Learn, Don't Return - Doberman Pinscher - Breeder Interview w/ Janet Oppedal

Posted by Brian Aho on

Interview Part 1:

Interview Part 2:

Janet is a Doberman Pinscher breeder of 20+ years and we are thrilled for her to share her expertise with us.

Janet: The breed was developed by a gentleman that was a tax collector, he developed the breed to be his personal protection animal - people didn't like him.  In the early 1900's he brought over the dogs for AKC to look at - he brought them over from Germany.  And at first, the AKC said, "No", they didn't want to accept the breed the breed was a little too aggressive, a little too sharp.  So he took the dogs back to Germany and bred in the Gray Hound and I believe he bred in Weimaraner.  They then brought the dogs over.

Janet: We have a foundation - the American Doberman Pinscher Education Foundation - they have a website.  They talk about the history of the Dobermans, where they came from, how they were developed - year-by-year how the standard was written originally.

Janet: The Doberman has been around just about 100 years.  The Dobermans are absolutely one of the smartest dogs.

Janet: They are developed to be a personal protection animal, they need to protect Mr. Doberman - his last name was Dobermann.  Louis Doberman and his son Herr Doberman - the dogs were developed to do a job.

Janet: The AKC Conformation is actually the overall structure of the dog - how the dog is put together, the bones, the angles.  Yes, we actually have 45-degree and 95-degree angles on our dogs.

Brian: WOW!

Janet: The dogs are measured by height, the height should not be any taller than they are long.  The Dobermans are supposed to be a medium-sized breed.  Square in structure - some females can be 10% longer in body than height.  You just want to give a little more room for the carriage of puppies.

Janet:  They are supposed to be extremely athletic, and judging the Dobermans, the judges watch them do a single-track which is where the front foot is picked up, the hind foot tall into that spot.

Janet:  They were developed to keep up with a horse.

Brian: Interesting!

Janet:  But when the judges are looking at them, they are watching how the dog single tracks when they trot.  Because they need to cover a lot of ground with very little exertion.

Janet:  We talk about the life expectancy of the Doberman - the Dobermans - some can live to be very old.

Brian: 10 years?

Janet: 13

Brian: 13?!

Janet: 14

Brian:  WOW!

Janet: Some people that I do know have had them 14.  My experience, the oldest Doberman that I've had has been 13.

Janet: The health of the Doberman is key - anybody who is considering getting a Doberman, has to know what they are getting into.

Janet:  It was the Dilated Cardiomyothapy - it is the number one killer of our breed, it is higher than cancer.  I've read statistics where they say 70% of the Dobermans on the planet will not live to see their 7th birthday.  There are so many issues that they do have.

Brian: What would be the average expectancy that - a norm...

Janet: 7 to 10

Brian: Okay

Janet: 7-10, I tell people if you get a 10-year-old Doberman - your on borrowed time.  I'm trying to do what I can do.  I work with Universities, there are several across the country that I work with, I want to make sure that I'm doing the best that I can do.  Can I stop it?  No.

Janet: We have dogs that are what they call Homozygus - be Homozygus DCM1 and 2 and live to be 10, 12, 13 years old. It doesn't necessarily have to kill them, even though they have the genetic marker.

Janet: The cancer - there is a high propensity of cancer in the breed.  We try to use the Doberman Pinscher Club of America - when our dogs get to be 10 years old we get a longevity certificate.  We use that information when where breeding.  We try to find the females that have the LC certificates behind them, not necessarily their parents, but their grandparents, their great-grandparents.

Janet: The health - again, they do have a lot of health issues.  Finding people who are really doing the health testing is key.  They're showing - they're supporting the science behind it by doing the health testing.

Brian: Right.

Brian: What about energy and barking and that?

Janet: The Dobermans are very high-energy.  Again, like any child. If you look at these puppies, you're bringing up a puppy - it's just like a child.  You let them run outside, and they go do a sprint across the yard, they go out and play - it's what I call "blow off steam", they come in the house - they get their bellies full - they curl up on a warm blanket and go to sleep.

Brian: Do they do Zoomies?

Janet: They do Zoomie.

Janet: They can be very noisy, they have high energy, they can be very, very destructive - very destructive in your home.  They need to have an environment where they can "go blow", just go "blow off steam".  They just need to decompress, run around, have somebody go out throw a ball.

Janet: It's not necessarily put them on a leash and take them for that 20-minute walk.  That walk is good, it's training, sit, down, stay, come, heel - that's all the things that you must train your dog to do.  But your dog also needs to have the ability for you to say "hey" let's go run.

Brian: A park.

Janet: Exactly.  If you thinking in your mind, "I'm going to buy a Doberman and I own that dog" - forget it.  Bring that dog home in your truck - that's his truck.  You bring that Doberman into your home - he owns your home.  It's his. 

Brian: In his eyes - it's his.

Janet: In his eyes, this belongs to him, you just pay the bills; that's all your doing. It's very true - they own you. They own your children.

Brian: They guard.

Janet: Absolutely.  She owns it, he owns it.

Janet: Somebody asked me, about the Doberman, how much personal space do they need? None. Zero. Nada. You get a Doberman you take home, and you never use the bathroom by yourself again.

Brian: (laughing)

Janet: And that's literally - I've come out of the shower and had three of them in the bathroom.

Brian: Waiting

Janet: Waiting

Brian: What took you so long?

Janet: Ya, exactly.

Janet: The Dobermans are...I cannot emphasize enough how much they need to see you to protect you.

Janet: My dog has anxiety. Why does your dog have anxiety? Well, I put his in his crate and I try to go...No. Let your dog be behind you, let him follow you, let him be part of your world.

Brian: Now do you have a fence, or do you use Invisible Fence or how does that work for the audience?

Janet: If you do not have a fenced-in yard, I highly recommend an Invisible Fence it works very well. Do not leave your dog unattended. They do have GPS fencing now which is very awesome. You can actually put a marker at your property lines - your dog wears a collar. As you get to the property line - the sound on the collar is beeping - your dog is now trained to go to that marker and come back. I've found that those work very well.

Brian: Nice!

Janet: Again, don't leave your dog unattended.

Janet: I call them "wash and wear dogs" - people are like what does that mean? If your Doberman goes outside - they get dirty you get a hand towel and you dip it in some warm water and wipe them off...they're clean!

Brian: That's pretty easy - for a lot of the challenges, there are some easy benefits to the dog.

Janet: Absolutely...wash and wear.

Janet: People will say, "My dog stinks". I'll say, "Clean their ears". Get a little...take your dog outside...get a little ear cleaner squirt a little, don't make it cold - warm up your ear cleaner, a little cotton ball.

Brian: Make it nice for them!

Janet: And let him shake his head. Nine times out of ten, when you have a smelly dog it's their ears. It's the build-up of the dirt, because they can't clean their ears.

Janet: Bathing them is - you put them in the shower your rinse them off. A little baby shampoo - less is more in my opinion. I really don't do a whole lot of bathing with my dogs. I do...they get dirty I might take some apple cider vinegar and water and give them a little spritz and a wipe down.

Janet: I don't have a problem with fleas, the flea treatment works great.

Brian: Okay

Janet: You just dab it on the back of their neck, whatever your vet recommends.

Janet: There is very little hair, we find hair in the vacuum cleaner and in the dryer lint, that's where the dog hair is. You don't find dog hair on your clothes.

Brian: Nice?

Janet: It's really nice.

Brian: For sure!

Janet: The grooming is very very limited, you can take a soft brush and brush your dog.

Janet: Toenails, if you can hear your dog walk across the floor, their toenails are too long.

Brian: Okay

Janet: And you can use the guillotine-style clipper and clip their toenails. You can use a Dremel. There are multitudes - you can take your dog to the groomer, spend five dollars - the groomer will take your dog in there and trim their toenails off - no problem; but if you can hear them they are too long.

Brian: Okay

Janet: Trainability on the Doberman is - once they understand what you're asking...and that's our issue. We have to be smarter than the dog, because we have to be able to teach them what we need them to learn. Once they learn what we are asking of them they will give it to us 100%, 100% of the time.

Janet: They are sensitive...they get their feeling hurt.

Brian: Oh, really!

Janet: Dobermans are sensitive.

Brian: Are they?

Janet: If you tell your Doberman, "Bad dog!", you have crushed him. There are things you can do when they're little, teaching them to develop their skills as they grow.

Brian: Are they always learning or is it like, up until 3 years old - and then they are good?

Janet: Nope, no; your Doberman is like, I tell people, "It's like living with a five-year-old child, the more you do with your dogs, the more time you have with your dogs - the better your dog is.

Janet: They do like companionship. So, if you get a puppy and let's say - your at home - Covid, a lot of people got puppies during Covid. And now they're going back to work. People are now buying that second dog - their dog is trained, but they're gone for six hours, seven hours a day - they're working. So, get your dog a friend.

Janet: I don't suggest letting your friends run your house when you're not home.

Brian: Clean.

Janet: You see what I'm saying? But you have that friend for your dog, so when you do get home, you open the door - they're now playing in the backyard. You have a few minutes to decompress, your dog is now - lets say they've been in a crate for the day because you've had to go to work.

Janet: Your dog needs to be safe - their safety is key. So now your dog is in their mind - in their crate for the day. You're at work, you're in your mind.

Janet: You both need to decompress.

Janet: There is a plethora of things; kennels - kennel clubs in every state. They have dock diving.

 Brian: I have seen that.

 Janet: Dock diving, Dobermans love it.  They do love it.

 Janet: Any kind of scent work - their nose to a job - it really, really, Dobermans really like scent work.

Brian: Ya, that's something I never really thought that Dobermans did.

Janet: They love the scent work - because of the genetics behind the Doberman - the hunting, the hunting dogs are there. Not only are they a sight dog, but their a scent dog as well.

Janet: They are a multi-purpose dog, they can herd, they can hunt, they're guardian dogs, they can...you can train a Doberman to do almost anything.

Brian: I never knew that, so thank you for sharing that.

Janet: They are super smart.

Brian: They overcome anything with their intelligence.

Janet: They can. They're also very stubborn

Janet: A way to a Doberman heart and the stubbornness is through the taste buds. So, when I tell people while your training your puppy; the greater the reward, the greater the expectation.

Brian: Is that right? Kinda like me.

Janet: Exactly. So, that really helps.

Brian: Nutritional wise?

Janet: Nutrition. I feed my dogs a supplement through NuVet that helps the immune system of the animal. It's basically natural herbs like you would take like I would take.

Brian: What are the colors? What are the colors that you can have?

Janet: Okay. AKC...in Europe, let's go back to Europe where the breed was...

Brian: Originated.

Janet: Originated. So they had a black and tan, the classic black and tan. That is what everybody bred for. And then I'm not sure how...what the combination was to get the red and rust - that was also allowed.

Janet: You have black and rust, and red and rust. So the brown ones that look brown with the tan markings or the rust markings. Technically in Europe it's brown and rust and in American we call it red and rust.

Janet: In this country, they allow the black...the black and rust, the red and rust, the blue and rust and fawn and rust.

Brian: Let's first start with the question, why the Doberman?

Janet: The Doberman has me hook line and sinker just for the pure fact they are intelligent. They're so smart. They're so willing. There so, they're just so there for me in every situation.

Brian: Regarding dog walking, how often do you walk the dog or just let him out, or - you mentioned you don't take them to the dog park but can you put a framework work those people considering the dog - the commitment that they need.

Janet: It would be daily, twice a day, sometimes three times a day - depending on the age of your dog.

Janet: The dogs needs for brain stimulation. A lot of toys, a lot of interactive toys - they have lick mats which I love the lick mats. You freeze them, you put peanut butter on them - freeze them. Put dog treats on them - freeze them. Your dog has to work at that and they - they love it, they like their lick mats. It keeps them busy for a minute.

Janet: Chew bones - keep them busy for a minute. I love these people who are putting out, like I suggested earlier to a friend of mine, the Yak milk bones. I love those Yak milk bones, except for my dogs eat them. They're gone in minutes, it's just okay.

Janet: The dogs need a lot more...your twenty-minute walk with your average dog isn't going to cut it with a Doberman.

Brian: So your saying you need to walk the Doberman two to three times a day and you also need to give them room to run, so you have to have both of those in order to...

Janet: Right, well if your Doberman has a backyard - if you have property and you can take your dog out and open the door and let them go run - go throw a ball a couple times, let them go entertain themselves.

Janet: I train them when they're little and young not to pull me.

Janet: I see people with pinch collars and choke chains and all this stuff on these dogs, and those are tools. Yes, they are training tools, but at some point, they become a crutch. And I feel that, my opinion, they are unnecessary in a lot of situations - if that makes sense.

Brian: Okay, for sure.

Janet: So if you train your dog to be the dog that you want to be in public, kina like kids, you take your kids out in public ya know?

Brian: Good for the audience to know, pinch collars, choke collars, they are okay in moderation for training purposes.

Janet: Exactly, and know how to use them because they can be used incorrectly.

Brian: Definitely

Janet: And the Doberman has a health issue called CVI (Cervical Vertebral Instability) which is Wobblers, which is a neck issue. The last thing you want to be doing is yanking on the neck. So, again training. Teach the dog to walk with you.

Brian: So, what kind of dog food do you feed?

Janet: I am feeding right now a brand called Wholesomes, it's a salmon and rice - salmon base protein - rice is the filler, it says "sensitive skin" and "stomach", I don't have sensitive skin and stomach issues. This just happens to be the food that I found that has no estrogen-increasing ingredients and no taurine blockers. So, that is why I'm using that food. It comes in an all-stage brand, it comes in a high protein brand, the all-stage brand comes in a twenty-two percent protein, the all-stage is a twenty-four percent protein, but it also comes in lamb. I'm actually mixing the three, so I'm getting the two different types of protein; I'm getting a little higher protein in the large breed. I think the lamb is a twenty-three percent protein, so I'm staying right between twenty-two and twenty-four percent protein. But that prevents my puppies, who I wean on this dog food and raise up on this dog food from getting Pano (Panosteitis), which is a calcium-phosphorus protein ingredient, but they have to be certain levels because if their level is off then your puppy develops growing pains, growing issues in their bones. So, this is a food that I've been feeding now for going on almost eighteen months. I've raised two litters of puppies so far and have had no issues.

Brian: Bowl type? Do you do raised bowls are they on the ground? Stainless steel, plastic - what's your...

Janet: So, I have had a variety and I've learned that my dog's chins will break out if I don't use stainless steel. So I feed my dogs locked up in their crates and I, this is just what I do, they are not elevated - I know some people do elevate them; but having a Doberman in a thirty-six-inch crate - it's hard to have the bowl elevated and give the dogs head enough room to, you know so I just feed them on the bottom of the crate.

Brian: Sure.

Janet: The bowls are picked up, taken to the sink, I rinse them with hot water - at night when I do my dishes and I clean my kitchen up before I go to bed - everything goes in the dishwasher; my dog bowls included and they get a nice hot wash and they start off the next morning clean.

Brian: And you don't use a dog food container?

Janet: No - I have a container, I have a long bin, it's for like for storing blankets, I think I got it at WalMart. And I can put my three bags of dog food because I buy 3 different...I buy the salmon the all-stage, I buy the large breed and I buy the lamb. And I can stack them in my bin, and they fit right in my bin and I can put the lid on it, it keeps the dogs out of it. But I don't take the food out of the bag.

Brian: Dog washing, you kinda brushed on this earlier, no pun intended, "brushed up on it".

Janet: Again, they are wash-and-wear.

Brian: And you just use a normal shampoo?

Janet: Well, I like to get the baby shampoo.

Brian: The baby shampoo? Okay.

Janet: The baby shampoo - okay, because it's gentle on their skin and they don't have much hair underneath sides, you know. They have their armpits their thighs, their tummies have very little hair so I use a very mild soap with a moisturizer in it. I like the smell of the lavender nighttime baby bath soap.

Brian: I know that one.

Janet: That's what I like...the smell of that, so I like to wash my dogs in that because they smell.

Brian: Pretty good!

Janet: They smell very good! And I make sure I rinse everybody off really really good, that's they key. When you bathe them, make sure you rinse them off really good.

Brian: How often do you wash?

Janet: Not very.

Brian: Not very often.

Janet: Not very often.

Brian: You're not supposed to.

Janet: Well I always worry because the hair follicles on the Doberman are short and stiff, and I worry about washing the natural oils off the coat, and causing a problem.

Brian: Exactly, that's what I've heard.

Brian: Do you use dog beds or not?

Janet: I do not use dog beds - I find that the dog bed becomes a source of major fluff left in my home.

Brian: So they just lay on the rug or, well you have them on the couch.

Janet: My dogs sleep on my furniture, my furniture does have blankets on it. I have blankets that I've purchased from our wonderful store Walmart...they have no fluff. They are just a single-layered blanket. If they do chew the blanket, which Dobermans are destructive - you will have what I call the "holly blanket" and you pick it up and it looks like Swiss cheese. They do like to chew on their blankets.

Brian: Who would you recommend not get a Doberman Pinscher?

Janet: I put a lot of thought to that. People who live in apartments, people who don't have access to being able to take their dog out and going for that run to blow off that steam. People who don't have access to that park.

Brian: It's just not good for the dog.

Janet: It's not good for the dog. Now, for those people who insisting they want a Doberman, but they do live in an apartment, get a Doberman that is retired.

Brian: That is a good idea.

Janet: Find that person...

Brian: The rescue.

Janet: Find a resume.

Brian: Or a breeder that has an older dog

Janet: Exactly.

Brian: Which is out there.

Janet: So, rehoming your retired show dogs that don't require that exercise. That don't require...because they are older - they like to go for that walk around the block, but they don't want to go spend thirty minutes running in the field.

Brian: Right.

Janet: They are older

Brian: So there are other options than just getting a puppy.

Janet: There are other options than getting a puppy.

Brian: Award and Ribbons? We are going to let her brag on herself a little bit.

Janet: I...2014 the Doberman Pinscher Club of America had a national in California and two of my girls Sonya and Abby Garjans the Dreamweaver and Abby was Garjans Dare to Dream; both won their classes at the largest Doberman show in the country.

 Doberman Pinscher Breeder: Janet O.

Email: garjandobermans@gmail.com


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