So you need to know and understand how to and how not to buy a Doberman Puppy, Its not as easy as running out to the puppy supermarket and picking one up. I have created these pages to hopefully help you avoid the common mistakes and do what is needed to get the perfect puppy of your dreams and not the puppy that is a nightmare. Happy puppy looking!
Choose a breeder that will be there to answer your questions and who will be there during your problems and joys of owning a puppy.
Text marked in RED will be red flags for you to avoid at all costs!
*Ask at what age the breeder will let the puppies go to their new homes.
Responsible breeders keep puppies until they are at least 8 weeks old.
*Ask what health testing was done on the sire and dam of the litter.
Responsible Doberman breeders are testing for hip and elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease (vWD), thyroid disease, genetic eye disease, normal cardiac function.
*Avoid breeders who purposely breed "OVER-SIZED", "GIANT" or "KING"
Dobermans. Some even call them "GENTLE-GIANTS", "GLADIATORS" or "WARLOCKS".
*How old was the sire and dam at the time of the breeding?
Health tests such as hip and elbow evaluations can NOT be definite until
the animal is at least 2 years of age. Dobermans are a breed that is not fully mature until at least 2 years of age. Breeding before that time is considered unethical by many.
*How often does the breeder produce litters?
One, possibly two litters a year is more than enough in this writer’s opinion. Any more than that and it becomes very difficult to provide a high standard of care for the puppies and for their owners. It is often seen that breeder's who insist on co-owning are producing multiple litters with co-owners where they the breeder is actually a silent partner, Some of these breeders, could have several litters per year, through co-owned dogs. beware of Co-ownerships!
*Do the sire and dam come from pedigree lines that are free of albino or albino-factored Dobermans?
*Albino/albino-factored Dobermans are mistakenly referred to, or sold, as whites, white-factored's, creams, cremellos or rare Dobermans. **DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS!!** A breeder of albino/albino-factored Dobermans is purposely breeding and selling dogs with a known birth defect. Albinism is a birth defect and there can be many extra health considerations to these unfortunate Dobermans.
**To anyone considering the purchase of a Doberman, be absolutely sure the puppy/dog does NOT carry the gene for albinism. In the US, look for a "Z" on the AKC blue slip of the puppy/dog. A "Z" at the beginning of the litter registration number identifies puppies/dogs that WILL produce a litter resulting in albino or albino-factored Dobes. Ethical breeders DO NOT breed for this. They do not purposely breed for a genetic defect! Make sure the Dobes are "Z" free. Doberman Pinschers come in four accepted colors - black and rust, red and rust, blue and rust, and fawn (Isabella) and rust. The blue color is a dilute of the black, the fawn color is a dilute of the red. Blues and fawns are frowned upon by The European breeders and are not a part of their standards for the breed. It is only within the US that they are allowed and accepted!
*Will the ears be cropped, tails docked and dew claws removed? At what age will this be done?
Tails are normally docked and dew claws removed around the age of 2-4 days. Cropping is usually done between 7-10 weeks of age.
Usually, but not always, breeders in North America who do NOT crop, are cutting corners
to save on out-of-pocket expense on the litter. Some breeders now do not wish to crop for human reasons. I personally feel this is a personal issue and should not be taken alone as a guide for excluding any breeder from your possibility of a good breeder, just because they do not crop. Europeans have banned ear cropping as well as tail docking!
puppies go to their new home for several reasons :
- historically, the Doberman is a cropped breed and the breeder wishes to retain the traditional look
- the breeder can ensure the cropping is done correctly by a qualified individual and can oversee the immediate aftercare of the ears (novice owners should never be responsible for trying to find someone to crop.)
- the breeder is aware that it is normally easier to re-home a cropped Doberman because the majority of people continue to recognize and prefer the look of a cropped Doberman
- the breeder feels that the ear canals can be kept cleaner, drier and are less prone to infections
*Showing in conformation (Preferably European clubs that understand the total Doberman, Europeans breed for a totally different type of Doberman than those here in the US! ) and/or obedience trials, temperament testing, club memberships/affiliations, etc. are strong indicators (when combined with health testing) that the breeder produced the litter to better the breed and not just to produce another litter of Dobe puppies for profit. Responsible, ethical breeders participate in breed clubs, help with rescue, breed education, attend seminars and learn more about Dobermans any way they possibly can. They are constantly GIVING BACK to the breed something other than a litter of puppies. Be aware that some breeders do not title the Doberman in any performance sport, which should be placed ABOVE any Championship titles, Championship titles alone are NOT good indicators of a TRUE Doberman, The Doberman breeder should also have some form of working and or performance titles on the dogs that they breed, The Doberman Breed is one that Character is of great importance, and Conformation shows alone do nothing to show a Doberman is well balanced in a true Doberman Temperament and Character.
Most good Doberman breeders would prefer to see "working " titles before Championships.
If the breeder ONLY offers AKC Championships, Look for another breeder who understands the importance of the total Doberman.(And titles in working events and or at least Obedience events).
*Will the breeder be able to at any point and time in the lives of the
puppies, be able to take back those puppies - NO QUESTIONS ASKED?
A responsible, ethical breeder (including the owner of the stud) will at any time take back dogs they bred for whatever reasons. They will ensure that none of the puppies they produced ever end up in a homeless situation, that they never burden an animal shelter, pound or rescue organization.
Above all, ask for REFERENCES!! Ask for the names and numbers of at least 5 of the breeder’s puppy owners and follow up with them. Also, it would be wise to ask for a reference from the breeder’s vet. Ask the veterinarian about the standard of care the breeder provides for the dogs from a veterinary standpoint. It wouldn't’ hurt to ask a few other breeders local to the one you are considering if they would recommend them as well.
A well-bred, sound, healthy puppy from a reputable breeder is WORTH THE
WAIT. Don’t get caught up in a mind-set that you must have a puppy immediately. Take your time to do your research and don’t be surprised that you will likely have to wait for a quality puppy. The time and money you invest in the puppy up front is very likely to save you time and money later.
Also, consider that sometimes breeders will have young adults available to new homes. These may be dogs that they had shown for a while and didn't’ turn out quite like the breeder expected. They may be champion animals that just don’t fit into the breeding program for whatever reason (perhaps the breeder owns a better dog they would rather use). To understand the subtle differences in show quality:
Perhaps they have one that was returned by another puppy owner for various
reasons that have little or nothing to do with the dog (divorce, loss of job, moving, death of owner, etc). They may have one available that simply doesn't get along with another dog in the household. You may very well be able to get a nice dog that is older than a puppy – one that may very well already be housetrained, crate trained, some obedience training, some health testing completed, very well socialized, etc. Keep an open mind. These dogs can fit very well with little effort into your home and completely eliminate all the hassles of adopting a puppy! As cute as puppies are, they are a big investment in time and training.
It is not unusual for a breeder to expect a deposit on a puppy once you've made your decision on a particular litter or puppy. A typical deposit is $100-$600. This holds or reserves a puppy for you. A deposit is generally expected just before the litter is born (and ultrasound has confirmed the presence of puppies) or just after the litter is born and the breeder knows what is available. The deposit is not refunded if you simply change your mind. You should obtain a receipt for any deposit you pay - the first and second choice of color/sex should be noted on the receipt. Do NOT forward full purchase amounts until it is time to receive the puppy. Ask how many deposits the breeder has taken - it makes no sense to be way down the list and paying a deposit when the likelihood of a puppy being available is low (for instance, don't be the 14th deposit when the average litter size is 8 puppies.)
Be careful with breeders who insist on co-owning the puppy! This is a sign that the breeder expects you to later show at your expense and breed to one of their sires and raise litters of puppy's at your expense, and they are often treated as property as co-owning is not a good idea, You should ask to outright to own without any stipulations once you pay for your puppy. Many expensive long drawn out court battles have evolved innocently from unknowing buyers, who allowed a co-ownership agreement at the time of sale.
If you can’t wait for a well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder, please consider adopting an unwanted, homeless Doberman from a rescue organization. These unfortunate dogs also most often find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own. Legitimate rescue organizations ensure that these dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and try to match the dogs to appropriate homes prior to placement.
Talk to breeders who are open and honest about health & temperament testing. + (more on temperament) Realize that all dogs do have problems – you want to deal with breeders who admit their problems, will discuss them and will be able to tell you how they are attempting to solve them. All ethical and responsible breeders health test, temperament test, title their dogs, and aim to produce only the highest quality Dobermans which will better the gene pool. Responsible breeders are choosy about which dogs they breed – they study pedigrees for quality in conformation, health, longevity, temperament and working ability. They try to find the absolute best match for their female. They travel to great lengths to find the best male. It is rare that this best male will be living in their home or their neighborhood.
Please, please be aware that pet stores buy their puppies from puppy mills (where dogs are kept locked in cages breeding constantly with no concern for their health or welfare – all that matters is that they are producing puppies for money. These dogs are killed if they can no longer produce puppies.). Responsible, ethical breeders do NOT sell their puppies to pet stores. People who truly care about animals do NOT purchase puppies at pet stores.
There are also establishments known as “commercial” breeders. They won’t call themselves that, but they produce many hundreds of puppies a year with little thought or regard to health, longevity, temperament, conformation, etc. This type of establishment may sound ideal because they are likely to have a puppy available with little or no waiting at any time. BEWARE!
If you see USDA it may not be meat but pets! Yes, Dogs are guarded by the USDA when bred on Dog farms! Think about it – how can they personally oversee proper puppy care and socialization? They are creating a “product for profit” in their eyes, not a living creature. These establishments often have glitzy brochures, splashy ads in magazines and may appear very classy, which is easy to do when they are selling hundreds of puppies for profit annually.
Questions to ask the breeder
You want these to be "yes"
Here at LEGARD DOBERMANS we have placed our own replies to these questions from our actual guarantee's and website.
Were the puppies born on the premises?
LeGard Puppies are born in a quiet room in our home, while I am only a few feet away the first few weeks of their lives to ensure all goes as smooth as possible for the new mom and pups. The puppies are handled daily, and exposed to everyday common things, the vacuum cleaner, TV. Radio, dishwasher, children and all the sights and sounds that are normal to our everyday living. When our weather permits, puppies are taken outside for several hours each day for fresh air, sunshine, play, and exercise. Crate & Potty Training Started and Raised Underfoot with Plenty of Love!
Does the breeder begin any type of pre-training after weaning prior to placement ?
We begin the housebreaking at 5-6 weeks of age and begin the crate training at 7-8 weeks old. Our puppies are taken for car rides to the park, and even to other states at times.
Does the breeder insist that the puppies be at least seven weeks before being placed?
Our puppies ears are cropped , and will be ready for their new homes at the age of 8 -12 weeks.
Did the breeder seem happy that you are asking questions?
YES, encouraged !
We are here to assist you in finding answers for your questions.
Does the breeder require that you take advantage of training and obedience classes?
Seller strongly recommends that Buyer attend a minimum of 2 completed course obedience classes with Puppy and provide proper socialization opportunities for Puppy.
Taken from our Guarantees
Did the breeder ask you lots of questions? Questions about your lifestyle, family, experience with dogs and other pets, why you wanted a dog?
See our questionnaire, We ask theses basically, then allot more as we proceed to discuss the breed and the buyers requests.
Does the breeder offer as an incentive any rebate offers for titles?
When your LeGard Doberman has been titled with the approved Obedience and or Schutzhund titles and health tested with the following, you will be entitled to obtain a LeGard Doberman puppy at no cost less any shipping (all and any shipping is the responsibility of the purchaser). The Rebate puppy will be provided when one becomes available at LeGard Dobermans and will be selected from a litter of their choice, equal to or lesser than the original puppy purchased.
Approved titles and required health testing prior to rebate:
Sch.title achieved must equal AKC CD and CGC, AKC Championship, Schutzhund BH, and Sch 1. Titles must be in combination of two titles for rebates.
OFA certified hips, Vet Gen Vwd, and that the Animal does not show any disqualifying faults as found in the AKC / UDC Doberman Breed Standard.
The buyer will be responsible for the fee charged by the AKC to lift the Limited Registration. If the buyer has no interest to pursue the above conditions, the animal should be spayed or neutered.
Did the breeder ask you whether you planned on breeding?
Spay & Neutering:
Bitches which are purchased as family companions and dogs which are judged not to be of show and breeding quality should be spayed or neutered when they near maturity, before nine months of age.
Will the breeder be available to offer advice and support for as long as you have the dog?
Did the breeder go over some of the problems some people have with the breed?
Does the breeder explain the importance of proper breed care and feeding?
Buyer agrees to maintain preventative care of puppy/dog in regards to hip dysplasia such as proper nutrition (including avoiding excessive nutrition),including adding the daily supplement of NUVET, proper exercise, and preventing stress injuries (e.g. Not allowing puppy/dog to jump from heights taller than itself at the shoulder and no forced exercising, running, until at least 18 months of age.The buyer agrees to maintain the animal in a humane environment and properly train and care for it. Specifically the animal will be properly licensed and inoculated against rabies, distemper, parvo virus, and other communicable diseases as recommended by a qualified veterinarian. The animal will not be allowed to roam and will be socialized and obedience trained appropriately.
Is the breeder a member of a breed club? (An organization sharing information on the breed)
WE ARE Members of the following and or associated with the following :
Has the breeder titled and or produced any dogs that are titled and or are working towards titles both in Conformation and working ability's ?
Bam Bam (Working)
(Nimo) LeGard's Plea Bargain, BH
LeGard's Under Cover Agent - (HEARING IMPAIRED SERVICE DOG)
CH . LeGard's Criminal Intent - (San Jose, Costa Rica)
Int. A.K.C. Ch. Wufpak's Sierra Rojo D' LeGard V-1-UCI-CHAMPIONAT-InternationalerSchónheits-Champion
CH. Legards Issey Miyake,WAC -(BISS Winner) Elizabeth Irons - TOP 20 CONTENDER (#3)
CH Leilani's Oh Henry N Legard
Ch. Leilani's Kit Kat N Legard
Ch. O's Hot Fudge Sundae
Ch. Leilani American Spirit
LeGards Always just right (Pointed)
Ch. SPRINGSTON'S KISS THIS N LEGARD'S JOVAN
Roman at the AKC Sanctioned puppy match Puppy Match 1st, Best Of breed, and Group 2nd - October 2006.
Enoch, aka (Galant V. Legard) - (Blood Bank Donor)
Frona Sunami , SVV1, Sch 1, IPO-1, CD, CGC T-1, FH, BH , - A-Rated in Protection - FH- HIT
Eduard v. Legard - Training Schutzhund Sport Dog
Elma Legard, BH, WH, WAC
SPRINGSTON'S JAZZMIN, BH
Jade" 11/05- Two class wins, AKC PUPPY MATCH- Best Puppy in Breed and then got a 3rd in the group
Duke" Eduard v. Legard - Schutzhund Sport Dog
UCICB- International Champion LeGard's Copper ,BH
UCICB- International Champion LeGard's Black sun, CD,CGC
Are the sire and dam each at least two years old?
Were both sire and dam tested for any genetic health problems before the breeding?
Does the breeder have information on the health testing of most of the immediate relatives of the sire and dam?
Did the breeder volunteer information on the health testing, and volunteer proof?
Does the breeder offer a guarantee against genetic health problems?
Seller guarantees that Puppy will obtain a passing OFA hip rating (Fair, Good, or Excellent) and elbow rating (Clear) at the age of 2 years.
Your Doberman is guaranteed from the Date of purchase to be free from hereditary disease or defect for it’s lifetime
CVI - The ONE most "Other breeders" do not even list!
(others may also apply)
Vwd Affected, with active bleeding issues - Cardiomyopothy-Hip dysplaysia- Elbows-CVI (Wobblers) and any Hereditary - Congenital defects that cause death, bone malformation, blindness, deafness, heart defects.
If your Dobe is found to have a heredity defect, simply return it to us, and we will replace it at no charge
(Taken from actual guarantees)
Does the breeder offer a full refund should the puppy die within 24 hours of purchase from a genetic,heraldry,or preventable virus such as parvo?
If the animal is found to be diagnosed with a hereditary / congenital condition or diagnosed with any preventable disease that this puppy/adult has been vaccinated against prior, such as PARVO/DISTEMPER within 48 hours of purchase, a report of the results is to be sent to LeGard Dobermans and the animal can be returned immediately at no expense to the breeder, or A DEATH CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY A LISCEND VETRINARIAN (Less any shipping) for a refund of the purchase price, pending verification by the breeder's veterinarian.
(Taken from our actual Guarantees)
Did the breeder explain that a guarantee is not a promise that a genetic health problem won't occur, but a promise about what will happen if it does?
In life nothing is certain, No matter what we can do to prevent some things, often mother nature has her own way of doing things, We can only test our breeding stock (For what there are tests for) prior to breeding to ensure that at the time in which they are actually tested they do not have any health issues. Some things we have the science to test for, and unfortunately some things that we cannot. We spend many countless hours researching the pedigree's and parentage to rule out any negative health issues, However again, often some may hide dormant for many years to only surface later, because we cannot honestly Guarantee that any living thing will remain 100% healthy, We offer these guarantee's should that happen. Some would be quick to blame the breeder for such an occurrence, So it is important to understand that when dealing with the genetics of living things there will NOT BE 100% success in all the litters all the time, that is nature.
Is the guarantee at least two years long?
Your Doberman is guaranteed from the Date of purchase to be free from a named hereditary disease or defect for it’s lifetime
Does the guarantee allow you to keep the dog?
Does the breeder guarantee the dogs temperament to be stable and sound?
Your LeGard Doberman also carries a Two years from date of purchase Temperament Guarantee, if for any reason you are not satisfied with the temperament, simply return it to us and we will happily replace it.
Is the dam a family pet (meaning does she live in the house as part of the family)? (For that matter does the breeder know what a "dam" is?)
YES, AND YES
Have the puppies been introduced to children? To other animals?
Just l@@k at our grandchildren in our pictures with our Dobes not to mention all of the other pets, birds and rabbits!
Is the breeder concerned enough about the welfare of the dog to promise to take it back (no matter how old) if you can't keep it? (Not necessarily pay you, the purpose is to avoid the shelter, ensure good placement)
The buyer agrees that ownership and/or possession of this animal will not be transferred without written consent of the seller. The buyer will not abandon the animal to a shelter or give the animal away. The seller will accept the return of this animal at any time the buyer declines to keep said animal
Does the breeder believe it is important to keep in contact with puppy buyers to verify the level of success in producing a healthy dog of correct temperament?
To keep seller informed of any change of address and phone number at all times.The buyer agrees to inform LeGard Dobermans of any titles or awards obtained by the animal for our breeding records. The buyer will inform LeGard Dobermans of any change of address or phone number so that we may keep track of all animals bred by this kennel.
Does the breeder intend to follow up on the dog as it matures and ages?
Does the breeder consider himself or herself a dedicated hobbyist to the breed?
If the breeder advertises do they focus on the important qualities such as health and temperament.
Does the breeder ensure to the best of their ability that their puppy's do not end up being resold or sold to third parties?
The buyer swears that he/she is not acting as an agent in the purchase of this animal and that it will remain solely in his/her custody. Buyer further swears that he/she is not associated with a pet shop or animal broker and this Doberman is not for resale of any type or matter.
(From our actual Guarantee's)
You want these to be "no"
Does the breeder spend too much time advertising with fancy adds in fancy magazines?
Glitzy adds and advertisements
Most of the Show Breeders spend thousands each year on expensive adds in specialty breed magazines that cater to the breed that they own and show.. These adds are based on the numbers of shows and wins within the breed rings.
Who do you think pays for all these fancy glitzy adds, that read like a fairytale…
Do not get hyped into the big full page adds and show stopper pictures, it’s a part of heavy advertisement to sell their puppy's!
Does the breeder guarantee a puppy to be 100% show quality?
The breeders will use their best judgment and the advice of other fanciers in evaluating the puppies as to show or pet quality. There is no guarantee that a puppy evaluated as "Show Quality" will be successful in the show ring as an adult and no warranties are made to that effect. The breeders encourage owners to participate in the sport of purebred dogs and may be available to assist purchasers in preparing and showing dogs, which are evaluated to be of show quality.
Does the breeder guarantee a puppy to be 100% working quality?
The breeders will use their best judgment and the advice of other fanciers in evaluating the puppies as working quality. There is no guarantee that a puppy evaluated as "Working quality" will be successful in the working/sport arenas as an adult and no warranties are made to that effect. The breeders encourage owners to participate in the sport of purebred dogs and may be available to assist purchasers in preparing and training/working dogs, which are evaluated to be of working/sport quality.
Did the breeder state or imply that puppies would be arriving from off premises? (e.g. shipped in soon)
Will the breeder agree to sell a puppy less than 7 weeks old?
Was the breeder reluctant to answer questions?
Did the breeder seem to be defensive in answering questions?
Does the breeder charge different prices for dogs with or without papers?
Did the breeder claim that his or her lines were entirely free of genetic health problems?
We are not perfect, But we try very hard to be!
Does the breeder insist that the buyer co-own with the breeder?
Do you feel pressured into buying a puppy? Do you feel like the breeder is trying to "sell" the puppy (as in persuading you to buy)?
Does the breeder promote the puppies as gifts or offer some special incentive in price to encourage a sale?
Does the breeder have more than two breeds available?
Does the breeder charge different prices depending upon the sex of the puppy?
If the breeder advertises do they seem to focus on superficial qualities like color or size while ignoring health testing?
Does the guarantee require the dog die or be euthanized because of the health problem?
Is the guarantee limited to a replacement puppy from the same breeder?
Wow! Do all those answers really have to be "correct"?
That's up to you and your standards. You have to decide your own standards. If you don't think a point is important then don't require it, simple as that. The list is mainly for people who don't know about the issues in the first place. And it is for people who don't know they can demand much more than they get from a pet shop, for much less than it will cost them at a pet shop. That's the basic difference between the person who breeds for income, and the one who breeds because they love the breed. The primary concern of the second type is the dogs. They expect to lose money and lose lots of money. For them breeding is a passion, not a business, though some do make it their business, and spend thousands of dollars each year on publicity and adds and campaigning their dogs in the publics eye, it is not necessary and is only costly to those who are buying the puppy's, So again, be aware if a breeder insists on a co-ownership. You have the right to go elsewhere and buy a puppy outright without any breeder stipulations!
OK, if you have plowed through all that let me take a moment to remind you. You won't find a breeder that does all of the above. The purpose of the list is to help you get a feel for what responsible breeding is all about.