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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

Thanks for reading. I have closed in on my next puppy to be either a Lab or a Dob. I know they are a bit different. The thing is I like the labs affectionate nature but at same time I love the fact that a Dobe might be able to protect my family if the need arose and I likes its clean demeanor.

I would like to hear from folks who have had both, how different a Dobe is wrt how it behaves with the family. Iam.worried the Dobe might bond to only one person in the family wrt showing affection and not listen to others either..

Can someone please help me out here ?

Thank you.
 

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I can tell you that right now you need to be VERY careful what breeder you get a Doberman from. The breed has a known heart health issue. Please read this (and do a search for more articles):

In both Doberman and Labradors you need to find a breeder that does more than show them in conformation classes. You should try to find someone who does a sport with the dog (a sport the dog was designed to do). A working Labrador is a LOT of dog and a working Doberman is as well.

The issue I have seen in BOTH breeds is that popularity has resulted in a nerve issue. This means Dobermans that will run from pressure or come off a sleeve when doing protection work and bite defensively out of fear and Labradors that are a bit unstable and are not friendly, but will become fearful and bite if a stranger approaches.

A well bred Doberman is energetic and shows confidence and will tend to be a one person dog (and sometimes a one family dog) and is aloof with strangers. A well bred Labrador is also very energetic but much more accepting of strangers.

Both dogs, when well bred, need a JOB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmm the nerve issue you refer to is interesting. Can you give some references please ?

Thank you.
 

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Roughly half of all Dobermans will develop Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Annual testing with a 24 hour ekg and cardiac ultrasound can help catch early signs (irregular heart beat and/or thickening of the heart wall)s, but sadly, for a lot of owners, the first sign their dog has a heart problem is when they drop dead. DCM is in all lines, working and show, and has been from almost the very beginning.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now that DNA test kits are available I wonder why no one is taking steps to find a line that does not have these issues. Iam sure that would be more worthwhile to potential owners ...
 

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There are currently two known markers associated with DCM in Dobermans. Dogs testing -/- for one or both of them can still develop DCM, while dogs testing +/+ for one or both of them can not ever show signs of it. That's why breeders still need to do annual holters and echoes on breeding dogs. Ideally, all Dobe owners would be doing them, so that they can step in early with medication if a problem is noticed.
 
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Hmm the nerve issue you refer to is interesting. Can you give some references please ?

Thank you.
Not sure what you mean. A dog that is nervy tends to be a bit unstable. It can manifest as fear or "edge" depending on how much is present along with other traits. Dobermans in IGP or Schutzhund/Ring sport of PSA will often show nerve by coming off the bite. Some will defecate while working in the worse cases. Labs will be uncharacteristically worried and fearful and may defensively bite. Nerve can manifest as sharpness (bite first and ask questions later).

A little nerve can make a dog a bit flashy in protection sports. Too much nerve can be the dog's undoing. You want to talk to breeders who work their dogs in something the dogs were bred to do.. and you want to have open discussions about health testing (hips, elbows, DCM, cancer and so forth) with the breeder. Ask what the breeder is breeding for. If it is color and conformation and not for sound temperament and being sound physically.. well be pleasant and look elsewhere.

There are LOTS of breeders. That does not mean there are lots of GOOD breeders. Be open to conversation. Even when dogs are bred for working there are usually puppies in a litter that make good pets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not sure what you mean. A dog that is nervy tends to be a bit unstable.
Thanks for replying - I was referring to your statement "The issue I have seen in BOTH breeds is that popularity has resulted in a nerve issue."
What i meant is that I havent read any publications or articles around this issue.

This seems to be a temperament problem from how you describe. Probably the desired temperament missing in most lines is what you are referring to?

If that is indeed what you referring to, selecting the puppy carefully seems to be the only way around this.

Would that be right?

Thanks
 

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Thanks for replying - I was referring to your statement "The issue I have seen in BOTH breeds is that popularity has resulted in a nerve issue."
What i meant is that I havent read any publications or articles around this issue.

This seems to be a temperament problem from how you describe. Probably the desired temperament missing in most lines is what you are referring to?

If that is indeed what you referring to, selecting the puppy carefully seems to be the only way around this.

Would that be right?

Thanks
When a breed becomes very popular people breed puppies to meet the market. While those who care about the breed insure the dogs they are combining to make a litter are temperamentally and physically sound there are others who just breed to sell puppies and make money. The second sort of breeder does not look at the dogs being bred and try to meet a breed standard and workability.. they are simply filling the market. Often (but not always) the price of the puppy will reflect this.

This is why the breeder is so important. Even those who do health tests but then breed for conformation only can do a disservice to the breed. I have certainly seen this in the breed I am involved in.

That said, a breeder who breeds Labradors for Field Work is going to produce dogs that are confident and have high energy. The breeder who breeds Dobermans that will take a bite and not back off is also going to produce a dog that is confident and high energy. Both dogs, if well bred, will need a job. It does not necessarily mean the you must take up hunting if you have a high energy Lab.. but it may mean you need to do more than take the dog for a walk or throw a ball.. you may need to do more such as agility or other training that uses the dog's energy and brains. Same for the well bred Doberman. You don't have to take up protection sports such as PSA or IGP etc. but you will need to do something high energy that is more than a walk around the block or tossing a ball.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I really am not sure these days who has the patience to be the right breeder. Especially if it means engaging the dogs in the activity they are designed to perform. Seems like a tough challenge to be one and an even bigger one to find the right breeders epecially maybe out of Europe?
 

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Doberman temperament has changed for the better overall, IMO. They were originally very sharp dogs. Supposedly, one of the early German imports earned his AKC championship before a judge finally had enough courage to open his mouth to check his teeth, and discovered he didn't have proper dentition.

While there are some good Doberman breeders in Europe, there are also a lot of not so good ones. Health testing is much more common in North America.

Finding a breeder who will stand behind the dogs they produce, and are there to help address any issues that arise is a much better option than finding the first person willing to sell you a puppy, and leaves you foundering when things go bad.
 
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LeoRose is correct about temperament change in the Doberman. They were certainly a bit sharp but they also were much more confident and a lot less nervy.

These dogs were bred to work and not be pets.. they were patrol dogs in various military, police and prison situations. So, to meet the pet dog market the breeders started to breed dogs that were a bit softer. The issue is that there are dogs without as hard a temperament but that softer temperament is often coupled with less confidence.. and now you have a dog that has nerve issues. Maybe no the first generation.. or even the second.. but now we are here today.

The breed originated originated in Apolda, in Thueringen, Germany, around 1890. Now, when the dogs are not bred exclusively to work in patrol situations those that WOULD work well like that are usually not suitable for pet homes. With no working homes these dogs end up being culled from the breeding pool. With that cull was the loss of confidence and the introduction of a more pet like dog in temperament but increasing the level of nerve. The result of insufficient confidence and too much nerve is a dog that is less stable with a spectrum from being defensive but OK to being very scared and also unsuitable as a pet (or working dog).

An interesting aside, my breed is the German Shepherd and originated about the same time as the Doberman. One of the GSD lines is from Threringen and that line actually introduced some nerve into the breed.

Perhaps from this you can see that breeding dogs is not for the faint of heart. You need to know what you are doing and you cannot be kennel blind. I can say that a REALLY well bred working line German Shepherd from a really good breeder may cost north of $3000 at 8 weeks old. I have no idea what a comparable Doberman or Labrador would cost.
 
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