Sometimes known as Doberman Pinschers, these intelligent dogs have heightened senses and a natural protective instinct which makes them excellent watchdogs. As well as making sure to deter any intruders, they are adaptable, loving dogs who make excellent family companions. Their athletic build and energetic nature mean they are well-suited to canine sports, and they would do well in an active household. If you’re looking for a loyal guardian who will become a valued part of the family, a Dobermann might be the perfect breed for you. Some highlights:
Despite their reputation as fearsome watchdogs, Dobermanns have a sweet, softer side to their nature and will show endless affection for their owners.
Their sleek coat and elegant physique gives them an attractive, aristocratic appearance.
These short-coated dogs are low maintenance on the grooming front.
Although Dobermanns have many positive attributes, they are not the breed for everyone, and there are some aspects of these dogs which should be taken into consideration by prospective owners. Some downsides to the Dobermann:
Owners will need to make sure that they establish their dominance early on in the household, as these dogs have a tendency to assume the alpha role if not properly trained and handled. As such, they are probably not the best choice for inexperienced dog owners.
Their heightened senses can make them sensitive to loud sounds and unexpected noises.
As mentioned, they are highly energetic dogs, and may develop behavioural issues if not given sufficient exercise.
This breed takes its name from a German tax collector called Herr Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who created the breed in the 1800s. He wanted to breed a dog who could act as a companion and protector while he performed his tax collecting duties and his additional duties as a night watchman. He did not keep records about which exact dogs he used to create the breed, but he stated that he intended to create a dog with a courageous spirit and high intelligence, and that appears to have been exactly what he did. Unfortunately, when he died in the late 1800s without keeping records, the secret of the breed died with him. German breeders continued his work in the 19th century, developing a slightly different dog with all the same characteristics, and naming it in his honour. Their dog, however, was a little too protective, gaining a reputation for being aggressive, and it wasn’t until Otto Goeller adapted the breed into a more usable dog in 1900 that the German Kennel Club recognised the breed. Over the years into the present, Dobermanns have become favourite working dogs with the police and the army as well as gaining a reputation for being loyal family pets.
Dobermanns are proud-looking, elegant dogs with a distinctive appearance. They have long noses, strong bodies and small, neat ears. Their almond-shaped eyes have an alert expression, giving the impression that they are always on the lookout. Their dual-coloured coat has a darker colour across the body, with markings across the face, throat, forechest and legs.
Dobermanns are lithe but large dogs — a typical male can measure between 68cm and 72cm, and a female between 63cm and 68cm.
A typical male should weigh between 40 and 45kg, and a female between 32 and 35kg.
There are eleven accepted colour combinations for Kennel Club registration:
Black and Rust Red
Black with Red Rust (Tan)
Blue and Red Rust
Blue with Rust Red (Tan)
Brown and Red Rust
Brown with Rust Red (Tan)
Cream and White
Fawn and Rust Red
Fawn with Red Rust (Tan)
Isabella and Rust Red
Isabella with Rust Red (Tan)
As mentioned, Dobermanns are the natural guard dogs of the breeding world. They not only have a deep-set protective instinct, but they have incredibly keen senses, so are likely to identify and scare off any potential intruders. This can mean, however, that they come across as intimidating to people who haven’t met them.
Dobermanns will bark if there is an unwanted presence, but they are not known for being a particularly vocal breed.
Dobermanns are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them easy to train. Owners should, however, be careful to train them and establish firm boundaries from a young age, otherwise their dominant side may come into play. Prospective owners should be especially aware that when young, Dobermanns can occasionally become fiery when excited, and need experienced hands to keep them in check.
Dobermanns love nothing more than being a part of the family, so love playing interactive games with their owners. Again, however, proper training and ground rules should be established, otherwise this breed may get carried away and become pushy and demanding.
Dobermanns are family dogs, and are therefore great with children. Prospective owners should be advised, however, that their protective instinct can really kick in around younger children, and make them unpleasant for others to be around. They are therefore far more suited to households with older children, and not the best choice for families with toddlers and babies.
Even when properly trained and socialised, Dobermanns can be naturally suspicious of other animals, so should be introduced to them from a young age to ensure that they accept them. Owners should be especially careful to supervise all interactions with other animals, including cats, as a Dobermann has a high prey drive.
Although they will tolerate being left alone for short periods of time, Dobermanns are affectionate dogs who love their families and do not enjoy being parted from them. They may develop separation anxiety and behavioural problems if left alone for long periods.
On the whole, Dobermanns are a healthy breed, but they may suffer from a variety of hereditary health issues, which should be taken into consideration.
A well cared for Dobermann can be expected to live for between 9 and 12 years.
As mentioned, Dobermanns are a very energetic and athletic breed who need large amounts of exercise (at least 2 hours a day), as well as lots of mental stimulation to ensure they do not become bored. However, when they are under the age of 12 months they only need short bursts of exercise to avoid putting too much pressure on their still-growing joints (15 minutes or so in a garden, several times a day, should suffice for a Dobermann puppy).
The most common diseases Dobermanns appear to suffer from are: Dobermann Cardiac TROPONIN, Von Willebrand’s disease, Hip Dysplasia, Heart Failure, Hereditary Deafness, Eye issues, Bloat, Hypothyroidism, and Arthritis (mostly older dogs), among other conditions. Owners should make sure to take their dog to the vet at the first sign of illness to obtain a proper diagnosis.
Although they are extremely energetic dogs, Dobermanns are fairly adaptable, and would just as happily live in an apartment in a town as in a house in the countryside, provided they have proper amounts of daily exercise. It may suit the owner better, however, to keep their Dobermann in a house with a large garden, so they have lots of space to run around.
As mentioned, Dobermanns are fairly low maintenance on the grooming front, as their fur is short and tight. A weekly groom with a grooming mitt should prevent excessive shedding.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly between £600 and over £1000 for a well-bred Dobermann puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £80-100
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Dobermann Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Dobermann puppy buying advice:
In recent years it has become illegal to dock or crop the tail and ears of a Dobermann puppy unless there is a medical reason or the dog is a working dog, so prospective owners considering buying a puppy with a docked tail should always make sure to obtain the relevant paperwork from the breeder.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: