Doberman Pinchers as a breed are genetically predisposed to a number of diseases though not as many as some breeds. Some are just anecdotal where as with others the genetic factors are known. Most pure breed dogs are breed rather closely to near relatives. This process results in offspring that have both the best and the worst characteristics. The puppies are often conformationally superior but any inherited traits are also increased in what is called “line breeding”. Some conditions puppies are born with and are called congenital and other inherited diseases the dogs develop with time are called acquired; both can be inherited traits.
Orthopedic: (Joint and bone disorders)
1) Hip Dysplasia
- Malformation and degeneration of the coxofemoral joints (hip joints), leading to osteoarthritis over time.
2) Elbow Dysplasia
- Includes 4 different disease processes: ununited anconeal process, osteochondrosis dissecans, fractured medial coronoid process, incongruity.
- Any one of the above diseases can lead to forelimb lameness and osteoarthritis.
3) Cranial Cruciate Rupture
- An acute or progressive degeneration of the cranial cruciate ligament in the stifle (knee), leading to osteoarthritis and joint instability.
- Inflammation of the long bones of the front and rear legs in young dogs – can cause pain and lameness.
5) Shoulder osteochondrosis
- A defect in the cartilage of the humerus in the shoulder joint, typically in young dogs, resulting in lameness, inflammation and degenerative joint disease.
1) Malignant Lymphoma
- Cancer of the lymphocytes; a white blood cell. It can appear in one or multiple the lymph nodes and multiple organ systems. Rarely is demonstrated as leukemia (cancerous cells circulating in the blood stream.)
- A proliferation of the vascular endothelium (cells that line the inside of blood vessels) – usually appears in the spleen or liver, but can be seen in the heart, skin or bone.
- A condition where the beta cells within the pancreas produce excessive amounts of insulin.
4) Ocular melanoma
- A type of cancer arising from melanocytes (pigmented cells) – can spread to other parts of the body.
5) Mast Cell Tumor
- A type of cancer arising from cells from the immune system, usually involved in nodules of the skin, but can be seen elsewhere.
- A benign tumor of adipocytes (fat cells), commonly seen in older animals.
- A benign skin tumor, usually on the head, ears or limbs, can be small and firm, sometimes the surface is ulcerated.
Dermatological: (Diseases of the skin)
1) Acute Moist Dermatitis (hot spot)
- A bacterial infection of the skin, initially caused by something irritating, such as fleas. The dog licks the area, there is loss of hair and it gradually becomes infected.
- A condition where an animal becomes allergic to normally harmless things, such as pollens, mites, or other allergens. The skin becomes very inflamed and itchy, usually leading to secondary skin infections.
3) Vitamin A Responsive Dermatosis
- Crusting and scaling around the base of hair follicles, resulting in dandruff and hair loss – resolves with supplemental vitamin A.
Cardiac: (heart disease)
1) Tricuspid dysplasia
- A congenital deformity of the valve separating th right atrium and right ventricle. This results in backwards leaking into the right atrium and can cause right heart failure if severe enough.
1) Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease)
- Excessive production of cortisol, caused by either a pituitary tumor (majority) or an adrenal tumor. Effects of this disease are multisystemic, manifesting in a variety of signs, including increased thirst, appetite, drinking, urination and panting.
- A condition where the beta cells within the pancreas become tumorous and produce excessive amounts of insulin.
3) Primary hypoparathyroidism
- A deficiency in parathyroid hormone, resulting in a decrease in levels of calcium in the blood stream.
Ocular: (Diseases of the eyes)
1) Retinal dysplasia
- An abnormal development of the retina (cells that line the back of the eye), which can lead to a degree of blindness.
- Opacification of the lens of the eye which can lead to eventual blindness.
3) Retinal atrophy
- Generalized degeneration of the retina (cells that line the back of the eye), eventually leading to blindness.
- An increase in the pressure within the eye which can lead to eventual blindness.
5) Persistent Pupillary Membranes
- Remnants of the blood vessels that supplied blood to the developing eye – can sometimes lead to a decrease in vision.
1) Laryngeal paralysis
- A dysfunction of the muscles that control the cartilage at the opening of the trachea – can cause loud airway noises and eventually lead to death due to obstruction of the trachea.
Immune Mediated / Hematological Diseases:
1) Hemophilia A
- Von Willebrand’s Disease of VWD: A decrease in blood clotting factor VIII, which leads to increased potential for bleeding.
2) Hemophilia B
- A decrease in blood clotting factor IX, which leads to increased potential for bleeding.
Gastrointestinal: (Diseases of the Stomach and Intestines)
1) Congenital idiopathic megaesophagus
- A diffuse dilation of the esophagus with decreased to no motility – resulting in difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food and aspiration pneumonia.
2) Congenital portosystemic shunt
- An abnormal flow of blood in the liver where blood flows from the GI tract to the venous system instead of through the liver, resulting in an increase in toxins in the bloodstream with neurological signs.
3) Chronic hepatitis
- Inflammation of the liver, eventually leading to fibrosis – not caused by an infectious agent, with the end result in hepatic failure.
Neurological: (Diseases of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves)
1) Idiopathic epilepsy
- Seizures, generally in younger animals, where a cause cannot be found.
2) Postnatal cerebellar abiotrophy
- Brain cells in the cerebellum are normal at birth, but degenerate gradually over time, resulting in loss of coordinated movement.
An excellent and throughout resource of all congenital and inherited diseases in dogs can be found at the following link: