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I think I've now posted this to every Dobe list and forum for approximately the last 15 years--I don't see anything that has changed from the point I finally saved it and started just postig the copy when the question came up as it does periodically.
The article I reference can be found on the DPCA website under Breeder education and you can read it in its entirety there.
I've posted to so many lists so many times about "head bobbing" that I finally started saving the posts because I got tired of typing the same thing over and over.
The following is one of the posts that I saved and which has been on several lists (some of them multiple times). Hopes it sheds some light on the subject for you.
There is some information (the article on "Dobermn Head Bobbing Syndrome" for one is on the DPCA breeder education website I believe.
The following is the post I keep sending out:
I'm basically rather uncomfortable with the information and conclusions drawn in that article about the "Doberman Head Bobbing Syndrome". I read it some while ago when it was first published and didn't agree with some of it then and still don't and I've written about "head bobbing" so often now I should really remember to save the text and simply repost it when it comes up again.
My information is entirely anecdotal--but I wonder if the conclusions drawn in the article have a big enough data base to be accurate.
One thing is certain--this isn't new and I don't see it more often now than I did 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. But then I've been looking at the breed for a long time. I saw the occasional puppy with a head tremor in the 60's and I see an occasional puppy with a head tremor now.
The first time I read the article it struck me that it was almost as if two different syndromes were being described.
The first Dobe I had who had (what I really couldn't call a head bob--but rather a tremor) a head shake was whelped in 1961. When she was about 5 months old I was reading and she was playing in the same room--I looked to see what she was doing because she was being too quiet (kids and puppies make noise) and she was sitting and looking at me. Her head was quivering--this was not a bob, not much of anything except a tremor--it looked the way you might imagine a shiver would look confined to the head alone. I said, "Dee!" and it stopped. For several months she would do this every three or four weeks--there didn't seem to be any apparent trigger--it was as likely to happen after she'd been playing hard as it was right after she woke up.
I took her to her vet--she was obliging enough to have an episode in the office--we ran what tests were available and seemed appropriate (not many) and ultimately came to no conclusions--her vet records said "fine tremor (etiology unknown) affecting the head only".
When she had an episode she'd get a distant look in her eye and the fine tremor would start but as soon as you called her name she was back to normal--wondering why you were saying "Dee!"
By the time she was a year old she had stopped having the tremors at any particular interval--and by the time she was three, as far as I know, she had stopped having them at all.
The second dog that I owned who had head tremors was whelped in 1996--and like the bitch started having an occasional tremor about the time he was 5 months old. He never did have as many as she did--his showed up every five or six months or so and by the time he was 2 he stopped having them and didn't have one (at least not when I was around to see it until he was well over six--that was the last one I saw him have.
Over the period of years between the first bitch and the recent dog I owned a fair number of Dobes and while I didn't have another who had head tremors I saw them fairly frequently in dogs owned by other people. Often the owners never even noticed that the dogs were having an episode and more than once I asked owners "How often does he have those?" and got the answer "Have what?"
I have also seen dogs who had symptoms which really could be described as a "head bob". At least one dog was found to have an invasive brain tumor when a necropsy was performed after he was put to sleep because of increasing episodes of head shaking and ultimately seizures. I know of another who ultimately was diagnosed with a liver disease and as the disease grew worse so did the head shaking. But these didn't look anything like that fine tremor that I've seen in dogs of mine, friends dogs and hear about regularly.
I hear about things that people believe have helped these tremors--B vitamins, supplimental vitamin E, feeding a variety of "natural" diets (as opposed to good quality kibble) including both entirely raw as well as home cooked.
The fact is that when these tremors show up in puppies in the four to six month range they seem to eventually go away, by themselves or appear so infrequently that there may literally be years between episodes.
This seems to happen whether the dogs get B vitamins (any combination you may care to think of) or not. Whether you give vitamin E--or not. And lastly no matter what kind of diet you end up feeding--no matter whether it contains grains (or not) or is raw--or cooked or home made or bought at a feed store.
You can make of this what you will--I would suggest if you see something like this in a dog of yours that you ask about it at the next regular appointment with your vet. Generally if you can offer the dog a cookie or say its name and it stops the symptoms it will probably turn out to be nothing that our present diagnostics can determine but if it worries you then you should ask about it and keep track of the episodes and their frequency and duration so that you can offer some information to your vet.
There are certainly things that will make a dogs head shake and some very serious things indeed--but for the most part those that I've heard about have started to occur in older dogs--not in puppies as the fine tremors tend to.
I've also heard people claim that some lines are more prone to this than others--and it may be true--as I say my information is entirely anecdotal and in my experience the two dogs I've owned who had these fine tremors as puppies had common ancestors but they were about 15/16 generations back in the recent dog before you get to dogs that were also in the pedigree of the the bitch from the 60's.
The bottom line would be to discuss this with your veterinarian--new information turns up out of research every day and for the record I've seen other breeds do the same thing--at least a couple of terrier breeds, a springer, a weim and a standard poodle that I can think of just off hand.