Needing protection while performing his job as the tax collector of Apolda, Germany, Louis Dobermann, a resourceful man, took advantage of the opportunity his second job offered; managing the town’s animal pound.
With an unlimited source of a variety of dogs at his disposal, Dobermann began to experiment by crossing various breeds. What he really used is a bit of a mystery. What he created was a rather rough, but very effective version of what has evolved to the Doberman Pinscher we know and love today. Old German Shepherd, Weinmaraner, Great Dane, Rottweiler and possibly Greyhound may be part of that early equation.
Today’s Dobe, as their owners affectionately call them, is a far cry in appearance and demeanor from Dobermann’s dogs. Given the fact in the past hundred years they have retained the agile, astute, perceptive, protective and loyal character of their ancestors; they have been a favorite for the military, police, and customs. Recognizing and appreciating their gentle nature, they have also been caring therapy dogs. Their stamina makes them perfect for search and rescue.
This medium size dog, weighing between 60-100 pounds, hardly ever looks approachable. However, that image is part of their appeal so some owners.
They come in four colors: black, red, fawn and blue. Albino Dobermans are rare, but it does happen.
Alert, agile, energetic, and with incredible stamina, the Doberman is an extremely intelligent and loyal breed. They are not recommended for an inexperienced dog owner. Intuitively, Dobermans trust and respect authority. They can sense who has it, and who doesn’t. Without clear boundaries, they can develop serious and possibly dangerous behavior problems.
However, if socialized and obedience trained at an early age, the Dobe makes an unbelievable family pet. Their obedience, loyalty and attachment to their family are without reservation. They thrive on interactions with their humans. An amazingly perceptive animal, they instinctively provide their family with not only a good watchdog, but also an extraordinary guard dog. They can be wary of strangers.
They need regular training and plenty of socialization even as adults. By not challenging them mentally, you are doing them a great disservice. A sensitive dog, with astounding intelligence, they do not need to be strong-armed or hollered at. A firm tone of voice, and positive reinforcement, punishment-free methods of socialization and obedience training are effective.
This is a dog that needs plenty of exercise! They have remarkable stamina, so be prepared to spend time briskly walking and physically interacting with them. If not adequately exercised physically and challenged mentally, they will develop unacceptable behaviors, which may become very difficult to modify. This is not a dog that will tend to stray. Their attachment to their owner far outweighs their need to explore. They are leaners! They have to be touching their people. Many an owner will tell you, they feel their dog is more an accessory than a pet.
A shorthaired dog, they don’t require much grooming. A bath and good brushing now and then will help get rid of loose hairs. They are sensitive to the cold and should not be kenneled outside.
Doberman’s have their fair share of health problems, the most common being Dilated Cardiomyopathy (weakened and enlarged heart). Neutering reduces many of the risks intact males have to Canine Prostatic Diseases. Other health issues include: Von Willebrand’s Disease, obesity, Wobbler Syndrome (compression of the spinal cord), hypothyroidism, Gastric Dilation and Volvus (GDV-bloat), hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRT) and Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).
Their average lifespan is 10-14 years.
Bottom line: Do your homework. As they are so popular, avoid flea markets, backyard breeders and pet shops. They only perpetuate dreadful puppy mills that are grinding out inferior quality dogs. Find a responsible, trustworthy breeder. Shelters and rescues often have Doberman Pinschers. They are more often surrendered because of economic circumstances than behavior problems. Who knows, perhaps your new best friend may be patiently waiting for you there.
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! – DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training – Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida – AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator
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