The Doberman Pinscher has a sleek, almost aristocratic physique and is considered one of the world’s best guard dogs.
The Doberman is a powerful and intelligent dog, known for its vigilance and fearlessness, and is a top choice of military and police services around the world. It is also an excellent canine sports dog breed, and with proper training and socializing can be the perfect family companion and guardian.
Read on to find out more about this magnificent dog breed, its traits, history, and other essential information which can help you decide whether the Doberman Pinscher is the best dog for you.
If you have already decided to add a Dobie to your family, make sure that you check your local rescue shelters and rescues, as well as the online resources for dogs that are up for adoption.
You may be able to find the perfect dog and provide it with the forever home it needs.
The characteristics of the Doberman Pinscher breed
Adaptability to apartment living
Dobies can adapt to all types of families and settings but will feel better in a home where there is more space and a securely fenced backyard. But do not leave your Doberman outside all the time because it is a family-oriented dog and is susceptible to cold weather.
Suitability for newbie dog owners
While Dobermans are highly intelligent and can learn quickly, they also require consistent and kind training and leadership and a lot of exercises and mental stimulation. Owners should establish themselves as pack leaders to prevent the dog from becoming dominant and possibly ill-behaved or aggressive.
It is not the best dog for first-time or timid owners.
Dobermans are highly sensitive dogs, which require a consistent routine and a confident owner.
Tolerating being left alone
Doberman Pinschers are family-oriented dogs and prefer spending most of their time with humans. They do not tolerate being left alone outside or at home for a long time and can resort to destructive behavior due to boredom or separation anxiety.
Tolerating cold weather
They don’t tolerate cold temperatures very well, so you shouldn’t leave a Doberman outside in cold or freezing temperatures for long. You may consider getting your pup a dog coat or jacket, especially when it grows older.
Tolerating hot weather
Dogs from this breed do fairly well in hot weather, but still, you should avoid spending active time outdoors in the hottest summer hours of the day, or if you do, provide your pup with shade and enough water so that it doesn’t suffer from a heat stroke or dehydrate.
Attachment to family
Dobermans develop strong bonds with their families and are affectionate, loving, loyal, and protective dogs, which will overcome anything to keep their humans safe.
With proper socialization, Dobermans can become best friends with your kids, protect them and play with them. But remember to teach the children to treat the dog kindly and avoid risky situations.
Due to its strong protective instinct, the Doberman is not the friendliest of all dogs towards other dogs. They can live along with other pets at home, but if they have been raised together.
Dobies are among the best guard dogs. They will fearlessly protect you from intruders. You will need to socialize your pet from puppyhood to avoid it threatening your friends and guests. It is a dog that you should keep on a leash when in public.
Overall health and grooming requirements
Although Dobermans have short and smooth coats, they do shed, especially during the two shedding seasons. This means that you will need to brush your dog with a suitable mitt or brush to remove the dead hairs and keep the coat healthy and your home free of hair.
While they are not the biggest droolers, Dobies can drool, especially during vigorous exercise and games, so be prepared to clean up some slobber and receive wet kisses.
Overall, the Doberman Pinscher is easy to groom. It doesn’t require hair clipping and frequent baths. Still, you will need to brush the dog at least once a week. You should also brush its teeth 2-3 times a week to keep your teeth and gums healthy and your breath fresh.
The nails of the dog require monthly trimming or grinding.
You should also inspect and clean its ears and look for any abnormalities on its skin, mouth, nose, eyes, and overall body.
Dobermans are strong animals, but unfortunately, the breed is plagued by many potential illnesses, most of them hereditary. You should carefully select your dog’s breeder and ensure that the dogs have been tested for genetic mutations and diseases before being bred.
One non-hereditary health issue which is common among the deep-chested Dobermans is bloat. Read on to find out more about what causes bloat, how to prevent it, and what the symptoms of this life-threatening condition are.
Weight gain potential
While Dobermans are known for their sleek and elegant looks, left without sufficient exercise, and when given too much inappropriate food or treats, these dogs can become overweight and even obese. Obesity can cause numerous health issues and can shorten your pup’s lifespan significantly.
Dobies are large dogs and can reach a height at the shoulder of 28 inches and a weight of up to 80 lbs. or more.
Ease of training
Since Dobermans are naturally intelligent and hardworking dogs, they learn easily when proper positive reinforcement training methods are used. Once you establish yourself as a trusted leader of the pack, your dog will happily listen to you.
They are among the smartest dogs, which makes them preferred as family dogs, as well as working and service dogs.
Dobermans may be considered vicious and aggressive by some, but they are actually loving and gentle to their people. They can show aggression to strangers and other dogs, which are perceived as threats.
Dobies are working and not hunting dogs, so they have a very low prey drive.
They are not among the dog breeds which will bark or howl without reason. If your Dobie barks, then there is probably a stranger at the door or an intruder on your property.
The impulse to roam and wander off
Although they are intelligent and loyal dogs, some dogs from this breed can get carried away and may run off if given a chance. So, always keep your dog on a leash and make sure that your fence is secured properly.
Related: Top 12 Wireless Dog Fences to Consider
Physical and exercise needs
Dobies have high energy levels and need sufficient physical and mental exercise to stay well, fit, and out of trouble.
Your Doberman requires long daily walks but will happily run with you and play with you and your children for hours.
As mentioned previously, you will need to provide your Dobie with enough physical exercise and mental stimulation if you want the dog to be happy and healthy.
Although they may seem scary to some, Dobermans are very playful and sometimes goofy. They are great pets for families with children and will become their best companions and protectors.
Temperament: Alert, fearless and loyal
Height at the shoulder: from 26 to 28 inches for males and from 24 to 26 inches for females
Weight: 75 to 100 lbs. for males and 60-90 lbs. for females
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
Breed Group: Working dog breed
About the breed
The Doberman Pinscher was originally bred in Germany and appeared as a dog breed at the end of the 19th century. This makes it a relatively new dog breed, but for a short period of time, the Dobie has established itself as the 17th most popular breed in the USA and one of the most recognizable and popular dogs in the world.
The Doberman Pinscher is an elegant dog with a regal appearance and is among the best athletes among canines. These dogs are naturally intelligent, brave, alert, and loyal, which makes them one of the most sought-after guard dogs and police and military service dogs, as well as loving family pets.
Unfortunately, like the Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other breeds, the Dobermans are often discriminated against and falsely perceived as vicious and aggressive dogs. Yes, they are vigilant guard dogs, but Dobies are also loving and gentle and won’t show aggression unless danger to the family is detected.
Overall, the Doberman Pinscher loves being with its humans, and with proper socialization and treatment, a dog of this breed will be kind with children, guests, and friends.
According to fanciers of the breed, today’s Dobermans are sleeker and thinner than their ancestors, and their temperaments have changed and have become softer.
In countries where docking and ear cropping is legal, the Doberman dogs will have cropped ears for better hearing and docked tails for a higher speed. In others, their tails and ears remain intact.
But although Dobermans can sound like the perfect dogs, they are not the best breed for everyone. The reason is that these dogs are large, strong, and are ultra-active. This means that they require vigorous physical and mental exercise and challenges.
Plus, they need a confident and strong leader, so they are not the best breed for inexperienced or timid owners. With a dog like this, you can expect to spend a lot of time and have the confidence and patience to train it and socialize it properly and keep it active on a daily basis.
- Dobermans have extremely high energy levels and require a lot of activity and exercise
- They have very strong protective instincts, so it is natural that they will try to be watchdogs
- Failure to establish yourself as an alpha and pack leader can turn a Doberman into a dominating alpha instead
- Due to their short coats, these dogs are not too tolerant of cold weather
- The Doberman is a family dog and should not be left in isolation or alone
- Dobermans have a reputation for being aggressive and vicious, so don’t be surprised if people are afraid of your loving dog
- Always choose a responsible breeder if you are planning on buying a dog, and don’t buy from puppy mills, pet stores, or irresponsible breeders
The history of the Doberman is absolutely enthralling and makes perfect sense today.
The breed was created by a tax collector who, like all other tax collectors, was not the most welcome of guests and was often threatened or robbed. The man’s name was Louis Dobermann, who also worked as a dog catcher and breeder in the German town of Apolda.
He often had dogs with him for protection until he came up with the idea to start breeding dogs specifically for that purpose.
Although there are no records of the exact breeds which he used, it is suspected that the first “Tax Collector’s Dog” came from crosses between Rottweilers, Black, and Tan Terriers, Manchester Terriers, German Pinschers, and possibly other dog breeds.
A Doberman Pinscher was first shown at a dog show in 1894, where it was greeted with great enthusiasm.
The breed today carries the name of its creator (minus one of the N’s in the end.
After Louis Dobermann’s death, other German breeders continued the breed but with the idea of creating the fastest, smartest, bravest, and toughest dogs in the world, rather than for its looks. As a result, the Doberman quickly became famous as an aggressive and headstrong breed.
But thankfully, a breeder named Otto Goeller decided to breed the dog into a more usable one. In 1900, the Doberman Pinscher was recognized as a breed by the German Kennel Club.
In 1908, the dog was brought to the USA and quickly managed to win three consecutive shows without a single judge daring to open the dog’s mouth.
The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1908.
In 1921, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was established and adopted the breed standard from Germany the next year.
During the two World Wars, the breed nearly became extinct in Germany and around Europe because people lacked the means to feed and care for such large dogs. Only the richest people and the military and police could afford to have dogs of this breed which led the breeders to limit their dogs to only the very best.
In the early 1920s, most of the top sire and progeny from Germany were imported into the USA, where the breed was continued while Germany was in a war and later while it was recovering from it.
During WWII, Dobermans were used by the Marine Corps known as the Dobermans of the Pacific. 25 of them lost their lives in the battle for Guam.
In the mid-1990s, the word Pinscher was dropped from the name of the breed in Germany and England.
In the last decades, the breeders are working diligently to breed out that edge from the Doberman’s personality and to create loving and loyal companion dogs.
Male Dobermans are 26-28 inches at the shoulder, and females stand 24 to 26 inches in height
The weight of the dogs is from 60 to 80 lbs. with the males being slightly heavier than the females.
The Doberman Pinscher is a highly intelligent and ultra-active dog, which is also extremely loyal and trustworthy. It is a loving family pet that is playful and thrives on having fun and spending time with its humans.
Although the Doberman is among the best guard dogs with incredible protective instincts, it is rare that a dog from this breed will display any aggression unless the family is endangered.
Being some of the most intelligent and athletic working dogs, Dobermans need a lot of vigorous exercises and mental stimulation to stay busy.
With the proper methods, a Doberman is very easy to train and will learn fast. But you will need to keep the training sessions interesting and fresh to keep the dog interested. If the owner is consistent and offers kind and fair leadership, then the Doberman will gladly learn to obey commands and take directions.
The dogs from this breed remain puppyish for a long, so you can expect your Dobie to keep acting like a puppy until it is about 3-4 years of age.
The temperament of every dog depends on its heritage, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are playful, curious, and willing to come to people and be held. It will help if you meet the puppy’s parents and siblings to get an idea of what type of temperament to expect from your future dog.
As with any other dog breed, the Doberman needs to be socialized as early as possible. This means exposing the pup to other dogs, people and surroundings, and experiences. This will help the pup grow up into a well-balanced dog.
Further Reading: Doberman Lab Mix – Doberdor ( An Incredible Cross Breed )
Dobermans are strong, athletic, and powerful dogs that are generally very healthy. Still, like with every other dog breed, they are prone to some hereditary and other illnesses and conditions.
Although your pup may never suffer from any of these following health issues, it is a good idea for dog parents to be aware of the common health problems and keep a lookout for symptoms:
- Von Willebrand’s Disease – this is a genetic blood clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding following injury, surgery, or during a heat cycle or birth. The only treatment is through blood transfusions. Dogs with this illness should not be bred.
- Hip dysplasia – this is another inherited condition in which the thighbone cannot fit properly into the hip joint and thus can cause pain and lameness. Dogs with this condition should not be bred.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA is a group of diseases affecting the eyes, which starts with the dog developing night blindness and gradually cause the dog to lose its eyesight altogether. Although it may sound terrible for the owners, dogs are actually pretty good at adapting to blindness.
- Hypothyroidism – this is a disorder that causes the thyroid to underproduce vital hormones, leading to weight gain, hair loss, epilepsy, dark pigmentations, and others. It can be managed with hormone replacement therapy.
- Wobbler’s syndrome – is another inherited condition that can cause spinal cord compression and thus lead to neck pain and paralysis of the legs.
- Cardiomyopathy – this is a disease that causes the thinning and weakening of the heart muscle. This can lead to the dilation of the heart chambers and to an enlargement of the heart, which can lead to heart failure. The treatment includes medication, oxygen fluid therapy, and others.
- Albinoism – Dobermans can be affected by Albinoism, which causes the dogs to be born with pink skin and nose and light-colored eyes. Such dogs are sensitive to sunlight and are more prone to eye problems and skin cancer. Albino pups should not be bred.
- Color Mutant Alopecia – this affects Dobies with blue or red coats and appears at the ages of 4 months to 3 years. The condition causes hair loss in patches, scaling, and itching, affecting only the blue parts. It can be managed with the help of specialized medical shampoos.
- Narcolepsy – this causes the dog to fall asleep at unusual times and situations suddenly.
- Bloat (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus) – this is a life-threatening condition that affects dogs with larger chests. It is caused by too much air being ingested and causing the distending and then twisting of the stomach. It can be caused by gulping up large amounts of food or water in a short time after or before vigorous exercise. The symptoms of bloat include the inability to vomit or belch, excessive salivation, a distended stomach, rapid heart rate, and lethargy. This is an emergency, so take your dog to the vet ASAP.
The typical diet for the adult Doberman Pinscher is 2.5-3.5 cups of high-quality, well-balanced dog food which you should divide into two meals.
But keep in mind that the exact amount of food you should give to your pup depends on its age, size, activity level, overall health, metabolism, and build.
More active dogs require more calories, while sedentary senior dogs need fewer calories to feel well and to stay healthy.
The amount of food you give to your dog also depends on its quality. High-quality food contains more essential nutrients so that you can feed it to your dog in smaller portions than lower-quality dog food.
Even though Doberman Pinschers are athletic and active dogs, there are risks of your dog becoming overweight. So, keep an eye for signs that your dog needs to lose weight, increase its activity and decrease the food so that it gets back in shape.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for the health and wellbeing of a dog and can extend its lifespan.
The Doberman Pinscher has a shiny and smooth coat and, in some cases, an undercoat in the neck area. The coat color can be black, blue, red, or fawn. The dogs from this breed have rust markings above the eyes, their muzzles, throats, chests, feet, and legs.
The coat requires minimal grooming, but it does shed, so you will need to brush your pup weekly with a grooming mitt.
These dogs are not smelly and do not require frequent baths unless they roll into something stinking or are muddy.
You will need to brush the teeth of your Dobie at least 2-3 times a week and trim its nails once a month if they are not worn down naturally.
Check your pup’s ears once a week for redness, a bad smell, or discharge so that you can identify an ear infection as early as possible and seek veterinary advice.
You can clean the ears with a cotton ball and dog ear cleaner, but do not insert anything in the ear canals of the dog.
In order to teach your dog to tolerate regular grooming, it is recommended that you start training it to stay when being brushed or when its teeth are being cleaned and its nails trimmed. Use treats and praise the pup when it behaves itself during the grooming. This will be immensely helpful when the dog grows up strong and big.
As part of your weekly grooming, you should also inspect your Dobie’s skin, eyes, mouth, nose, and feet for any injuries, redness, pain, or other unusual symptoms.
The earlier you notice that something may be wrong with your dog, the easier it will be to treat the potential health problem.
Living with other pets and children
Well-bred, properly socialized, and trained, the Doberman Pinscher is an amazing family dog. The dogs from this breed are trustworthy and can be protective of the kids at home. But the dog needs to be socialized from an early age, and the children need to be instructed on how to interact with the dog properly.
You should teach your children to respect and be kind to the dog and never to approach the dog when it is eating or sleeping.
Like with any other dog, though, you should never leave your children unsupervised with your Doberman, no matter how loveable and friendly it is.
Dobermans can be friendly with other dogs and pets at home, given that they have been raised together. But due to their protective instincts, Dobies can be aggressive to other dogs if they see them as a threat to you and your family.
Dobermans are among those dog breeds which are not fully understood and, unfortunately, are often purchased without the owners knowing what to expect and what it takes to own a dog like this. This is why there are Dobies in rescue shelters and centers that have been left for fostering or adoption.
You can check your local rescues or contact the local or national Doberman Pinscher Club of America to see if there is a dog in need of a forever home.
You can check among some of the following rescue centers for a dog that you can adopt instead of buying one:
- Doberman Rescue Unlimited, Inc.
- Dobies and Little Paws Rescue
- Doberman Rescue Minnesota (DRM)
- Doberman Rescue of Atlanta
There are also various online resources and adoption pages and breed organizations and clubs you can check out.