The Doberman Pinscher is one of the most misunderstood breeds. The canine has suffered from a bad reputation due to its intimidating look. But it is not an aggressive dog that attacks people or animals for no reason. That being said, today, we will look at the most important Doberman facts, including its temperament, appearance, and health issues.
Developed in Germany for the first time, it is now one of the most popular dog breeds in the US and Canada. Here is a fun fact. In Europe, the canine is known simply as Dobermann. And in the US and Canada, the dog is known as Doberman Pinscher.
Known to be intelligent, smart, and tenaciously loyal companions, Dobermans have filled different roles throughout history. Some of them include a police dog, military dog, working dog, companion dog, guard dog, and family pet.
Size: 27 to 28 inches
Weight: 60 to 70 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 13 years
Group: Working group
The Doberman Pinscher, sometimes called Doberman, Dobe, or Dobbie, is a working breed developed in Apolda, Germany. Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a tax collector, and night watchman, was the one who came up with the breed.
Generally speaking, the breed is a sleek, agile, and powerful canine standing between 24 and 28 inches with a smooth coat.
Nowadays, the Doberman breed has a reputation for being fearless, alert, loyal, and intelligent. With its sleek and powerful body composition, the Doberman Pinscher displays a magnificent physique everywhere he appears.
Many consider him a nobleman in the canine world. His incomparable fearlessness stands out among the finest protection dogs.
Compactly built, these dogs are muscular, fast, and powerful. A well-conditioned Dobbie on patrol can deter all but the most foolish intruder.
History Of The Breed
As we said before, tax collector Karl Friedrich Dobermann was the one to come up with the breed. It all began in the 1880s in Apolda, Thuringia, Germany. He had access to many different breeds but wanted a breed that would be ideal for protecting him.
Karl did a lot of the work at night and needed a companion dog that also had amazing guard and protective instincts. So, he set out on a quest to come up with a new breed that has impressive stamina, strength, and intelligence.
And he was the one to register the first Doberman dog breed. Five years after his death, Otto Goeller, one of the earliest breeders, created the National Doberman Pinscher Club. While Karl created it, many believe Otto perfected the breed, refining them in the 1890s.
While the exact number of breeds used remains uncertain, many canine experts believe the dog breed is the result of mixing Weimaraner. German Shepherd, Rottweiler, German Pinscher, Greyhound, Manchester Terrier, Beauceron, and more.
The breed didn’t get the official name until Karl’s death in 1894. The Germans named the dog Dobermann-pinscher in his honor. Half a century later, they dropped the word Pinscher. The logic is that the German word for “terrier” was no longer appropriate.
Nowadays, the US and Canada are the only countries that continue to use the word Pinscher but dropped an “n” in the surname of the dog.
As we said before, there are two types of Dobbies, American and European version. The European version is closer to the breed standard set by Federation Cynologique Internationale, or FCI. Dogs are judged to FCI standards when they try to become world champions. On the other hand, The American Kennel Club has its own standards.
Originally bred as guard dogs, males usually have a muscular and intimidating appearance. Females are thinner, but they should not be spindly. The AKC standard differs from the FCI standards, with the European version being larger and heavier dogs.
Size And Proportions
While the breed standards vary from one kennel to another kennel club, most follow the standard set by the FCI, describing the size between 27 and 28 inches. The AKC accepts standard size starting at 24 inches, and going up to 28 inches. The size of female dogs should be one inch smaller, with 26 considered ideal by the FCI standard.
The Doberman has a square frame, and the length should equal its height to the withers, and the length of its head, and legs should be in proportion to the body.
Speaking of weight, the dog should weigh between 90 and 100 lbs for males, with the ideal weight for females set between 71 and 77 lbs. The ideal Doberman dog should be of sufficient size for an optimal combination of strength, endurance, and agility.
Here is a fun fact. There are two different color genes, one for Black(B) and one for color dilution(D). That results in nine possible combinations, or four different color phenotypes. Those are black, blue, red, and fawn.
The traditional and most common color is with one dominant allele(color gene), and they are commonly referred to as black, black, and rust, or black and tan.
There was a white Doberman bred back in 1976, but this was an exception. White or Albino Doberman is a dog with cream color and white markings. Yet, the proper characterization of the mutation is unknown to canine experts.
For many years, the tradition was to crop the ears of a Doberman puppy. The procedure was done for functionality for both the traditional guard duty and effective sound localization.
In some countries, this practice is no longer common. We have to say, though, that according to the Doberman Pincher Club of America, “ears should be normally cropped and carried erect”.
Yet, tail docking and ear cropping are illegal and have never been legal in some Commonwealth countries.
When Karl Dobermann came up with the breed, he wanted a dog that would look scary, have guarding and protective instincts, but also work as a companion.
As a result, nowadays, Dobbies are highly intelligent, extremely loyal, and courageous canines. Now, you have to take into account their history as a watchdog. Dobbies are not breeds for first-time owners. They need an experienced owner who knows how to handle them. Basic obedience is challenging, but Dobermans generally love to work. Here are some common personality traits of the Doberman dog breed.
- They form a deep bond and feel for the family, and you might be surprised, but they are a classic Velcro dog breed
- Dobermans can develop separation anxiety because they were bred to be companions and thrive when they are in the company of their pet parents
- Highly intelligent dogs, quick learners who have a natural ability to understand and follow commands and cues
- Alert and watchful, they were bred to be watchdogs, and have retained their instinct to do so
- Will bark to alert their owners of potential threats
- Vigilant and aware of their surroundings
- Loyal to the bone, this fierce guard dog will protect their owner at all cost
- Confident and fearless, they cannot be intimidated. When necessary, they can be assertive
- With their humans, they are gentle and affectionate
- Despite their intimidating nature, Dobbies are amazing family dogs that enjoy spending time with children
- They have a strong desire to please their owners
As we said before, Dobermans are a working dog breed. They have a strong desire to please their owners and follow commands.
Now, this makes them a highly trainable breed. But that doesn’t mean they are an easy breed to handle.
Dobbies need a firm and experienced owner, one who is consistent in training and knows the difference between punishment and balanced training.
Dobermans respond well to positive reinforcement dog training. For them, the training session is a secure and safe place. So, you should not use any punishment methods while training. This can make your highly intelligent dog anxious or aggressive.
One thing you have to pay attention to is socialization. Because of their protective nature and instinct, they are wary of strangers and new people. They might even bark at strangers. Socialization plays a huge role here. The more people your dog meets, the better.
The Doberman Pincher is a large and energetic dog that needs plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. They enjoy a long walk, hike, running, or some vigorous play for at least 60 minutes per day.
Generally speaking, these dogs need between 60 and 90 minutes of physical exercise per day. The more you can stay on the upper limit, the better.
The best way to exercise your Doberman is to play some games where you can incorporate training as well. For example, games like tug or retrieving. They do excel in dog sports.
The Doberman Drill Team
Now let’s talk about some unique Doberman facts. And that is the Doberman Drill team. Described as a working dog, this breed needs to work all day long. And that is how the drill team was born.
The team performs for large, cheering crowds and practices for many hours to perfect the routine. Doberman drill teams use props, including ladders, hoops, and barrels, trying to highlight the working nature of the canine.
The first of many began with Tess Henseler, performing at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1959 at Madison Square Garden. Rosalie Alvarez was the next one to form her own time, appearing at many sporting events.
Rosalie realized early on that some puppies were more handsome than others, and she solved the problem by using capes. Her unit consisted of 22 marching people who practiced with 18 amazingly-trained Dobermans for eight hours every week.
That hard work has paid off, as she has appeared at some of the biggest sporting events in the United States of America.
Generally speaking, large dog breeds are not as healthy as small dog breeds. Yet, Dobermans have a high quality of life, mainly because of their history as working breed dogs. They worked and exercised all day long.
Nowadays, the average lifespan of this German breed is between 10 and 12 years. Yes, there are health issues, but the breed is healthier than some of its rivals, like the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, or similar breeds in that size.
Here are the most common health issues that affect a Doberman puppy.
- Cardiomyopathy is the most serious breed-related problem for Dobermans. It causes an enlarged heart, and new owners should do an annual heart exam to catch the condition early on. You should also look at the history and genetics of your new Dobbie. If its parents had the condition, the offspring will as well. Yet, we have to mention that a dog that tests fine one day, might develop the condition later
- Cervical vertebral instability is another breed-related health risk. It is commonly known as the Wobbler’s syndrome. Caused by a malformation of the vertebrae within the neck, it results in pressure on the spinal cord and can sometimes cause complete paralysis. Some dogs experience relief from surgery, and sometimes you can manage the symptoms with treatment
- Von Willerbrand’s disease, or the common bleeding disorder is another health risk for Dobermans. Dogs that carry the disease lack a certain protein that helps to stick together and form clots
We have to mention that not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy. Yet, most of them can be screened for by breeders. You should try to find a reputable Doberman breeder, one who is committed to breeding the healthiest dogs possible
The good news is that Dobermans have short coats that you can brush once or twice per week. They need only occasional brushing. Dobermans have a single coat. They do not have an undercoat that sheds twice per year.
There is no blowout season with Dobermans. Yet, they do shed year long.
Now that we talked about the Doberman breed’s temperament, appearance, training needs, exercise needs, and potential health issues, let’s take a look at some interesting Doberman facts.
- The fairly new breed is less than 150 years old, originating in Germany in the early 1880s
- The dog breed was first bred by a tax collector
- Karl Louis Dobermann, the man who came up with the breed, had a career taking him to shady parts of town, and he wanted a travel companion that will protect him
- The breed is a result of crossing German Shorthaired Pointer, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Manchester terrier, Great Dane, Beauceron, Black and Tan terrier, and Greyhound
- The tail and ear docking of Dobermans had a purpose, they were bred to be guard dogs, and their ears were a weak point
- These dogs have appeared in movies, the first one being The Doberman Gang in 1972, a movie about six savage dogs with a thirst for cold cash that leaves banks bone dry
- Kurt was a war hero, a Doberman who was the first canine casualty in the 1944 Battle of Guam during WWII. This Dobbie ran ahead of troops to warm them of approaching enemy soldiers
- As we said before, the Doberman Drill Teams were founded by Tess Henseler, as a way to showcase the dog’s intelligence and agility
- They are gentler than they were originally bred to be, with the first Dobbies bred to be fierce and only the toughest one selected to carry out the genetics
- Unlike other dogs with short hair, the Dobbie’s hair coat molts
- They hate the cold and do not like to get wet. Sometimes, they might refuse to go out in the rain
- They have gotten a bad reputation in the past, similar to the American Pit Bull Terrier and Rottweiler. While they look intimidating, they are not aggressive
- Von Willebrand’s disease is a hereditary defect in Dobermans
- The American Kennel Club recognized the breed for the first time in 1908
- The canine was the official war dog of the US Marine Corps during World War II
- In some countries, the breed is spelled with two “n” letters at the end, similar to how its founder’s name is spelled
- They have a strong connection to the German Shepherd ancestry
- In some rare occasions, they are albino in coloration
- They have excellent hearing, able to hear sounds 250 yards away
- They can learn up to 50 words of the human language
Notable Dobermans In History
We mentioned the first wartime hero, Kurt, but there are many other notable Dobermans in history. Here is a quick review.
- The first-registered Doberman in 1898 was called Graf Belling v Gronland
- Cappy was a Doberman who saved the lives of more than 250 US Marines when he alerted them to Japanese soldiers during WWII
- Kurt was also the first buried dog in what would become the War Dog Cemetery. He is depicted in bronze sitting quietly but alert atop the World War II War Dog Memorial. The memorial has Cappy, Kurt, and 23 other Dobermans inscribed their name on the memorial
- Bingo von Ellendonk was the first Doberman to score 300 points, a perfect score in Schutzhund
- Ch. Borong the Warlock, a notable Doberman who won championship titles in three countries, including 230 Best of Breeds, six all-breed Best in Show, and 66 Working Groups
- Tunga was a female Doberman police dog in Karnataka India, famous for uncovering more than 50 murders and 60 thefts
Celebrities Who Own A Doberman
Over the course of history, there have been many celebrity pet parents with a Doberman by their side. Let’s take a look at who they are.
- Hunter S Thompson, a popular US writer who passed away in 2005 had several Dobermans included in his books
- Beatrice Arthur, an American actress playing Dorothy on Golden Girls, had three Dobermans, Albert, Jennifer, and Emma
- Bela Lugosi, the actor portraying Dracula owned a Doberman called Hector
- Tanya Roberts, another popular American actress, had Dobbies by the names of Catcher, Champ, and Huckleberry
- American President John F. Kennedy owned a Dobbie named Moe
- Popular actor William Shatner had several Dobbies, with their names being, Kirk, Morgan, China, Heidi, Paris, Royale, Martika, Sterling, Charity, Bella, and Starbuck
- Forest Whitaker and Nicholas Cage are two other American actors who are Dobbie parents, with Cage owning a white Doberman
- Lance Ito, the American Judge who got famous through the O.J. Simpson trial, has a dog named Gillis
- Comedian Kevin Hart often shows off his dogs Roxy and Roscoe on his social media account
- Popular singer Mariah Carey has Duke and Princess, with her latter dog appearing in the music video for All I Want for Christmas is You
- In 2017, Sylvester Stallone got his Doberman, called Ace