Often the First Sign of Health Problems

The Doberman’s coat was bred to require little maintenance. However, the coat and skin can be a good indicator of a problem. Poor breeding, poor diet, vitamin deficiency, poor hygiene, and stress can all cause coat problems. Hair loss, dandruff, and acne are good indicators that something is wrong.

Dobermans bred specifically for the rare colors of blue and fawn have a higher instance of coat and skin problems, as well as a host of other issues.

Hair loss usually occurs in two ways, a general thinning of the coat or a loss of hair in patches which if left untreated can eventually turn into total hair loss.

Thinning of the coat can be an indication of stress. Often this thinning is described as a blown coat. Females often blow their coats after birthing a litter of puppies. With all of her nutrients going to her puppies, it seems like a way of shedding excess baggage. Later the coat comes back full.

Hair loss in patches is an indication that something is wrong. Poor hygiene or immune deficiencies can be responsible for this by allowing bacteria to infect the pores. Immune deficiencies can be caused by stress or the depletion of certain vitamins and minerals, but for this level of severity, the stressor or vitamin or mineral depletion will have been unnaturally severe.

Domodectic Mange

Domodectic Mange also causes patchy hair loss. It is caused by a red mite called Demodex canis. These mites are common on most dogs with no adverse effect. Some dogs, especially as puppies, are sensitive to this mite and will develop a reaction. Dogs most susceptible to this sensitivity are dogs with short hair and oily skin like the Doberman. The reaction normally causes little else than blotchy hair loss, usually on the face, chest, and front legs.

This reaction causes no irritation to the dog. Dogs sensitive to this mite normally show the reaction during times of stress, often during puberty, or after any event that hinders the immune system allowing the mites to reproduce and eventually attack the hair follicles.

This problem is easily treated in the early stages by swabbing the affected areas with Amitraz; however, if left untreated can develop into a difficult problem to remedy and can eventually cause total hair loss.

Lick Granuloma

Another cause of patchy hair loss common in the Doberman is Lick Granuloma, which describes a habit that a bored or anxious Doberman can develop. He will continually lick, scratch, and chew at a particular part of his body. This will eventually remove hair and cause a sore that will become infected, and can turn into a serious problem.

The solution to this problem is improving the overall care of the Doberman. This condition indicates that the Doberman is lacking stimulation and should be given more exercise and attention. He should also be given plenty of chew items to keep him busy otherwise.

The sore should also be treated to aid healing and prevent infection. Wrapping the sore is also helpful to protect it from further licking and from the treatment being removed.

My stud male, Drayko, developed this problem with his tail when one of my females was in heat and he was not allowed to breed with her. Besides constantly petitioning me to allow a lovemaking session with an unbelievably high pitched and airy whine, he nibbled and licked the end of his tail.

I try to keep him occupied during these stressful times and treat his tail, but it’s rarely of any use. Thankfully, heats last only one or two weeks and occur twice a year. Once everyone is out of season, Drayko snaps back to his goofy self.


One of the first indicators of a poor diet is dandruff. If your Doberman is creating dandruff this may indicate that the food you are feeding is not giving him proper nutrition. It could also mean he has a problem that is causing a vitamin or mineral to be depleted from his system. In the best case, dandruff simply means you need to use a different shampoo. Only a good veterinarian can clear this question up for your individual Doberman.


Acne is most common in younger Dobermans, usually occurring around the mouth and on the chin. The causes are hormones and bacteria. When food material and oils from food are left on the Doberman’s skin, it promotes the growth of bacteria. Puppies are most susceptible so bowls should be collected after eating and washed, and the puppy’s messy face should be cleaned with a warm washcloth. Improving overall hygiene will also reduce acne.

For Dobermans with acne problems on the face, human remedies can be helpful such as Stridex pads. Acne in some Dobermans can become severe even with rigorous hygiene. In these cases, a peroxide shampoo should be used for bathing. This shampoo is available in most pet supply catalogs, large dog food stores, or from the veterinarian. The instructions should be followed closely. These shampoos usually instruct that they be left on the dog’s skin for a specific period of time, around 15 minutes before rinsing off. Care should also be taken not to get this harsh shampoo in the dog’s eyes or on your skin.

Tip: Preparing a solution 2 parts water and 1 part Listerine and misting it onto the Doberman’s coat is also helpful in fighting acne and other bacterial coat problems.