Doberman Pinschers have a bit of a bad rap as being aggressive. In fact, that’s typically the first trait people list when asked to describe the breed. And if you were to encounter a Doberman in the 1880’s, then terrifying and threatening would be very appropriate words to characterize this pup.
But the truth is, the breed is not as aggressive as it used to be.
Especially since their popularity as personal guard dogs is dying out and their role as loving companions is on the rise.
Still, each dog is an individual and training plays a huge part in developing (or discouraging) a certain personality.
So you’ll need to make sure you know a thing or true about properly training the Dobie before bringing him home!
Doberman Pinschers originated in 1890 in Apolda, Germany when Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann bred several different dog breeds together to create his first line of Dobermann’s Pinschers.
Unfortunately, there are no official records available that describe the breeds of the dogs that went into creating the original Doberman Pinscher. However, there are documents that record the inclusion of the Black and Tan Manchester Terrier and the black English Greyhound in the breeding of the original Doberman to improve its appearance.
After years of development and breeding, the breed was officially recognized in the United States in 1908.
Since then, it has been recruited for military and police work. It was even picked as the official War Dog of the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
Some of the search-and-rescue dogs used to search for survivors after the Twin Towers collapsed were Doberman Pinschers.
Are Doberman Pinschers Good Family Dogs?
Unfortunately, due to their history as military and police dogs as well as the prevalence of aggressive Dobermans bred from irresponsible breeders and owners who provided little-to-no training, the Doberman Pinscher has garnered a rather unsavory reputation.
However, they are not “evil” or “sinister” in nature like many people have been led to believe.
With the right amount (and type) of training and attention, Doberman Pinschers can be good family dogs.
If you are ready and able to provide an ample amount of training and socialization to a young Doberman Pinscher, you will add a loving and watchful companion to your household.
Just like any other dog breed, Doberman Pinschers require a nutritious diet, regular grooming schedule, and plenty of exercise.
Obedience training will also be an integral part of your daily routine.
Properly following these requirements is vital for helping your Doberman lead a long and enjoyable life.
Regular vet check-ups are also necessary for keeping your Doberman happy and healthy. Check with your veterinarian to ensure that he is getting the proper vaccinations, boosters, dewormers, and any other medications and vaccines needed to prevent disease.
You may want to sign up for pet health insurance, as your Doberman will likely need to undergo a number of medical tests and procedures throughout its life.
When researching various food brands for your Doberman, make sure that the first ingredient listed on the box or can label is a meat source from an actual animal, such as chicken or lamb.
Whole grains should also be a primary ingredient after the meat source.
Avoid foods that list one of the first 5 ingredients:
- Animal byproducts
Make sure that you purchase food that has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which is an organization that reviews the nutritional balance of food packages.
The recommended number of feeding sessions to give your Doberman depends on its individual activity level. Sessions can vary from twice a day to as much as four times a day.
Working dogs, will of course, need more calories in their diet than dogs who live a more sedentary lifestyle.
Avoid exercising your Doberman an hour before or after a meal and to consistently provide fresh water for them to prevent them from developing bloat. Bloat occurs when the stomach expands from a combination of food and gases. The condition can often become fatal, as the stomach’s blood supply becomes cut off due to its expansion.
Thanks to their short coat, Doberman Pinschers have a less rigorous grooming schedule than long-coated dog breeds.
They still require a regular grooming schedule in order to retain a clean and healthy coat.
Dobies should be brushed weekly and bathed around every two or three months.
Remember to trim their nails and brush their teeth as well.
Doberman’s nails will usually need to be trimmed at least once a month while teeth brushing should be done weekly.
For regular coat brushing, a rubber curry brush or grooming mitt will give you the best results. The curry brush will remove dirt and loose hair while exfoliating the skin. The grooming gloves are also effective in picking up loose hair that your Doberman has recently shed.
When bathing your Doberman, make sure you are using moisturizing or deodorizing shampoo.
Doberman Pinschers need to be exercised between one to two hours a day.
While too little exercise can lead to behavioral problems such as barking or digging, too much exercise can lead to dehydration or heat exhaustion. Dogs have a significantly higher risk of developing these problems if you exercise them outside during an especially hot day.
Long walks and games such as fetch or frisbee are great ways to entertain your dog while keeping him in shape.
More vigorous exercises like swimming, biking, or running are also great choices, as Dobermans have high levels of stamina and are able to move along long distances.
Just make sure you can keep up with yours!
Start training your Doberman when he is around 10-12 weeks old. The longer you wait to train him, the more difficult he will be to deal with.
Luckily, Dobermans are very intelligent animals that are eager to please their owners. As a result, they are highly trainable. Basic Doberman training on your agenda should include:
- House training
- Obedience training
- Leash training
- And, of course, plenty of playtime :-)
Consistency is the secret to successfully training your Doberman.
Take your puppy out on a regular basis so that he can have an easier time making the connection between being outside and going to the bathroom.
Every time you catch your puppy barking, jumping, or chewing, you need to reprimand him in a firm, but gentle manner.
Positive rewards, such as treats or verbal praise are also effective in encouraging your Doberman to act in an obedient manner.
Doberman Pinscher Health Issues
Doberman Pinschers have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to a variety of health problems including:
- Wobbler syndrome – a disease that causes the spinal cord to compress and result in neck pain
- Cardiomyopathy – a heart disease that causes difficulties in your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body
- Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) – lameness or arthritis caused by a malformation of the hip socket
- Osteosarcoma – cancer that causes immature bone growth
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) – a genetic disorder that leads to the body’s inability to properly form clots over broken blood vessels
- Demodicosis – an inflammatory disease that can cause skin lesions and hair loss
- Gastric Torsion – occurs when the stomach becomes twisted from excessive gas
Veterinarians will usually run cardiac, eye, hip, and DNA tests when attempting to diagnose these diseases.
Things to Know About Dobermans
1. The #1 Thing to Know: They Serve a Variety of Purposes
Dobermans are most known for their police work and search and rescue efforts. They are often used as guard dogs for civilians as well. However, unbeknownst to most people, they have also been used as therapy dogs and guide dogs. They even make great competitors in sports such as dock diving, fly ball, and rally. Almost anything is possible with this intelligent and adaptable dog.
2. You’ve Probably Seen Them in a Few Films
Remember the formidable villain Alpha from Up? He was a Doberman Pinscher. The character’s menacing and egotistical personality aligns well with the negative stereotypes often assigned to the breed. While Dobermans are often negatively portrayed in films and tend to take on roles such as vicious attack dogs hellbent on ripping apart the main character, there are some exceptions to this phenomena.
Another Doberman appears in the film Eyes of an Angel starring John Travolta. Its portrayal is much more flattering in this film. The Doberman, a severely abused dog that was thrown off a bridge, is adopted by a young girl who nurses it back to health. At one point, the Doberman saves the girl’s life. The breed makes another appearance in the film Hugo. In it, a loyal Doberman functions as a handy and capable sidekick to a station inspector.
3. Doberman Drill Teams Would Sometimes Perform at Different Events
Tess Henseler assembled the first Doberman Drill Team that performed at the 1959 Westminster KC dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Rosalie Alvarez soon formed her own team, which performed at various celebrations and sporting events. The team’s biggest appearance took place during the half-time show at a San Francisco 49’ers game.
A complete team consisted of twenty-two marching people along with 18 Doberman Pinschers picked for their sound temperaments. The drill team’s success was effective in helping turn around the negative perception surrounding the breed.
4. They Are Being Bred Into Gentler Dogs
During the early days, only the toughest and fiercest Dobermans were selected to breed. Their original purpose was to function as guard dogs, after all. However, the ideal temperament for the breed has changed since then. Today, breeders pick out gentler, more affectionate dogs to carry on their bloodlines.
5. They are Considered to be a Relatively New Breed
Even though it originated back in the early 1880s, the Doberman Pinscher is still considered to be a new breed by scholars and experts. While 150 years sounds like a long time, it is important to note that some of the oldest dog breeds trace all the way back to 150 B.C. When comparing the two timelines, it is easy to see why people consider it to be a new breed in the dog world.
6. Docking is a Common Practice for This Breed
Back in the early days, owners would crop their Dobermans’ ears for protection. Since Dobermans were usually used for hunting and fighting, it was imperative to dock their ears in order to prevent other animals from being able to cut or tear them. Tail docking was also done to either prevent injury during protective work or prevent it from getting in the way during work.
Despite the controversy surrounding it, the procedure is still sometimes performed today.
7. They are Secretly Weird
It’s no secret that Dobermans become very attached to their owners. In fact, they might even try to follow you to the bathroom! This often occurs while they are still puppies and are therefore prone to separation anxiety. If you don’t let them inside, they will still wait outside for you until they are finished. This behavior will continue into their adult years. If you don’t want to worry about your Doberman following you into the bathroom every time you need to conduct private business, you will want to discourage this behavior early on.
8. They Played an Integral Role in World War II
The army trained Doberman Pinschers for a variety of duties during the war. They performed everything from search and rescue efforts to landmine detection to message delivery. Dogs were sometimes even used as “suicide dogs.” This involved packing a dog with explosives that would detonate when they approached an enemy tank. It is unclear whether or not Dobermans were used for this grisly job.
One of the most famous canine war heroes was a Doberman Pinscher named Kurt. He was killed in action during the 1944 Battle of Guam when he ran ahead of troops to warn them of approaching enemy soldiers. 24 other dogs died that day. The brave dog was then buried in the United States Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery.
9. There are Four Official Colors for the Breed
Only these colors are considered eligible for professional dog showing:
All other colors are considered a disqualification for the breed. However, the blue and fawn colors are sometimes discouraged from being bred, and are even disqualified from certain dog shows.
There is also the rare white Doberman Pinscher, which is produced from inbreeding. Dobermans with this coloring often have a myriad of health problems and behavioral issues, including photosensitivity and fear biting. As a result, owners are heavily discouraged from attempting to breed this dog. While all-black Dobermans can also occur, ethical breeders won’t attempt to breed these dogs either.
10. Doberman Pinschers Don’t do Well in the Cold
Doberman Pinschers were not built for cold weather. Unlike other breeds that are padded with soft, thick double coats, Dobermans have no undercoat to protect them from the chill. People who live in areas that often experience unbearably cold climates will want to keep their Dobermans inside when possible once winter comes around. Dobermans also do not like getting wet, and will avoid going out in the rain whenever possible.
11. Celebrities Love Them
Throughout the years, various celebrities have fallen in love with and purchased their own Doberman Pinschers. American writer Hunter S. Thompson had several Dobermans that he even included in his books. In Where the Buffalo Roam, a character named Hunter owned a Doberman named Bronco. Bronco would attack under the command word “Nixon.” President John F. Kennedy had his own Doberman named Moe. Actors Nicolas Cage and Kevin Hart own Dobermans of their own as well. Mariah Carey’s Doberman Princess was in her music video for “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
12. You can Sometimes See Them Participating in Schutzhund
Schutzhund is a sport that was developed to test a dog’s skills in obedience and protection. This involves evaluating participants’ skills in endurance, ability to scente, willingness to work, courage, and trainability. While the sport was originally developed for German Shepherds, many other dog breeds, including the Doberman, have begun to participate in it.
13. They are the 5th Smartest Dog Breed
Canine intelligence can be hard to measure. There are various types of “intelligence” to take into account, including adaptive intelligence, working intelligence, and instinctive intelligence. According to canine psychologist Stanley Coren, Dobermans rank fifth in terms of working intelligence. This means that members of this breed can learn a command in less than five exposures and obey at least 95 percent of the time.
14. The Breed Started When Herr Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann Realized He Needed a Guard Dog
Tax collector Louis Dobermann was tasked with the dangerous job of collecting money from various homes. While this may initially seem innocuous, he often had to worry about bandits attacking him as he made his rounds. As a result, he often needed to bring a dog along for protection. That’s where the idea of creating the perfect guard dog came about. The rest, as they say, is history.