The Doberman pinscher is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Dobermans have been used as personal protection dogs, police dogs, and even attack dogs. Their size, intelligence, fearlessness, and athleticism make them especially suited for these kinds of tasks.
The way that media has portrayed these dogs and the roles they’ve played throughout history may have given Dobes a bit of a bad-boy reputation for viciousness and aggression, but don’t let their rep fool you! Careful breeding has toned down this clever breed’s more aggressive tendencies. In fact, with responsible training, Dobermans can actually make excellent family dogs. Just check with your local laws before getting one though; some jurisdictions still consider the Doberman pinscher a dangerous breed, and may have certain rules or restrictions on owning one.
Dobermans stand at around two feet to two and a half feet tall at the shoulder, and these medium-to-large-sized dogs are about as tall as they are long. They are built for speed and endurance, and healthy Dobes should appear both strong and noble. If you don’t want to bother too much with grooming, the Doberman is a pretty good breed choice. Their coats are smooth and short-haired, which means that you won’t have to worry about detangling an entire dog’s worth of snarls and knots every day. Their coat colors come in black, blue, fawn, and red, and they have long, strong tails and folded ears. Traditionally, a Doberman’s tail is docked to keep it from getting grabbed by intruders or bitten by other dogs, and his ears are cropped so that they stand pricked, making it easier for the dog to localize sounds when he’s on guard duty. Despite their ostensibly “practical” purpose, these procedures are now generally done for cosmetic reasons, as docking and cropping create that easily recognizable Doberman “look.” These practices are now generally considered cruel, and are illegal in some European countries.
The Doberman pinscher is a relatively healthy breed. These pooches can live up to eleven years or more, but because they are purebred, they do have a tendency towards certain canine diseases, like heart problems, cancer, Wabbler Syndrome, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s, and hip dysplasia. Get your dog from a responsible breeder, and stay away from puppy mills, pet stores, and back-yard breeders if you want to make sure that you get a healthy pup. If you get one from a pet store or a puppy mill, you may end up with a severely inbred, sickly, or unmanageable puppy, as these places tend to focus primarily on churning out as many puppies for sale as possible, without much regard for the dog’s health or temperament. Even if your dog doesn’t suffer from any health issues however, as a responsible pet-owner, regular vet checkups and proper vaccinations are a must.
The Doberman’s strongest personality trait is his utter loyalty to his owners. In fact, studies have shown that while Dobes tend to be a bit more aggressive towards strangers than many other breeds, their ranking on owner-directed aggression is one of the lowest.
A Doberman’s more aggressive tendencies aren’t just tempered by his devotion to his owners, but by his high intelligence and trainability as well. In fact, this breed is among the top ten most intelligent dog breeds in the world, and has been consistently shown to measure up with other working breeds, like German shepherds and border collies, in terms of trainability.
If you have small children or other pets, make sure to supervise their interactions with your Dobe. A Doberman might be loving and protective with his owners and far less likely to show aggression towards them, but he’s still a relatively large and strong dog, and he won’t always know his own strength. A playful love-bite or a swat with a paw can lead to some serious scrapes if your pooch is overexcited. Luckily, with the Doberman’s high trainability and cleverness, getting him to understand that rough play is a no-no shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember to teach your kids or other pets that too.
The Doberman’s devotion, intelligence, and trainability are consistent within the breed, but individual Dobis’ personalities can run the gamut from calm and dignified, to irrepressibly playful. However, don’t let a laid-back Doberman fool you. These dogs have a lot of energy, and will need a lot of exercise to work it off. Like all other working dog breeds, they are happiest when they have a job to do. Their cleverness can cause them to make mischief if they get bored or hyperactive, so don’t forget to exercise and engage your Dobie regularly. As with any other dog breed, training, playtime, and lots of love are sure to make your Doberman a very happy and loving companion indeed. His devotion and friendship might even make you almost as happy as you will make him.