9 - 12 years
9 - 12 years
60 - 100 pounds
24 - 26 inches tall
The Doberman Pinscher or "Dobie" is known for its sleek, muscular build and distinctive brown markings on the face (especially those expressive eyebrows!), chest, and legs. This breed is also Dolichocephalic, which refers to its long and narrow skull/muzzle.
Dobermans might have a tough guy persona wrapped in a regal package, but they are quite the playful lovebugs with their family. Loyal and protective, they are more reserved when meeting new people. Once you’ve been accepted into their good graces, be prepared for a goofy companion that wants to be involved in your day-to-day life. Even though they’re a large breed, Dobes think themselves the perfect lap dog. They will take every opportunity to cuddle with their person.
You can thank the taxman for creating the Doberman Pinscher breed. During the 1880s, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, of Apolda, Germany, wanted an imposing and loyal dog to accompany him for his work collecting taxes. Reported to also work as the town’s dog catcher, he had ample choices in breeding a dog that would best fit the job. The exact breeds he used to create the Doberman Pinscher breed are debated, as he didn’t keep copious records of the process. Most agree their lineage includes the Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Black and Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, German Shepherd, and the Beauceron.
Whatever its parentage, the resulting Doberman was perfect for the job. Majestic and intimidating with its compact, muscular body, people would think twice before denying the taxman his due. After Dobermann’s death in 1894, a dog breeder named Otto Goeller took on the job of refining the breed. Goeller started the National Doberman Pinscher Club, and the breed grew in popularity throughout the 20th century.
With Goeller refining the breed in Germany, it didn’t take long to make its way to the United States. In 1908, the first Doberman was registered with the American Kennel Club. But it wasn’t until 1921 that the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formed. Dobermans became a favorite breed for police and military work and were used as guard dogs for American soldiers throughout World War II. The breed continues to be an essential working dog in the 21st century, joining the search and rescue efforts after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
Dobes also made their mark in the show ring, winning Best in Show at Westminster in 1939, 1952, and 1989. The breed has consistently ranked in the top 25 breeds in America, landing the spot of 17th most popular breed based on AKC registrations in 2018.
Dobermans are most suited to experienced owners or those willing to dedicate the time and effort to training. Bred to be protective and with an intellect to match, it’s important they are set up for success. Training your Doberman should begin when they are a puppy and continue throughout their life.
When socialized and trained, a Doberman makes a wonderful companion who can do well in meeting new people. Unfortunately, their looks can be quite intimidating to many, and they’ve gotten a bad rap — often labeled aggressive. But if you invest the time and energy in positive reinforcement training and socialization, your Doberman can be a great ambassador of the breed.
Dobermans are eager to please their person and will do best with positive reinforcement training. They can be quite sensitive to methods that rely on force and punishment, which will damage the relationship they have with their family and can cause long term behavioral issues. Focus on rewarding what you want your Doberman to do and managing their surroundings to set everyone up for success.
Proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for a Doberman’s socialization. Maintain this positive socialization for adult Dobes with new people and places. They can be territorial and protective of their family, so it’s essential to maintain positive associations with strangers.
Doberman Pinschers can do well with children if they have been properly introduced and socialized as a puppy. It’s important to make sure that children are polite and gentle when interacting with puppies and dogs. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.
This breed will enjoy living with other animals in the home if socialized to them from puppyhood. Take care when introducing your well-socialized adult Doberman to other dogs and animals, as their size can be overwhelming. Dobe play can be quite rambunctious, which might be a bit too much for more cautious dog playmates. Carefully manage their playtime to ensure everyone is having a good time.
Daily exercise helps keep a Doberman healthy and gives them an outlet for their energy. Dobermans were bred to work and can go-go-go. Make sure they get enough exercise so they don’t engage in other unwanted behaviors. This breed will need at least an hour of exercise every day. Once fully grown, they can accompany you on your daily run and make great hiking buddies.
Speak with your veterinarian about appropriate exercise for a Doberman Pinscher puppy. Until they are full-grown (bone growth plates typically all close by around 12 to 18 months of age), minimize excessive strenuous or repetitive activities like jogging or running — as this can increase their risk of damage to the growing bone and cartilage, causing pain and future joint issues.
Like other dogs, a Doberman needs mental enrichment along with regular exercise. This breed is intelligent and loves to solve puzzles. Feeding regular meals with puzzle-bowls, providing interactive toys, and keeping their brain engaged with consistent positive reinforcement training will go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviors. Another great way to provide mental enrichment is to go on long walks where your Doberman can sniff to their heart’s delight.
Due to their love of companionship, Dobermans need positive exposure to alone time from puppyhood,
to prevent or minimize any separation anxiety issues as they get older. It’s much easier to prevent than to treat once it’s started.
Make alone time a positive and relaxing experience for your Dobe.
Any time you leave your Doberman puppy alone, pull out a frozen stuffed Kong or other yummy treat toys. When you return (even if only after thirty seconds), put it away until next time. This will help your Doberman learn that when you’re gone, awesome stuff happens, and they’ll make a positive association with your absence.
Dobermans do well in many different activities:
While their rust-colored markings are quite distinctive for the breed, Doberman Pinschers come in 4 different coat colors: Black, Red, Blue (a diluted black), and Fawn (a diluted red). They have a smooth single-layer coat, which makes them susceptible to cold weather. They’ll appreciate a warm fleece or jacket during cold weather romping outside.
A Doberman’s sleek coat is easy to maintain, but will still shed. A weekly brushing will help keep that short fur from ending up around your house and help distribute natural oils throughout their coat to keep it healthy and shiny.
Regular nail trimming is needed to keep nails at the proper length. Dobermans have black nails, which can make it difficult to determine how much to clip without causing pain or bleeding. Nail grinding is a preferred trimming method for black nails.
Best Brush for a Doberman: Curry brush, Bristle brush
Who's a good boy, and a star? The Doberman Pinscher; that's who!
Cappy was a Dobie who saved 250 U.S. Marines and died in the line of duty. He became the first dog to be buried in what eventually became the War Dog Cemetery.
Every Doberman Pinscher is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner. Common health issues for Doberman Pinschers include (but are not limited to) the following:
You can predict what health conditions will happen to your pet, but you can take steps to prevent them. Keep up with regular veterinary visits, and sign up for dog insurance (preferably while your Doberman is still young, to make sure you're getting the most use out of your plan).