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.
SIX WEEKS …
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 nor 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, though the largest teeth, the canines or fang teeth and the large pair of cheek teeth, called the carnassial pair are still developing both above and below the gumline. The ears will still require posting through this teething stage but at 6 months the base of the ears should be starting to stand. No matter the length of the ears it is typical for some posting/ taping to be needed past 6 months of age and often into 8-9 months for average cropped ear lengths.
***In the past it was a standard veterinary recommendation that puppies of all breeds be spayed or neutered at approximately 6 months of age. New veterinary medical literature now suggests that there are serious health issues associated with this pre-puberty spay or neuter age range in large breed dogs such as the Doberman Pinscher. Early age spaying/neutering has been linked to increased risk of some musculoskeletal disorders such as hip dysplasia, and a tendency to tear the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee joint. Sex hormones that rise during puberty are part of the cascade of physical events that cause a puppy’s bone growth to slow down and bones to mature. A lack of these hormones at this crucial age can cause dogs to be taller and lankier, which affects their bones, joint angle and function of bones and joints throughout their lives. Additionally, dogs that were spayed/neutered earlier in life have been found to have a higher incidence of some cancers when compared to intact dogs of the same breed. As the science of veterinary medicine advances there will be new and more complete information regarding these important health outcomes in dogs. Current, though very recent recommendations regarding the appropriate age for spay/neuter for large breed dogs is at 18-24 months of age. At this age your dog is skeletally mature and has gone through puberty. A dog of this age has gained the benefits the normal physiologic processes of puberty and maturation provide and can be spayed or neutered. There are health benefits to spaying and neutering for the dog, such as prevention of some reproductive organ cancers, pyometra (infection of the uterus), in some cases decreased aggression and desire to roam, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. It is important to realize an 18–24-month-old female dog will have come into “season”, aka had an estrous or breeding cycle likely twice by that age and must be separated completely from intact(non-neutered) male dogs of all breeds for several weeks to prevent pregnancy and an unwanted litter of puppies. Please consult with your veterinarian for the most recent medical data on what age is best for you and your Doberman to have her/him spayed or neutered. *** 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. A reputable breeder will have spent significant money having these potential breeding Dobermans tested for their health and genetic fitness before producing puppies.
At 6 months of age, routine puppy vaccinations are complete, and the puppy is old enough to start Obedience Classes or training to ensure the puppy will be a good member of our society and an asset to its owner and family. A six-month-old puppy is approximately one half to 3/4 the height that it will eventually be. It is difficult to give exact numbers here, but a six-month-old looks 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 its 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 are done, and life is good. Puppyhood is over and you can trust your 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, your 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 Dobermans 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.
Initially submitted by
Theresa Mullen 2001
***Updated by Dr. Kay Backues, DVM 2023
DPCA Public Education Committee
Gretel Torres de la Riva, Benjamin L Hart, Thomas B Farver et al, Neutering dogs : Effects on joint disorders and cancers in golden retrievers. Plos one, 2013, January; 8(2). E55937.
Benjamin L Hart, Lynette A Hart, Abigail P Thigpen et al, Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence. Vet Med 2016 August;2(3): 191-199.
Lynette A Hart, Benjamin L Hart, An Ancient Practice but a New Paradigm: Personal Choice for the Age to Spay or Neuter a Dog. Front Vet Sci, 2021 January; 8(0): 603257.
Benjamin L Hart, Lynette A Hart, Abigail P Thigpen et al, Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence. Front Vet Sci, 202 January;7(0)388.