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Luckily, Doberman Pinschers are really low maintenance pets in a lot of ways. They have short coats that just don’t shed like many other breeds do and they generally like to stay clean. But Dobermans are still prone to some issues, like dry skin for example, that makes keeping up with hygiene an import part of owning one of these magnificent breeds.
Must-Have Doberman Hygiene Products
I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much time and money I’ve spent on making sure my Dobie is happy, healthy, and well kept. Through that time and money, I believe I’ve narrowed the confusing world of pet grooming products down to those few must-haves for Doberman owners.
These Pet Grooming Gloves – I’ve ended up settling on these grooming mitts as my go-to brushing device because they really do make brushing my Dobie super fast. Toss on the gloves, rub him down, maybe brush it out real fast, and we’re done. My Dobie loves the feeling of these gloves and they almost completely eliminate shedding in the house, these are awesome.
Isle of Dogs – This is by far the most recommended shampoo by Doberman owners. It’s a very mild shampoo so if you have to bathe your dog more often than expected, it won’t dry their skin out. It smells great and makes your Dobie’s coat look absolutely amazing too. Use Isle of Dogs number 18 for black Dobies, and number 17 for red Dobies.
Number 18 (for Black Dobermans):
Number 17 (for Red Dobermans):
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo – This is a solid less-expensive alternative to the Isle of Dogs shampoo recommended above. This Earthbath shampoo is fragrance-free (which helps reduce the chances of a reaction) and it’s especially good if your Dobie has some issues with dry skin and excessive shedding. My dog doesn’t but I use this anyway since it helps to prevent it. It’s oatmeal-based and many Doberman owners have reported really good results when using this to bring moisture back to their dog’s skin and fur. I really like this shampoo because it also just seems like it’s gentler on his skin. If you have a Dobie who gets tons of allergic reactions, also check out their hypoallergenic version here, which is also on Amazon. Those who own a blue or fawn Dobie should also definitely try this out.
Spray Head Attachment for Bath – Having a spray head makes a world of difference when bathing your Doberman in your bathtub. This is the one I use because my faucet doesn’t have a “diverter” pull tab on the top of the spout (you know, that little tab that stops your bath from draining when you pull up on it). If yours does have that on the water outlet, then you’ll probably need this spray head instead, also on Amazon.
Best Tooth Care Products
This Toothpaste – This “Vet’s Best” Enzymatic toothpaste is awesome. I’m not sure what flavor it is but my Dobie absolutely loves the taste. He’s even excited for tooth brushing time because of it. A lot of Doberman owners use this with great results including me. Completely safe for dogs (unlike human toothpaste). Great smelling breath afterward also!
Best Ear Cleaner
Epi-Otic Ear Cleaner– Virbac Epi-Otic Ear Cleaner is a great ear cleaning solution that is often recommended by veterinarians specifically for Dobermans. This solution will dry quickly, help prevent microbial growth, and prevents bad ear odors. I love it, but to save a little money, you can also just use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) instead and it will work very well also.
Best Nail Trimmer
Dremel PawControl Dog Nail Grinder – This is the perfect Dremel tool for grinding your Doberman’s nails. It features adjustable speeds from 8,000 to 25,000 rpm, it’s battery-powered, has a nail grinding guard included, and it comes with the coarse sanding discs that you’ll need. It will last an extremely long time, much longer than the pet-specific nail grinders by other companies—Dremel is the brand to go with if you don’t want to replace your grinder down the road. I’ve heard from many Doberman owners who have tried them all and adamantly say you need the real Dremel brand, not some pet-specific off-brand.
Keeping Up Good Hygiene Habits
Really, maintaining good hygiene with a Doberman is really not very difficult at all when compared to other breeds. I’ve found these to be good intervals for the various aspects of hygiene.
- Daily: Brush their teeth and remove eye boogers.
- Weekly: Brush their coat.
- Monthly: Clean their ears and trim their nails.
- Every Six to Eight Weeks: Bathe and condition their coat.
It’s pretty simple overall and even your daily task of brushing their teeth goes very fast if you use a simple finger brush as I linked to above. It takes me less than a minute every night to brush my Doberman’s teeth and give him a once over to make sure everything appears normal.
Dobies are naturally very clean dogs and if they have proper hygiene, they really should never have that “dog smell.” They have a very short single-layered coat that is super easy to maintain (except a small portion around their necks that has somewhat of an undercoat).
The biggest issue Doberman’s are prone to in this area is dry skin. That is why you want to make sure you use a quality moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. It’s also a good idea to spray them with moisturizing spray in between baths. Also, making sure they have a quality diet with plenty of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will also help their skin immensely.
Brushing your Doberman shouldn’t be a huge chore and shouldn’t take you any more than about 5 minutes.
In general, it’s a good idea to brush your Doberman about once a week outside (it’ll make a mess if you try it indoors). If you brush more than once a week, that’s ok, and you may even see their coat start to shine more. Brushing frequently helps the appearance of your dog’s coat, stimulates blood flow in the skin, helps to distribute natural oils evenly over their coat, and prevents that “dog smell.” It also removes dead skin cells and reduces shedding in the house, which is great if you are sensitive to your dog’s hair.
Using a rubber “curry brush” or a rubber grooming mitt with short or medium length nibs works very well. Also, it’s important to use the right grooming brush since a Doberman’s coat is very short. A brush with bristles that are too stiff could irritate or damage their sensitive skin
This is the best way to brush a Doberman that I’ve found (and it’s very fast):
- Use your curry brush or grooming mitt first. Work the rubber mitt or curry brush in small circular motions from the bottom of the head throughout the whole body. This will remove the dead hair, loosen dead skin, and help to distribute the natural oils in the coat.
- Use a traditional dog grooming brush or de-shedding tool. This will remove the dead hair and skin you just loosened. Brush in a smooth motion with light to medium pressure. Make sure you brush in the direction the fur naturally lies.
- Remove the hair buildup from the brush frequently. This will make sure the bristles brush can reach down into the coat as your brush.
Bathing your Doberman takes a bit longer than brushing, but is still fairly easy. I have found it only takes me about 15 to 20 minutes now that I have a system down. Since it’s only usually needed about once every 6 to 8 weeks, it’s really not much to ask.
Doberman’s have short fur that is easy to keep clean. Plus these dogs generally don’t like to get dirty anyway and do a good job staying clean. You may want to bathe your dog more often if they’re very active or a young puppy. Bathe a puppy about twice as often (once every three weeks). If you bathe your Doberman too often though, you can easily dry out their skin and cause irritation.
Only use a mild moisturizing shampoo made specifically for dogs. Human shampoo is likely to irritate the skin.
Maintaining a consistent bathing schedule will really help your dog’s skin, fur, and minimize shedding. You can also choose to use a flea and tick shampoo if you think your dog needs it, just make sure you follow the directions on the bottle and keep it away from your dog’s eyes while bathing.
Here’s how I bathe my Doberman and I find it works well:
- Brush your dog as described in the previous section. This part should only take about 5 minutes and helps make sure most of the dead fur and skin is removed prior to bathing. This step is somewhat optional but it will help you avoid clumps of fur everywhere at bathtime.
- Setup your bathing area and find a friend to help. Depending on how your dog reacts, you may need a friend to assist and you may need to use a leash to help control your dog. Don’t worry, after a few sessions of bathing, your Dobie will probably get very used to it. Make sure a towel, shampoo, conditioner, and a water source is nearby and ready. Consider using the spray head attachment recommended in the bathing section above for your bathtub faucet if you don’t already have a spray head in your bath. Lay a towel down in the bottom of the bathtub to help prevent slipping if bathing inside.
- Use large cotton balls to plug your dog’s ears. Not all dogs will let you do this but try it. If your dog will allow this to happen it’s a great way to help make sure water stays out of their ears. This is more important for Dobies in the middle of ear posting.
- Wet your dog and lather with shampoo. Wet your dog’s entire coat with a very gentle stream of room temperature water, and then lather their entire coat while taking care not to get water in their ears or shampoo in their eyes or mouth. Work the shampoo into their coat by using only the pads of your fingers (using your nails is unnecessary and may irritate their skin) in the direction their fur naturally lays. Focus a little extra around their necks since the coat is a little thicker there on Dobermans. Also focus on under their chest, legs, and feet since those areas are usually the dirtiest.
- Rinse. Rinse all the shampoo out from head to toe. Again, doing your best to keep water out from their ears, eyes, and mouth and using a gentle stream of room temperature water.
- Lather with a mild-moisturizing conditioner (optional). If you decide to use conditioner, lather your pup again but with a mild-moisturizing conditioner in the same gentle manner as described above for the shampoo. Check the directions on the bottle for an idea of how long to leave it in. Usually, it’s only a few minutes.
- Rinse. Rinse out the conditioner.
- Dry with a towel. Dry your dog with a towel and you’re done! Make sure to dry in the natural direction the fur lays (with the grain of the hair). Try to prevent them from running off after bathing and rolling in a mud puddle. They will be so happy that it’s a real danger! Ask me how I know!
Using a conditioner really isn’t 100% necessary. But it is a nice way to really make their coat shine and add some extra moisture to their skin. If you decide not to use conditioner, make sure you get a mild moisturizing shampoo because it is important not to dry out their skin. This is easy to do with Dobermans.
In between baths, it’s a good idea to rub your Dobie down with a damp towel to loosen dead skin and fir. It also removes dirt and helps keep them clean until their next bath. Do this about once a week.
It’s really a good idea to brush your Doberman’s teeth once a day. Just ask your vet! You can do this pretty quickly though if you use the little finger brushes I linked to at the beginning of this article. It shouldn’t take you any more than about a minute to do this.
Doberman’s can be fairly prone to plaque buildup and gum disease. They usually do a good job keeping the inside of their teeth clean with their tongue, but very often there will be a buildup of tartar and plaque on the outside of their teeth. If your dog gets gingivitis, it could spread to their organs and cause serious health problems.
Human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs so make sure to use a quality toothpaste made for dogs.
Here’s my quick 60-second tooth brushing routine with my Dobie:
- Get into position. I like to have my dog sit, and I will stand over him from behind and lean down so I can easily reach their mouth.
- Prepare the toothbrush. I get the finger toothbrush on my index finger and put a small amount of toothpaste on the rubber bristles.
- Lift the lips and scrub the teeth one by one. I lift the lips of my dog, and quickly scrub each tooth on the top and bottom in small circular motions. I make sure to focus on the outside of the teeth since that’s the area that gets the most buildup of plaque.
- Praise and provide water. When I’m done, I praise my dog for a good job and make sure he has access to plenty of water. He usually likes to drink water afterward.
That’s it! It’s pretty fast and I keep the toothbrush and toothpaste in an area I can easily reach them each night before bed. It only takes about a minute each night and is really good for your dog.
In general, you should clean your Doberman’s ears about once a month but give them a quick visual check nightly. The actual cleaning of the ear should only take a few minutes. Checking them nightly will help you to get a better idea of what’s normal for your dog so you can spot something unusual when it occurs (more wax buildup than normal, irritation, unusual smells etc).
Dobermans are prone to ear infections, so it’s a good idea to try to keep their ears dry during the day. If you see excess redness or you notice your dog scratching their ears or shaking their head more often, you should see a veterinarian. Untreated ear infections can be quite serious and could even affect your dog’s hearing for life.
How I clean my Doberman’s ears:
- Get into position. I get into the same position as when I brush his teeth. I have him sit down and I straddle his back, leaning over top of him.
- Dampen a cotton ball with ear cleaner. Read the instructions on the bottle of ear cleaner and follow the suggested method for the cleaner you have. For my cleaner, I start by dampening a cotton ball with a small amount of the solution.
- Wipe down the inside of the ear. With light pressure, I gently wipe down only the very outside of the ears while taking care not to go into the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip or other such devices for cleaning inside of the ear canal.
- Dry the ears and give praise. I then take another dry cotton ball and dry out the areas of the ears that I cleaned and praise my dog. I also like to give him a treat, that way next time it’s ear cleaning time he might even be a little excited about it!
I use Virbac Epi-Otic ear cleaner for this since I like that it really helps with ear odors. But if you are trying to save a little money, many Doberman owners use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) instead and it works very well also.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being very careful with your dog’s ears. They are very sensitive, especially on the inside. So make sure not to clean inside the ear canal, stick to the outside skin areas.
In general, you should cut your Doberman’s nails about every month or so. Each dog is a little different though so you should cut them as needed. It takes me about 10 minutes or so to cut my dog’s nails.
If your dog is starting to make a loud nail sound when walking on your hardwood or tile, it’s probably getting time to cut them. Also, if you see the nails start to grow long enough where they develop a small hook at the end of the nails, then it’s time to give them a trim.
I found it best to use a nail grinder. My Dobie eventually got used to the sound a feel of a grinder and it is a lot easier to trim the nails and not damage the “quick” underneath the nail. The quick is the section of skin underneath the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. It can be very painful for your dog if you accidentally cut or damage this area.
If you are using traditional clippers make sure you only cut the portion of nail that hooks at the very end. Getting too aggressive with nail trimming while using clippers can be dangerous for your dog.
Make sure you have some styptic powder on hand to help stop bleeding if you accidentally damage or cut the quick.
This how I trim my Doberman’s nails:
- Get into position. For the front nails, I have my dog sit in front of me. I ask him to “shake” and when he puts out his paw, I catch it in my hand. Then I turn my back to him holding his paw while I work. For the rear paws, I have him stand up and I stand over top of him facing the opposite direction of my dog. Then I work on each paw one at a time.
- Trim each nail one at a time. I use my nail grinder to grind each nail down one at a time starting with the front paws (since those are the ones that bother him the least). I grind the hook of the nail off down to about the start of the nail’s quick.
- Reward and praise. When I am done trimming the nails, I reward and praise my dog so that next time he will be a little more excited when it’s nail trimming time.
NAIL TRIMMING VIDEO: Here’s a video walkthrough (YouTube link) on how I trim my Doberman’s nails with a Dremel tool! This will give you a complete run-down on trimming your dog’s nails!
You can buy the pet nail grinders made for his purpose, like those made by Pedi-Paws for example. Although, many Doberman owners have mixed reviews on those dog-specific grinders. The main complaint is that they tend to be cheaply made and break often. Most Dobie owners are using an adjustable speed cordless Dremel, like those that you get from a home improvement store.
Dremel’s last an incredibly long time since they’re made for much tougher jobs than trimming a dog’s nails. Spending a little more on an actual Dremel to grind your dog’s nails will save you lots of money and frustration down the road.
I decided to add this section since I had a lot of questions about if you should moisturize your Doberman’s paws. You can if you want, but it really isn’t necessary unless you notice the pads are cracking. If you do decide you want to do it with some regularity, do it once a week. It will help their paws stay soft but tough, and prevent cracking.
If you Dobie’s paws are cracking you need to handle it right away. Cracking paws can eventually bleed and even lead to infection. The best product I’ve found for moisturizing Dobie paws is Vermont’s Bag Balm (Amazon link). It just works really well on their paws and none of the newer dog-specific moisturizers seem to measure up to this classic animal skin balm. It’s great to use either regularly once a week or just when you notice cracks in the pads of the paws.
Really, don’t stress too much about your Doberman’s hygiene. Just keep them clean, healthy and happy. It doesn’t take too much work with a Dobie so even if you miss a bathing, it’s not a huge issue. They really do a decent job keeping themselves relatively clean, especially compared to many other breeds. Just do your best and your Dobie will thank you!