Scientific studies don’t always come to the same results when it comes to longevity, but we can be confident based on research that the average Doberman lifespan is somewhere between 9 and 11 years old. To help your dog live the longest possible time, buy a puppy from health tested parents, give them a nutritious diet and just the right amount of exercise.
- What the science says
- Lifespan limiting factors
- Buying and raising a healthy puppy
Doberman Lifespan Research
A UK survey of Doberman mortality in 2010 managed to collect data about the lifespan of 100 Doberman dogs. The median average lifespan of these pets was 10.5 years, and the longest living Doberman among them made it to a grand old age of 16.5.
A further dog mortality study performed in 2013 (also in the UK) included 37 Dobermans. They enjoyed a median average lifespan of 9.2 years. The longest surviving Doberman in the study lived to 13 years old.
Why the difference?
The 2010 study relied on Doberman owners self-reporting on their dogs’ health and lifespan, whereas the 2013 study secured direct access to the veterinary clinics’ records. Only 20% of the Doberman owners approached in 2010 returned the survey. Perhaps these owners were generally more conscientious about their dogs’ health in all respects.
This includes attending health checks and monitoring diet and exercise, as well as contributing to information requests from researchers for the benefit of all dogs. Their dogs might have enjoyed the benefit of that diligence, and achieved longer average lifetimes as a result.
Do Larger Dogs Die Younger?
It has been repeatedly observed that large, giant breeds live much shorter lives on average when compared with smaller breeds. You could make an argument for this applying to the Doberman too. Standing at 24-28 inches tall, they are certainly a big dog, and their lifespan is slightly shorter than a lot of smaller dogs.
One 2006 study into this phenomenon concluded that it is most likely the result of artificial selection for extremely high growth rates in large breeds.
This may have increased the risk of severe developmental disorders which impact life expectancy.
This raises a good point. Dogs naturally were never meant to reach this size, and it is only with human influence have such giant dog breeds been achieved. Larger dogs are more prone to developmental disease due to this, so it certainly is a factor.
Another study, published in 2013, came to the conclusion that the shorter lifespan is a result of larger dogs actually tending to age quicker than smaller breeds.
These two factors together are most likely the cause of the shortened lifespan we see in giant breeds, and to some extent, in the Doberman. However, one more factor could be the severe health issues that this breed is predisposed to.
Doberman Health Risks
Unfortunately, the Doberman is at an increased risk for some severe health conditions that may very well cut their life short. A big killer of deep-chested dogs, including the Doberman, is a condition called bloat.
When a dog is experiencing bloat, their stomach will fill with gas and then twist, cutting off the blood supply to the digestive system while simultaneously impeding blood from returning to the heart.
The lack of blood supply leads to cell death and toxins being released into the bloodstream. It has a sudden onset and can be fatal in just a few hours.
Another serious condition that can lead to a short life in the Doberman is a heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. This condition is characterized by an enlarged heart that is unable to pump blood efficiently.
It is a progressive condition that can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Finally, von Willebrand’s disease is an incurable condition that can be prevalent within Dobermans. This is where the blood struggles to clot and can lead to minor abrasions or cuts bleeding heavily without end.
Spontaneous bleeding from the mouth and nose can also occur.
Buying Healthy Puppies
Some of the health conditions we outlined above have a genetic basis, and with good breeding practices, they can be avoided.
Breeding Dobermans should undergo health screening before having puppies. Ask your breeder for evidence of good hip scores, and clear tests for heart disease, von Willebrand’s and autoimmune thryoiditis. If the parents are clear then the puppies can’t inherit these conditions.
Diet Impacts Lifespan
A well-balanced and nutritious diet can go a long way in promoting good health in your Doberman. It is especially important during their time as puppies. Since they grow quickly, it is imperative that you fulfil their daily nutritional needs so they develop correctly.
The amount of food you give is also important to think about! Obesity can be a real problem in dogs and can have a significant impact on their life expectancy.
Fulfilling Their Exercise And Grooming Needs
Dobermans are incredibly athletic and energetic dogs that need a lot of daily exercise to be happy.
Sufficient exercise keeps their bodies fit and minds stimulated, which can go a long way in keeping them strong and healthy.
Grooming For Health
While this breed does not need much in the way of grooming, it’s still an important aspect. Good hygiene can help protect against infection and irritation.
I have a blue Doberman had him since he was 8 weeks old today he’s 14 and going strong he was born CHRISTMAS day 2007 we run every morning and evening the only major thing we had done was have his rear tooth pull other then that healthy as can be hopefully he’s around for awhile longer GOD willing
Amen! My Lola (bluer dobie) made 9 in April 2023!
I have had my min pin since 2004 is still very much alive. He can’t see or hear as good as he used to. He has been with me since I was 14 I am now 32 with a 8 year old son. He is very sweet and protective I can’t imagine life without him.
I have had dobies all my life usually in pairs but the odd few years singular the oldest was 13yrs old named Demar and had to be put down to enlarged heart syndrome the youngest 12mths due to an incurable gut/bowel deasease. All our dobies have been very much loved and missed we said never again could we go through the pain of loving and loosing one.
7yrs later we bought a puppy we’d requested from France 🇫🇷 and waited for him and we named him Bodie we love the bones of him. He will be 6yrs old this Christmas eve nd thinks he’s still a puppy.
He just wants to be with you all the time even if your in the loo (toilet)
The reason for buying him is my life expectancy is short due to a heart and bone prob and so my husband needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning when I’m no longer here and Bodie is the answer.
(I no they are hard work to the age of 2yrs and lots of people give up because they can’t cope with them because they need good training/disapline/routine if your not willing or CANT put the time and effort in DONT GET ONE but if you CAN and DO you will have an amazing dog/companion for many years!!)
Bodie is brown and tan and docked tailed which he still wiggles madly with happiness and comes into our bedroom at 8am. On the dot ….licks my husband ear to get up and barks if he does not wake up!.job done! Haaaa haaa.
I my husband and children do love and have loved them all and the breed… they are a wonder of nature
Vera Bincarousky says
My 26 inch female Doberman is turning 14.1/2 yrs in December. She has 6 obedience titles and still has a great appitite and playes ball every day with long walks at the park with my two other dogs. The only health issues is non cancerous bumps and hurt her ACL which took us 6 months to get back into shape. She loves every human being and most dogs.
Harriet and Louie Aquino says
Vader lived to be 13.5 years old. He was rescued at 18 months from a doberman shelter in Tallahaasee Florida March 26, 2009. He traveled to Michigan for 6 months and returned to Florida. He has been the best dog even to the point of being called The Ambassador for the breed. He loved everyone and never barked at another dog while walking. He had a bit of Velcro in him and wanted to get close to everyone. He started to go a bit deaf last year and I think his eyesight was going. He was never sure if the door wall was open or not until we said to go. He had two bladder issues, one with stones in 2018 which required bladder surgery to remove them. December 2020 he had kidney stones in his urethra and had a procedure to push them back. He did well. He then developed knuckling in his hind legs and kept getting worse. He enjoyed his walks but it became too difficult. RIP my best friend. He is missed terribly. Thank you to the fireman that raised him as a pup.
My doberman who’s name is Marty named after the 1950s movie Marty passed away 15 January 2021 aged 16yrs and 7 months he meant so much to me because of the link with my dad before he passed away a massive part of my heart is broken he was my best friend
My blue Doberman just turned 13 Christmas Day he still thinks Hes a puppy very active weighs 85 lbs
Amy Weinberg says
Our sweet dobie is 16 years old and creeping up on his 17th birthday. He is ancient by dobie standards. Lost his hearing at 15 and is on a slew of medications for various old man ailments. He has slowed down considerably in the last few years but still happy and seemingly enjoying his life. We are grateful for all the time we have with him.
My Doberman will turn 15 next month. He is on 75 mg Proin for incontinence and Previcox for athritis. He also has eye antibiotic prescriptions and allergy meds for her wheezing. She is taking Turmeric/Chondroitin Glucosamine supplements. She is blind, can’t hear, can’t smell. We need to help her get up to go to the toilet (backyard). If it were not for these meds and supplements, she would have been gone a long time ago. She was a good guard dog but that stopped when she turned 9 after her vision loss. Now she just lies down and sleeps the whole.
william Adams says
I have had Dobermans for over 30 years and the average life span has been 11 years old. All but one have been rescues. One european bred big boy came down with wobblers and then DCM and died at 8 years old. I have fed our dogs high quality grained kibble and canned unsalted stringbeans to fill them but keep their weight in check..
Fred A. says
Our male dobey is 9.5 years old and might as well still be a puppy! He has all the energy, playfulness and mischief in his bones as the day we brought him home all those years ago. He is small for a male, only 65 pounds, and we keep him trim – good quality kibble and practically no “people” food. Two long walks each day, a little over a mile each. Absolutely no health problems. He’s helped raised our 3 kids as much as we have! Can’t imagine a day without him!
My doberman Angine will be 13 years old in two months. I have always given her marrow bones throughout her life. I freeze them and then microwave them and keep a few in the refrigerator for the week. I think that the marrow works like glucosamine, as she does not have any issues with her joints at her advanced age. I have 11 acres and she is able to run free since they are fenced. I brought two doberman puppies home three years ago that are her nieces since I thought she would not last much longer. Here it is three years later and she is still going strong, even with a lyphoma the size of half of a basketball on her back hip. She tries to keep up with the younger dobermans and it is surprising how well she is able to do it. She does require more rest during the day than the younger dogs but she is still really enjoying herself and has a great quality of life.
My Doberman will turn 7 in December. I would have never imagined that I would love this breed as much as I do. She has a liver disease and von Willebrand’s. She loves to run and play with the other dogs in the family. Because she was bit by another dog at a young age we don’t socialize her with other dogs now other then other family pets. She is a family dog but very loyal to me. She loves when we have company over the house.
Trudy Jarratt says
We have had 4 Dobermans over the years, Two died at 11 years. One, Porsche died at 13 a few years ago. Our Printz, a fawn colored Dobie is in good health at 16 years and 7 months old. He is very happy, plays with his toys every day, and has a healthy appetite! He is getting a little deaf now. We live on almost 3 hilly acres which provides lots of room for exercise. I think that helped.
I consider myself very lucky. Jack turns 13 this year, he shows his age, but is still a happy boy. Adopted at a year and a half after being a stray he quickly found his way into our hearts. Lots of lumps and bumps, a little raspy, but get him outside and you would think he is just a pup. He is a wonder of genetics as he has a tendency of getting into to things that aren’t very good for him. He is my best friend and I don’t know where I would be without my beautiful boy.
My Doberman turned 7 in June
He was gaining weight and had been on thioridazine pills for 3 years . That made him active again and trimmed down . He is nearly deaf loss of hearing started at 6. He still walks and loves to run no problems. He is not aggressive and I will never own another breed