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The Dobermann is a German dog, mostly known for its qualities as a guard-dog. However, it would be reductive to say that this is their only function, they are above all a very affectionate pet, they are very sensitive and faithful. They fit in well to their social group and show great love for those around them, emphasising their protective and loyal instinct.
Key facts about the Dobermann
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Origins and history
The breed was born between 1850 and 1870 in Apolda, Thuringia, thanks to tax collector, Frederic Louis Dobermann, who wanted a guard dog completely different from those that already existed. His work was continued by other breeders, who introduced other more controversial breeds, for example the Pinscher, Weimaraner, Rottweiler and perhaps certain Terrier breeds. The Beauceron is likely an important influence as we can still clearly see traces of this breed in the physical appearance of the Dobermann.
Physical characteristics of the Dobermann
Female : Between 25 and 27 in
Male : Between 27 and 28 in
Female : Between 71 and 77 lb
Male : Between 88 and 99 lb
Definite black, brown, blue or fawn (Isabella) only, with rust red markings. Markings to be sharply defined, appearing above each eye, on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet and below tail.
There was also the blue Dobermann, but this variety died out due to genetic defects.
Type of coat
Their coat is short.
The hair is close to the body, smooth and rough to the touch. This dog doesn’t have an undercoat.
They have dark eyes. The brown Dobermann may have a lighter iris.
The Dobermann is a big dog, robust and muscly, built elegantly they carry themselves nobly and with pride. Their head is long and takes the shape of a blunt wedge. They have parallel skull lines and a slight stop, their muzzle is deep and wide. Their eyes are medium in size and oval in shape. Their ears used to be cropped to make them stand upright. Now, they fall on the sides of the head and lie close to the cheeks. They have a short and solid back. Their limbs are perfectly straight.
Good to know
We hear a lot of nonsense about this breed: the most well-known is that they go crazy around the age of seven because their skull narrows (from a scientific point of view this is one of the most bizarre stories and has never been reported by dog lovers.) Luckily today, this has been rebuked and we very rarely hear about dogs that have gone crazy with “untameable ferocity”.
Black and Rust
Brown and rust
Very kind, gentle and tender, this dog is very attached to their social group. Despite their menacing appearance and negative (false) reputation as a dangerous dog they are truly adorable and affectionate.
This big Pinscher loves to play, mostly because they enjoy spending time with both the young and old members of their social group. Playing is a great way to achieve strong results when training with this dog.
Although they know how to be calm, this dog has a lot of energy that should be positively channelled from an early age to help them fit into their adoptive family.
This dog is particularly intelligent and they are able to adapt to a number of lifestyles. Although sometimes they can be a bit difficult, they quickly understand what is expected of them and will happily do so asked respectfully.
It is for these qualities that they are often used by the police, security or even by the army.
Like many dogs, the hunting instinct is always present to some degree. With the Dobermann, it is there but easily managed.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Naturally reserved when it comes to strangers, this is typical for watch dogs. On the other hand, a well-adjusted dog will never be aggressive without reason. Therefore, it is important that the Dobermann is well socialised.
Those that have not been purely bred may be nervous and predisposed to bite. Therefore, it is essential to buy a puppy from a good breeder that has selected the dogs for both beauty and character.
Very loyal to their owner, this dog needs to be around with them to feel fully satisfied.
Behaviour of the Dobermann
Very close to the members of their adopted family, this kind and sensitive dog can’t stand being excluded or isolated. They need regular interactions with their owners.
Easy to train / obedience
This dog can be easy to train, but their great sensitivity needs treating with patience and kindness to get the desired results. However, they can play the fool at times, being so intelligent they know how to drive their owners crazy!
It is recommended to use play and positive reinforcement during training sessions. Using brutality during training sessions could affect this sensitive dog.
This guard dog will definitely let you know if they think that there is a threat to the family. However, their simple presence is generally enough of a deterrent so don’t always need to bark excessively.
Tendency to run away
Although they are very protective of their loved ones, if they aren’t properly exercised or stimulated this very active dog can, in the most extreme cases, run off in a bid to let off some steam.
Since this dog can’t stand being alone, out of frustration, anxiety or boredom, they may take their feelings out on things around the house.
Greedy / Gluttony
Treats can be a good training tool. However, this big dog isn’t greedy and is generally happy with little, some Dobermanns may even be picky eaters.
Nothing scares this big, self-assured, loyal Pinscher. Because of this they make an excellent guard dog, they would lay down their life to save their owners.
Always very attentive, courageous and extremely vigilant, nothing gets past them and they have been known to be particularly menacing to strangers. This is why the Dobermann is usually used as a the cliched guard dog in films.
However, they are never aggressive without good reason. They should be well adjusted and socialised so that they don’t pick up bad behavioural habits.
Very affectionate and loyal, this large dog fits in well with their adoptive family. However, they also require firm and gentle training which calls for a certain level of experience.
Novices can adopt such a dog, but they must absolutely get help from a professional dog training to avoid making mistakes.
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Dobermann in a flat
Although they know how to be calm, this dog isn’t made to live in an apartment. They can live inside, but at the very least they should have access to a garden in order to let off steam as well as their daily walks.
Travelling / easy to transport
Their large size doesn’t make travelling easily, especially on public transport. In addition to that, as they are misrepresented as a dangerous dog, they aren’t always accepted in holiday destinations.
Dobermann and cats
So that the Dobermann is comfortable with cats, they should be introduced as a young puppy. When the introductions are done properly, living with a cat generally isn’t a problem for the Dobermann.
Dobermann and dogs
As they are so self-assured, Dobermanns typically like taking the upper hand, especially when around dogs of the same sex. However, if they are well socialised from a young age they will understand the correct ‘dog code’ and they should be polite towards their peers.
Dobermann and children
This dog would be a good playing partner for children. The Dobermann should be played with calmly and not treated like a giant cuddly toy.
Dobermann and the elderly
This dog needs active or even sporty owners to properly suit their physical needs. A sedentary life would be damaging for the Dobermann’s physical and mental health.
The price of a Dobermann varies according to their origins, age and sex. On average, a Dobermann registered with the KC is about £1000.
The average budget needed to meet the needs of a dog of this size is about £50 / month
This is a short-haired dog that doesn’t require maintenance. Their coat only needs to be brushed weekly to keep it shiny and beautiful.
Their ears need regular maintenance especially since they are no longer cut and hang down to the cheeks.
The Dobermann (or rather their owners) are lucky that they don’t lose much hair. When they do moult it is very light as they don’t have an undercoat.
Nutrition of the Dobermann
This large dog isn’t difficult to feed, however it takes them a long time to reach full-size, so it is essential that the puppy has a correct diet.
Mass produced food, like dog biscuits, are suitable for this dog, but it should be of high quality to meet the needs of such an energetic dog that is so active.
Regarding their size, two meals a day is advised (a light one in the morning and a larger evening meal). These meals should be eaten in a calm environment to avoid bloating which is often seen in these lively breeds.
Health of the Dobermann
Life expectancy is around 11 years.
Strong / robust
This dog is largely in good health. Dobermanns are hardy dogs as long as the temperatures aren’t too extreme.
Most dogs aren’t comfortable in extreme heat and the Dobermann is no exception. Make sure they have a cool spot and water when it is too hot out.
This dog doesn’t like the cold and damp as they don’t have an undercoat. They shouldn’t stay outside when temperatures aren’t good.
Tendency to put on weight
The energetic Dobermann is only likely to put on weight if they don’t spend enough time exercising as much as they need to.
Be careful, a dog of this size should not be affected by obesity.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
- Von Willebrand disease (blood clotting problem)
- Panosteitis (abnormality of bone cells called osteoblasts)
- Wobbler syndrome (malformation of cervical vertebrae)
- Coxofemoral dysplasia (hip displacement)