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Often ranked as a dog in the top 10 for breed intelligence, the Doberman Pinscher is an instantly recognisable dog of a medium to large build. It is a strong, athletic breed and relatively new by other dog breed standards.
The Doberman Pinscher is a relatively 'young' breed, not even 150 years old. It was created for the purposes of protection and companionship. In the late end of the 18th century in a town called Apolda, in East Germany, lived a man named Karl Fredrich Louis Dobermann (1834-94), after whom the Doberman was eventually named. It is not reliably known which other breeds of dog were selected to 'make' a Doberman, but it is likely that Rottweiler's, Beauceron and German Shepherds are in there somewhere, along with other breeds. The Beauceron came from France in early 1800's around the time of the Napoleon occupation. All of these breeds are very similar to the Doberman, both physically and behaviorally.
Average height to withers: 25.5 inches for females and 27.5 inches for males.
Average weight: 35-45 kg for males and 30-40kg for females.
The famous black and tan short coat traditionally seen of this breed also comes with some variation including blue and fawn, all black, black and red and white or albino. If the dog is albino, then the colour of the eyes and nose will most likely vary from the usual dark eyes and nose seen, giving rise to blue or red eyes and a pink or very light nose.
This is a dog whose height and weight are in proportion, giving it a powerful, muscular and slightly square shaped body. The males usually have a much more noticeable amount of muscle on their body, but that is not to say the female is a 'spindly' dog at all. The narrow head is chiseled with ears which are large in proportion to the head, and fall forwards in a triangle shape. The tail is long and thin and curls round over the top of the body naturally. It was tradition (prior to current Animal Health and Welfare legislation in the UK and Europe) to have both the ears and the tail of this breed docked, as a working animal. The ear docking was meant to improve 'sound localization' when it was working in a guarding capacity.
The Doberman was bred to live side by side with humans, assisting in some of the most intense and dangerous jobs. Because of this Dobermans do possess an innate sense of aggression. This is not to be confused with viciousness because another trait the Doberman was bred for was to be fearless. Any dog breed can become vicious when it is scared (amongst other emotions) and because of this sense of fearlessness in this breed, undisciplined and unguided aggressions are rarely seen. These traits go hand in hand with the Dobermans sense of loyalty, protectiveness, intelligence and sometimes, neediness. This is a dog bred to be a helper to humans and will be at your side through anything and everything whether you pop to the kitchen to make a cup of tea or answer the door. Investing time and energy in its training and socialisation is the key to raising a polite, fun and confident dog. The Doberman is also a very loving and devoted dog - to its owner. Generally, the Doberman will trust anyone its owner does and happily then accept petting and hugs once it feels comfortable with that person. Never be tempted to push this breed outside its comfort zone in that respect.
The owner also needs to remember that this is a highly athletic and clever dog and it will require both a consistent exercise routine and mental stimulation and challenges to help it focus and become a well balanced dog.
This is not a breed for everyone and should only be owned by people who are used to them as a breed or have extensive understanding of the behavior and needs of a dog. Dobermans can be fantastic dogs to have as part of a family with children, as long as you are prepared to put the effort into making this dog fit into your life and understand what its physical and behavioral needs are.
On average, the Doberman lives between 10-12 years and is beset with a few hereditary diseases. Common serious health problems include Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), cervical vertebral instability (CVI) and Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD).
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in Doberman and reportedly affects Dobermans more than any other breed. Nearly 40% of documented DCM diagnoses are for Doberman. This serious disease is likely to be fatal in most Dobermans affected. Von Willebrands Disease. VWD in dogs is an inherited bleeding disorder that occurs due to a deficiency of Von Willebrand factor (VWF), a protein that is required for platelet distribution and use ensuring that effective clotting.
A quite specific trait to this breed is also its tolerance for pain. It is a brave dog, who has a high pain threshold and, unlike most dogs, if injured it may mask the pain quite successfully. The owner of a Doberman needs to be observant in such cases where an injury has occurred, to ensure adequate veterinary treatment is sourced, in relation to the injury.
This is a dog best suited to experiences owners and is not at all suitable for novices. The foundations of a long and healthy life for this dog begin with good training, socialisation, exercise and mental stimulation. Its coat is short and requires minimal grooming, however, if you are the proud owner of an albino Doberman, care will have to be taken in the sun to ensure the skin is not burnt. The feed costs can be relatively high with this dog, due to its size and maintaining a healthy body mass.