Doberman Pinschers - Breed Introduction
A relatively new breed. the Doberman Pinscher wasn’t developed until late in the 19th century. The Doberman was bred to serve as a guard dog, a task at which he excels. However, contrary to popular opinion, Dobermans are not universally vicious. They can make wonderful family pets as well.
History of Breed
Louis Dobermann, a door-to-door tax collector and reputedly keeper of the local dog pound in Thuringen, Germany, is credited with developing the Doberman Pinscher in the late 1800s. As the story goes, he wanted to create a guard dog that could accompany and protect him in his unpopular line of work.
He is believed to have crossed the German Shepherd with the German Pinscher, and then subsequently bred the results of this cross with other breeds. The exact definition of those “other breeds” is open to speculation, and it’s been theorized that Weimaraners, English Greyhounds, Rottweilers, black-and-tan Manchester terriers, and Beaucerson may have played a role in the outcome.
The development took place over a very short period of time, and the first breed club was organized in 1899. The Doberman is thought to have arrived on United States soil in 1908, where its excellent guarding capabilities made it a top choice for guarding, military, and police work.
It was equally popular for these reasons in Europe. It eventually became valued as a family pet and a show dog as well. In 1977, the Doberman was the second most popular breed in the United States.
Color and Coat
Dobermans have short, smooth coats that are hard and thick, and lie very close to the body. Available colors include black, red, blue, and fawn.
All feature prominent rust-colored markings above the eyes and on the muzzle, throat, chest, legs, and feet, and below the tail. There may be a small white spot on the chest.
Personality and Temperament
Doberman Pinschers are strong, speedy, agile, assertive, and determined. Some consider their appearance and propensity for guarding to be indicators of viciousness, but this is not inherently the case.
Dobermans do make excellent watchdogs, but they are loyal and devoted to their families, and can even make wonderful therapy dogs if trained at an early age. They are known to be very gentle and affectionate with the elderly.
Dobermans enjoy being challenged mentally, and they are very intelligent. They perform extremely well in obedience training. They do, however, have a tendency to be somewhat pushy, and thus they need firm guidelines. Every member of the family should be capable of enforcing them. Dobermans respond well to positive reinforcement.
Dobermans need to be challenged physically, as well as mentally. Without this stimulation, they may become frustrated and destructive. Long walks on a leash or runs in safe areas, such as fenced yards, are good forms of exercise for this breed.
Socialization of the Doberman should begin in puppyhood, and the dogs should be handled frequently by a number of people. Dobermans do well with older children who are capable of holding their own with the breed. They may adapt to other pets, but have a tendency to be aggressive toward strange dogs.
Dobermans can adapt to city or country living, though suburban and rural settings are typically best. They are sensitive to cold and cannot tolerate being left outside in cold weather for an extended period of time.
Dobermans are squarely built, compact, and muscular. Both the front and hind legs are straight, attributing to the breed’s well-balanced appearance. Dobermans’ heads are long, blunt, and wedge-shaped, with long, tapered muzzles. They have strong jaws and their teeth meet in a scissors bite.
Their noses are typically solid black on black dogs, dark gray on blue dogs, dark brown on red dogs, and dark tan on fawn dogs. Their eyes are almond-shaped and range in color from fawn to dark brown, and the iris blends well with the markings on the dog. The eyes have an energetic, intelligent expression.
Dobermans’ ears are usually cropped to stand erect; however, left in their natural state, they have a medium drop and resemble hounds’ ears. The tail is generally docked at the second joint. Dobermans carry their tails above their backs when alert.
In the mid-1970s, the white, or albino, Doberman emerged, and controversy ensued as to whether these dogs should be allowed in the show ring, as white is not considered an acceptable color for the breed.
The Doberman Pinscher Club of America convinced the American Kennel Club (AKC) to tag those dogs likely to carry the albino gene with a registration number using the letter Z. This allowed breeders to identify and avoid breeding dogs carrying the undesirable gene.
Typical Health Concerns
The most common medical problems experienced by this breed are cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, bone cancer, wobbler syndrome (cervical vertebral instability), and von Willebrand’s disease.
As mentioned earlier, albinism is seen on occasion. Blue Dobermans often suffer from alopecia (hair loss), while white Dobermans are prone to the most serious medical problems.
Minimal grooming is required by the Doberman Pinscher. Brushing or cleaning of the coat with a soft cloth once or twice a week is usually sufficient. The breed is a moderate shedder.
Country of Origin
The Doberman Pinscher originated in Germany.
Average Life Span
The life expectancy of the Doberman Pinscher ranges from 10 to 15 years, with 12 being the average.