I have been looking into getting a Doberman puppy for quite a while, and have done my homework in researching the breed. In that research, I've seen many accounts of same sex aggression in Dobermans (regardless of being altered) at around 1-2 years of age and that it can come on rather suddenly. So I have a couple of questions (and maybe some misunderstandings) that hopefully can be cleared up by the Dobermantalk community! (I also understand that the aggression is case by case, and that not every Dobie shows this trait.)
1. Same sex aggression can be in both male and female Dobermans, correct? However, is it less common in females? From what I've read, it seems like the instances of aggression in a Doberman has been with males.
It's rather more common in males (and that's true of other breeds where same sex aggression is fairly common). A breeder friend of mine had a one bitch (spayed, older) who turned out at around 4 to be VERY same sex aggressive and the young bitch who was the focus of the aggression and she were very determined to kill each other. Ultimate a family member who lived in a different town took the older bitch but there was no peace for nearly a year at my friends house. She'd always had multiple bitches without problems before that.
2. Is the aggression towards intact or neutered males? Or does it not matter?
Absolutely doesn't matter.
3. Does the level of interaction with other dogs during puppyhood and as a young adult lessen or increase the aggressive trait?
Doesn't seem to matter--I've seen well socialized dogs decide suddenly that they don't like one other male or all other males. And on the other hand I've seen adult dogs who lived in single dog households and who really never were actively socialized who had no problem with other dogs of either sex, neutered or not.
4. Could the trait be managed/trained out of an individual by not tolerating the behavior? (I've read that this is generally a "no." But I would be interested if anyone has tried!)
I don't think so! And I have for most of the many years I've kept dogs (mostly Dobes--and since 1959) had multiple males. BUT--I don't recommend doing this to anyone else. Often I've grown out a male for a breeder and ended up keeping him--I read dogs pretty well and I've raised two puppies for breeders that I'd have kept in a heartbeat but neither of them were going to be males for multiple boy households. And for the record I only keep males--no bitches--I might dog sit a bitch for a few weeks but they aren't ever going to be permanent--and most of my males are intact.
Several years ago there was a member on DT who preached endlessly that any dogs could be trained to tolerate each other--he heard all the terrible stories about fight that ended up with dead dogs and mauled owner and insisted we just didn't know enough about how to train to deal with the problem. He's been gone for some time I heard (and have no idea if it's true or not) he took a dog to retrain to get along with other males and and ultimate one of the dogs in a fight tried to eat him. I do know a couple of people who like to believe they could do this but I've never seen anyone actually succeed in solving a problem that already existed.
This is really my only concern with getting a Doberman. It's not that I couldn't handle it (or work around it), it would just be sad if I couldn't bring my dog to family events where other dogs will be or go to public events where dogs are allowed.
I show my dogs--and often I've found myself standing waiting to go into ring next to a known aggressive male. Most dogs who are being actively shown are taught to be polite and you rarely see dog fights started at the Doberman ring (I've seen them at the entrance to some Terrier rings and separate two aroused terriers is a little like trying to separate Siamese twins.) Someone else already said--two dogs on leash are generally controllable--if you keep fights from starting you usually won't have a big problem outside your home.
The breeder I have contacted says he "generally" has not had any problems with his dogs. He said that he would avoid putting two males into situations where they would want to fight over something, but that he has had two males in the same room and they would be fine. But I'm unsure if he's just telling me what I want to hear, or if he's being genuine. Could the aggression just be based upon genetics? Some have it, and some don't?
Thanks for your help!
While there are some lines that are known to have more than their share of same sex aggressive males and one would think that was at least partly genetic. But I've known enough males from such lines who got along with other males sometimes those that lived with them.
So I can't really answer the question--many breeders simply won't place male Dobes in a household that has other males (neutered or not, Dobermans or some other breed) some will warn you about possiblities0-which you've seen here but it's so much a dog by dog situation it's hard to know if your breeder just doesn't know or if he's had dogs that are more inclined to go along and get along.
Good luck--I'd think if this is a single male Dobe in your home with your cats (by the way--all of my Dobes, the Afghan Hound and the Australian Shepherd have lived with my cats and have gotten along with them well) you should be able to make this work.