How to Care for a Doberman Pinscher

by Susan Paretts
The ears on a Doberman may or may not be cropped.

The ears on a Doberman may or may not be cropped.

Doberman image by Stana from Fotolia.com

The Doberman pinscher originated in Germany around 1900, developed from a combination of breeds including the Rottweiler, Thuringian shepherd, black and tan terrier and German pinscher. These medium-sized dogs were originally bred to be guard dogs and are very loyal to their owners. With their shiny, short coats and muscular bodies, the Doberman pinscher appears alert and regal in his stature. Depending on whether you want to show your dog professionally, certain aesthetic surgeries can be performed on his ears and tail to keep his appearance to the breed standard.

Step 1

Take your Doberman pinscher to a veterinarian and have him vaccinated. Dobermans are especially vulnerable to the deadly parvovirus if not properly vaccinated, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The initial vaccination is given at 6 weeks of age and every four weeks afterward until the dog reaches 16 to 20 weeks old.

Step 2

Bring your Doberman to a veterinary surgeon to have his ears cropped and tail docked if you plan to show him. The American Kennel Club requires that a Doberman have his ears cropped to an erect style and his tail docked at the second joint. These are both cosmetic procedures. Ear cropping alters the look of the ears, making them stand erect, and requires the taping of the ears after surgery to train them to stand up. Docking shortens the tail.

Step 3

Exercise your Doberman daily to prevent any destructive behaviors from developing. This breed requires a significant amount of exercise, more than other breeds, so playing games outdoors such as fetch with dog toys or engaging in a brisk run with him will tire him out. Dobermans are prone to compulsive behaviors such as excessive flank licking if not given outlets for their energy or when stressed. Outdoor activities can prevent these issues from starting, helping to relieve any anxiety.

Step 4

Clicker train your Doberman to respond to verbal commands. Dobermans are intelligent dogs that require the mental stimulation that training provides. This type of training involves associating the sound of a click with a food reward, then using the sound of the clicker to indicate to the dog what is required of him. Initially, click the training device, then treat repeatedly. Once the dog associates the noise with the treat, move on to verbal commands, clicking when, after you have given a command, the dog performs the required activity.

Step 5

Groom your Doberman with a short wire brush to keep any debris out of his fur. The breed's short fur requires infrequent brushing and does not typically shed very much. Clean the coat with a damp washcloth and spritz a bit of leave-in conditioner on it to ensure that your dog's coat appears shiny. Bathe your dog only when necessary.

Step 6

Feed your Doberman a high-calorie diet if he is exercised regularly to keep up with his caloric requirements for proper nutrition. Choose soy-free dry food and soak it before serving to prevent a condition called bloat, which is common in larger breeds such as the Doberman, recommends the Dog Channel website. Bloat causes a potentially fatal swelling of the stomach. Avoid feeding your Doberman for one hour before or after exercise, which can also help prevent bloat.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog toys
  • Clicker
  • Dog treats
  • Short wire brush
  • Washcloth
  • Leave-in conditioning spray

Tips

  • Keep your Doberman indoors during cold weather, as he can chill easily because of his short coat. Purchase a dog sweater or coat for him when walking him in cold conditions.
  • Give your Doberman interactive toys, such as treat-containing chew toys, to engage his mind during the day when you are not home. This prevents destructive behavior in this breed from developing.
  • Take your Doberman for regular vet visits to check for certain conditions that are more prevalent in this breed including cancer, hyperthyroidism, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease and dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • If you cannot play with or exercise your Doberman outdoors as much as he needs, run him on a treadmill to ensure he gets the exercise he needs to prevent compulsive or destructive behaviors.
  • Socialize your Doberman from an early age to prevent any issues with aggression later in life toward other people or dogs. Have your young Doberman play with other dogs and expose him to a variety of other people starting at 12 weeks old.
  • This intelligent, obedient dog can be trained to be a guide dog for the blind with a certified guide dog instructor.
  • If you don't plan to show your dog, you can leave his ears and tail in their natural state.
  • Teach your Doberman to participate in agility trials. The preparation is both physically and mentally stimulating, which are both important for this breed.

Warnings

  • Purchase your dog from a reputable breeder, registered with an organization such as the AKC. Improperly bred Dobermans can be aggressive.
  • Check with your local municipality before purchasing or adopting a Doberman pinscher. Some laws, specific to potentially aggressive breeds such as the Doberman, prevent the ownership of these breeds within certain locations or pose specific restrictions on them.
  • Never attempt to crop your Doberman's ears or dock his tail yourself; this is a procedure that requires a veterinarian to perform and prevent infections from setting in.
  • If your Doberman shows signs of stomach swelling, drooling or restlessness, he may be suffering from bloat and requires emergency veterinary care.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.