Sleek and powerful, possessing both a magnificent physique and keen intelligence, the Doberman Pinscher is one of dogkind’s noblemen. This incomparably fearless and vigilant breed stands proudly among the world’s finest protection dogs.
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 15 of 192
- Height: 26-28 inches (male), 24-26 inches (female)
- Weight: 75-100 pounds (male), 60-90 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
- Group: Working Group
About the Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans are compactly built dogs—muscular, fast, and powerful—standing between 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder. The body is sleek but substantial, and is covered with a glistening coat of black, blue, red, or fawn, with rust markings.
These elegant qualities, combined with a noble wedge-shaped head and an easy, athletic way of moving, have earned Dobermans a reputation as royalty in the canine kingdom. A well-conditioned Doberman on patrol will deter all but the most foolish intruder.
Since the invention of money, one thing has been certain at all times and in all places: The tax collector is never a welcome visitor. In certain precincts of 19th-century Germany, the reception was downright hostile. All too aware of this was taxman and dog breeder Louis Dobermann, from the town of Apolda. He hoped to breed an imposing but dependable protector to accompany him on his rounds.
Dobermann’s handiwork was a larger, less refined version of the pinscher that today bears his name (minus an “n,” which was dropped somewhere along the way). Historians mention the Black and Tan Terrier (forerunner of the Manchester Terrier), German Pinscher, Rottweiler, and smooth-coated herding dogs among the components of Dobermann’s new breed.
The “Tax Collector’s Dog” quickly gained an international reputation as a working dog supreme. Dobes have excelled at police and military K-9 duty, as therapy dogs and service dogs for the disabled, as searchers and rescuers, and in competitive dog sports. During World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps Dobermans of the Pacific won the breed great fame. Twenty-five of these loyal “Devil Dogs” died during the battle for Guam.
With their muscular good looks and proud gait, Dobes are consistent winners in the ring. A Dobe named Storm won Westminster’s Best in Show two years running, 1952 and ’53. The Doberman Pinscher came to the AKC in 1908 and has since reigned as one of America’s most popular working breeds.
Feeding an excellent-quality dog food throughout his lifetime is critical for the Doberman. The Doberman puppy should be fed an age-appropriate diet approved by the dog’s breeder or veterinarian. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Ample amounts of clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Although mostly a “wash and wear” breed, some routine grooming will help to keep the Doberman in optimal condition. A quick going-over daily with a short-bristled brush or a grooming mitt will keep his coat shiny and healthy. He does not need to be bathed often. He should have his nails trimmed at least monthly, and his teeth brushed regularly. The ears should be wiped out carefully every few days—a little baby oil on a paper towel is good for this. Your veterinarian can show you how to clean your dog’s ears to avoid damage and stay on top of potential issues.
The Doberman is an energetic athlete who needs a lot of exercise and free play. A Doberman will enjoy going for long daily walks or hikes with his owner, and having a large fenced area where he can run is vital for his physical and mental well-being. Participation in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, and agility will provide exercise for mind and body and fun times together for dog and owner.
Dobermans are very intelligent, learn easily, respond quickly, and make loving and fun companions. However, they are very strong dogs and can become pushy, destructive, and unmanageable if not raised properly. Socialization starting in puppyhood is imperative, as is obedience training. Puppy training classes are highly recommended as well. It is every Doberman owner’s responsibility to ensure that the dog is raised to be a happy, well-mannered companion and canine citizen. The Doberman should always live inside the home with his people, rather than outdoors.
Although Dobermans are generally healthy, there are certain conditions that the breed is prone to. One of these is bloat, a life-threatening digestive condition that owners should learn the signs of and know what to do should it occur. Genetic health conditions that can affect the breed include hip dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), von Willebrand’s disease (a clotting disorder), progressive retinal atrophy, albinism, and hypothyroidism. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for these health conditions via medical testing. Never purchase a puppy or dog from a breeder who has not genetically tested their breeding stock for these conditions.