What’s the Actual Lifespan of a Doberman Pinscher?

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Two Generations of Dobermans Together

One of the biggest concerns I hear from new Doberman owners is that they are worried the breed has an extremely short lifespan. There are many rumors surrounding this topic so I decided to do some legwork and collect as much information on the actual lifespan of the Doberman as possible.

What’s the Lifespan of a Doberman Pinscher? The average lifespan of a Doberman Pinscher is between 10 and 13 years of age. Regular checkups are important for the Doberman since many genetic disorders that the breed is prone to can be addressed if caught early.

I’ve read the same average life expectancy numbers as every else has. But what do actual Doberman owners say? Not just veterinarians, dog breed books, or online encyclopedias, but people who’ve actually owned these magnificent dogs? I decided to find out.

Doberman Lifespan Survey Results

It’s not that I don’t trust the official life expectancy numbers, it’s just that I am more of a hands-on type and I wanted to conduct this research myself. I want real-world numbers. So this is my own, un-official study to see what the average lifespan of a Doberman Pinscher is. Would the lifespan I discover as actually reported from owners of Dobermans be more or less than the “official” number of 10-13 years? Here’s what I did to find out.

I spent hours scouring all the forums, facebook groups, and other meeting places for Doberman owners who had posted messages of their Doberman’s passing away to see what they reported as their age at death. Yes, it was a bit depressing at times, but quite interesting too!

I took into account male, female, and unknown sex dogs. A dog might have an “unknown” sex listed below because although the owner reported what age their dog died at, they didn’t indicate the sex.

I collected data on 59 Doberman Pinschers in my sample and this is what I found.

Sex Number of Dogs Surveyed Average Age at Death
Male 18 10.5 Years
Female 22 8.7 Years
Unknown 19 8.9 Years
Total 59 8.9 Years

Now, remember that these numbers were pulled from forums, facebook groups, and other social media platforms. It’s worth mentioning that there is something fascinating that happens when someone posts a question like “how old was your Doberman when they died?” on social media.

People love to respond to these types of polls when they either want sympathy or want to brag. Think of your ex who is always posting about how magnificent his or her life is. Is their life really that amazing, or is just that human desire to brag coming out? That’s what I believe happened with this survey.

The average age of almost 9 years old is significantly lower than many would imagine for a Doberman to live likely because many people were looking for sympathy for the passing of their dog. Frankly, this is natural and understandable.

Doberman and a girl reflecting about life.
Enjoy each day together because they just seem to pass too quickly.

I’m not saying anyone was lying with what they posted, I’m simply saying that those who had their Doberman for the length of time they expected, didn’t feel the need to respond or post about it. Those who lost their dogs “too early” needed an outlet. That’s why I believe these numbers are slightly skewed.

I did find a poll that Dobermantalk.com did with their members asking them to vote on how long their Doberman’s lived. You can see the poll here. The sex of the dogs wasn’t specified in this poll. Here are some takeaways from the polling:

  • The question posed: “How long did your Doberman(s) live?”
  • Number of poll respondents: 106
  • Average age at death: 13.6 years
  • The age most often cited: 10 years and 12 years (23 votes each)
  • The oldest age cited: More than 14 years (11 votes)
  • The youngest age cited: Under 5 years (13 votes)

Note: The oldest and youngest age categories on this poll were disregarded while calculating the averages.

Now with a poll such as this, there is a different psychology at play. The people who vote in it can’t type out a long description of what happened to their dog, they can only click an age to vote.

What happens in this type of voting is the natural desire to “win” or be at the top of the list (think of your ex on Facebook again—their life is just so great). Therefore, you often have people whose dogs died at an older age responding more often and those who’s dogs died younger, or at the expected age, not responding at all.

Although this survey isn’t perfect, it’s as close as we can get to some real-world examples of the Doberman’s life expectancy. The official lifespan of a Doberman is generally considered to be between 10 to 13 years of age. Given that this is almost exactly between the two results I got from scouring social media and the user poll, I’d say this is an accurate number.

Predicting Longevity with the Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI)

There have been some really exciting developments in the world of dog DNA testing that might be able to help you get some insight into your Doberman’s potential longevity.

Probably the most exciting thing is called the “coefficient of inbreeding” (or COI) test. This is something that certain DNA health test kits not include which can give you a number of how inbred your dog is. All Dobermans are inbred to some extent, but some are worse than others. The more inbred your dog is, statistically the shorter their lifespan.

I urge every Doberman owner to health test their dogs. Modern test kits will give you such an in-depth view of your dog’s genetic health disorders and other health-affecting factors that it’s simply incredible.

I go into much more detail about what this COI number is, how to test for it yourself, and what it actually means in my guide Doberman DNA Health Testing: The Complete Guide.

How to Determine Your Doberman’s Current Age

Believe it or not, many owners don’t know their Doberman’s true age since they either rescued the dog or adopted it from someone other than the original breeder. At this time, there’s only one real way to “test” your dog at home to determine their age, and that’s through the use of a DNA Age Test Kit such as this one (Embark link).

These tests are a scientifically proven method of accurately estimating your dog’s age from a simple cheek swab that you can do at home, and mail in to be tested. The tests linked to above will even estimate the dog’s exact birthdate.

A veterinarian can help you estimate your Doberman’s age based on their physical development as well, however, these are usually educated guesses at best. A DNA test is the most trustworthy method of determining age.

Why Doberman’s Have a Short Life Span

Short is a relative phrase but I am going to use it here because if you speak to any owner of these magnificent dogs who’s lost them, they’ll tell you that their life just wasn’t long enough. There are a few reasons why Dobermans seem to die earlier than many other breeds.

First, they are an impressively large breed of dog. It is well known that the larger a breed is, the generally shorter lifespan they have. As an example, the Great Dane has a lifespan of between 8 to 10 years while the Shih Tzu has a lifespan of 10 to 16 years. That’s a big difference. They are also drastically different in size.

In addition to their size, Dobermans are also prone to some specific diseases. These are some of the common disorders in Doberman Pinschers.

  • Von Willebrand Disease: One of the scariest disorders a Doberman can have, this is a genetic blood clotting disorder. Besides difficulting with clotting after a cut or scrape, the dog may spontaneously bleed from the nose or mouth. There are genetic tests to determine if a specific dog has this disorder.
  • Chronic Active Hepatitis: This is a progressive disease that causes inflammation of the liver and eventually severely damages or destroys it.
  • Wobbler Syndrome: This will cause a wobbly gait in your dog’s stride and is due to malformations and abnormalities in the spine.
  • Bloat: Some Doberman’s will have problems with a buildup of gas and fluid in the stomach called “bloat.”
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): This is a form of heart disease which causes the dog’s heart to become enlarged. As a result, it no longer pumps blood throughout the body as it should. It’s common in many large dog breeds, but seems to affect the Doberman worse than many others. I dedicated an article all about DCM in Dobermans here, since this issue is becoming so serious in the breed.
  • Prostate Diseases: Dobermans are affected by many prostate issues more than other breeds such as bacterial infections, cancers, tumors, cysts, or various cell problems causing enlargement of the prostate.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a malformation of the hip socket causing problems walking, lameness, or arthritis of the joints. Although Dobermans are susceptible to this issue, they are not as affected by it as many other large breeds are.

This seems like a long list of disorders but keep in mind that these are just possible issues that can crop up in a Doberman and issues they are more susceptible to than the average dog. Keep in mind that every breed has a list of issues they are prone to.

For more information about health issues that affect Dobermans, including additional information about the breed, see my article The Doberman Pinscher: A Complete Breed Overview.

The most important thing to do is have regular checkups and get your dog (or your dog’s parents, since it’s genetic) tested for Von Willebrand Disease. It’s a nasty disorder that can be detected in many different ways. The earlier you detect these health issues the better chances you’ll have at being able to mitigate the disorder so your dog can live a long and happy life.

“In general, the larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan. Dobermans are prone to some problems such as bloat and Von Willebrands’s disease, however, their size is a big factor on the length of their life.”

Don Costlow, D.V.M.

President of veterinary medicine at Newton Veterinary Hospital in Newton, NJ

How to Help Your Doberman Live a Longer Life

There are definitely things that an owner can do to help their Dobie live longer. Some of these are common-sense steps that any responsible dog owner should do to keep their dog healthy but there is at least one surprising study I found about something that can be done to (possibly) extend their life up to 30%, at least in females.

Common sense steps that any dog owner can do to extend the lifespan of their dog is to provide them with a quality diet, plenty of exercise, regular checkups, and good oral hygiene. Skip that cheap Walmart brand dog food and go for something a bit higher quality with more protein. Blue Buffalo and Royal Canine (large dog formula) are two examples of quality dog foods.

Doberman on the couch.
Exercise is important for a long and healthy life. This is the face of Gypsy, the Doberman Pinscher after she was told by her owners that there wasn’t time left in the day for another walk. Photo credit: Dimitri Dominguez ([email protected]).

Making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise is even more important for Doberman’s since they’re considered a working breed. This will not only help them stay physically healthy but mentally healthy too. Doberman’s are incredibly intelligent dogs that are easily bored.

There are plenty of studies that show how a quality diet and plenty of exercise extends the life of a dog so I won’t go into that here. However, I did find one exciting study that suggested that female dogs who aren’t spayed until after the age of six lived about 30% longer (their average lifespan increased from 9 years to 13 years). This study was conducted on Rottweilers and not Dobermans, but it is worth mentioning. You can find more information about this study here.

Other interesting facts are that on average, females tend to live 2 years longer than males and spayed or neutered dogs live 1.5 years longer. Notice this doesn’t indicate when they are spayed or neutered, just that they are. This is based on a University of Georgia study.

The Oldest Known Doberman Pinscher

There are rumors of a “documented” case of a Doberman Pinscher in Berlin, Germany living to the ripe old age of 22 years old. Even though this case is supposedly documented, I wasn’t able to find any information to back it up. I was able to locate multiple Doberman owners who said their dogs made it to 14 years of age, and the oldest I found was 16 years of age.

Related Questions

Are Dobermans prone to cancer? Doberman Pinschers are considered to be among the top 5 breeds most prone to developing cancer in their lifetime. This usually occurs in the form of prostate cancer in Dobermans. If caught early, there are often treatment options available that can significantly extend life.

Are Dobermans prone to heart problems? Doberman Pinschers have a genetic predisposition for developing heart disease. A genetic mutation present in the Doberman breed makes them susceptible to developing Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which causes an enlarged heart, erratic heartbeats, and weakness of the heart muscle.

John Walter and Cooper, his Doberman Pinscher.

About the author

John Walter is a Family Doberman Specialist, holds a CPD certification in Canine Communication, and is an active dog trainer specializing in the Doberman Pinscher breed. He's been quoted in Doberman Network Magazine, Bark Magazine, Doberman Dispatch, and he's the founder of Doberman Planet. Learn More

41 thoughts on “What’s the Actual Lifespan of a Doberman Pinscher?”

  1. I have a 10yr old dobie which is about to have a mass removed he struggles with stairs a lil .80lbs wish King well…thank you.

  2. I love to read everyone’s stories. I have 2 female Dobie’s. They will be 12 in January. Both healthy and vibrant. Both especially by black and tan have large tumors but vet said it’s ok and seems non invasive. Letting them rest in their old years and enjoy the couch as much as possible. Love my girls so much. Anyone looking for a family dog. Look no further and get a Dobie. I’ve always preferred females as they seem more protective and tolerant.

    • Nice to hear your story, My big baby Kheops is turning 10 yo this month and has also big tumors but the vet said its harmless … He has liver cancer tho, which we can’t to anything about and an a bleeding ass tumor (I’m using fresh aloe vera on it everyday, seems to help) and doing my best to make him feel comfortable till this end …

    • I’ve owned 5 Dobermans and one male lived to 15 years and 11 months and another male lived to 14 years. The other two males lived to 12 years and 6 months (DCM) and last male passed away last July from primary lung cancer at 9 years 9 months. My only female is currently 7 years old we think because she was rescued from people who left her in a cage 15 hours a day.

  3. Hi ,
    My doberman , Mister Ozzy is 16 and will be 17 in april. I myself am beyond amazed that he is still part of the family. I know alot of people who have had dobermans but none of them have made it past the age of 10. For sure our Mister Ozzy is not as active as he once was , this year I have noticed his condition gettind worst really fast … old age is creeping up on him. Vet check ups are frequent due to the fact I dont want him to suffer , but he still eats,drinks goes potty like a good boy and is somewhat active with his 3 year old pitbull brother. Saddly we have a to be realistic and wonder if he will make it trought the winter due to his old age and well we like up north where there is yons of snow and alot of ice… so a big descision is to be made before winter hits.. brakes my heart , such a sweet boy .

    • That’s so great he’s doing well! I won’t tell you what to do with your dog but I’d love to hear Ozzy making it to some of the almost never heard of old age numbers for a Dobie! There are rumors of a 20+-year-old Doberman but never seen this confirmed!

      • Hi, we just had to put our 21 year old Doberman girl asleep on October 21, 2019. My girls stomach flipped…….. Jasmine was well known on Facebook, we had sent her DNA out to Universities who were studying trying to find Doberman longevity gene, everyone told us she was extinct

        • So sorry to hear this Vikki! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family! Wow, 21 years old?! I would love to talk to you further about her! Please reach out to me on the contact page of this website.

  4. I’m a Dobie parent. We got her at 7yrs. She was skinny, shy, distrustful of me but loved her human papa. In january she will be 16yrs old. She is getting wobbly, and falls a lot but wee have nightlights for her built ramps ramps to go in and out of the house. She is the silliest little doggie. She is 60lbs very skinny. She dosent have worms or parasites! She is just so active even the vet said she is fine just she has a dry coat. She still gets so excited when I come home. She dosent want to leave us. She likes it here.

  5. Hello John,
    I was researching the net trying to find out how old the oldest Doberman ever recorded was because our guy is now 15 years and 4 months old and still doing pretty well aside from some arthritis, a slight heart murmur and being deaf. He’s still happy, walks outside, alert and can see. No more running or fetch though. He responds mostly only to visual hand commands now that he is almost completely deaf as far as I can tell…but overall incredibly he’s still fairly solid! Only meds he’s on is a little Rimadyl sometimes for the arthritis stiffness and Sotolol for the irregular heart rhythm. Other than that all good! So I guess by your research and what I have been able to find he seems to be one of the older ones around. That’s good to know. I wonder how much longer he can keep going at this good quality of life level. 2 years ago I remember thinking he only had about a year or so to go so who knows! Thanks for the great site!

    • Thanks so much for the comment Darren! I’m so happy to hear how well your dog is doing, all things considered. I have talked to quite a few people after writing this article who have had their Dobies live to 16 years old. But not many into the 17’s. At the rate you’re going you might end up with one of the oldest ones! I hope you really do! Please come back and share once he hits 17+!! I think he will! Enjoy these days together with him.

  6. I live 35 years with a Dobermann around me in Europe because I can not imagine a life without one. The first one was a pedigree pup and died at 7 due blood cancer. The next two Dobies came from shelters and came in underweight and mistreated at the age of 1-2 yrs. They died at 8 caused by stomach torsion and 9 caused by wobbler.
    Our Dobie friend who lives the last nine years with us came also from a shelter and has serious spine problems. He is eleven now and is limited to very short walks.Very sad because he is one with an original Dobermann character and energy level: a real “monster” in a positive way.

    • Very interesting article. I wrote you several months ago about losing a 7 month old Euro Doberman pup around the time you lost yours. He passed dye to LLT Lung Load Torsion. I am curious about your thoughts of raising or adopting a dob after researching your longevity study. I’ve had many dogs in my life and was really enamored by my pup. So much so that I may raise another. But I have heard much along the lines of what your study confirms. I frankly am not so sure I want to deal with another loss if the odds are so strong for such a short life in the breed. The breed is amazing though. I had wrestled between choosing a Euro Dob and a Giant Schnauzer before. So I am curious that as much as you love the Dob will you pursue another one or invest in another alternative breed. By investing I mean the heart more so than the money. A Tough consideration I know but I value your opinion.

      • I certainly plan to get another Doberman. There is certainly some scary information about longevity lately. I think I will be putting emphasis on finding a breeder with a good track record of long-living Dobermans. This hasn’t discouraged me, no. I feel like I would never have the same passion for another breed as I do the Doberman.

  7. My wife and I have had Doberman Pinchers for 26 years so the first male died at 4 due to bloat and the stomach twist , the second male Storm died at 10 due to a mass which I think was a cancer of a sort . I had a female named brinks that I had a litter of pumps frome and we kept one named nelly and gave the other 5 to family. Brinks lived to be 13 and we were amazed. She was just old nothing special got her. Nelly the puppy died at 10 frome the same thing that storm had. Now I’m looking at my largest of all the dogs Ozzy and he has developed heart problems and I don expect to have him many more days. He developed problems just the other day. On his birthday! He is 8. He is also a128 lb dog. Big dog!!

    • I’m so sorry to hear about Ozzy. I will send go thoughts to you and him (and your family)! At only 8 years old I feel that’s just too young. Such a big dog though! Wow! Any idea what the heart problems Ozzy is having are? Is it related to DCM at all?

    • I’m a Dobie parent. We got her at 7yrs. She was skinny, shy, distrustful of me but loved her human papa. In january she will be 16yrs old. She is getting wobbly, and falls a lot but wee have nightlights for her built ramps ramps to go in and out of the house. She is the silliest little doggie. She is 60lbs very skinny. She dosent have worms or parasites! She is just so active even the vet said she is fine just she has a dry coat. She still gets so excited when I come home. She dosent want to leave us. She likes it her.

  8. My Doberman is not dead but is geriatric. He is a neutered (at about 20 weeks as soon as he was able to reproduce) I wanted a pet. He is 10 years old. He is lumpy and bumpy with nerve problems in his back. Probably, an injury from jumping. He takes 400 mg of Gapapentin twice a day and now 1 Novox 75 mg 1 time a day. I love everyday that he is here I was looking at this web site for a gauge of how long Dobermans live. I hope this helps with any future surveys for you. Also, my Doberman lives on 14 acres and ate science diet his whole life. The food is very important. And exercise was never a problem.

    • Thank you Lori, I hope your boy is as comfortable as possible. I’ll be thinking about him and sending him good thoughts. I’m sure he has been loved so much in his life so far. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Hi, my Doberman Pinscher named Cuba just passed away today at the age of ~15/16, I was actually impressed by her lifespan when reading this article, she still had some teeth but slept most of the day, the day before her death she vomited frequently, urinated and did not wanted to eat.
    She had several medical problems such as non cancerous tumors, back problems and thyroid issues which made her fat.
    I feel so sad but still surprised by her lifespan of ~16.
    Greetings from Mexico.

    • No problem Catherine, I am glad you liked it! After writing this article I have been contacted by so many people with Dobermans who lived VERY long lives. Many of the bad genetic issues Dobermans suffer from seem to hit around the 6 – 9 year mark. My guess is yours is pretty healthy genetically! I’m sure you have many years left!

      • I had a very bad news last week, my dog was confirmed by the vet (he had an echography) that he’s in the final stage for liver cancer and they said surgery or chimo is not possible anymore. His age (10 yo) is the factor and I decided not to do it anyway … I just forgot to asked them how long he could still go on without too much pain … I am devastated but I will help him to go the best way I can …

        • I’m so sorry to hear that Catherine! I will send him good thoughts and prayers for a long life still left to live. Make all the good memories you can with him in the meantime!

      • My dobermann who’s called Marty is 15 yrs and 2months he’s had some passed health issues and has arthritis in his back legs he’s still full of life he enjoys his walks which are short ones he loves his toys his brother who’s a Labrador called Georgie I take Marty regular to the vets every 3/4 months for health checks I keep him on a strict diet to maintain the correct weight which varies between 29 /32 kg the most important thing is love your dog I hope to have himlonger God willing.

  10. In keeping up with your research we just lost our 15 year old girl Shelby. A beautiful spirit she was. We learned a lot from her. Especially never ever feed ANY commercial dog food organic or otherwise. All kibble takes it toll. I have an interview with a lady in Massachusetts to complete but she has proof hers lived to be 22!

    • I would love to hear from the woman who’s Doberman lived to 22! Any chance you could have her contact me through the contact form on my site? The link is at the bottom of this page. That’s amazing!

  11. Hi Stephen from the UK
    We got our female chocolate coloured doberman, Mia, on the 8th August 1988. She was not even seven weeks old having been born on 22nd June.
    We lost her on 7th July 2004 aged 16.
    Up until Christmas 2003 she was still running around, her hearing was good and her eyesight undiminished.
    A tumour on a front leg gradually took its toll.
    Back in 1997 we were on holiday at Christmas. I discovered a tiny lump on her neck. We returned immediately and saw her regular vet the next day. The tumour was on her windpipe and had I not found it so soon it would have become inoperable. It is so important to gently caress the whole body
    very often. Most times it is just an innocent little lump but best to be sure.
    We did everything John recommends and Mia had daily supplements.
    These included evening primrose oil, multi vitamin, garlic tablet, fish oil and canine glucosamine.
    As Mia got older our vet recommended trying vivitonin.
    I was very wary of any potential side effects but was assured it would either work or not but have no side effects. Mia took them every day for the rest of her life.
    Mia’s exceptionally long life was nothing compared to her extraordinary physical and mental capacity into advanced old age.
    I was fifty when Mia died. I grew up in the countryside and we have had many many dogs throughout my life and we have loved them all but nothing comes remotely near to the bond we had with Mia. We miss her every day. Her ashes will be buried with me.
    I read somewhere the only bad thing about a doberman is it doesn’t live as long as its owner.
    We were so lucky to have Mia for so long and we cherish our memories of her.
    Hope there is something in my message that might be of value.

    • Hello Anthony thanks for all the information on your beloved mia.16, my god, what a massive long life for a Doberman. What a wonderful life she must have had. Myself and my late father got Toby as a puppy on May 24, 2008, aged 7 weeks. The joy, happiness, and love he brought to our lives cannot be expressed in words. My dad passed in June, 2018, aged 83. I stopped working to look after Toby, I couldn’t bear to leave him alone all day, so I downsized and just spent all day every day with Toby. He’d got a few fatty lumps which I always took him to the vet. . I just put a small lump on his back rear upper leg, in summer 18, as one of those. I was cuddling his chin in early October, I noticed swollen glands, which weren’t noticeable the day before. Lymphoma was diagnosed 2 weeks later after tests. The back leg was an enlarged node but I didn’t react fast enough, I just didn’t know that was a lymph node. 2 months of chemo he was doing great. But it went into overdrive, resulting in a seizure within days, stage 5, I guess. His loss has ripped me apart.. His ashes I scattered in the exact place I scattered my father, on the beautiful north walney nature reserve, where we all enjoyed many happy walks, I have left instructions to be scattered in the very place when its my time. If only i’d had that lump on his leg checked, we’d still be together. He was nearly 11 and otherwise as fit as a flea . I find some comfort in the fact he had a fantastic life, and his suffering was mercifully short .

  12. Hello, excellent article here. Thank you. I have two females. They just turned 11. They are doing great so far expect for many non cancerous tumors. (We call them lady lumps). I researched this for the same reason. The 10-12 year life span seems just basic with out research. My 8 year old who is extremely attached to our girls. Chili and Coa. Was asking when they will die. I like to be honest and wanted to give her facts. Thank you again. We all wished they lived longer. They just know how to live better than we do. So they dont have to stay as long. Xoxo

    • Not a problem Nici, I hope you found what you were looking for here. It’s so true, these dogs are just so wonderful, it’s a shame they can only be with us for such a seemingly short period of time. Wishing Chili and Coa many long years still to go with your family, they’re lucky to have such a loving family!

  13. Hello John, thank you for your excellent efforts on our wonderful breed. I am from Cumbria, in the UK. I lost my Doberman, Toby, at Christmas 2018 to b cell lymphoma. It was stage 3 when I began steroid and chemo treatment and he responded very well initially. But after six treatments the cancer returned and resulted in an awful seizure, I had him put to sleep by the vet half an hour later. He was 10yrs 9months. How I miss him….

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear about Toby. I’m sure he was a wonderful addition to your family and brought a lot of happy moments during the years that he was with you. Sounds like he was lucky to have a very caring owner. I hope that this experience hasn’t turned you off to the breed as I’m sure you know, they’re truly wonderful dogs and great family companions.


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