Dobermann Pinscher

Without a doubt, the Doberman Pinscher is the perfect, loyal family dog. They adore people and love to accompany their humans on adventures and then settle down for an affectionate snuggle at the end of the day. Because of their appearance and history as an intimidating and ferocious guard dog, military dog, and police dog, people have preconceived notions about the breed and may assume that they are aggressive. However, modern Dobermans are bred for a much more balanced temperament and are known for their intelligence, kindness, loyalty, and trainability. If you choose to have a Doberman in your life, you may face the prejudices of other people. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a well-trained dog that is an ambassador for the breed.

Dobermann
Dobermann Original image by user Luciano Signorelli on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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A Doberman Pinscher is extremely intelligent, which poses some training challenges. You will need to be on your toes and keep your training routine varied so your dog doesn't become bored. Mental and physical stimulation are important to keep your Dobie learning and having fun at the same time. Be ready for your Doberman to occasionally challenge your authority and to firmly let him know that you are the boss. Some of the Doberman's protective instinct remain and these dogs are the ultimate kind, loyal, and watchful protector of the people they love.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Dobermann Pinscher breed is also commonly known by the names Dobe, Dobie, Doby, Doberman, Dobermann.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 12 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC), Working Dogs (KC), Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids and Swiss Mountain Dogs Dogs (FCI)

Size: Large

Male Female
Height 0 - 0 in 0 - 0 in
Weight 64 - 88 lbs 64 - 88 lbs

Coat: Short

Colors: Black, Black and Tan, Red, Brown, White, Blue

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Average

Good with other pets: No

Intelligence / Trainability: Very high

Exercise needs: Average

Tolerates being alone: Not really

Hunting drive: Very low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Extremely sensitive

Good for novice owners: Average

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: High

Barking: Rare

General health: Poor

Cost to keep: Average

History

The first Doberman Pinschers were bred by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann in the town of Apolda, in the German state of Thuringia around 1890. Dobermann had the dangerous job of the local tax-collector and also happened to run the local dog pound. It was his intention to breed a dog that would protect him as he made his tax-collecting rounds and would be the perfect combination of strength, speed, endurance, loyalty, intelligence, and ferocity. It is believed that several dog breeds were used to achieve this combination and though the exact crosses are uncertain, it is thought that the Doberman Pinscher is comprised of the Beauceron, German Pinscher, Rottweiler, and Weimaraner. The German Shepherd is also thought to be a large contributor to the breed.

Philip Greunig's study in 1939 attributes the Doberman's early development to Otto Goeller, who produced a dog that led to the modern Doberman.

During World War II, the Doberman Pinscher was widely used as a war dog, but following the war, the breed nearly disappeared. Werner Jung searched German farms for Pinschers and bred them with oversized Miniature Pinschers and succeeded in saving the breed. Most of the Doberman Pinschers we see today are the direct result of Jung's breeding efforts.

Appearance

Doberman Pinschers elegant and proud, known for their endurance, speed, and alert, fearless, and obedient personality.
Typical characteristics are:


  • Long head with almond-shaped eyes, alert, intelligent expression, and a cropped, erect ear.

  • Well-balanced and muscular body.

  • A docked tail that is carried slightly above horizontal when alert.

  • Smooth, short, thick, close coat.

  • Colors: black, red, blue, and fawn with sharply defined rust markings.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Doberman Pinschers are highly-intelligent dogs, quick to learn, but they are not considered easy to train. They tend to assert dominance and try to become the head of the household "pack". They benefit from an assertive, firm, kind, and consistent hand. They do not respond well to harsh training methods. As they are fast learners, you will need to keep your training appropriately challenging and interesting. Dobermans are not recommended for novice dog owners.

As with all intelligent breeds, Doberman Pinschers require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with plenty of exercise and a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

Activity

Dobermans are energetic, active, and high-energy dogs that require a fair amount of exercise. At least 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise twice per day is enough to keep your Doberman healthy and happy. Dobermans mature slowly, and the rambunctious "puppy phase" is likely to last several years.

Dobermans are susceptible to certain bone disorders like hip dysplasia. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.

Independence

Dobermans are wonderful family dogs and need to be around their people as much as possible. They will not appreciate being left alone for long periods of time. Loneliness and lack of attention/exercise may result in undesirable and destructive behaviors.

Protective

Doberman Pinschers are known for their protective nature and will happily guard your household and protect your family from intruders. However, all dogs should be properly socialized so as not to become inappropriately aggressive.

Living Conditions

Because of their large size, high-energy and need for exercise, Dobermans are not well suited for apartment living. They do best with space to run and play.

Dobermans have short, smooth coats and do not adapt well to cold weather. They need a warm place inside in the winter and during walks and exercise may need protective outerwear.

Children and Other Pets

Doberman Pinschers make wonderful family dogs and are excellent with children as long as they have the correct training and socialization. They are known to be excellent protectors of children. However, all children must learn to correctly and kindly interact with Dobermans and any dog. Special consideration should be taken with young children (under the age of 6):


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Dobermans get along well with other dogs and pets, especially of they were raised with them. As with any dog, early, proper socialization with dogs and other animals is important. A Doberman may be protective or aggressive towards other dogs or animals if he views them as a threat.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Dobermann Pinscher is between 10 - 12 years. Like all breeds, the Dobermann Pinscher is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Dobermann Pinscher is prone to these diseases:
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) (hereditary)
  • Narcolepsy (hereditary)
  • Color Mutant Alopecia (hereditary)
  • Albinoism (hereditary)
  • Cardiomyopathy (hereditary)
  • Wobbler's Syndrome (hereditary)
  • Hypothyroidism (hereditary)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (hereditary) : Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a group of inherited degenerative eye disorders, which lead to loss of vision. PRA affects both eyes simultaneously and is not painful More info»
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary) : Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a very common genetic orthopedic trait, which is affected by environmental and dietary factors. Canine hip dysplasia occurs when there is an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. More info»
  • Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) (hereditary)

Grooming

Doberman Pinschers have a sleek, short coat that requires minimal grooming, a good brushing once per week will suffice. They also don't have a "doggy" smell. They are relatively clean dogs and don't need regular baths. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs.

Nail trimming is an important part of grooming if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. Once or twice a month should suffice. Trimming a dog's nails too close can cause bleeding and pain, so it is important to trim carefully or seek the help of a vet or groomer.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. This helps prevent tartar build up and teeth problems. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.

Feeding

Doberman Pinschers are large, generally high-energy dogs, so they will require a fair amount to eat. 2.5-3.5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).