BBS Breed Spotlight: Doberman Pinscher
Instantly recognizable by it’s proud stance and watchful gaze, the Doberman Pinscher is a remarkably intelligent and loyal breed. Often stereotyped as ferocious and aggressive, this even-tempered breed defies all expectations earning it’s place place as a favorite among owners today.
Originally bred for protection and commonly used in working roles, the Doberman has proved itself a loving and loyal family companion as well. Find out more about the Doberman Pinscher on this week’s BestBullySticks Breed Spotlight.
Hailing from the German town of Apolda, the first Doberman Pinschers were bred by Louis Dobermann in the late 19th century. First presented in a 1876 dog show, the Doberman hastily caught the attention of dog enthusiasts and earned American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition by 1908. Legend states Dobermann himself, a tax collector and manager of the local dog pound, sought protection from bandits and thieves during collections. Seeking a balance between strength, loyalty, intelligence and ferocity, Dobermann utilized his easy access to a wide variety of dogs to develop this new breed.
Produced by crossing existing stocks of the old shorthaired shepherd, German Pinschers, Rottweilers, and Beaucerons, Dobermann kept the best qualities of each breed producing an easily trainable guard dog ready and willing to please and protect at a moments notice.
The unique appearance of the Doberman Pinscher makes it easily identifiable — notably cropped ears and a docked tail — and rarely confused with other breeds. There are only two specific color genes for the Doberman, black and red. However, a “dilution gene” sometimes comes into play adding blue and fawn colored coats to the mix. If this gene is carried, blue and fawn coats are produced from black and red coats respectively. Medium in size with a square muscular build, the Doberman stands between 24–28 in (61 – 71 cm) tall and weighs 66 – 88 lbs.
This renowned and unique appearance has undoubtedly helped popularize the breed. However, the Doberman’s proud stance and intimidating build has also contributed to misleading stereotypes about reckless aggression and unpredictability. Admittedly, the breed’s history has a lot to do with these these misconceptions — however, things couldn’t be further from the truth.
The original roles for which the Doberman was bred are now detached from its modern personality. Selective breeding has slowly dialed back the aggressive demeanor of yesteryear. Now, this extremely loyal and incredibly intelligent dog — which is consistently ranked among the top 5 most intelligent and trainable breeds — is known for its playful yet protective nature.
Recent studies have also proven the well-balanced nature of the breed. Dobermans are described as extremely unlikely to show aggression towards owners and family members. Rare occurrences of aggression are usually directed at strangers and tied to an owner’s inability to exercise responsibility over the dog.
Above all, the most remarkable personality trait of the Doberman is intuition. Known for their guarding qualities, the Doberman has an uncanny ability to perceive threats and properly discern friend from foe making the breed an exceptional watchdog and family guardian. This, in combination with the breed’s undying loyalty makes it ultimate canine guardian.
The protective and stern guard dog nature of the Doberman is pleasantly complemented by an aloof sense of humor. Playful and engaging, the breed yearns for attention from loved ones.
While it is now less common to see Dobermans in working roles, they’ve remained popular in dog sports. Schutzhund (German for “protection dog”) or Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung (for “International Trial Rules”) is a dog sport developed in Germany during the early 1900s as a way to gauge German Shepherds’ quality of pedigree. Extremely difficult, few dogs earn titles in the sport.
IPO challenges a dog’s work ethic, courage, trainability, protective instinct and intelligence. Tests are broken into three categories: Tracking, Obedience and Protection with each segment of the test designed to challenge each of these key factors. The rigorous Schutzhund test is still used today in Germany as the standard by which German Shepherds are measured to decide whether or not they will be bred.
With it’s high intelligence, brave personality and strong physique, the Doberman Pinscher excels in sporting competitions.
The Doberman Pinscher has an average lifespan of about 10 – 11 years. The most common major health issue is “dilated cardiomyopathy,” or an enlarged heart . A major cause of premature death among Dobermans, this disease affects this breed more than any other and is usually fatal. Less common health issues include cervical vertebral instability— also called Wobbler disease — causing a loss of coordination and weakness in stride.
von Willebrand’s disease, while less common but prevalent in some bloodlines cuases the animal to bleed excessively when cut or bruised. However, since 2000 a tests for von Willebrand’s disease has been available. If you’re purchasing a Doberman puppy, make sure he/she has been screened.
A Breed Apart
Proper exercise, which should include at least a daily jog, is required otherwise behavioral issues will arise. This breed also demands a firm and consistent hand — if rules are not properly and regularly enforced Dobermans may become unruly. A durable toy like Tuffy’s Sea Creatures provide hours of distraction and will help curb destructive behaviors.
An exceptional breed, the Doberman Pinscher excels in every regard. Regal, loyal and intelligent, this breed is a great addition to any family.