Breed Group: Working
Although most Doberman Pinschers live up to their reputation as the ‘Cadillac’ of protection dogs, they can have highly variable personalities. Most are alert, loyal, intelligent, reserved with strangers and extremely protective of their family. But some are sweet, mellow, goofballs who love everyone. Properly socialized dogs are usually good with children when raised with them. But few tolerate being teased or otherwise mistreated so older, well-behaved children are best for these dogs. Many exert dominance over strange dogs. Most are die-hard cat chasers. But some welcome the company of any animal, including small squeaky ones. A Dobe, as his fans call him, is an active dog when inside and highly active outside that needs more exercise than simply a leisurely walk around the block. They need a brisk walk twice a day and the ability to run in an enclosed area as frequently as possible. In addition to their exercise needs, they are a thinking dog that needs a mental challenge too. Failing to meet either need is likely to result in a restless dog that goes from a naturally frequent barker to a dog that barks continuously. Some municipalities have ordinances that regulate keeping these dogs; but a well-socialized, well-trained Doberman Pincher can be a trustworthy companion and excellent guardian.
The Doberman Pinscher is a large, muscular, elegant, dog with a chiseled profile. They stand 24 to 28 inches at the withers and weigh between 55 and 90 pounds. Dobermans are short-haired dogs that come in four coat colors: black, red, blue, and fawn, all with rust markings. Their short coat requires little grooming beyond weekly brushing. They are average shedders. Many Doberman’s ears are cropped so they stand up straight, but natural ears are now allowed in the show ring. The tail is always docked. Dobermans are equally cold and heat tolerant.
Doberman Pinschers need extensive socialization that starts early in puppyhood to ensure neither shyness nor viciousness develops. They are exceptionally intelligent and learn very quickly which makes them first-rate training partners. But jerk them around and they can become defensive. For this reason, they need an experienced, firm trainer that can make corrections calmly. They should not be left unsupervised around children whose natural roughhousing may arouse the dog’s protective instincts. These are intense dogs that, with good training, can succeed at any dog sport. However, they are not for first-time dog owners.
Inherited health problems of the Doberman include Hip Dysplasia and thyroid issues each affecting about 1 dog in 20. They are more affected by Bloat than many other deep-chested breeds. Wobbler Syndrome, Panosteitis, Von Willebrand’s Disease, Cardiomyopathy, and spinal problems are also seen in the breed. Color Dilution Alopecia is seen in about 90% of blue colored dogs and 70% of fawns. During the late 1970’s an albino dog emerged. These have issues so serious the AKC designates those likely to carry the gene with a Z in their registration number.
Ranked 26th in popularity by the AKC, there are between 11,000 and 12,000 dogs registered per year. Because they are such a popular breed, many are poorly bred.
Doberman Pinschers were developed around 1890 by Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector who needed an intimidating dog for protection. He is thought to have bred Rottweilers, Black and Tan Terriers, Greyhounds, and the extinct Short-haired Shepherd to obtain the first Doberman Pinschers. These were hair-trigger dogs that were aggressive with other dogs and human strangers but were also courageous, intelligent, and loyal. Today’s responsible breeders emphasize these positive traits and work to reduce their aggressiveness. American show lines tend to make better pets. German lines are usually more work-oriented with “harder” temperaments.
Doberman Pinscher owners of note include Beatrice Arthur, Mariah Carey, John F. Kennedy, Bela Lugosi, Priscilla Presley, William Shatner, and Raquel Welch. The National (US) Breed Club is the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.