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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Question Same Sex Aggression Questions

Hello!

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.

2. Is the aggression towards intact or neutered males? Or does it not matter?

3. Does the level of interaction with other dogs during puppyhood and as a young adult lessen or increase the aggressive trait?

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!)

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.

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!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 03:00 PM
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1. It occurs in both sexes, male more often than females (females uncommonly), but I've heard that if a female becomes SSA, it is often worse.

2. Male against male...it doesn't matter whether the dog or his opponent is fixed.

3. Not necessarily. You can even have two dogs live in the same household for a number of years who then suddenly decide they hate each other. And then they can NEVER be together alone, and often can't even be in the same room, supervised or not.

4. You can't train it out of a dog. You can manage it with your dog by keeping your dog on a leash anytime you are likely to meet other dogs. Depending on your dog's leash behavior, obedience training, and state of arousal, it may be difficult to manage him even on a leash. But with care, you generally can be around other males, just not right up in their faces. The SSA dog needs to be leashed, as does the other dog, to keep him from approaching too closely.

Managing two SSA dogs in the same household means "crate and rotate"...only one dog can be allowed out at any time. They are preferably kept with two doors (or secure barriers) between the dogs so no one makes a mistake and opens a door that will let them in together.

Their fights are not just your typical run of the mill dog spat/fight, but honest attempts by one dog to kill the other, and can be very difficult to break up without you getting hurt. (You generally will need two people to separate the dogs.)

Like you said, it does vary from dog to dog, and you will run into people who tell you they have never had a problem with it before (Unfortunately, some of those people have a young dog who hasn't reached maturity yet...they may be unpleasantly surprised.) You may also run into folks who have horrible stories to tell. But because of the seriousness of the behavior and the great difficulty of managing two males that are trying to kill each other, and the complete unpredictability of whether and when a dog will develop the problem, most informed folks just don't want to take the risk. And most good breeders are very hesitant (to the point of refusing) to place a male puppy or dog in a house with another male.

Bloodlines? That I don't know...but I bet there are some here on the forum who can answer that question. I hope they will chime in here.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 03:23 PM
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An afterthought here......most dobes are not terribly fond of other dogs. They may not actually try to fight, but they don't really play well with strange dogs. For one thing, a dobe can play roughly (a lot of dogs can't handle playing with a dobe--their style and level of intensity are too different), and they are not particularly sociable dogs. Going to a dog park, with a mature dobe especially, is a really bad idea. It is much better to find a person or two whose dogs are compatible with yours and arrange play dates.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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I should have mentioned that I do not have another dog in my home (just two cats). This would purely be an out-of-home type of thing.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 04:22 PM
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In a general social situation, you should be working to have a well mannered dog in public. This means he should be fine in social situations if you're preventing on-leash greetings. I wouldn't let him off leash with strange dogs.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 04:37 PM
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Hi sam!

I have had several multiple male Dobe households.

And... I have had to deal with SSA.

So, the bottom line, from my POV: If you are not planning on having a 2 male home, I would not be concerned.

That being said my beautiful secure and socialized boy (intact 4 yo male) is NEVER off leash in public. He never visits leash free dog parks and only plays with known dogs. Mostly the Dobe senior male that he was raised with. And, that's only under strict supervision. This is a sweet dog. Yet, SSA has nothing to do with "sweet" or well trained or generally well behaved. It is a switch that flips.

Folks talk about Same Sex Aggression in Doberman, but until one has lived with it 24/7, you have no idea. Dobes are extremely powerful and persistent dogs. Their medium size belies their strength and ability to do serious damage in a heartbeat.

My worst experience was decades ago. My 2 boys were 2 years apart in age. Best of friends. No resource guarding. They would eat out of the same bowl, share toys and rest together in the same bed (separate crates for sleeping). We had one other dog, a female mutt rescue.

One day the 5 yo, out of the blue decided that his 7 yo brother needed to die. The bottom line was that I ended up maimed, and we and the dogs had to suffer with "crate and rotate" until the older boy passed a few years later.

As I said, I really don't want to come across as being an alarmist. Still... An ounce of prevention etc.

I have maintained double Dobe male households after that initial problem. But, I was always on guard.

Today, our boy's interact well. They still play very rough, but with close eyes on and occasional intervention, it works out well. BTW, they are never together unsupervised.

Again... If you are introducing a new boy to a home w/o a male, I would not be concerned

Best to you

John
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samibbat101 View Post
Hello!

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.


Quote:
2. Is the aggression towards intact or neutered males? Or does it not matter?
Absolutely doesn't matter.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone who has responded thus far!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 09:50 AM
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So is the general senses that male dobes should no be taken to off leash dog parks/beaches and not trusted to play off leash with other males. regardless of their obedience levels?
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 10:22 AM
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Yes, in general, with strange dogs especially. Problem is, the other dog needs to be controlled enough that he isn't obnoxious to your dog. Some dogs have such bad manners they have no idea how to act around other dogs and actually start a fight because they are rude with your dog. And their owners don't have a clue about dog behavior. It doesn't matter who starts it; chances are the dobe will be blamed.
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Last edited by melbrod; 11-25-2018 at 10:24 AM.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 10:30 AM
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In your situation I think you should just pick whichever sex you prefer. If you don't have a preference you can leave it up to the breeder to decide what dog would make a better pet for a first time owner. If you need to bring the dog around other dogs from time to time maybe just have a plan in case it doesn't work out- bring a crate and put your dog in the friend or family member's garage while the other dog(s) are out, or simply leave yours at home. Not a big deal. I will echo what others have said about dobes not being very dog oriented; they are people oriented.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 10:37 AM
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Good advice, GK. I just tend to state the problems that can occur in strong terms because some people don't have any idea about the possibility their dog could turn out to be SSA.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 11:26 AM
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For sure all of this...........shoot this past summer I was in an organized training class....what I considered a controlled environment and another dog charged me and my dog. Yep the another owner was asleep at the wheel ...so to speak......busy laughing and chatting...yep dog got away from her.....charged Hoss and I.......and guess what from that point on the other owner was cold towards me because Hoss growled back.....
From that moment on......those two had an eye for one another......game on in a male Dobe world I guess.....but many stupid dog owners out there that are lawsuit happy...or will want your dog put down if they bite a human in the process of a scuffle........

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2018, 01:41 PM
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So is the general senses that male dobes should no be taken to off leash dog parks/beaches and not trusted to play off leash with other males. regardless of their obedience levels?
Sort of...

Leash free dog parks are generally not a good idea, as Dobes frequently do not do well in "swirl", a melee of poorly trained dogs with inattentive owners/handlers. Dobermans to tend to be best playing one on one.

Playing with another male: Not a real problem if your male is not obviously SSA. However, it very important to nip any spat in the bud. All play between males when a Dobe is involved requires supervision. One has to be prepared to intervene if it seem play is getting to rough or one dog appears too defensive or aggressive. This necessitates learning to read your dogs emotional state and comfort level. Dobes tend to telegraph their feeling very well. You just have to learn to interpret them.

To whit: My 4 yo intact male was raised side by side with my son's male Doberman. He (The Sheriff is about 2x McCoys age, so they are over 4 years apart.They get along very well for the most part. Not lovey-dovey, but respectful and tolerant and always happy to see each other. Still, when they play I am always right next to them ready to intervene at any sign of unacceptable escalation. Typically during 15 minutes of rough play, I usually have to step in 2-3 time. Verbal admonishment is all it takes in this particular situation.

They are never allowed together unsupervised. If I have to leave, one goes with me. When spending the night together in our home, they sleep in separate rooms on separate floors.

In any case, all this is just my experience. Hopefully this addresses some of your questions.

John
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 11:01 AM
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I have had dobermans for many years - 30+ years. I always have at least 2 together. Whether bringing home a new puppy or rescuing, I introduce them in the house, walk them together, buy them each the same toy so there is no competition, their "own" everything, etc. The only time I have had an issue, is a little dog that I have (pekingese-pomeranian cross who is now 14 years old), who takes considerable time to adjust. It took her a year to accept our last doberman pup (Zack is now 1.6 years old). Now, they are buddies..... her best friend was a badly abused female doberman we rescued. When buying a puppy, I watch the entire litter for temperament issues and meet the parents. I think dobies are a lot of work sometimes, but well worth the work! They are wonderful.
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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2020, 04:21 AM
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I'm glad I found this thread. Straight calm talk.

I dont have my Doberman yet but one of the reasons I like them is that we have met a few over the years unleashed in a park and my previous dog had a fabulous time playing with them. It is good to be forewarned of SSA - although I guess its just a term for something that is part and parcel of any dog owning experience.

To be honest its other breeds and crossbreeds that have sometime crossed a line with mine and ended up having a spat. I have called to the owners that their dog is being too rough/dominant/assertive, crossing the boundaries of fun play, and that mine will react to that eventually, and of course so it pans out. It happens in an instant even if recall is initiated, but is very rare thankfully and just results in noise/teeth so the other learns some manners! All Dobermans he met have been been fab - but this is good knowledge to tuck away
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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-05-2020, 04:00 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 533
Location: Tulsa, OK
Dogs Name: Hildegard, RIP 27JUN20
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My recently deceased Dobe Hilde and my still living Pit mix Jerome both had SSA issues and they both started and present in different ways. Hilde always disliked females and frequently disliked small dogs. Because if this and the general fears of Dobes, we kept her under strict control in public and around unfamiliar dogs. She was worst in places she considered hers, including Petsmart, when my husband worked there. Later in her life we went to an off-leash dog park, but I never left her side. We had been training together for at least three years by then, so she didnít really want to leave my side either, and just didnít really care about the other dogs. Basically, her dislike was never allowed to turn into anything stronger.
Jerome used to love all dogs, but when we took him to said off-leash dog park, some jerk brought unaltered males who liked to mount other dogs. One tried it with Jerome and Jerome attacked him. Since then, any time heís been around an unaltered male or a humper, heís responded the same way. He is ruined for life because of that jerk and his dog.
The last time was about a week ago, my step daughters and nieces (aged 10,9,9,7) were playing and one left our gate open. Jerome was off before we realized it. He and an unaltered male semi-stray got into a nasty fight. Thank you, by the way, John (4x4bike ped) - you posted years ago how to safely separate fighting dogs. You saved me a lot of vet bills and definitely a little girl (The sort-of-owner of the other dog) from getting bitten.

TL/DR: Keep your dog supervised and under tight control in public and you wonít have problems. Donít trust others to keep their dogs under control, because they wonít. Also, learn how to separate fighting dogs safely- itís better to be safe than sorry.
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