The Doberman is an intelligent dog and one that is known the world over for their keen senses and alert natures. However, although they are often used as watch dogs in many parts of the world, they are highly adaptable dogs that fit in well with family life enjoying nothing more than being involved in everything that goes on in the home. Dobermans are proud, calm dogs that become valued members of a family when they have been well socialised and correctly trained from a young age.
Dobermans are named after a German tax collector called Herr Louis Frederic Dobermann who created the breed. He wanted a dog that would be both powerful and courageous, sleek and agile while at the same time not being too big. The result of his endeavours was to produce a devoted dog which he achieved by crossing Rottweilers, Pinschers, old German Shepherd Dogs, Manchester Terriers and Greyhounds.
However, these proud and loyal dogs were given their name by another man called Herr O Goller who promoted the breed in their native Germany, naming them Doberman Pinschers. In 1900, the breed was recognised by the German Kennel Club, but the year before the Doberman Pinscher Club Apolda was founded, now known as the Doberman Verein - DV and which is the oldest Doberman breed club in the world.
Today, the Doberman remains one of the most recognised breeds in the world both as working dogs, family pets and companions all thanks to their alert, loyal natures and their noble looks.
Height at the withers: Males 68 - 72 cm, Females 63 - 68 cm
Average weight: Males 40 - 45 kg, Females 32 - 35 kg
Dobermans are proud, impressive looking dogs and there is no mistaking them for any other dog. They are well balanced with an athletic appearance that shows they have a lot of power and strength. Their heads are well proportioned in relation to their body with a long, clean cut muzzle and a slight stop.
The colour of their nose matches their coats with solid black Dobermans boasting black noses, dark brown dogs having brown ones while blue dogs have solid grey noses and fawn dogs have light brown ones. Their eyes are almond shaped and set moderately deep with dogs boasting an alert, lively expression. The colour of their eyes matches a dog’s coat colour.
Ears are neat and small being set high on a dog's head which Dobermans either carry upright or dropped. Their jaw is strong and well developed with a perfect scissor bite where the upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are quite long and lean which adds to the Doberman's noble appearance and which dogs hold slightly arched with the nape being extremely muscular.
They boast strong, well developed shoulders with perfectly straight, well-muscled and sinewy front legs. A Doberman's body is square with a well-developed forechest and short, firm back and strong topline that slopes gently to the croup. Females often have slightly longer backs than their male counterparts. Ribs are well sprung and deep with Dobermans boasting a nicely tucked up belly. Hindquarters are powerful, well-muscled with a well filled-out croup and strong back legs.
Their feet are compact and well arched being very cat-like. Tails are set level to a dog's spine which they carry slightly raised both when a Doberman is standing still or moving.
When it comes to their coat, the Doberman boasts a short, smooth coat that's thick and which lies close to the body. A slight undercoat on a dog's neck is permissible under the breed standard. They come in several colours which includes the following:
A Doberman's markings are well defined and seen above each eye, on their muzzle, their throat and forechest as well as on all four legs, feet and under their tail.
Dobermans are calm and friendly dogs that form very strong bonds with their owners. They are a good choice for families as long as they know how to train and handle these intelligent dogs. In the wrong hands and without the right guidance, a Doberman can become wilful, unruly and unmanageable. With this said, if they are given the right sort of direction and are well socialised from a young age which is vital where this breed is concerned, they become valued members of a family and get very attached to the children in a household.
As previously mentioned, Dobies are renowned for their natural ability to protect and guard which they will do as soon as they settle into a new home. They do tend to become very protective of any children in a household which can be a problem when anyone visits the home. They need to know their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog for them to be truly well-rounded characters which is why it’s so important for these dogs to be well socialised and correctly trained not only when young, but throughout their lives.
Without consistent training throughout their lives Dobies have a tendency to show a more dominant side to their character. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Dobermans tend to form a very strong bond with one person although they are always friendly with other members of the family. They are known to be quite wary of strangers which is a natural reaction for a dog that was originally bred to guard people and protect their property.
Dobermans are easy to train because they have a strong desire to please their masters. However, they need to be handled gently and firmly by someone who is familiar with this type of highly intelligent dog. Their training and socialisation has to start from a young age bearing in mind that Dobermans can be a bit fiery at times especially when they are excited which is why they are not a good choice for first time owners who have little to no experience in training this type of dog.
As long as a Doberman has been well socialised and correctly trained, they are a good choice as a family pet and they fit in well to a home environment. With this said, these dogs get very protective of any children they grow up with and will instinctively feel the need to guard them. With this in mind, any interaction between dogs and children should be supervised by an adult so play time does not get too boisterous which could result in a child being knocked over, injured or scared.
When it comes to other dogs, pets and animals, Dobermans need to be introduced to them from a young age for them to accept being around them and even then, care needs to be taken when these dogs come into contact with other pets and animals.
The average life expectancy of a Doberman is between 9 to 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Doberman is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Dobermans need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Dobermans are not high maintenance in the grooming department all thanks to their short, tight coats. However, to keep on top of any loose and dead hair, these dogs need to be given a weekly brush using a rubber grooming mitt. As with other breeds, they tend to shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when more frequent coat care might be necessary.
Dobermans are highly intelligent dogs so not only do they need to be given a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day, but they also need to be given a ton of mental stimulation as well for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters.
With this said, dogs under the age of 12 months only need to be given short bursts of exercise because their joints are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in a dog suffering later on in their lives. Ideally, puppies and young Dobermans should be let out into a secure garden as often as possible so they can let off steam for 15 minutes or so several times a day.
If you get a Doberman puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's important not to feed Dobermans just before or just after they have been given any exercise because they are deep chested dogs and therefore they are prone to suffer from bloat (gastric torsion). If they eat before going out for a walk or straight after any sort of strenuous exercise, it increases the risk of this happening.
It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Doberman, you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Doberman in northern England would be £35.39 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £114.59 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Dobie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Doberman would be between £100 to £170 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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