Type: Working Dog
Weight: Male dog – 34-45 kg
Female dog – 27-41 kg
Height: Male dog – 27.5 in / 68.8 cm
Female dog – 25.5 in / 63.9 cm
Appearance: The Doberman Pinscher, or simply Doberman is a middle-sized dog with a short coat in black, brown, red, blue, fawn or white (albino) colours. Male dogs are muscular and noble, females are usually thinner, but can be portly. The dog has perfect proportions its length is equal to its height, the length of its head, neck and legs is in proportion to its body. You may still see Dobermans with cropped ears and docked tails, though both practices are opposed by the RSPCA and illegal in the UK for anything other than working dogs.
Temperament: The Doberman Pinscher is an intelligent, alert, loyal, energetic and lively dog. They’re athletic animals with endurance and swiftness, and a proud, watchful, determined and obedient temperament. Dobermans are often considered to be aggressive dogs, because of their role as a personal protection breed. They were originally bred for this purpose and Dobermans can be intimidating, fearless and willing to defend their owners, but they’re not innately aggressive and a well trained Doberman will attack only on command.
Skills: As highly obedient and easily trained dogs, Doberman Pinschers were often used as guard or police dogs in the past. Today the breed is mostly known as a domestic pet.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: Like German Shepherds, Dobermans are very protective of their family and territory, so can be aggressive towards any stranger they consider to be a threat. As with so many breeds it all comes down to training, a well socialised Doberman of a stable temperament can be a great choice as a pet companion and be perfectly suitable as a family pet.
Common Health Problems: Dilated cardiomyopathy, cervical vertebral instability, Von Willebrand’s disease, prostatic disease, hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia, canine compulsive disorder.
Lifespan: Average 1011 years. Cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in Dobermans.
An important thing to consider when training a Doberman pinscher puppy is that the behaviour traits it displays at early age (0-6 months) such as rough play, growling, and chewing are not induced by aggression, but rather a projection of its natural instincts necessary for survival in nature. These traits are healthy but need to be managed in order for the pup to fit into the family.
- Leash training
Leash training is essential considering how big and powerful Dobes grow up to be. Choose a lightweight leather collar and leash. Place the collar on your puppy when he’s distracted and introduce the leash carefully to reassure him there’s nothing to be afraid of. The first leash training sessions need to be short; walk around the house and don’t forget to reward and praise him. Never keep walking when he’s pulling on the leash and don’t yank him back to you. Call him and when he comes, praise and reward him.
- Control of “jumping up” behaviour
Start as early as possible. Make it clear that jumping up on people is unacceptable. Never reward this kind of behaviour by giving the pup attention when he does it. Instead, when you see he’s ready to leap, turn with your back against him and don’t make any eye contact. Give him something else to do – for example, if he’s been taught basic commands such as “Sit”, you can instruct him to do it. Be consistent and clear that this type of behaviour is not tolerable. When he stops jumping, get down on his level and praise him.
- Control of chewing behaviour
Dobe puppies love chewing, especially when they’re going through the teething stage. If your pup has a particular liking for an object, try and cover it with repellent-tasting substance. If you see him chewing, firmly and loudly say “No” and give him a toy to chew on instead of the object. Never scold or reprimand your puppy when you haven’t actually caught him chewing.
- Determine character
Known in the past as attack-and-watchdogs, Dobermans nowadays have been bred into caring companions. When you get a Dobe, you first need to trace its bloodlines, as this is what determines his personality and temperament. You won’t have any serious issues if your dog comes from a line of show dogs, but you will have to exert control to discourage any aggressive or dominant behaviour if he has been bred from a line of guard dogs.
- Be a leader
Dobermans are dogs that will want to be by your side and follow you everywhere. That’s why you need to assert yourself as a strong leader. These dogs are extremely loyal and need to be constantly instructed what to do. A successful method of Dobe training is the “no-free lunch” programme which has Dobermans constantly busy and working for everything they want. They don’t eat anything until they obey a command or do a cue. Don’t let your Doberman dog jump on you or other people coming to your house – this shows dominance and such behaviour has to be snapped. Make sure the dog has respect for you and other people visiting your house. It is best that you enroll your Dobe in an obedience training programme.
- Establish routine
Dobermans go by the nickname of “Velcro dogs” for a good reason – they are extremely loyal and devoted to their owners. They will remain obedient as long as everything coming from their owners remains consistent. This holds especially true for training. Any disruption to the pattern they’re used to may lead to frustration. Make sure they socialise with as many different people as possible and expose them to different circumstances to prevent them from shutting down, which is often a result of their loyal disposition to their owners. Engage them in something creative and take them for long walks before you go somewhere. Dobes are sensitive, so don’t scold them; a firm tone is sufficient.
Louis Dobermann – a German tax collector who lived in the 19th century, gave his name to the breed. Dobermann was also the town’s dogcatcher and often took dogs along with him to guard him from bandits while he was collecting taxes. He started breeding dogs with the idea of a loyal dog that would also be a protecting and guarding one. He created the breed Doberman Pinscher after a series of experiments and even though there are no written records of what specific breeds were used, there are speculations that Rottweiler, German Pinscher, and Black and Tan Terrier were used in creating the Doberman Pinscher. Dobes made their first public appearance in 1876 and sparked a lot of interest.
German breeders who continued Dobermann’s work in the late 19th century set about developing the breed into a “super dog”. They selected only the most fearless, strongest and fastest dogs for breeding and shaped the breed into a line of aggressive, bullheaded dogs.
Otto Goeller was the breeder who led the development of the breed to the loyal and obedient companions we know Dobermans to be today. The breed was officially recognised by the German Kennel Club in 1900. Dobes were introduced to the United States in 1908 and The Dobermann Pinscher Club of America was founded in 1921, adopting the German breed standard a year later. The Doberman Pinscher became the official dog of the United States Marine Corps during World War II. The breed was almost entirely lost to West Germany during post-war years and it is believed that if it hadn’t been for the Dobes that Americans had brought to the United States, the breed would have gone extinct. Germans dropped pinscher from the breed’s name in the 1900s, followed by the Britons who did the same several years later.
Through careful breeding practices, over the years Dobermans have left their reputation of aggressive canines behind and have become an amiable obedient breed, easily blending into family settings. They are highly intelligent and active, playful and loyal to their owners.
Like other large deep-chested dogs, Dobermans are susceptible to a condition called gastric torsion, more commonly known as bloat. This means that the stomach flips on itself and cuts off the blood supply and the ability to digest food. It can be caused by eating large portions of food at once, drinking large quantities of water immediately after eating, or vigorous exercises before and after feeding. In order to avoid it, feed your Dobe small-sized meals more frequently, instead of large portions once or twice a day and don’t leave food within the dog’s reach. Don’t let him drink water right after he has had a meal and ensure at least an hour has passed between eating and exercising. Feed Dobes a well-balanced diet of lean animal protein and complex carbohydrates. Avoid processed grains and simple carbs.
Take your Dobe to the vet for regular check-ups. He needs to have his heart checked, as one of the most common diseases among the breed is cardiomyopathy. It is a lethal disease but early diagnostic and proper medication can help prolong life expectancy significantly.
Keep your Dobe’s body and mind occupied. Take him for long walks or let him run alongside you when you go for a jog or cycle. Dobermans need to be kept busy and find pleasure in creative games and activities. Play a game of hide-and-seek and organise a treasure hunt by moving items around the house for him to find.
Dobes require minimal grooming with their short coats. Brush him once a week and give him a bath every couple of months. Avoid frequent bathing to prevent the skin from becoming dry and scaly. Check his nose, mouth, eyes, and feet for inflammations and other signs of infections such as red or tender skin, sores and rashes.