The average Doberman lifespan is 9 – 11 years. Doberman puppies from healthy parents can even live into their teens with the right care, diet, and exercise.
Other factors which affect Doberman lifespan include hereditary life-limiting illnesses such as heart disease.
Luckily, there are lots of precautions Doberman breeders and owners can take to extend how long Doberman Pinschers live.
The Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman is a fantastically popular breed, currently at number 15 in the AKC breed popularity rankings.
This large and muscular breed is fiercely loyal to its owners. With such high intelligence to boot, it is no wonder that many families have fallen in love with this purebred.
But it’s for this reason that many owners wonder how long their Doberman will live and how long they have left to enjoy their company.
It may seem morbid to think about such things, but it can be good to be aware of your dog’s expected lifespan.
So in this article, we will be taking an objective look at the lifespan of this breed and what you can do to give your Doberman the best chance of a long life!
How Long Do Dobermans Live?
Firstly, let’s get the biggest question out of the way: “How long can I expect my Doberman to live?”
Searching online, you can find many answers to this question. However, very few of these answers are given with any scientific research to back the claim up. Therefore, it can be hard to trust any of them, as you have no idea where they have pulled those numbers from.
Instead of just taking a guess based on speculation, let’s look into the scientific research on the matter and provide you with a statistical average lifespan for the Doberman.
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.
Average Doberman Lifespan
So with the numbers from these scientific studies, we can say that a good, close average lifespan for this breed is 9-11 years.
This lifespan can seem a little on the short side when compared with other breeds that can reach average lifespans of around 12-14 years, but it’s actually quite good for such a large dog.
But why is their lifespan around 9-11 years, and not longer?
Causes Of The Shorter Doberman Life Expectancy
Within the animal kingdom, large size usually signifies a longer lifespan.
As a very basic example, an elephant will live much longer than a sparrow. Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule; there are exceptions!
And one of these exceptions seems to apply to our canine friends.
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.
So what is it about large dogs that causes this effect?
Again, let’s look into the scientific research on the matter.
Larger Dogs And Life Expectancy
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.
Therefore, it’s imperative to learn the symptoms of the condition so you can catch it early and take the dog to a vet as soon as possible.
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.
This can be a dangerous condition and Dobermans who suffer from it will need extra care to reduce the chance of injuries that may cause bleeding.
These three conditions can severely impact a Doberman’s lifespan if they are present. However, they may be treated or managed effectively.
It’s up to you as the owner to spot these issues early. Get the dog to a vet as soon as possible to have the best chance of a good outlook.
Keeping A Doberman Healthy
Now that we have covered the causes of the slightly shortened lifespan of the Doberman, what can we do to help keep these loyal and loving pets alive and well for as long as possible?
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy trick to it.
There are no guarantees either. You could do everything you possibly can for your Doberman to promote good health, but they may still pass earlier than you would like.
But there are simple things you can do each day to help promote good health, which raises the chances of a longer life.
Buy A Genetically Healthy Doberman From A Reputable Breeder
The very first thing you can do to help promote a long life within a Doberman begins before you even buy one!
Some of the health conditions we outlined above have a genetic basis, and with good breeding practices, they can be avoided.
The Canine Health Information Center recommends that Dobermans are screened for the following hereditary conditions before they are used for breeding:
- Hip dysplasia – this joint disorder isn’t life threatening in itself, but it does diminish quality of life, and at its most severe can become reason for euthanasia.
- Heart disease
- von Willebrand’s disease
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
Screening gives breeders information about the risk of Dobermans passing on hereditary conditions to the next generation of Doberman puppies.
Purchasing a genetically healthy Doberman starts you off on the right foot!
Therefore, it’s best to choose a reputable breeder who can prove with health evaluations that your Doberman puppy is free from any genetic health concerns.
Ensure Their Diet Is Top Notch
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 Dobermans grow quickly, it is imperative that you fulfill their daily nutritional needs so they develop correctly.
If you are ever unsure as to what to feed your Doberman, consider making a diet plan with your vet.
With their help, you can create a plan that covers all their nutritional needs, and ensure they receive everything they need to be healthy.
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.
Be sure not to overfeed your Doberman.
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.
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.
The Doberman Lifespan And You
The Doberman bonds very closely with their family and many owners cannot help to feel incredibly close to them too.
Wanting them to live for as long as possible is a natural feeling in this situation.
However, 9-11 years is still a long time. And with good care and love, they can hope to live even longer than that!
All you can do is give them a good life that they will feel satisfied with regardless of how long they live.
Have you ever owned a Doberman? Do you have any health tips?
Let us know below!
References and Resources
- O’Neill, DG, et al, Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England, The Veterinary Journal, 2013
- Adams, VJ, et al, Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK, The Journal of Small Animal Practice, 2010
- Galis, F, et al, Do large dogs die young? Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 2006
- Kraus, C, et al, The Size-Life Span Trade-Off Decomposed: Why Large Dogs Die Young, The American Naturalist, 2013
- Battaglia, CL, Bloat and the Risk Factors Breeding Better Dogs
- Wess, G, et al, Prevalence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers in Various Age Groups, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2010
- Brooks, M, et al, Epidemiologic features of von Willebrand’s disease in Doberman pinschers, Scottish terriers, and Shetland sheepdogs: 260 cases (1984-1988), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1992