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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Afraid to purchase a puppy

Hi guys, I've been reading the forum for a while and I'm sorry for the dismal first post. I have had dobies and GSDs in my life for 50 years. We lost out last dobie in 2013 to complications of DCM at 12 years of age. Even with his softball sized heart, he lived a fairly long and happy life.

We have been without a dobie for over 4 years and as our GSDs are approaching ancient status (12 and 14) and since our dogs do assist as flock guardians and personal protection thought it was time to start our puppy search. We purchased our last dobie in 2001 and oh my how things have changed.

The DCM statistics are staggering. I can't find any concrete evidence that genetic testing or holter and echo results have changed the prevalence of the condition. Don't misunderstand, testing is at the very least providing data that is necessary to make any real headway with this condition and I commend everyone who is doing it.

That said when statistics show as high as 60% will be affected and will manifest itself as sudden death in 25% of affected dogs, I am deflated and disappointed and truly heartbroken. I actually feel like I'm playing Russian roulette and there are 4 bullets in the cylinder.

I would really love for someone to point me to statistics that don't look so frightening. Are there any viable statistics that show parents testing negative are producing longer lived puppies? I know there is or seems to be a lack of prevalence in certain lines but honestly how do you know and is always just a gamble anymore?

We thought of just contacting some of the eastern Euro kennels and importing on our own, but with certain dogs clogging all gene pools now and seeing statistics as high as 50% in euro dogs we are just at a loss and are looking into other breeds.

Support and advice is appreciated. We really love the breed and don't want to give up on it but are beginning to think that waiting until further more definitive testing is available is for the best. I just don't know that I could handle my four year old dog falling over while playing fetch.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 12:41 PM
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Well, I think the statistics are...interesting. Part of what I ask myself is, what is the statistical pool we are examining? More dogs are certainly being tested and necropsied now than before. Does that skew the statistics of total diagnoses and deaths from DCM? Maybe. We're also looking at only a certain pool of Dobermans for gathering that data, too, and then extrapolating from there to generalize to the whole population. Our DPCA chapter club just held an echocardiogram clinic this past weekend, and I had some very interesting conversation with our cardiologist about this very topic. What I gathered from talking with her about this is that, frankly, we're not all that sure...the statistics *might* be accurate, but then again...maybe not.

The bottom line is, I think with this breed you DO know you are taking a chance with DCM. As an educated buyer, you do your very best to find a breeder who is doing THEIR very best to study pedigrees for longevity and health, as well as testing. AND, you want someone who will be there to support you if something does happen. But at the end of the day, there's only so much that can be done. I feel like I've made good choices with both of my dogs. I hope I don't have to go through DCM. I echo and holter yearly, even though my dogs won't be bred. I try not to worry, though, and live in the moment with them, just as they do. There are also things like cancer to worry about, just like in any breed. I think giving your heart to any other living being is a risk. You just have to decide if it's worth it, and to me, it is.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 01:08 PM
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I believe Meadow Cat said it best. We all worry knowing the potential risks with Dobermans, but love them and appreciate the time we do have. I read an interesting article recently about this very topic, the articles main point was that the Doberman breed is essentially "weeding" itself out due to the lack of new genes, and the continuation of the same.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 02:37 PM
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What Meadowcat said!
Also, ask breeders for a marked up pedigree with age at death, and causes of death. Testing is well and good.... and I do it on all of my personal dogs whether they are bred or not. However, pedigree is also very important when looking at deaths from DCM. There are no guarantees, but tested dogs with close up dogs living past the age of 10 is what you are looking for. Most dogs will test normal at breeding ages........ if their grandmother/grandfather/uncle are all dead of DCM at 6-9 years of age, I'd beware.
As a general rule, American show breeders are doing a lot more testing than breeders elsewhere.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 06:02 PM
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JamBaugh, the problem I have is actually similar. My beautiful girl died 11/29/2013. She also died at the age of 12 years old. She had a good strong European bloodline. I would have sold my own soul to keep her alive. We waited until recently to start looking again for a "quality" European Doberman. The problem we are having, no one will sell us a Euro Doberman since we don't have Schutzhund experience. My husband has tried to do Schutzhund. But out here, they favor German Shepherds so we were turned away. He even contacted the President Bill and we were told, they only deal with German Shepherds. Again this was about 3-4 years ago. So my problem, How do you get someone (quality) to let you purchase a Euro Doberman if no one is willing to help you get started? Even if you are willing to do whatever the Seller requires no matter what! How do you get started if no one is willing to give you a chance? Only options we have is purchase "already titled" which means they are backyard breeders and we will not do that! Or travel to another country for the purchase. My husband is even trained (limited) in K9 training (ON A MILITARY BASE). He has had to use dogs that are owned by others since again, we technically don't have professional experience. I have over 12 years experience as a Vet Tech and that's still not enough. So I'm literally in tears and at a loss.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all very much. I WANT to find the piece of mind to move forward with this. Part of the struggle is finding breeders that don't have waiting lists out to 2019. Having been so long since we purchased a Doberman, I had no idea how much things had changed. Breeders that used to be around no longer are and puppy mills are rampant. The whole process is quite daunting.

I have wondered if the testing the euro kennels claim can be trusted. If I saw the results I wouldn't know what I was looking at if they weren't in English nor would I know I what the paperwork SHOULD look like. There is definitely a case of demand exceeding supply when it comes to Dobermans now.

How far out would you say to look for longevity in the pedigree? Would siblings of Great grand sires be overkill? Half siblings? I know it sounds ridiculous but at what point do I say I've done everything I can to get the healthiest puppy that I can, now I just relax and enjoy her?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 07:54 AM
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The OP echoed many of my own sentiments.

Having recently lost Zachary to DCM at age 5, my husband and I had to take a step back.

We have loved 3 Dobermans. Garth lived a wonderful life but passed at 11. Chaos got cancer at 9. The joy they gave us can never be replaced. I hold all those memories close. Each day I look at their pictures on the wall and smile. But I also cry.

MC summed up the situation very well.
There is a high risk for DCM. There are no promises of tomorrow with any dog unfortunately.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 11:08 AM
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JamBaugh - sorry for your losses, its real hard when they are all our children.

While not 50 years, we've had Doberman puppies in years 1977, 2000, and 2012.
- girl #1 passed at 9.5 years old, from cancer but premium kibble not invented yet
- girl #2 passed at 11.7 years old, from a stroke...plus 23% longevity on much improved diet
- girl #3 is currently 4.5 years young & gets 5-star kibble & treats plus 1 home cooked meat/veggy stew daily

The average statistical life span of the doberman breed is:
- Male = 9.25 years old
- Female = 9.5 years old
For DCM, we don't genetic test or holter & echo / right or wrong, it is what it is.
- but 12 years or more, is not common...anything over 10 years, is a blessing

To hedge our bets:
With all 3 puppy purchases, we relied on picking from only Top Show breeders.
- each with 40 years of respected experience and +50 championships to their credit
- and had longevity, in their lines
So basically, they know what their doing & proven more.
And I can only hope & trust, early DCM will not rear its ugly head.

------------Kelly & (Amy - RIP @ 11.7 y/o)

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jennifer L View Post
JamBaugh, the problem I have is actually similar. My beautiful girl died 11/29/2013. She also died at the age of 12 years old. She had a good strong European bloodline. I would have sold my own soul to keep her alive. We waited until recently to start looking again for a "quality" European Doberman. The problem we are having, no one will sell us a Euro Doberman since we don't have Schutzhund experience. My husband has tried to do Schutzhund. But out here, they favor German Shepherds so we were turned away. He even contacted the President Bill and we were told, they only deal with German Shepherds. Again this was about 3-4 years ago. So my problem, How do you get someone (quality) to let you purchase a Euro Doberman if no one is willing to help you get started? Even if you are willing to do whatever the Seller requires no matter what! How do you get started if no one is willing to give you a chance? Only options we have is purchase "already titled" which means they are backyard breeders and we will not do that! Or travel to another country for the purchase. My husband is even trained (limited) in K9 training (ON A MILITARY BASE). He has had to use dogs that are owned by others since again, we technically don't have professional experience. I have over 12 years experience as a Vet Tech and that's still not enough. So I'm literally in tears and at a loss.
Look around your area for someone who does "practical protection training" that is reputable. Often these folks will have breeders they work with and can find you a puppy. I'm going to sound off a caution with a lot of Euro kennels. Do your lineage research. Lots of Euro dogs are dying young these days as well. There ARE American working lines. My best ever protection dog was from American lines. He was at the top end of the standard and hit like a dog 3x his size. He was the sweetest, hardest working most sensible dog I ever owned. I finally got offended by people asking what kennel he was imported from. Lol

I can possibly speak to Dobermans and protection from a unique perspective as I had a very real, very frightening stalker situation and one of my children was injured as a result. My children had friends who came over constantly. I had devoted neighbors who checked on me frequently. My dogs had to turn on when needed and off had to be off and peaceful but always aware. Dobermans as a breed whether American or Euro will protect what they love.

I have never seen a schutzhund club not allow dobies. Shepherds and Mals tend to go further than many other breeds but I have seen everything from mixed breeds to standard poodles at meets and would love to hear the club's rational behind only allowing one breed in their club. I can't think of a single situation where DVG would support that.

Then again I have never seen a breeder deny anyone a dog because they don't compete in ring sports. I would hazard a guess that something else about your situation makes them think their dogs are too high drive for your family. Most people who start schtzhund quit before the one year mark because of the amount of work it takes. Then you're left with a dog that has the drive to work non stop for hours a day and they develop behavior issues. Maybe look for a lower key, Euro show line if you're really set on Euro and find a real schutzhund club or good protection trainer to get your feet wet. You CAN direct import without flying out of the country. It's done every day.

All of that said, if your purpose for wanting a high drive dog is just to compete in schutzhund , I can think of several breeds that will take you further.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 06:32 PM
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JamBaugh I understand what you are saying. In our house we have two GSDs and two Dobermans. One of our GSDs has a V1 rating and is IPO 1. Both of our Dobermans are Champions with the young female working on her Grand Championship. I have had Dobermans for close to 40 years. These health problems are greatly distressing to all of us in the breed. Some very well known breeders of top dogs for decades have made similar statements out of frustration after losing a dog to dcm after having so many in their lines as testing clear or non affected. My thoughts are if we truly love the breed we need to keep working, keep testing and keep recording results and always autopsy. If many who truly love the Doberman leave the breed this will actually be detrimental to the breed as a whole. We already have problems with diversity, lowing the number of breeding dogs will only make it worse. We need to continue to become more scientific about our breeding practices. And that is coming, but it takes time to build up those records and change mindsets. many disagree on "how" to do it, but few will argue that we have a long way to go. By being willing to pay a little more for a dog that the breeder does all the health testing and does the extra work we show what is important to us the buyer, and more will follow.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 06:33 PM
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I should also say I don't believe the statistics 100 percent. I think they are taken from to few of a number to be scientifically accurate.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 08:31 PM
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I lost my boy to DCM before his 6th birthday. I'm about to adopt my next rescue. As the song says, "And I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end. The way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 09:58 AM
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You have received good advice here. Look for a breeder that does all the testing, but also does pedigree research and makes every effort to breed for health and longevity. At this point, I believe the best predictor of longevity and health is longevity and health close up in the pedigree. Look for bitches bred to older Males (the older the better) that are still passing their health testing, grandparents that are still living or lived into double digits and didn't die of DCM, etc. Even though this will stack the odds in your favor this is still no guarantee. I have an 8 year old Male that is still passing his health tests (Echo, Holter, NT-ProBNP, Troponin, Liver/Kidney panel, etc) with flying colors. His sire died at 11-1/2 from Cancer, his Dam will be 14 next month and is still in good health and there are many LC-10, 11, 12+ dogs throughout his pedigree. However, I in no way take this as a guarantee, and am fully aware that he has reached the age where DCM is most likely to rear its ugly head. Unfortunately, it is something you have to be aware of and live with. You have to live in the moment and enjoy the time you have. In the end all you can do is to stack the odds in your favor as best you can, cross your fingers and pray.

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