TO ASK SMART QUESTIONS, YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOBERMAN HEALTH TESTS.
There are many health tests a breeder can perform on the dogs they breed. Many are included in the DNA test that each DDP Partner Breeder's dogs have already undergone. Every puppy buyer should have a solid understanding of Doberman disease-testing before considering any litter of puppies. To be sure your knowledge is up-to-date, visit our Doberman Disease Information Page.
ROUTINE HEALTH SCREENINGS/TESTS (non-DNA tests) EVERY PUPPY BUYER SHOULD CONSIDER:
- Heart Disease Test: ANNUAL Echocardiogram. Desired Results: Normal
- Heart Disease Test: ANNUAL 24-hour Holter Monitor. Desired Results: Normal
- Thyroid Test. Desired Result: Normal
- Eye Examination/Test: Desired Result: Normal
- Hip/Elbow Dysplasia Examination: Desired Result: OFA Good/Excellent or PennHIP results <0.3
TOUR THE PARTNER BREEDER'S DDP/EMBARK PRE-BREEDING 'MATCHMAKING' RESULTS. Ask the breeder for the Matchmaking Report they used before actually breeding the parent dogs of the litter you are considering. Reference the image below and be sure you understand the important things to understand:
- Shared Recessives: This will tell you what genetic mutations were present in BOTH parents and have a heightened chance of passing onto the puppies in this litter.
- Expected Offspring COI: This tells you how inbred (homozygous) the litter is expected to be. Because genetic health declines as the level of homozygosity rises, you want a lower number.
- Genetic Compatibility: This number represents complex genetic data and HIGH is preferred to Medium, and Medium is preferred to Low.
- Expected Offspring Colors: This genetic data tells what color of puppies are possible in the litters. All colors may not result; this data indicates only genetic possibilities.
- Average Litter Size: Though not always correlated, genetic robustness and diversity usually results in larger litters. Small litters can reflect diminished genetic diversity. However, litter size varies whether the dogs were mated naturally or through artificial insemination.
- Litters: While not reflective of genetic health of this litter, higher numbers of litters from individual dogs speed the erosion of genetic diversity in a breed. Breeders who keep the number of litters low for each of their dogs are doing good for the breed.
- Age: For various reasons, many breeders choose to breed females only two years old or older. As the Dobermans' problem with genetic disease rise, the most ethical breeders are breeding females when the are older to avoid the possibility of breeding a young dog only to find the dog dies of a genetic disease -- and puppies have already been created not knowing the dog was to face such a fate. Stud dog owners are now freezing semen and using it only after the male dog reaches a respectable age for the breed.
WORK WITH THE BEST BREEDERS. TALK WITH EACH BREEDER ABOUT THEIR DOGS' ANCESTORS. LOOK FOR BREEDERS WHO KNOW THEIR DOGS' PEDIGREES INSIDE & OUT AND ARE TRANSPARENT & OPEN.
- Ask the breeder about the ancestor's health and longevity. If the breeder points out a few long-lived dogs, ask about those dog's siblings and descendants. Did they also live a long time? Often a Doberman's pedigree will reflect long-lived dogs that fail to pass on that longevity. Does the breeder explain this or did they imply that the longevity was significant and heritable? Do they have the pedigree knowledge to substantiate that claim? While the DDP is researching the heritability of longevity, we do not yet know the intricate workings of why longevity is passed on and why it isn't. If you learn that the long-lived dog's siblings died early from genetic diseases, or that many descendants of that dog were short-lived, it may be unwise to rely on the longevity of that bloodline.
- For each dog on the pedigree, ask the breeder to tell you how old those dogs were at their death and what the cause of death was. Sometimes it's impossible for a breeder to find that information, despite their best efforts. You probably want to learn that the breeder has at least tried to find that information. Decide for yourself how much uncertainty you are comfortable with. Are there a suspicious number of deaths due to "accident" or "poisoning"?
- If your gut tells you to do so, or if you'd just be more comfortable with more information, verify claims by contacting the owners/breeders of the puppies' ancestors. Consider verifying the claims with the veterinarian caring for the dog in question. If something, or someone, doesn't seem credible, it may not be. Trust your instincts. But before walking away, share you concerns with the breeder and give them a chance to respond.
- The best breeders will not only be comfortable with your questions, they'll welcome them. Owners who have high standards when they are shopping for a puppy, often have the highest standards when it comes to providing their dogs with wonderful forever homes. Good breeders who have worked hard to do everything as well as is possible, are typically more than happy to talk for HOURS about their breeding program and the dogs they've raised. So when you ask these questions, set aside some time for an in-depth conversation during which you may get a valuable education about not just your puppy, but about the Doberman breed.