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The True Lifespan of Dobermans: All You Need to Know

Both existing and future owners often ask how long their Doberman will live for. While we can never exactly predict how long our dogs will live, it’s still something we think about a lot.

This article focuses on the average lifespan of Dobermans, typical causes of death, and tips that could help you prolong your Dobie’s life.


Average Doberman Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Doberman is 9-13 years old.

As health issues are a little more common in male Dobermans, females typically have a longer average lifespan.

Most healthy adult Dobermans that are provided a high-quality diet and have an active lifestyle will, in general, reach the end of this age expectancy range at 11-13 years old.

Which is very reasonable for a large breed.

4 Factors Affecting Doberman Lifespan

There are four key factors affecting the longevity of every Doberman. The combination of factors below ultimately determines how long your Dobie will live.

1. Genetics

Genetics is of course crucial in determining overall lifespan. Some Dobies are destined to live long lives and are gifted with great health through their genetics. Others, aren’t so lucky and may inherit certain health issues later on down the line. While genetics isn’t everything, it certainly does have a huge impact.

2. Health Issues

Whether or not your Doberman develops health issues is another huge factor determining how long they live.

Thankfully, not all Dobies do go on to develop health issues and many reach old age in full health.

When it comes to health issues, it could be the health issue itself that’s fatal, but in most cases, it’s the knock effects, change of mobility, and increase in stress on the body that prove more fatal in the long run.

3. Diet

Diet is something we have full control over, and it will definitely impact your Dobermans life over the long run.

It’s crucial to provide a high-quality natural diet that our dogs actually digest well. All dogs are different, and feeding a premium kibble, doesn’t always mean it will digest well.

Providing high-quality nutrition is one thing, but digesting and absorbing it isn’t equally important.

4. Lifestyle

Another thing we have control over is the overall lifestyle, and just like diet, it will have an impact on overall health.

From your Doberman’s daily routine, exercise levels, mental stimulation, the general environment, and stress levels, it all goes a long way in creating one big picture (good health, or bad health).

Meeting the basic needs and going beyond them will ensure your Dobermans lives the best life they can. Sometimes, this can be the difference between developing certain health issues or not.

6 Key Health Issues Affecting a Dobermans Lifespan

So why is it that some Dobermans pass earlier than others? Well, most of the time it comes down to a range of health issues. Let’s run through the common health issues that Dobies face as they age.

1. Dilated Cardiomyopathy:
A genetic condition that causes the heart to enlarge. Unfortunately, this condition is hard to detect and usually goes undiagnosed until it’s too late. Labored or difficult breathing is one of the earliest signs you may see, so it’s crucial to visit a vet if you notice breathing issues in your Doberman

2. Von Willebrand Disease:
This is a blood clot disorder that in simple terms leads to excessive bleeding internally, or even from a minor scrape or wound. This happens when there’s a lack of a plasma protein (Von Willebrand factor) in the blood which typically helps the blood to clot properly. There isn’t a cure for this condition so it’s important to limit the number of scrapes and cuts your Dobie gets throughout their life.

3. Hip dysplasia:
One of the most common health issues affecting many large breeds is CHD. Hip dysplasia happens when the head of the femur bone incorrectly meets up to the hip socket. This causes pain, stiff legs, lack of mobility, muscle loss, and a range of subsequent issues because of these ones. This condition can be managed effectively if caught early enough.

4. Cancers:
The no.1 cause of all death in canines remains to be various forms of cancer with prostate cancer and bone cancer (Osteosarcoma) being the most common in Dobermans.

5. Wobblers syndrome:
This is a condition that affects the spine and eventually causes dogs to walk with a wobble/limp (hence the name). Over long periods of time this condition causes muscle loss, difficulty in moving, and other progressive and debilitating symptoms.

6. Bloat / gastric torsion:
A common and often misunderstood condition affecting Dobermans is bloat/gastric torsion. Essentially, this is when too much gas builds up in the dog’s stomach, causing it to expand. In some cases, it doesn’t progress worse than this and the gas will leave, in others, it may cut off the blood circulation to the heart and stomach. As the issue progresses the stomach may twist (hence the torsion) which then doesn’t allow the gas to leave. Bloat can be a potential emergency situation whereby every second counts in order to save a dog’s life.

7. Larger breeds age faster:
This isn’t a health issue in and of itself but this conclusion does shed light as to why large breeds live shorter than smaller ones. Various studies revealed that larger breeds tend to age faster and are more prone to health issues (due to artificial selection when breeding).

Of course, not all of these happen to every Doberman! They are just the most common health issues that a Doberman might get. Most of these are genetic and inherited from birth which is why health screening before breeding Dobermans is absolutely crucial.

What Do Dobermans Usually Die From?

Although it’s a somber question, it’s frequently asked… So, what’s the number one cause of death for Dobermans?

Old age without health issues still remains to be the number cause of death in Dobermans. This is followed by various types of canine cancer and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (enlargening of the heart).

In the case of early deaths (under 10) health issues such as cancer, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Von Willebrand Disease, and Hip dysplasia are the most responsible.

What Was The Oldest Living Doberman?

We’ve found some reports of owners with Dobermans at 18 years old in various online forums (although this info hasn’t actually been verified). The oldest living dog in the world was a Dachshund and recently died at the age of 21.

It’s hard to find official information on the world’s oldest living Doberman, but we have no doubt it’s somewhere between 18-20 years old. We are frequently seeing Dobies coming in at 16 and 18 years old, so 18-20 seems a fair and logical guess.

Can We Help Our Dobermans Live Longer?

Naturally, we have many owners asking what they can do to help their Dobie live a long healthy life. Of course, whether or not our efforts will actually extend the life of our dogs is very hard to measure.

But, if we go by the science and medical research we know today, then doing our best to provide a healthy diet, routine, and lowering stress will increase the chances that our dogs remain healthy into old age.

1. Diet Tips

Feeding a high-quality diet over the course of years may be the difference between various health issues developing or not. Still, the better the nutrition we feed our Dobies, the stronger and healthier their bodies will be.

While I won’t get into the political debate between all the different diets, it’s crucial to find the best of whatever one you choose to provide. If that’s raw food, then it’s crucial to get ensure you’re feeding different food groups in the correct ratios, and if it’s kibble, ensure it’s from a premium brand that doesn’t fill their formulas with complete junk.

Another crucial thing is to get the macronutrients right. Hardworking breeds like Dobermans thrive on a high protein, medium to high fat, and low carbohydrate diet.

This best mimics that of a wild diet and typically digests the best. Avoiding high-carb dog food is essential as carbs lack nutrition and are simply “not needed” according to the National Research Council.

The quickest way to spot the quality of kibble is to check the carb content. Manufacturers that produce cheap low-quality foods will pump up the carbs, as they are cheap to source and easy to store.

Another good habit to get into is to never feed your Dobie table scraps or other processed human foods. Our foods often contain many allergens, high salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other nasty stuff. Stick to a low-calorie natural ingredient dog treat, and use that for training rewards.

Lastly, whatever diet you choose for your Doberman, ensure they thrive on it. Not all premium kibbles work well with all Dobermans just because they are premium. If your Dobies body isn’t getting on well with the food, that means there are nutrients not being absorbed. Look out for lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and food refusal.

2. Vet check ups

Most pet parents don’t stick to routine vet checkups, but that can be a big mistake. Instead of going years before having a general health check-up, schedule one for your Doberman every 6 months.

Twice a year is all it takes and your vet could detect an issue before it turns into something severe (perhaps even life-threatening).

Many health issues, even some of the cancers, can be treated and resolved effectively if they are detected early. Granted, not everything can be detected, but if what chance do we have if we don’t check and scan at all.

3. Exercise

Exercise isn’t just to help your Dobie calm down a little, it can actually have huge impacts on their overall health, especially over the course of multiple years.

The average healthy Doberman should receive at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Ideally, this would be split up into two sessions, 30 minutes in the morning at the start of the day, and 30 minutes in the evening.

Sufficient exercise can lower stress, improve cardiovascular function, and keep your Doberman’s mobility and movement in check. Of course, it’s important we don’t overdo it, but if you stick to 60-90 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise per day, you’re Dobie should thrive.

4. Lifestyle, environment & stress

As we mentioned before, your Dobies lifestyle as a whole is also crucial to their overall health and longevity.

Living in a calm, peaceful environment where they can easily relax and remain stress-free will prove pivotal over the course of several years.

Build up of stress and alone can lead to the progression of certain health issues. By finding ways to reduce stress, our Doberman’s bodies will remain healthier for longer.

How to reduce stress in Dobermans:

  • Avoid leaving them alone for too long
  • Provide plenty of physical exercise
  • Provide plenty of mental stimulation and brain training
  • Encourage plenty of socialization with other dogs and strangers (do what you can to make this safe)
  • Interact and engage with your Doberman
  • Prioritize your Doberman and treat them like any other family member

Do Female Dobermans Live Longer Than Male Dobermans?

It’s generally the case that Female Dobermans live longer than males. This is due to the fact that males are a little more prone to certain health issues like hip dysplasia and Dilated Cardiomyopathy which can lead to an earlier death.

Of course, this doesn’t mean every female Dobie goes on to live longer than every male. That’s not the case at all.

Various studies and research has revealed that the average life expectancy for female Dobies is around 11 and for males, it’s 10.5.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.