Physical Problems With Dobermans

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Most purebred dogs are prone to hereditary health issues, and doberman pinschers are no exception. Dobies might also experience physical problems common to large breed dogs that aren't necessarily genetic. Purchase your dobie from a reputable breeder who offers a health guarantee, along with checking out the pup's parents.

Heart Disease

Cardiomyopathy, diseases of the heart muscle and enlarging of the heart, occur frequently in dobies. Since it is so common, in addition to regular vet checkups, you might want to take your dobie to a veterinary cardiologist. Older dobermans may suffer from congestive heart failure.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint, is common in large dogs but also hereditary in dobies. Depending on how the joint is affected, it results in just a "hitch in his getalong" or complete lack of mobility in the hind end. Your vet can prescribe medication to ease minor discomfort, or perform surgery to give your dobie a new leash on life -- because once he recovers you and your pal can resume going on walks.


While hypothyroidism, or lack of thyroid hormone, appears frequently in dobermans, it's a fairly easy fix after diagnosis. Since the thyroid gland regulates so much of the body's metabolism, its lack shows up in all kinds of ways. Your dobie might gain substantial weight for no apparent reason. He may be tired, without that typical dobie energy. His hair looks dull, oily, dandruffy or falls out. Sometimes it's subtle -- that dog just isn't right. Once your vet makes a diagnosis through blood tests, your dog can be on the road to complete recovery with thyroid supplementation. You'll have to give him his medication daily for the rest of his life.

Wobbler's Syndrome

Formally known as cervical vertebral instability, dobies with wobbler's syndrome generally show signs of this spinal abnormality after the age of 3. Your dobie might literally wobble, with his legs lacking coordination. As the syndrome gets worse, your dobie can develop a strange gait, with a stiff way of walking. While wobbler's syndrome affects the hind legs the most, eventually the front legs also have problems. Your vet can recommend options, including surgery, to restore your pal's mobility.


Bloat isn't genetic in dobies, but if often affects large dogs with deep, wide chests like this breed. Technically known as gastric torsion, your dobie's stomach distends when it fill with gas and air. In a worst-case scenario, the stomach twists, cutting off its blood supply. Bloat is an emergency situation and can happen out of the blue. One minute your dobie seems just fine, but the next he's restless, breathing heavily, trying unsuccessfully to throw up or he just passes out. He's got to get to an emergency vet clinic immediately to save his life. Since dogs who bloat once might do it again, your vet can perform a procedure called stomach tacking to keep the stomach from twisting.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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