I am a long time lurker, first time poster on these forums. I have loved the Doberman breed since I was a small child. Now, as an adult - I am determined to have one, one day. I have done extensive research and contacted many different breeders over the years.
I have a couple breeders at the top of my list for when I am in a place to bring home a Dobe; however I have found that as soon as I inquire as to the price of their dogs..... contact stops and I never hear from them again.
I am aware that a well bred dog will be around $2000. I was willing to budget up to $2500 for the purchase price. I thought I found a breeder I was happy with and then I found out their dogs were $3000?! Although they were lovely and I did connect with the breeder, I did not feel they justified that steep of a price, especially for a Pet/Companion. I would understand those prices for the top show lines, winning consecutively at Nationals and on the show circuit but she was/is a relatively new breeder.
Am I not taken seriously as a prospective owner to reputable breeders because I have a "budget"?
Welcome! I'm a lot like you. I've had large breed dogs all my life - GSDs and Rotts, all rescues - and finally took the plunge to purchase a purebred Doberman. This site is a wealth of knowledge! Lots of great information here on health, training, and fantastic resources for Dobe owners. There are a lot of really great, supportive members.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for advice here on getting a Dobe as a pet without being willing (or able) to pay an exorbitant amount up front, from a breeder that's acceptable to them, be prepared to be chastised for wanting a Dobe for a reasonable price. I've seen them disqualify a breeder as acceptable based solely on the aesthetics of a breeder's website.
There are many quality and ethical Doberman breeders that sell pet quality pups that make their prices available to the public. The price of ear cropping is usually included in the price. Some breeders will give you the option to not crop the ears, and deduct that cost from the price. In other words, the example made earlier of the breeder paying $4,200 for ear cropping a litter, is completely recovered/included by the breeder in the puppy price from the buyers. They often add an additional charge per pup for transportation to/from the vet, and incidental costs. So if you're quoted $600 for the ear crop, chances are the vet charged $500, and the breeder added $100/pup for the service. Based on $600/pup for 7 pups, they can make an additional $700/litter. Totally worth it for a good crop done before picking up your pup!
What to look for is a clean, well taken care of kennel - both where the dogs are housed and the grounds; socialization during the first 6-8 weeks (human interaction, different noises, smells, textures - grass, concrete/asphalt, carpet). And both parents tested for VwB and DCM. Chances are the parents may have a copy of one of those genes. But as long as the breeder doesn't pair 2 positive parents together, the pup may carry the gene, but not be affected. Two parents that are both positive for the same VwB or DCM gene greatly increases the probability that the pup will be affected with it.
There's a real elitist atmosphere by some members on this site to belittle buyers of AKC Dobermans that carry either gene, or who's parents aren't titled champions. If all Dobermans were only bred if they are titled and VwB and DCM clear, and grandchildren of AKC titled dogs for pet quality at an affordable price were banned, the breed would disappear - because only the rich would be able to afford a dog that's acceptable to have, based on dog shows that give an award based on the confirmation of the dog. And the reduced gene pool would severely compromise the breed.
That ribbon is nice, but only proves the dog meets the physical appearance of what is ideal for the breed. What the majority of Doberman owners want is a family dog with a great temperament. So sad that when potential buyers come here for advice, they are told that pups of titled grandparents - priced as pet quality with parents gene tested - aren't good enough.