Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Doberdane is a formidable cross breed that encompasses the impressive stature and noble appearance of the Great Dane with the muscular physique of the Doberman. While many designer dogs are kept purely as companion animals, the Doberdane is often used as a guard dog thanks to their intimidating appearance and the loyalty that they show their masters.

With a confident gait and muscles to spare, a Doberdane walking or running towards you is a real sight to behold. Though many Doberdanes in the USA will have their ears cropped to make them appear fiercer, this practice is frowned upon in most other countries. While pure black is a popular coat colour, there is the potential for a variety of coat colours including brown, red and fawn.

About & History

The Doberdane is a relatively new addition to the ‘designer dog pack’ and was likely first bred only two to three decades ago. As with the vast majority of modern hybrids, their place of origin is difficult to determine but many suspect that they are originally from America.

The Doberman

The Doberman is a German breed that was first created in the late 1800s by a man named Karl Dobermann who was, in fact, the local dog catcher. His job put him in the unique position whereby he was able to assess many different breeds of dog and choose those which he wished to breed together in the hopes of establishing his ‘ideal dog’ that would be loyal, intelligent and strong. His goal was to eventually produce a dog that would protect its master unquestioningly.

He used a variety of breeds in order to achieve his goal, including the Beauceron, Rottweiler and Weimaraner. The Doberman enjoyed great popularity during the Second World War when they were employed by the army in a number of different facets. It is thought that the modern-day Doberman is significantly more docile and people oriented than the original one as breeders would selectively choose to mate those dogs that were friendlier and less hostile.

The Great Dane

Great Danes are renowned worldwide for their size with the world record holder of ‘World’s Tallest Dog’ being a Great Dane aptly named Zeus. Today’s Great Danes derive from ancient dogs that were used to hunt wild boar several thousand years ago. Their closer canine relatives include the Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound. As happened with the Doberman, Great Danes were selectively bred over time to be more calm and gentle than their ancestors, making them ideal pets rather than hunting dogs alone.


An undeniably attractive and impressive beast, the Doberdane is truly a sight to behold. Standing at between 71cm to 76cm and reaching weights of 43kg to 63kg, this is one of the larger hybrid dogs in existence. Naturally, the ears of the Doberdane hang down close to their face but many individuals will have had their ears cropped by their owners so that they stand permanently erect.

Their brown, circular eyes sit deep within their skull and are widely spaced. Their heads are relatively small when compared to their giant bodies, which have a wide and deep chest and a good abdominal tuck up. They have sturdy bones and thick, strong limbs. The coat of the Doberdane is short and straight, often with a beautiful sheen to it. Accepted colours include black, brown, red, fawn and blue.

Character & Temperament

For most, the protective nature and devotion of the Doberdane is what sets them apart from other large dogs. They are unwavering in their loyalty and will form extremely close bonds with their owners. With their immediate family, they will openly show affection and are exceptionally gentle. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to outsiders, the Doberdane is rarely as welcoming and requires extensive socialisation from a very young age to prevent unwanted hostility when guests come to the home.

While a good family pet, it is not generally advised for those with young children to take on a Doberdane as there is the potential for serious injury if they were to ever snap. Even the best-behaved dogs can be a danger to small children, purely due to their size and weight. Similarly, they should be homed with dogs that are a comparable size and must be introduced to other dogs from a young age to ensure their acceptance of them.


The sheer strength of the Doberdane coupled with its size mean that training is absolutely essential and must not be neglected at any stage of the dog’s development. Not the easiest dog to train, most breeders would recommend that only experienced owners take on the Doberdane.

Very smart and biddable, with the right trainer the Doberdane can be trained to a very high standard and is known for its obedience. They have a good attention span and are not easily distracted. Training should never stop and Doberdanes require lifelong training sessions to keep them on track.


Sadly, it is a known fact that larger dogs will, on average, live shorter lives than their shorter peers. They are also prone to certain health conditions simply because of their size and conformation.

Hip Dysplasia

An orthopaedic issue that can dramatically impinge on a dog’s quality of life, hip dysplasia begins to affect dogs from as young as six months of age and will continue to cause them issues throughout their entire lives. As the hip joint is improperly formed, the bones will rub against each other leading to local arthritis and causing gait abnormalities, muscle wastage and pain.

Hip dysplasia is incredibly easy to diagnose on X-ray under anaesthetic and does not require more detailed imaging. There are a number of treatment options available, including some surgical solutions. The earlier a dog is diagnosed, the more available options and the sooner a vet can get to work on a treatment plan.


Bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition that can cause a dog who was healthy in the morning to have passed away by the afternoon. When a dog’s stomach ‘bloats’, it fills with a mixture of liquid, food and gas, which fails to exit down the gastrointestinal tract, instead building up, leading to bloating of the abdomen and localised pressure.

Affected animals are noticeably uncomfortable and find it difficult to settle down, typically walking around aimlessly and struggling to vomit unsuccessfully. If bloat is suspected, owners should rush their dog to the nearest emergency vet for treatment.

Cervical Spondylomyelopathy

Also known as Wobbler's Syndrome, Cervical Spondylomyelopathy is an orthopaedic disease of the cervical spine (neck). It occurs when the spinal cord and/or nerve roots are compressed and dogs become neurologically abnormal and experience a great deal of pain.

The odd gait associated with this condition is hard to miss and is often very exaggerated. Usually, a CT scan, MRI or myelogram are the best imaging modalities to diagnose this condition. In some cases, strict rest and supportive care will be sufficient, but some will require specialist surgery.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Doberdanes are active and require a good 60 to 90 minutes of walks, hikes and runs each day. Along with this, they benefit from outdoor access where they can run safely off the lead. In order to keep their brain engaged, owners should not neglect their mental needs and should supplement their physical activity with complex canine games and puzzles.

Failing to provide this cross-breed with enough exercise can lead to a deep-rooted frustration and ongoing behaviour issues that can include non-stop barking, digging and furniture chewing. These kinds of vices are far easier to prevent than cure, so owners should work hard to keep these dogs active.

It’s critical that owners don’t overdo exercise in the developing young dog, as this can damage their bones and joints. Vets can discuss appropriate exercise plans that should be tailored to the individual depending on their size and growth rate. Caution is advised until the skeleton has finished maturing at about 18 to 24 months of age.


Grooming the Doberdane does not require a huge amount of time and can be done once or twice a week. Getting them used to brushing, as well as the inspection of their ears, teeth and feet, should start from a young age to ensure good cooperation. Similarly, tooth brushing should begin once dogs have gotten all of their adult teeth at around six months old.

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