Guide to the Doberman Pinscher Dog Breed

Doberman with his ball

As a result of some films, such as The Doberman Gang, Beethoven, and Up, Doberman Pinschers have earned a reputation as fearsome guard dogs. However, these portrayals aren't necessarily accurate. Members of th breed can be playful, affectionate companions who excel in many sports. Still, owners should be aware that these regal dogs may be at risk for certain health conditions or problems. If you're considering a Doberman as a pet, it's important to understand more about their unique traits and needs.

Breed History

The Doberman hails from Germany, where they were developed in the late 1800s. The breed is a mix of Manchester Terrier, German Pinscher, Beauceron, Rottweiler, and Weimaraner. In 1908, Dobermans were recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club.

During World War II, the breed was a popular choice for military work due to their brains and brawn. Other roles Dobermans have held in the past include as police and personal protection dogs. They're often employed today as search and rescue dogs as well as service pets.

Doberman Physical Characteristics

Doberman Pinscher description

There's no denying Dobermans are regal dogs with a dignified and serious stance that can deter strangers. Though many people are familiar with the breed's iconic pointed ears, Dobermans are actually born with long, floppy ears. Many breeders choose to have their ears docked and tails cropped for aesthetic reasons, although their natural look is very attractive, as well.

Adult Size

Dobermans are considered large breed dogs due to their size. When they reach adulthood, males can weigh anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds and stand 26 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder, whereas females reach about 60 to 90 pounds, standing 24 to 26 inches tall. Some dogs may be smaller or larger based on their genetics. The breed notoriously has a muscular, athletic frame and long snout.

Life Expectancy

Dobermans can live long, full lives with proper care. The lifespan of this breed is approximately 10 to 12 years. Unfortunately, as with any breed, some Dobermans may develop diseases that can affect their life expectancy.

Coat Color Varieties

This breed comes in a variety of colors and markings. They typically feature rust-colored fur on their legs, paws, chest, muzzle, and above the eyes. The rust color is paired with either black, blue (also called gray), fawn, or red, often referred to as chocolate or brown.

Pure white Dobermans exist, although they are rare. These unique dogs are albino, and breeding them is discouraged as they can have several serious health and behavior problems as a result of this genetic trait.

Grooming Requirements

The Doberman's short, shiny coat is relatively low maintenance. This breed is ideal for owners who don't want to make regular trips to the groomer. Of course, the occasional bath may be needed to remove dirt or mud.

Grooming should involve brushing with a gentle brush or grooming mitt a few times each week to remove excess shedding and keep their skin healthy. Dobermans do shed a low to moderate amount.

Doberman Temperament

Doberman Pinscher Dogs Outdoors in Winter Snow

People who aren't familiar with Dobermans might initially be wary of their rumored aggressive temperament. While a Doberman can be an excellent guard dog and will protect their family, they also make wonderful family pets. They can get along well with young children and other dogs or pets if introduced appropriately.

This breed is known for their loyalty and attachment to their owners. In fact, they can become anxious if left alone. Therefore, it's important to begin training as early as possible to avoid the development of separation anxiety.

Training a Doberman

Dobermans are highly intelligent dogs who can excel at any task with positive reinforcement training. It's important to start socializing and obedience training at a young age to help you better manage your dog when they reach their full adult size.

Dobermans are an excellent candidate for just about any dog sport, from agility to competitive obedience. Their intelligence and athleticism make them a versatile breed who can be found working as service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and therapy dogs.

Exercise Needs

Considering Dobermans were historically bred as working dogs, they need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Keeping your Doberman busy and active will prevent them from developing behavioral problems. Bored Dobermans may become destructive or vocal.

This breed is not a good choice for very busy or inactive owners. They require long daily walks or jogs and benefit from interactive toys or games for mental enrichment. Training and dog sports are other activities that can keep their energy focused.

Doberman Health Concerns

Dobermans can develop several conditions that are often associated with the breed.

  • Cardiomyopathy is a serious heart disease that affects Dobermans more than any other breed and can be fatal.
  • Color dilution alopecia, or blue Doberman syndrome, is a genetic disease that involves hair loss and skin irritation.
  • Demodicosis, most commonly referred to as mange, is a skin mite that tends to affect Doberman puppies more than some other breeds.
  • Gastric torsion, or bloat, is a condition that affects deep-chested dogs like Dobermans and is fatal without immediate emergency treatment.
  • Hip dysplasia is a joint malformation that can cause lameness and pain in affected dogs.
  • Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, involves tumors in the bones. Large breed dogs like Dobermans are at higher risk for developing this type of cancer.
  • Von Willebrand's disease is a blood clotting disorder that causes hemorrhaging and excessive bleeding.
  • Wobblers syndrome, also known as cervical spondylomyelopathy, is a condition that affects the spine and can lead to gait problems, difficulty walking, lethargy, and pain.

Where Can You Get a Doberman Puppy?

Doberman Puppies

Buying a Doberman puppy from a breeder can cost approximately $1,500 to $2,500. If you decide to go this route, be sure to find a responsible breeder. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America's website has a breeder referral directory. The AKC Marketplace is also a source of breeders.

Rescuing a Doberman

Dobermans can be found in many shelters as well as breed-specific rescues. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America has a rescue directory on their website that provides contact information by state.

Is the Doberman the Right Breed For You?

Dobermans are beautiful, athletic canines that make incredibly loyal companions. However, they are not the best choice for an owner who is not willing to provide daily exercise or spend the necessary time training them. But for the right home, a Doberman can make an excellent family dog who is fiercely protective and affectionate.

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Guide to the Doberman Pinscher Dog Breed