Need

Only rehoming in the South East of England

Contact Valerie McDonald 01243 542545 (Before 6pm)