The Dobermans “look” is that of a compact, powerful, medium sized dog that shows an attitude and temperament reflecting great nobility and confidence. His short, tight coat and cropped ears and docked tail add to his clean lines and effectiveness as an elite protection breed. But, the docked tail and the cropped ears on the Doberman are historically VERY FUNCTIONAL in origin and serve important purposes.
A docked tail was an important characteristic of the Doberman because the tail represents a “body part” that can be easily and readily injured.Injury can happen by accident, such as knocking it against hard surfaces or getting it caught between surfaces (doors, windows, car doors) which can cause bruising, hematomas (pockets of blood), sloughing off of hair and tissue, gangrene and terrible fractures of the vertebra requiring major reparative surgery to treat and even save the tail. The tail also served as a handle that an attacker could grab and injure which could cause the dog to experience pain and trauma and cause him to abandon his job of protecting his owner. So docking was also a functional part of the Dobermans effectiveness as a family protector.
Cropped ears, likewise, were the logical, functional addition to complete the Dobermans physical equipment to make him the elite family companion and protection dog that he was, even from the beginning. There are two primary reasons that we desire cropped ears, and both have to do with FUNCTION. The first is that a neatly cropped ear is less of a “handle” for an attacker to hang on to. Since the Doberman has been bred to be a personal protector, a cropped ear gives the dog a decided advantage in a confrontation with a perpetrator. The second has to do with sound “localization”. An erect eared dog can localize the source of a sound to within a 5 degree cone,whereas a drop eared dog can only localize a sound source to within a 20 degree cone. Since Dobermans do SEARCH AND DETECTION as well as SEARCH AND RESCUE, cropped ears are a decided advantage.
The DOBERMAN **STANDARD** asks for “ears normally cropped and carried erect”. This simply implies that the ears are cropped in a normal manner. Responsible breeders have the ear-cropping surgery done and healed before they leave the breeders home.
The ears are cropped in a shapely manner when the Doberman is a youngster, usually between 7 to 12 weeks. The ear must belong enough to crop, and the puppy should not be so old that the surgery becomes more difficult for the ears to successfully stand.The Veterinarian puts the puppy under anesthesia and then proceeds to remove the excess ear on the outside portion of the ear. It is cut in a curving and graceful design and then the edges are stitched. The ears are taped over the head and wrapped with gauze for protection or they are glued with surgical glue to foam or a Styrofoam cup or other material to keep the ears upright and the edges exposed to the air for good healing. The stitches are removed after about 10 days, and the ears must be kept from puckering—which is the edges pulling together and causing the ear to shorten because of the scar tissue in areas along the cut edge. The ears are examined everyday to make sure they are healing well and when all edge sare totally healed they are ready to be taped.
After the edges are fully healed, with NO SMALL OPEN WOUNDS the ears can be rolled and TAPED. Below is a website that will show the usual manner that ears are taped. The technique is demonstrated by Carol Selzle Petruzzo, a very long time, successful breeder and Handler. The DPCA Breeders Education pages are invaluable for learning how to care for and tape the healed cropped ears. There are several ear taping articles available on the B.E. article web-pages.
There are a variety of lengths and shapes of cropped ears. The cropped ear should be in balance with the head and body. Ear cropping is an art and each cropper has their own style. The show conformation Dobermans are cropped longer and more stylish than most pet crops that an average Veterinarian would do. The longer, more stylish crops are beautiful, but they can take more time taping to get the ears to finally stand. Success with ears standing has a great deal to do with persistence of the person taping and the technique. Problems do arise and it is best to seek the advice of an experienced Breeder for a recommendation of an experienced Veterinarian that has cropped hundreds of ears.
DPCA Public Education Committee
NEWBORN TO SIX WEEKS
The NEWBORN Doberman puppy weighs, on average, between 10ozs. and 20ozs. They, like other canids, are born with their eyes shut and their ears tightly creased and basically closed. They nurse constantly, usually every 1 to 2 hours—taking in small amounts— which helps to sustain their metabolism and their growth. They grow rapidly, gaining steadily throughout the puppy stage, which is considered the first 12 months of their life. The Doberman is born with a tail and dew-claws on the inside of each front leg. Occasionally they also appear on the inside of the hind legs. At about 3 to 5 days, the tails are docked and the dewclaws removed by a Veterinarian. The tail is docked at about the second or third joint—the skin in cut, the bony vertebrae of the tail cut and the skin is stitched to close the wound. The same is done with the dewclaws. They are snipped off and the small little wound closed with a stitch or tail and dewclaws can be glued with surgical glue used by the Veterinarian. The puppy is usually introduced to solid food at around age four weeks. At this time they have their small “baby” teeth and are able to stand and “lap” and chew soft food. At about 6 weeks, they are eating fully on their own and can be fully weaned away from their mother. At six weeks, most puppies weight around 8 to 12 pounds, and start to really grow taller and heavier.
SEVEN WEEKS TO SEVEN MONTHS
At about 6 to 7 weeks the first vaccinations are given. These usually include DHPP, which are all the major infectious diseases that affect puppies and also PARVO which is a deadly disease of dogs, but especially of the young . It is highly contagious, as are Distemper and the others, and can quickly kill young pups through dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. The 7 week old puppy is eating on his own about four meals, now. And he continues to grow and develop. Between 7 and 12 weeks—the Dobermans ears are cropped. This is an operation done by the Veterinarian that removes a large portion of the outside of the ear. The Veterinarian removes the outside part of the ear, and does this in a slightly curving line from the base of the ear, near the head and up to the tip of the ear. The ears are sutured and either tapped over the head and covered with gauze, or are taped and glued to a wedge of foam, or a Styrofoam cup, or some other manner to keep the ears upright to allow for healing of the edges. The ears heal and after about 10 days, the sutures are removed and the ear can then be rolled and taped to train the ear to stand erect, rather than flopping down at the side of the head. It is important that the ears are taped properly and for the length of time that it takes to make sure they will continue to stand properly. The breeder is invaluable for this task and they should be able to help directly, or locate another person or breeder that can assist. Please look under the “EARS” Section of this site for more information about ears. Please follow the VACCINATION protocol that your Veterinarian suggests as these diseases can be deadly.
At about 12 weeks of age, the Doberman starts the teething phase of its life. This continues for the next 3 months as the baby teeth fall out and the new permanent ones come in. Often you will find teeth on the floor. More often the puppy will just swallow them. Don’t be alarmed, as this is normal. During this time the puppy can have swollen, bleeding gums and want to chew everything it can. This is the time to provide real bones, rawhides, pig ears and other safe things for the puppy to chew on. Also, large stuffy toys that they can bite down on and help some of those teeth come through are helpful—BUT DO SO UNDER YOUR SUPERVISION!! Puppies at this age chew and swallow anything and everything that they can fit into their mouth. BEWARE!!! Nylon bones, safe bones, big rawhides and such are safe as long as they are large and the puppy cannot swallow them.
This is a very CRITICAL time with swallowing things and many puppies end up with blockages and require surgery. COMMON SENSE is necessary when dealing with puppies. At about 12 weeks, the puppy can usually be put on a feeding schedule of three feedings instead of four. By 5 to 6 months, the puppy will more than likely be eating twice a day, with maybe a snack of a couple biscuits in-between the two meals. You will need to observe the puppy’s weight and body condition. The puppy should be neither too thin or too fat. You should be able to “feel” his ribs when you push in on the sides.
At six months, the Doberman puppy has all their permanent teeth, or nearly so. The ears should be standing, or if the crop is very long, still being taped. And this is also the time that the puppy should be either neutered, if a male—or spayed if a female. This operation can be done sooner at the advice of your Veterinarian and ALL PET PUPPIES SHOULD BE SPAY/NEUTERED. There are NO EXCEPTIONS. There is no need to keep intact Dobermans, or any dog, unless you are a reputable breeder of the highest caliber that is breeding the top animals of the breed for improvement. The vaccinations are complete by this age, and the puppy is old enough to start Obedience Classes or training to insure the puppy will be a good member of our society and an asset to its owner and family. A six month old puppy is about half to 3/4 the height that it will eventually be. It is difficult to give exact numbers here, but a six month old is looking very much like an adult, but slightly smaller.
SEVEN MONTHS TO ONE YEAR OLD
This time period is one of continued growth and maturing for the puppy. The females are usually close to being done growing height wise. They will continue to fill out and mature over the next year. The males will continue to grow and mature over the next year and may even put on a slight amount of height, until they reach their adult maximum. Remember the ideal height for males is 27 1/2 at the wither and 25 1/2 at the wither for females. The wither is the highest point of the Dobermans back, just behind the neck and before the back. The measurement is taken from the wither to the ground. The weight’s for both males and females will increase over the next year—very slightly for the females and more for the males. At 12 months, a Doberman is considered an adult, as most upward growth is finished. The filling out and maturing will continue for more than a year. A male is not considered at his prime until about age 3 + years and a female at about age 2 to 3 years.
ONE YEAR OLD THROUGH ADULT AGE SIX YEARS OLD
The Dobermans lifespan is about 9.6 years, on average. The adult phase of their life is from one year old until the dog reaches about 7. During this mature phase the Doberman is at it’s peak and prime. These years are when the Doberman is most active, and is doing most of the family activities, show events such as Obedience and Agility and just enjoying life with his people. The training and Obedience is done and life is good. Puppyhood is over and you can trust the Doberman more as that tendency to chew and destroy with his mouth because of teething is over. This is a great time for both Doberman and his family.
SEVEN YEARS AND OLDER
At seven years old, the Doberman is considered a senior or a Veteran, according to the Show language. They are beginning or already have slowed down. Maybe they are showing signs of some arthritis or muscular aches & pains. For many, the spirit is willing, but the body is not able. This is a slowing down period for many Dobermans. They may need a different diet, and the medical needs will probably change. Heart problems and Cancer are major concerns. Don’t forget to check the Medical Information on our site to stay informed of the problems associated specifically to Dobermans. Teeth can also be a problem as the Doberman ages. Be aware of your Senior and check them every day for lumps, bumps and anything that looks different. Observation at ALL life stages is important, but because of age being a factor for so many problems showing up in the Doberman, it is good to pay close attention to the skin, joints, teeth and activity level. Many Doberman start to gain weight as their activity level slows. Be aware that a Doberman in proper weight is the best condition for his overall health.
DPCA Public Education Committee