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A breeding philosophy

Discussion in 'Doberman Breeders' started by GennyB, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I found this article on a doberman blog and found it interesting enough to share. Can't wait to hear all the opinions...

    Doberman breed has 3 major types: working type (Western European or German working lines), European show type (European show with working ability), and American type (American show, no working ability). I cover this topic in more details in my original article Working doberman vs show doberman. In this article I want to discuss Doberman breeding philosophy and how it affects you as a potential Doberman owner.
    Working doberman breeding philosophy.

    What is a working doberman? Working dogs, in general, have a natural ability (drive) to perform certain jobs. A Doberman’s job is to protect the owner and his family.

    All working breed dogs maintain some of the breed-specific traits, but only those, specifically bred for the purpose, will perform in real-life situations. Dogs without proper drive will quickly give up on the job once it becomes difficult or dangerous. Working dogs have great confidence and are driven by the job itself. Such dogs are suitable to serve in police and military. Working dog enthusiasts use such dogs to train in highly competitive dog sports like Schutzhund/IPO (the most popular sport around the World), French Ring, KNVP and others. Working dog sports are usually multidisciplinary and test a dog’s abilities in protection, obedience, and tracking. It requires intelligence and great mental and physical strengths. The video below explains in detail the requirements for an IPO dog.

    It takes 2-3 years to raise and train a working dog for a competitive sport or police work. Dobermans mature after 3 years of age, which makes their prime age at 4 years old. This is when they start performing consistently well in competitions (or jobs). A sport dog’s career usually ends at 6 years of age.

    Dog sports have several levels of complexity. For example, in Sch/IPO – the lowest level is IPO1, and the highest – is IPO3. A dog can go through all three levels of IPO within 1-2 years. Once a dog has achieved the IPO3 title and began consistently scoring high in local competitions – only then it can compete on National and International levels. Dogs competing at that level are usually older than 4 years of age.

    The judging is considered fare in competitive working dog sports: your score is what you’ve earned. Local club competitions are more generous with scores. If you really want to know what the dog is worth – check how the dog performed in Regional, National or International competitions.

    Working line breeders mainly use titled dogs in their breeding programs – dogs that proved in trials to have strong working abilities. A pedigree of a proper working dog will be full of titled ancestors (mostly IPO3). A proper working line breeding produces consistent results (dogs with proper working drives) and doesn’t require heavy inbreeding to achieve that.

    Given the long and difficult path in training and competing – majority of working dogs become available for breeding later in life (3-4 years old or older). At that age dogs with poor health start showing signs of genetic diseases (such as DCM – degenerated cardio myopathy). Such dogs (in most cases) are excluded from breeding. Working line breeders are particularly cautious about health of the breeding stock. They want to ensure that puppies are healthy for years of rigorous training and live long to achieve the competing age.

    Because of the overall poor health of the breed (read about Doberman genetic diseases), there are also breeders that “breed pedigrees” rather than dogs. They want to avoid certain genetics, preserving working drive, but neglecting everything else.

    The downside of working line breeding philosophy is that it is mainly focuses on one trait – a dog’s ability to bite. This creates dogs that are “nervy” (unstable), unreasonably aggressive, and much less desirable conformation (looks).

    Show line doberman breeding philosophy.
    Show line is probably the most familiar type. You might never heard about the working Doberman type before, but I’m sure you’ve seen dogs running in circles when competing in a beauty contest. That’s what show dogs do.

    Handlers, who show dogs, spend hours training their four-legged partners a proper body movement and posture (stack).

    In Europe, breed specific shows are very challenging and attract competitors from many countries. It is possible to compete against a 100 other Dobermans for a show winning title. It is a big achievement for the breeder if one of his/her dogs have won the show. Not only as pride, but also financially. A show winning dog becomes highly desirable for breeding and there is no limit how many litters a dog is allowed to sire. This is called a “popular sire” syndrome – there are dogs that have sired over 1000 puppies in their lifetime. Such breeding philosophy significantly narrows the genetic diversity of the breed, increases inbreeding and is one of the main reasons of poor health in the breed.

    Dog shows are known to be very bias (and in some countries – bought). The looks that one judge favors might not be the same at a different show. It means a Champion in one show might not win the show with another judge (or another country).

    Many (if not all) show judges are also breeders and tend to favor dogs of their own breedings or exchange favors with other judges/breeders. There is a common joke among European breeders and handlers – judges give winning titles to people, not dogs:


    Show dogs compete in a variety of classes to collect certain amount of points within certain time frame. In most cases – when points are collected, the dog automatically receives the title of a Champion (International or country).

    Show-winning parents will NOT necessarily produce the next show champion. While all the puppies will be adorably beautiful, only 1 or 2 (sometimes even none) will have a successful show career. The dog must have proper angulations, proportions of the body, height, head, neck, back, tail, color, coat, and variety of other criteria. Even a very promising puppy can develop conformation “flaws” at a later age. To increase chances of creating the next Champion show line breeders rely on inbreeding. They inbreed on famous show winning dogs in hope to recreate and/or enhance certain conformation features.

    A dog’s show career starts very early – nearly at a puppy age. Many dogs receive highest title by the time they are 1 or 1.5 years old. Show line breeders tend to monetize on the opportunity and offer their dogs for breeding as early as 1.5 years old (sometimes even 1 year old). More conscious show breeders wait till 2 years of age before breeding a dog. This would be an appropriate breeding practice if the overall health of the breed won’t be in danger. Many Dobermans die or show first signs of deadly genetic diseases by 3 -4 years of age. And often by that time they’ve already produced hundreds of off-springs. The most deadliest disease for Dobermans is DCM – it has multiple genes and dominant inheritance.

    When selecting a mating match, show breeders mainly assess conformation (looks). In most cases, breeders compromise everything else in order to achieve the desirable look. Some long-time breeders develop a “signature” look of their lines: a certain head shape, or length of a neck, or stocky body. Sometimes you can recognize a line just by looking at the dog. This can only be achieved by consistent inbreeding on the dogs with the desired conformation. That’s why show line Dobermans have a much higher coefficient of inbreeding. Again, this would be acceptable breeding practice, if the overall Doberman population was genetically healthy.

    There are show kennels in Eastern Europe, that also assess working drives and overall temperament of the dogs (more about this in Working doberman vs show doberman). Unfortunately, the overall breeding stock in Eastern Europe is in very poor health with rapidly declining longevity. Even knowledgeable breeders can no longer maintain a healthy line.

    Most all of the nowadays Eastern European dobermans come from 2 females – Tequila Mali del Citone (Italy) and Indira v. d. Rauberhohle (Russia). Both of the females died at the age of 5yo or so from DCM (read about Doberman genetic diseases). These females lived about 20 years ago. At this point, both bloodlines got intersected, and the entire population of dobermans in Eastern Europe are so inbred that any two dobermans can be related as full siblings. Such breeding practice exhausts genetics and leads to extinction. There is a great article about extinction of wolves on an island due to high inbreeding and low genetic diversity.

    Breeding philosophy conclusion.
    Working line breeding philosophy is definitely more health re-assuring. Working line dobermans still have longevity in lines (often 8-10+ years), and have later DCM onset (in comparison to show lines), which gives you more years to enjoy your dog’s company. But focusing only on certain working traits have created dogs that are often reactive, not very appealing in looks, and not as enjoyable partners as show line dobermans.

    There is no doubt that show line dobermans – strong and proud dogs – have won hearts of many people. But show line breeding philosophy is driving the breed to extinction with its severe inbreeding rates, rapidly declining longevity, and human greed. It becomes a cruel reality, that if you buy a show line doberman you have to be prepared to say good-bye to your dear friend within 4-6 years.
    Each breeder is driven by certain goals and they have to compromise and take risks. But it is you – as a Doberman owner – who will end up paying for these risks. Emotionally and financially. That’s why it is important for you to understand what drives breeding choices and look thoughtfully into each mating combination BEFORE buying a Doberman puppy.

    PLEASE NOTE: images and videos are borrowed from Youtube and Facebook.
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  2. Oh Little Oji

    Oh Little Oji Formerly Tad Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Very plausible.
  3. Oh Little Oji

    Oh Little Oji Formerly Tad Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    I've gone with working Dobermans the last two times. Seems to me if a working breed dog's ancestry is well endowed with working titles, the pup you get is more likely to possess working abilities. If you're into that. I know not everyone is into that. (Yet most Dobe owners want/would like to think their Dobe would do what it was bred for – protect).

    My greatest fears in buying a Doberman puppy are 1. Getting stuck with a Dobe that is wimpy 2. Getting stuck with a Dobe that is ugly. With the last two Dobes, I've done pretty well with #1, and not as well with #2.

    I am still hopeful that working Dobermans are healthier/longer lived, but my last one did die at 8 of bloat while I was out of town at a funeral.
  4. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

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  5. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I always find it interesting the different approaches people have to breeding. Makes you wonder what's right especially when you are dealing with so many health problems.
    Me? I could never be a breeder. It's just not in my genes for a number of reasons. Probably the first being it is just way too political and way too much passion involved for me. While I can appreciate the passion, not sure I have the energy to endure what I would have to. Then there's this.........

    Not sure how I would handle it if a pup I bred had serious health problems.
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  6. Ddski5

    Ddski5 Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Sure makes a lot of broad generalizations in this article.
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  7. LifeofRubie

    LifeofRubie Active Member

    We do put a lot of faith in breeders to 'do the right thing,' knowing that that means different things to different people. I think when we do our research into reputable breeders, their vision should align with yours whether working dog, family dog, show dog, etc., is your goal. Both Rubie and Moo's breeders have always been willing to talk about and through things so I feel confident that if health or behavior issues were a concern, they'd be all ears and would use that knowledge to their benefit in future pairings.

    I was thinking the same thing. I'm not sure when they say US conformation dogs have no working ability, are they talking exclusively about IPO/Protection work? To me, agility is work and we're still in early stages but it's something she does really well at :thumbsup:
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  8. Oh Little Oji

    Oh Little Oji Formerly Tad Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    I don't know what they were thinking, but I took it to mean IPO-type work.

    I do agree that the article had a feeling of broad generalizations and like they had the whole Doberman world figured out.
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  9. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I think wimpy can be worked with to some extent. Lots of confidence building can go pretty far. As far as ugly, haven't seen too many ugly dogs from halfway decent breeders. I think health and temperament would be first on my list.

    Unfortunately there is no evidence to support that. :( Only opinions. With DCM being a killer of breeding programs I'm not sure we'll ever know the truth. No one wants to admit they had a dog die from DCM. Admission is a ticket to the death a breeding program.

    Except when it comes to American vs Euro bred. Definitely slanted toward Euro bred dogs.
    Having had at least one American and one Euro bred, I would say generally speaking they are the same dog. Yes their are differences but are still the same in many ways. Both have good and bad traits, I think it's about preference. Just pick the type that works for you and move on. Stop focusing on one is better than the other and focus on producing healthy dogs.
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  10. Ddski5

    Ddski5 Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Yes, the underlying suggestion that Euro is better than NA, is another broad generalization he makes.
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  11. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    It is so good to hear this! Locally I haven't come across anyone who had both types so it's always in the back of my mind when I think of the puppy intensity and whether we could endure that again. I've had several owners of Americans tell me they thought Kaiser was a crazy puppy but can't believe how calm he is now, yet I can see here that the struggles of raising a Doberman puppy are largely the same.

    Back to topic, I agree there was bias in the article and that we as consumers are pretty much dependent upon breeders to do what's best.
  12. Panama

    Panama Hot Topics Subscriber

    This thread hit me as I read a post on a Doberman FB page. I wasn't able to figure out where the owner is located, but she posted in English & Russian, so would guess Russia.

    She had 2 Euro Dobes. She lost one at 3 yrs of age to autoimmune disorder and kidney dysplasia.

    The other one died at 4 1/2 due to DCM and he was not the only one in his litter diagnosed with DCM and his littermates continue to be bred.

    His dam was bred even after 2 of her siblings were diagnosed with DCM before they were 2 yrs old. The dam tested negative and was shipped off for breeding anyway and died at 6 1/2 (doesn't say whether it was DCM or not).

    Foolish breeding choices are EVERYWHERE.
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  13. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I saw that........broke my heart and I can't begin to imagine how the owner must feel. :(

    Don't know about anyone else but I can't help but wonder the motivation for making such decisions. Could it be money? Seems to me that would be rather short lived with the internet spreading the word like wildfire. In the case of the working line is it because they will bite? In the show world because they are so representative of the standard?
    I don't want to believe there is no answer here. Sure is scary to think about the future of this breed. Especially when you follow some of the links in the article above. :woot2:
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  14. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    I know I posted this in another post. Here are some very good things to follow on looking for a breeder and puppies.

    Silvia Champion

    October 4 at 2:34 PM
    I keep getting asked about new litters and matings and I try to answer to all request but just don't always have the time for lengthy chats or to keep going on about the same so I'd like to give a few general but simple answers for any buyer considering to spend a small fortune on a euro puppy today, especially from these "TOP LITTERS", as the fancy sales ads read:

    1) WALK AWAY FROM ANY MATING WHERE EITHER PARENT IS UNDER 3 or NOT (CURRENTLY) ECHO & HOLTER TESTED (COMBINED!!!) .... Because u just cannot know enough about the dogs health or there may not have been 2 consecutive heart tests performed to record any changes in heart function. And a breeder may be breeding young to avoid occult DCM stage being diagnosed, to make more money from such matings by having more litters if entered into breeding under 3yrs.

    As much as many will argue that the best age to breed is from 2yrs old.... The problem I see with that is that even the highest risk pedigree will most likely still heart test within ôk/normal range, or you'd have no previous test to compare it to, or if not tested, you could even be buying from such dog already having DCM, which we do see happens (DCM confirmed before 2 yrs of age), which is where the common excuse "heart testing is pointless as DCM usually strikes later in life, past breeding age, so why spend money on testing at 2-3yrs old dogs" comes from.

    2) ASK TO SEE ECHO & HOLTER OF BOTH PARENTS (different owners most times, but do!) .... NO MORE THAN 6 MONTHS OLD FOR A STUD, AND NO MORE THAN 3 MONTHS OLD FOR THE FEMALE.... as we know that DCM/Sudden Death can progress and kill within 6 months, and there's no excuse why a breeding female should not have her heart tested prior to her planed mating (2-3 in her lifetime, means 2-3 heart tests!)

    3) IF A FEMALE HAS NO HEART TEST, ONLY A MALE, at any age, WALK AWAY..... simply irresponsible, ignorant, and should shout out loud at you the breeder who's about to sell these planned puppies doesnt care about the health of his/her dog or the puppies born without testing, or doesnt care to possibly be breeding a dog who may already have occult DCM ("my female is healthy, never been sick, why test her, DCM happens in later age" bullshit is just that, a bullshit lame excuse)

    4) IF THE STUD OWNER CLAIMS TO HAVE HEART TESTS BUT REFUSES TO SHOW THE FULL REPORT WITH READINGS AND VALUES, WALK Away...... May mean there are changes in heart function, evidence of declined values, or has even been diagnosed as DCM hence won't show them. Or they're lying.... There are NO echo & Holter tests.

    5) CHECK PROGENY OF EVERY DOG IN THE 4 GENERATION PEDIGREE FOR YOUNG DEATHS AND DCM IN DATABASES AND ASK Around, people will talk private, you'd be surprised how much u would learn how quickly if u care to ask... Progeny speaks louder than tests or breeders words (a normal testing parents can and have produced young DCM progeny, this is a fact proven by many examples) & AVOID PEDIGREE WITH DOGS HAVING DIED YOUNG, NO CODS RECORDED, OR PRODUCED DCM IN VARIOUS MATINGS.... meaning: study and know about dogs ur wanting to buy a pedigree of, speak to their owners even if dogs are dead, breeders or owners, as much as possible.... If u get fishy answers about death, you will learn to sniff it out,. If u get told dog died of cancer, there's gotta be a receipt, vet report, something. In western world at least. Breeders demand proof of DCM from owners, you as a buyer demand proof of Cod or illness or DCM-free at the time of death/last heart test from breeders. Why would t they happily show you, unLess they're hiding the truth about DCM..

    6) ANY INBREEDING WITHIN 4 GENERATIONS, as further back all dobermann have been inbred and same dogs are present, especially in show lines, WALK Away.... DOBERMANN is way too inbred, however, there still are very different pedigrees and lines present but unknown to general public and putting together pedigrees with same dogs is purely and mainly to create a guaranteed LOOK.... Not heath... So whoever cares about the look, as priority, stay away. No one in their right mind today would inbreed on dogs claiming its to improve health ☝️

    7) DNA testing Should be done by all breeders to aid the research, not fool you to buy a DCM-Free puppy, know such thing doenst exist, it's a false statement, no one can ever make this statement as all DCM genes have not been identified, he ce the disease cannot be genetically tested for as a whole, yes or no, affected or not.

    Anyone who cares about not aiding in spreading DCM, not supporting irresponsible breeding based on breeding without testing (echo and Holter test will not reduce the prevalence of DCM nor eliminate it but IT WILL help a breeder know whether the dog has DCM at the time of breeding, and that is 1 step to eliminate occult, already affected, DCM dogs from further breeding), will have ANY PROBLEM following these steps... In order to breed health-consciously, find those very few who are truly trying, are utmost honest, and who don't care about the looks, don't breed for income and are prepared to be totally open and honest about all of their dogs heath, CODs, and who keep records and keep In touch with their puppy buyers for that very reason.... To know the heath of progeny they produce...

  15. LifeofRubie

    LifeofRubie Active Member

    Well, the article does state that most of these dogs reach their champion titles, in conformation and IPO, before these terrible diseases manifest and once they get that championship title, they're used for breeding stock.

    Would there ever be a push to wait until a male is older to use for stud services? I don't know that it's really an option for females to have puppies later in life without the risk of the pregnancy being too hard on her.

    THAT is terrible practice and a sure fire way to ruin your reputation in the working/breeding world I would think?!
  16. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    Males could be 5-6 yrs old to breed. Also can freeze their sperm.

    Females could wait until 4yrs to Breed. I think at 4 yrs they wouldn’t have any issues?
    Any breeders can chime in about females.
  17. GennyB

    GennyB Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    I think there is an old thread on here somewhere about waiting to breed until the dogs are older. If I remember correctly it was much older for both sexes. :shock: I'll see if I can find it to add a link here.
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  18. dobermanblog.com

    dobermanblog.com Novitiate

    Hello all,
    I am the owner of DobermanBlog.com. I came across this thread and just wanted to clarify a few things.
    1 - I really appreciate that a few of my articles have been shared in your community. It is a tremendous help to the cause.
    2 - I am originally from Europe, but have been living in the US long enough to have a wider perspective of the world.
    3 - Thank you for kind words about the recent death of my dog. My house became dead quiet without him. And so my heart.
    4 - Uneducated buyers is one of the fundamental problems we have in the breed worldwide. My blog targets them - people outside of doberman community, looking for a puppy.
    5 - Yes - I have to generalize some information to make it understandable to my audience. You might get neat picky about some details, but this is because you know what's going on. How do you explain a complex issue to the unaware person? You generalize, simplify, educate, and entertain.
    6 - The blog originally was a hobby just to share how I've imported my dogs. But I've done a proper SEO optimization to make my blog searchable worldwide. My readership grew exponentially through several continents in English-speaking countries.
    7 - Over the years, the blog had helped many people to learn BEFORE they acquire a puppy. I don't keep track, but many people write to me with questions before or after they've purchased a puppy following the blog.
    8 - Yes "working" usually refers to the dog's ability to perform what it was created for - protection. Our breed is losing this ability worldwide, but the most in the US (AKC dobermans). No offense to your community - this is simply a fact. Let's not get hung up on this - the breed has bigger problems to solve.
    9 - The bottom line is such (again - very generalized): there are 3 major groups of Dobermans (Eastern European (EU), working lines, and AKC). All 3 share common problems in health, breeding, and buying practices.

    Health issue: EUs have the worst health/longevity due to heavy inbreeding on DCM lines, but it's the largest doberman population in the world. Breeding AKC dogs to EUs will spread DCM like a virus. And that's the reason why working lines are not interested in mixing with EUs.
    Working lines are more appealing to people in IPO, which is a much smaller community comparing to pet community. These dogs in general are not as inbreed (considering COI) and have a bit better longevity. But the community of working breeders is shrinking (I'm currently collecting data worldwide - it's shocking).
    AKC lines have better longevity (still). But they are of no value to working lines or EUs because they've lost the working temperament. I understand many of you will disagree, but you have to see a European dog in protection and test your AKC dog the same way to understand what it means. Let's not get into this discussion just yet.

    Breeding issue: Only working lines (due to their geo location) is somewhat regulated. Most regulations are of temperament and working ability, and very little about health. The rest of the world - no breeding regulations. A single person decides which two dogs to breed. The problem is that breeders make decisions based on the stock they have. But it happens that this material is now worldwide affected. We should not put pressure on breeders and hold them responsible for resolving this. The issue is too complex and should be looked at by geneticists. Every proper breeder has a "style" (a line they've developed) that they can't look at without being bias, even if they can admit the line is affected. So it should be up to the scientists to fix the genetic material. And most likely it will mean combining dogs that otherwise won't be combined. AKC breeders won't want a DCM plague from Europe, working lines won't want unworkable AKC dogs, EU's don't want to mix with either because they have the prettiest dogs. But all of this is irrelevant if we lose the breed. This has to be resolved by a third party that won't be bias and can only focus on genetic material.

    Buying practices. Working lines attract the most educated buyers. People, who want an IPO dog do their due diligence and know a great deal about the breed in comparison to the pet community. Buyers are educated, and breeders try to match dogs to people instead of selling on a "first come first serve" principle. Hence - you won't see a working line dog for an open adoption or in a shelter. The EUs are overpopulated and that is driven by high demand online. Uneducated buyers are willing to pay high price for a cute puppy. EUs are simply supplying the demand and no longer question buyers (and yes - I remember the times when you have to be on a waiting list for years to get a puppy from a breeder). So dogs are often end up in wrong hands, returned, abandoned, etc. I am not familiar with AKC buying/selling process, but I see lots of rescue groups on Facebook. And the situation looks similar - dogs being in wrong hands, etc. I believe AKC breeders are much more diligent in screening buyers (than what's currently going on with EU's), but obviously it's not working. Breeding should not be to supply the demand. Breeding should be in demand. If it's too easy to buy it has no value to people. And for that reason - there are not too many imported dogs surrendered. Because importing is an extra effort that people have to invest. That makes that dog more valuable to keep.

    10 - I read forums and FB conversations, talk to people in different countries. We all see these issues and we all want the situation to change. The problem is that we get hung up in the small details that differentiate our vision.
    I intend to translate my blog to other languages. Not because everything I say is the only view that others should follow. But because the process I've created works - it gets to buyers on time and redirects them. And the more the articles are re-posted --> the higher ranking it gets in search engine --> the more people will find it (I found this thread through data in my Google Analytics for the blog). So, again, I'm grateful you've shared my articles (even if you disagree in some details) - it's a tremendous help to the cause.
    But the blog is a tiny contribution in the system that has to be created worldwide before we lose the breed.

    P.S. I simply don't have time to follow variety of media. If you want to engage me in the conversation, feel free to email with the link to the thread - admin at dobermanblog.com
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  19. Drogon

    Drogon Hot Topics Subscriber

    I wouldn't agree with working lines are not as inbred.

    I don't know how old this article was or how old the research was but there are some great working line breeders in the US.
    For example, Olivia vom Landgraf bred in the US, living and working in Finland.
    Olex Chuck vom Landgraf bred in the US living and working in Norway and competed at the FCI world championships
  20. dobermanblog.com

    dobermanblog.com Novitiate

    Landgraf is a working line, not AKC line, despite the location. There are working line breeders in Eastern Europe, and South America as well. But they are one "working line" community in terms of what and how they breed.
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