Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Dobermann
Average Cost to keep/care for a Dobermann
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Dobermanns are intelligent dogs and a breed that is known the world over for its keen senses and alert natures. However, although they are often used as watch dogs in many parts of the world, they are highly adaptable and fit in well with family life enjoying nothing more than being involved in everything that goes on around them. Dobermanns are proud, they are calm and when responsibly bred and correctly handled, they become valued members of a family.
Over the years responsible breeders take great care to only breed from Dobermanns that are known to be even-tempered and do not need to be taught how to protect, which is a natural trait that is deeply embedded in the breed’s psyche. As such Dobermanns are known to not only be wonderful companions and family pets, but excellent natural watchdogs too.
The history of the Dobermann is fascinating with the breed owing its origins to a German tax collector named Herr Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann who is credited for creating the breed in the 1800s. He was not only a tax collector but a "dog catcher" too and he lived in a region of the country called Thuringia. Herr Dobermann also worked as a night watchman and being a dog catcher, he was in a great position to choose the right sort of dogs needed for when he was working as a watchman and tax collector. His main concern when developing his "perfect" dog was their character rather than a dog’s looks or conformation.
Herr Dobermann wanted to develop a courageous, bold and intelligent dog to work alongside him. The guard dogs would boast having a "good nose and strong mouth" with a natural ability to guard and protect. He began selectively breeding dogs to produce all these traits and to begin with, the dogs he bred were known as "Dobermann's Hundes". They very quickly earned the reputation of being strong, reliable and more than capable of hunting and killing vermin too.
The actual breeds that Herr Dobermann used to create his dogs remains a bit of a mystery as he did not keep any records, but according to his son, Herr Dobermann had a courageous, bold and loyal dog called "Schnupp" which he crossed with a female called "Bisart". They produced puppies with black and rust coloured markings and one of the puppies named "Pinko" was born with a naturally bobbed tail. When Pinko as mated to other dogs, some of the offspring in the litter had blue coats.
A little later in time, a breeder called Otto Goeller who knew Herr Dobermann confirmed how a mongrel called "Schnuppe" was in fact the foundation dog used to create Dobermann Hundes. The dog had a smooth, grey coat and was crossed with a dog that belonged to a butcher. He also claimed a little later that the breeds used to develop the Dobermann were the German Shepherd, the German Pinscher, the Great Dane as well as a short-haired gun dog.
There is an article in a German magazine dated 1898 that describes a man called Dietsch who owned a gravel pit and who had a female with a grey/blue coat that looked very much like a Pinscher. The article tells of how she was mated with a butcher's dog with a black coat and tan markings that was thought to be a cross between a butcher's dog and a sheepdog. The article goes on to say how Herr Dobermann mated the two dogs with German Pinschers to produce a very loyal and devoted guard dogs which are the ancestors of the Dobermanns we see today.
An authority on dogs in Germany, Herr Richard Strebel stated in 1901 that he doubted whether a Dobermann Pinscher was indeed a "true" Pinscher and that the dogs should be categorised as being "sheep dogs" instead. Thirty-two years later, in 1933, the German Dobermann Club looked at the origins of the Dobermann again, and concluded that the German Pinscher was the main ancestor of the breed.
The story did not end there though, because in 1947, another man called Herr Gruenig claimed that Dobermanns were descended from the Beauceron thanks to the breed's build, conformation and personality. His claim was that it would not be possible to develop such a tall dog in such a short space of time. With this said, there were many similar looking dogs in the region of Apolda well before Herr Dobermann thought about creating his "perfect" guard dog and it is known that these dogs were the result of crossing Sheepdogs with German Pinschers. Early photos of the breed show that some Dobermanns back in the day did look like Butcher's dogs whereas others looked more like the Rottweiler.
It would be fair to say that the German Pinscher and the Weinmeraner were used to develop the breed, but there is no real evidence of terriers or Rottweilers having been used because there were none around in the region at that time. As such, most breed enthusiasts agree that the Butcher's Dog, the German Pinscher, the Thueringin Shepherd (sheepdog) and the Beauceron are in a Dobermann's ancestry with a few enthusiasts believing that black and tan terriers could also be in the breed's lineage. One thing worth noting is that Rottweiler enthusiasts state that the Dobermann shares a common ancestor, namely the "Butcher's Dog".
At first the strong guarding and protective nature of the Dobermann was a bit of an issue, but by 1863 when Herr Dobermann introduced his "Dobermann Pinschers" in Apolda, the dogs were a hit because of their even natures and there is an official record of the event in the city’s history. What is known is that after Herr Dobermann's death in 1891, two other breeds were introduced into the mix, namely the Greyhound and the Manchester Terrier.
It was in 1890, that a breed standard was established which was approved by the German Kennel Club and which remains very much to this day. In 1899, Otto Goeller established the National Dobermann Pinscher Club in Germany in which original dogs were described as "robust, with no fear but not of the devil himself - and that it took a great deal of courage to own a Dobermann".
Over the years, the Dobermann became a firm favourite with the Police, army as well as being a popular companion and family pet thanks to their loyal, devoted, trustworthy and intelligent natures. Today, the Dobermann 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
Dobermanns 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 Dobermanns 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 Dobermanns 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 Dobermann'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 Dobermann'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 Dobermanns 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 Dobermann is standing still or moving.
When it comes to their coat, the Dobermann boasts a short, hard, thick, smooth and close-lying coat. The accepted Kennel Club registration colours are as follows:
A Dobermann'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.
When a Dobermann moves, they do so with a free and well-balanced gait showing a lot of vigour and covering a lot of ground and with a tremendous amount of drive coming from their hindquarters. When a Dobermann trots, they have a strong drive from behind with their backs remaining firm and strong.
The Kennel Club frowns on any sort of exaggeration or departure from the breed standard and would judge any faults on how much they affect a Dobermann's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Male Dobermanns should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that some dogs can be taller or shorter as well as being lighter or heavier than set out in the breed standard, bearing in mind that many Dobermanns are often bred to be taller these days.
A Dobermann is often described as being alert, bold and proud while at the same time being extremely loyal, devoted and affectionate. They are highly intelligent with the downside being that because they are so smart, they can be quite manipulative with it. With this said, Dobermanns are calm and friendly forming strong bonds with their owners. They need to be handled and treated with the sort of respect they deserve and never treated harshly. When these dogs are shown time, patience and lot of kindness, owners are rewarded with a reliable canine companion. In short, in the right hands and environment, a Dobermann is a trustworthy family pet and companion.
As such, Dobermanns are a good choice for families providing they know how to train and handle these intelligent dogs and have enough time to dedicate to an intelligent canine companion. In the wrong hands and without the right guidance, a Dobermann 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 older 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.
Dobermanns 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 Dobies have a tendency to show a more dominant side to their character. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Dobermanns tend to form a very strong bond with one person although they are always friendly with other members of the family.
With this said, 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. Dobermanns do not do well being kept as "outdoor" dogs because they thrive on human company and being around the people they love. In short, they are known to like their “home comforts”. Over recent years more responsible Dobermann breeders take great care to temperament test their stud dogs as well as puppies they breed to ensure they are well suited companions and family pets.
Dobermanns are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with their very specific needs. Because they are so intelligent, if a Dobermann is not handled correctly from the word go, they could take on the role of "alpha" dog in a household making them harder to manage and live with.
Dobermanns have a high prey drive and they enjoy chasing smaller animals whenever they get the chance. As such, dogs should be kept on leads wherever there are other animals, wildlife and livestock to be on the safe side. Introductions to smaller pets including dogs and cats should always be done carefully to avoid any mishaps.
Dobermanns are known to have a sense of humour and they thrive on playing interactive games. However, they can be a bit pushy and demanding more especially if they have not been taught the "ground rules" from an early age so they understand the limits of how far they can go when playing any sort of game with their owners. It is also crucial to be differentiate between when a Dobie is being playful and when they are showing a more dominant side to their natures.
Dobermanns are just as happy living in town as they are in the country, providing they are given the correct amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in. They are not the best choice for people who live in apartments though and are better suited to households with secure, large gardens where a dog can roam as often as possible which allows them to really express themselves as they should.
Dobermanns form extremely strong ties with their owners and hate it when they are not around which can lead to dogs suffering from separation anxiety. This can become a real issue with dogs developing all sorts of behavioural issues and this includes being destructive around the home and barking incessantly as a way of showing their displeasure. As such, they are better suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out. It would be a fair description to say that a Dobermann is an "in your face" kind of dog that just adores spending time with their owners.
Dobermanns are not known to be "barkers" although they are extremely good at letting owners know when there are strangers about. With this said, any dog that's mistreated, left on their own for too long or stressed out would bark as a way of showing how unhappy they are at the situation.
Some Dobermanns don't especially like water and some don't even like going out for a walk when it is raining. However, other Dobermanns adore swimming and can even be taught to retrieve things that are thrown in the water. With this said, it's best to keep a dog that loves swimming on the lead when walking them anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case they decide to leap in. Dogs that don't like water should never be forced to go in because it would just end up frightening them even more.
Dobermanns are inherent watchdogs which is a trait that is deeply embedded in a dog's psyche having been bred for decades to protect and guard.
Dobermanns are highly intelligent and excel at all sorts of canine activities which includes Competition Obedience and Protection Training. As such they are easy to train because they have a strong desire to please the people they respect and love. 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 must start from a young age bearing in mind that Dobermanns can be a bit fiery at times especially when they are excited. This is one of the reasons why they are not a good choice for first time owners who have little to no experience in training this type of dog bearing in mind the breed is renowned for being strong willed and determined by nature.
Puppies must be taught the ground rules when young so they understand the limits and boundaries which also helps them understand what an owner expects of them, bearing in mind that a smart dog will always tests these from time to time. The first commands a Dobermann puppy must be taught right from the word go are as follows:
Providing a Dobermann 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. Pets4homes advises that Dobermanns are not the best choice for families with babies or very young children for this reason.
Anyone who already shares a home with a Dobermann with younger children in the house should always make sure they are never left together unattended. It is also crucial for parents to teach young children how to behave around dogs and when to stay away from them, particularly when there is food around or during playtime.
When it comes to other dogs, pets and animals, Dobermans need to be introduced to them from a young age to accept them and even then, care needs to be taken when these dogs meet other pets and animals. This includes cats because a Dobermann boasts such a high prey drive.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Dobermann 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:
Sadly, Von Willebrand's disease is a commonly seen disorder in Dobermanns. It is an inherited condition that negatively impacts blood clotting which results in excessive bleeding should a dog be injured in any way whether internally or externally. There are three types of the disorder which are as follows:
Fortunately, there is a test available for Dobermanns which responsible breeders use to reduce the risk of puppies they breed inheriting the disorder from their parents.
Sadly, there is no DNA test for PHPV and as such Dobermanns are either categorised as being "clear" or "affected" by the condition. PHPV/PHTVL is known to be a congenital disorder that negatively impacts a dog's eyes. Persistent hyperplastic tunica vasculosa lentis and persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous are conditions that affect other breeds too with the first breed ever having been recorded being the Greyhound back in the 1970's.
Dobermanns suffering from the condition first start showing signs of there being something wrong when they are anything between 7 to 8 weeks old when they should be referred by the vet to a canine eye specialist. Dogs with the condition should not be used for breeding purposes which is the only way of reducing the risk of offspring inheriting the disorder.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is an acquired heart condition that affects the Dobermann and the prognosis is never good once a dog is diagnosed as suffering from the disorder. The condition is referred to as being "idiopathic" which in short means the cause remains unknown.
It is illegal to dock or crop a Dobermanns tail and ears in the UK which is a law that came into effect in England on the 6th April 2007, in Wales on 28th March 2007 although certain breeds are exempted for working dogs and others may have their tails docked for medical reasons. In Scotland, there is a total ban which came into effect on 30th April 2007.
Dobermann puppies would have been given their first vaccinations before they are sold, but it is then up to their owners to ensure they are given their follow-up shots in a timely fashion. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets prefer to wait until a Dobermann is around 9 months old before spaying or neutering them because dogs are more mature before undergoing the procedures. With this said, other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never earlier unless for medical reasons.
Older Dobermanns are more prone to putting on weight which is why a close eye should be kept on their calorie intake and the amount of daily physical exercise a dog is given. Some dogs when they are spayed or neutered may also put on weight after the procedures and again, it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline and to adjust their diet and daily exercise accordingly. Obesity can negatively impact a dog's overall health and wellbeing shortening their lives by several years thanks to the extra pressure that's put on their hearts and other vital internal organs.
Some Dobermanns suffer from allergies and it's important to make a note of when things flare up because there are several things that can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. Finding out the cause can often prove challenging and it can take time so it's important to make a dog feel more comfortable in the meantime. The typical triggers for allergies in dogs are as follows:
Responsible breeders would always ensure that their stud dogs are tested for specific health concerns that are known to affect the Dobermann. The tests available for the breed are as follows:
As well as the standard breeding restrictions for Kennel Club registered breeds, for the Dobermann if dog have any white in their ancestry, their progeny would be registered as having "white ancestry" which would be placed at the end of their selected colour.
It is a mandatory requirement for all Kennel Club Assured Breeders to have stud dogs tested using the following tests and schemes and the KC strongly advises other breeders to follow suit:
The Kennel Club also strongly recommends that all breeders use the following schemes on stud dogs before using them for breeding purposes:
As with any other breed, Dobermanns 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.
Dobermann puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel more vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to arrange picking up a puppy when people in the home are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time it usually takes for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
Needless to say, there are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Dobermann puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Dobermann puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned it is up to new owners to make sure puppies are given their follow-up vaccinations in a timely manner and the schedule is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Dobermanns need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a Dobermann will start to have a greying muzzle, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Dobermann in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Dobermanns need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older Dobermanns is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Dobermanns don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Dobermanns 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.
Dobermanns 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 Dobermanns 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 Dobermann 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.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Dobermann puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Dobermann must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Dobermann can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Dobermann, 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 Dobermann in northern England would be £48.65 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £156.54 a month (quote as of September 2017). 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 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 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 Dobermann 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 well-bred pedigree Dobermann puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Dobermanns are an extremely popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Dobermanns there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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