6 Mobility and Health Conditions Affecting the Doberman Pinscher

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Heart Problems in Dobermanns

Heart problems are one of the biggest health issues for Doberman Pinschers. Unfortunately, 60% of Doberman dogs are genetically predisposed to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening condition that causes a dog’s heart to enlarge and become too thin and weak to pump blood effectively. Unfortunately, this genetic condition can often go undiagnosed until the Doberman with DCM suffers heart failure, becomes weak and collapses. Therefore, every Doberman should have a heart exam every year to check for early signs of heart disease.

Wobbler Syndrome

Wobbler syndrome is a spinal condition that causes dogs to walk with irregular, wobbly steps. Dobermans are among the dog breeds most commonly affected by Wobbler syndrome. 50% of all Wobbler cases occur in Doberman Pinschers. Symptoms of Wobblers in Dobermans begin in middle age, around six years of age. Leg weakness, difficulty standing, and neck pain are usually the first signs of Wobblers.

A Doberman wheelchair provides stability and support to keep a disabled Doberman upright. A Doberman Pinscher with Wobbler will likely need a full support or quadruple wheelchair. A four wheel dog wheelchair will provide optimal stabilization even with the most wobbly steps.

Eye Problems in Dobermans

Doberman Pinschers are predisposed to many eye conditions that can lead to vision loss. For example, progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, is a genetic condition that affects the rods of a dog’s retina. As a result, the rods slowly die off, causing vision to deteriorate until the Doberman becomes completely blind. Although there is no cure for PRA, it has been suggested that antioxidant supplements may slow disease progression and help animals maintain some daytime vision. Yet, no clinical evidence is available to show its effectiveness.

If your pet loses their sight, the best thing you can do is help them adjust to their changing vision. Vision loss is disorienting for pets. By limiting furniture movement and keeping things in the same position, your pet can adapt better to new circumstances. Blind pets that walk into walls or bump noses can benefit from a blind dog halo. The halo is worn to protect them and acts as a bumper to prevent injury and alert them to nearby obstacles before they hit them.

Intervertebral disc disease

IVDD is a ruptured spinal disc that compresses the spinal cord and can lead to loss of mobility. Although more common in Dachshunds or Corgi, IVDD can also occur in Dobermans. The location of the ruptured disc and the severity of spinal cord involvement will determine whether a dog has hind leg weakness or paralysis. IVDD surgery can be performed to remove material from the disc, but it may take several months of rest and rehabilitation for a dog to regain mobility. Some dogs with IVDD may never regain function in the hind legs.

Doberman joint conditions


Like all large dogs, the Doberman is at risk for several joint conditions, with arthritis being one of the most common. Although senior Doberman Pinschers are prone to developing arthritis as they age, it is manageable, especially if detected early.

Hip dysplasia

Disabled Doberman enjoys his Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair

Although hip dysplasia is not as common in Dobermans as it is in other giant dogs, around 7% of the breed suffers from hip dysplasia. A dog can experience crippling lameness and joint pain in severe cases of hip dysplasia.

Early detection is key to keeping a dog’s joints healthy. During regular vet visits, your vet will check your dog’s hips and watch for signs of dysplasia. Keeping your Doberman at a healthy weight and giving him daily joint supplements will help keep his joints healthy. For mild to moderate hip dysplasia, wearing a hip brace can help the dog move around.

von Willebrand disease

Von Willebrand’s disease is a significant health problem in Doberman Pinschers. Half of the Doberman breed are genetic carriers of Von Willebrand disease, with 30% affected by the condition. vWD is a blood disorder where a dog’s blood does not clot properly. Therefore, when injured, a dog with vWD can bleed uncontrollably, quickly becoming a life-threatening emergency. Before any surgery, a Doberman Pinscher should be tested for Von Willebrand genetic markers to understand the risks of the procedure.

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