About the Breed:
Around 1890 Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman of Apolda, Germany combined several dog breeds to create the Doberman Pinscher. He was a tax collector and ran the local pound. He selected dogs with courage, loyalty, and emotional sensitivity so that he could count on them as companion and protector. The Doberman soon came to America and was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1908. By 1941 they were the 15th most popular dog breed and making many accomplishments at shows and in the working field. In 1944 and into WWII, Dobermans served as sentries, messengers, and scouts in the war. They continued to make accomplishments in many venues and serving our communities. Dobermans assisted with recovering human life as Search and Rescue dogs at Ground Zero, World Trade Center on 9/11. In 2008 we celebrated the 100 year Doberman centennial! ...for photos of this timeline and more detail visit http://dpca.org/breed/breed_history.htm
The breed standard defines desirable Doberman temperament to be: energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient.
The Westminster Kennel Club states, "The Doberman Pinscher is best described as "an elegant athlete in a tight-fitting wrapper." This square, compact and muscular dog gives the immediate impression of grace, beauty and nobility, while at the same time being energetic and fearless. It has made its mark through the years as a police, military and service dog. But it is best known today as an intelligent, affectionate and obedient companion."
Dobermans are commonly referred to as "velcro dogs" because they stick to their people. Also they are called "dog with the human brain" because they are so sensitive and in-tune with their people, it is as if they were a human themselves almost!
There are several different "rankings" for intelligence among dog breeds but the Doberman is always in the top. Generally the Border Collie is considered first, Poodle second, and after that there is some debate between Doberman and German Shepherd. Bottom line: Dobermans are incredibly intelligent.
The breed definitely is active and athletic, and they need plenty of opportunity to exercise and for brain exercise too. But they should not be "hyperactive." The personalities within the breed will vary, some are more serious and some are more goofy. Some have a little more energy or sociability while others are more home-bodies and relaxed. As reputable breeders with the breed standard as our blueprint, we aim for what the standard describes. A well bred dobe should exhibit those characteristics and be a joy to live with.
From the breed standard, "The appearance is that of a dog of medium size, with a body that is square. Compactly built, muscular and powerful, for great endurance and speed. Elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility and temperament. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient."
Dobermans have a smooth-haired, short, hard, thick and close lying coat. Yes, they do shed. Any living thing with hair will have some hair loss. However, shedding is quite minimal and the dogs are generally odorless with minimal grooming needs. They are one of the only breeds to lick themselves clean like cats, making them perfect home pets. Because their coat is short, they have a strict indoor requirement and are not tolerant of extreme weather/climate conditions.
Dobermans come in 4 colors: Black, Red (brownish/reddish, in Europe referred to as brown), Blue (grayish), and Fawn (a light tan or camel color, also called Isabella). The rust or tan markings should be sharply defined and appear above each eye and on the muzzle, throat, forechest, on all legs and feet, and below the tail. According to the standard a small white patch on the chest not exceeding 1/2 square inch may be permissible.
Height & Weight
Height at the withers: Males (dogs) 26 to 28 inches, ideal about 27 1/2 inches. Females (bitches) 24 to 26 inches, ideal about 25 1/2 inches. There is no "standard" for weight but the ideal Doberman would have sufficient size for an optimal combination of strength, endurance, and agility. Females may weigh around 60-75lbs and males 75-90lbs (this is a general estimate).
Health & Longevity
Like any breed of dog, the Doberman does have some health concerns to be aware of. An informal study conducted by the DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America) found the average lifespan to be near 9.5 years. There is a program started that notes the lifespan of the dog by awarding a longevity certificate to dogs that exceed the average. For a detailed list covering the diseases/conditions/available tests applicable to the Doberman please click HERE.
Living With A Doberman Pinscher
Overall the Doberman is a loving, loyal, smart, athletic, and attached companion. They are pretty clean and must be indoor dogs due to short coat and their desire to be with and near their people. The basic needs are to be with the family, a comfortable place to call their own within the house (large dog bed/crate), good quality food for a larger sized/athletic breed, clean water available always, kind discipline and training, basic but quality veterinary care, grooming needs are minimal but teeth brushing is advised just like for any dog for good canine oral health, weekly or bi-monthly nail trim/dremel, regular bath as needed, regular exercise (a "walk" is not sufficient, they need free run/play), and a loving/interactive environment in order for them to be truly happy dogs.
If you take care of your Doberman, providing those things along with kindly enforcing basic obedience and manners rules, your Doberman will reward you with a love and devotion like no other. They will live to be near and please you. They adapt very well to the lifestyle of their owners as long as their basic needs are met.
DOBERMAN Q & A
Q: Is a Doberman a good dog for everyone?
A: The way I like to say it is, "The Doberman is a good dog for everyone, but not everyone is a good owner for a Doberman." Consider carefully what this breed is all about, making sure you can provide for basic dog ownership needs and the specific requirements before committing. Dobermans are not for those who want to keep their pet outside, is gone all day, doesn't have time to interact with the dog, or who will not provide adequate socialization and basic training from the beginning.
Q: I keep reading that the Doberman Pinscher is the only dog bred for personal protection. What about the German Shepherd? Or Rottweiler? Or other breeds?
A: If you look into the original purpose of the other breeds, you will see many were originally intended for herding or other tasks. While many other breeds and just dogs in general may be protective of their family they love, the instinct of the Doberman is superior in protection. They have an emotional sensitivity and a loyalty that is like no other and also a determination. ...Someone once told me that the difference between a Doberman doing instinct based protection duty versus another breed, is that the other dog would chase after the threat leaving the property/family vulnerable while the Doberman's instinct is to defend but never leave the property/family vulnerable. We cannot predict or know exactly what a dog's inclination will be so if this is a big concern we suggest training in this area.
Q: Do I need to train my Doberman to protect me?
A: No. In a well bred, well raised Doberman, the instinct "should" be there. It's not a guarantee that all Dobermans will be protective though. ...There is a "Working Aptitude Evaluation" (WAE) test offered by the DPCA which tests the stability and protective instinct of a Doberman. The WAC title is given to those that successfully show good character and proper instinct passing the test. There are sports, competitions, and specialized training venues that can utilize/further develop this instinct. It is not necessary, but if it is a specific interest or concern of yours we would encourage you to get involved.
Q: What about white or Albino Dobermans?
A: http://dpca.org/albino/albino_about.htm - DPCA link about Albino Dobermans. White or Albino Dobermans are not rare and they are not a color, it is a genetic fault. ANY white (except for the permissible 1/2 square inch chest patch) is considered a disqualification. They can be traced back to one dog, "Padula's Queen Sheba" and her sire (dad) and mom (dam). This lineage tracing is known as "Z factor," and the pedigrees of any descendants are marked with a Z in the registered number (WZ######## instead of WS########). They are "true albinos" having pink nose, pink skin pigment, and ice blue eyes. The coat is a white/cream color and where the normal rust markings would be they instead have white. The reduced pigment in skin and eyes causes photosensitivity (squinting or shut eyes in sunlight) and increased risk of solar skin damage including cancer. Albino Dobermans are known to suffer from other deleterious health conditions and temperament problems.
Q: How much do Doberman's cost?
A: Depending on the source of the dog, there could be a very wide variance in pricing. Please read the BUYERS GUIDE which explains the process and types of breeders to know about, and also the PRICING page we added to explain general costs. The old saying is true.. "You get what you pay for." Do your research in this area before randomly deciding a figure for your budget or assuming a puppy costs too much or too little. If you cannot afford to support those who are breeding quality, please consider rescuing or waiting and saving up.
Q: I have heard that the Doberman is an aggressive breed and will turn on their owner, is that true?
A: No! The breed may have a stigma but is only due to the way media may portray them in movies/art etc. Aggressiveness or shyness is a disqualification. Good breeders do not breed that type of temperament in either extreme.
Q: Should I get the ears cropped? Does it hurt the dog or is it necessary?
A: Ear cropping is more than just "the look." There are several factors you need to consider before making your own opinion. Trust the advice and practice of experienced good breeders, they put so much love and care into their dogs they would not do ear cropping if it was pointless and really hurt the dog. If cropping is desired, it is important it is done by an experienced and ethical veterinarian so that the outcome looks complimentary and that it heals well with no extreme discomfort to the puppy. Read our page about EAR CROP & TAIL DOCK.
Q: If I live in an apartment, should I get a Doberman?
A: Probably not. It can technically work out if you are able to take them out for activity multiple times throughout the day. Often apartments or rentals have breed/size restrictions. Most breeders would not take a chance and will require their puppy go to a home where the space of a fence yard is already set up.
Q: Will my Doberman get along with children?
A: Yes, but it depends. When raised with appropriate boundaries and with appropriate exercise outlets, then a Doberman can be a wonderful companion around children. Often they become especially concerned and attached to the little ones of the house. But they are larger sized dogs and a couple month old Doberman that has not been trained could play too rowdy and knock over or bump into kids. ....in general, the sensitive nature of the Doberman makes them easy to adapt and befriend kids. Use your best judgement.
Q: Will my Doberman get along with my other pets?
A: Yes, but it depends. How a Doberman reacts with other pets in your household or meeting them out in public comes down to (mostly) how they are raised. Socialization is important during puppyhood and teenage phase. Take your Doberman puppy to puppy obedience class, on walks, to pet friendly stores/venues where they can meet and appropriately interact with other dogs and people. If raised up with those good experiences, the Doberman should be great with other pets. Give them boundaries too, and consider the tolerance level of the other pet(s) they may be introduced to. A brand new curious puppy may want to play a little too much with the kitty, or an older dog may have less patience - teach them to be sensitive and that they are not allowed to be overwhelming. By the time they are mature they will be reliable and not require constant supervision.
Q: Should I get two Doberman puppies as playmates?
A: No! A reputable breeder will discourage this because of something called "littermate syndrome." A study was conducted with puppies that were evaluated as future service dog candidates. The organization would place two littermate puppies in foster home to be raised up until they're old enough to go on to service dog training, then they would be reevaluated and enrolled in training. The littermate program was shut down quickly and brought back to just one puppy in foster placement because the two puppies inevitably developed "littermate syndrome." What is littermate syndrome? It is when two young or immature dogs (not necessarily litter mates) are raised together and develop unhealthy attachment/obsession with each other and dominating/submissive behaviors with each other. ....we want the puppy to bond and mature with YOU. Waiting at least 6months, preferably a year or more is the best option if you want more than one Doberman. ....one last thing if you still insist on having two young dogs together, consider the emotional and financial tole it will create in the future when you have not one but two senior age dogs.
Q: I heard that male Dobermans do not get along with other male dogs, is this true?
A: Sometimes. It's referred to as "male to male aggression." Some male dobes will get along with other males just fine. Some, when they mature they suddenly have a huge problem with other male dogs in the house. It has to do with the temperament/personality of the dogs that are together, the hormone side of things (neutered or intact), how they were raised, and other factors. It almost always ends up in some kind of scuffle though so most breeders just don't want to take the risk of male doberman with another male doberman in a pet home. In instances where breeders have more than one male, they usually are "rotating" them in and out of crates/separated areas.
Q: I just want a family pet, does it matter about showing or health testing on the parents then?
A: Absolutely! Think about it. Dogs can have genes/health conditions that are not shown on the surface. Sometimes they show up later in life or sometimes when bred with another dog with the same gene they can have puppies that show that condition. The purpose of showing is to prove and qualify which dogs have the right structure, temperament, and appearance to carry on the future of the breed. If a dog has too many missing teeth, or improper angulation of their shoulder joints - the dog may not win its show title. If the dog is shown and judged to be a good candidate in those areas by winning their show titles- it doesn't just mean the dog "looks good" or "shows well," it means they have the character and physical substance to do what they are meant to do. The purpose of health testing is to reveal the condition of what is not readily apparent to the eye. It shows you what their genetic makeup is and the actual screenings that can only be performed by specialists. A dog from that kind of breeding will not only produce "show dogs" but the best suited dog for family/companionship because they are healthy, long quality life expectancy, will not wear down from activity like a dog from poor breeding would, and the temperament has been proven and stable for generation upon generation. ....A dog from the background of no showing or no testing is basically a "crapshoot." Conditions and issues can readily crop up. ...If you consider just one single risk - fatal congenital heart condition of Dilated Cardiomyopathy, having a 40-50% occurrence (depending where you get your statistic from), with a likelihood as great as that wouldn't it be worth it to support a breeder that goes above and beyond testing for those things versus the breeder that does nothing except "has a good dog" ?
Q: Should I get a Doberman from a rescue or from a breeder?
A: This is totally up to you and your situation. There are plenty of good dogs out there that got dealt an unfair card and wound up in shelters to no fault of their own, and need a loving home. A dog is made up of their past - in both experience and genetics - and there is (usually) no way to find this out in shelter dogs, so there is a risk. It could put your children or other pets in danger, it could cost a lot in vet bills, it could mean a lot of heartache if the dog passes away soon or unexpected. These are risks associated with dog ownership at all and not just rescues, but generally these things are in our favor and less "risky" when the dog is from a good breeder and good breeding. If you weigh the risks/pros and cons and decide to go with a breeder, please support the good ones and not just "the cutest puppy" or "best price."
Q: Where can I find a good breeder?
A: We follow the DPCA code of ethics and reputable breeding practices, so you are looking at a good breeder right here! We have far more inquiries than we would ever have puppies for though, and we are very selective so that our puppies go to the best home they deserve. We only breed occasionally and puppies are mostly spoken for in advance. But if you are interested in a puppy of ours, keep reading throughout the site and then fill out an application on our PUPPY APPLICATION page. ...if we are not the right fit for you or the availability is just not going to work out, feel free to ask us if we know of any other reputable breeders with planned litters and check out the DPCA's breeder referral. Don't limit yourself to just breeders in your area. It is nice if you can meet in person and visit the puppies, but the breeder's expertise will need to be trusted when picking anyways, and the best breeder with the right match of dogs is not always in your neighborhood.
So you want a Doberman?
Thank you for taking the time to research! Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are you prepared to see your Doberman through to old age?
What's your lifestyle and how will a large, energetic dog fit in?
Are you prepared for an inside only dog?
What do you plan to do with your dog while on errands, or vacation?
Do you have a large proper fenced yard or are willing to go exercise several times a day in all weather conditions?
Who will be taking care of the dog?
If you work, what will your dog do while you're at work?
Do you have a trainer/training classes arranged for your dog?
Do you have children? Are they mature enough to treat the dog with respect? If they are quite young, are you prepared to raise a puppy (basically another child) and your child simultaneous?
Does your housing, city, homeowner's insurance, or neighborhood allow Dobermans?
Can you afford a dog right now? Are you prepared to make that financial commitment for the life of the dog?
Are you considering a puppy from a reputable breeder or rescuing an adult?