The Doberman

THE DOBERMAN

The Doberman is a medium size, working breed that possesses an extreme degree of intelligence and trainability.

The breed was developed in Germany in the 19th century by Louis Dobermann.   He used many local dogs of various backgrounds, as well as the Rottweiler, Greyhound, Manchester Terrier and other recognized breeds to add traits to his basic “black and tan” guard and personal protection dog.

Today, the Doberman is a beautiful, intelligent and loyal family member.  He is known for his keen alertness and watchfulness and devotion to his family. He has gone through a long transformation over the last one hundred plus years to emerge as one of the truly versatile working breeds.


He is a dog that stands approximately 26 to 28 inches at the “wither” (highest point on the topline) for males, and he weighs approximately 75 to 90 pounds.   The females are smaller, standing about 24 to 26 inches at the wither, and weighing about 55 to 70 pounds.  The “ideal” height for males is 27 1/2 in. and for the females it is 25 1/2 in..  The over all appearance is a “medium sized, square bodied dog—that is compactly built, muscular and powerful—for great endurance and speed—elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, and reflecting great nobility and temperament.   Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient. ”   These quotes are directly from the Official Doberman Standard approved by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and the American Kennel Club.   The “Official Standard” is the total description of the breed—from the tip of the Doberman’s nose to the carriage of his tail.   It describes how the  “perfect” Doberman should look and act.  It is this Standard that the Doberman is judged on when it is entered in a Dog Show in a Conformation Class. This judging that takes place at the Dog Shows, determines which Dobermans come the closest to being ” the perfect or ideal” specimens.   The Doberman Standard can be found on the DPCA website in it’s entirety.

The Doberman comes in four recognized colors that are acceptable within the Standard.   These are 1) Black and Rust  2)  Red and Rust  3)  Blue and Rust and 4)  Fawn (Isabella) and Rust.   All four of these colors are acceptable in the AKC Standard and can be shown in the Conformation Ring, which judges the future breeding stock for Championship points and the Championship Title.

The “Albino” Doberman is NOT a color, but an Albinoid form that is NOT eligible to be shown for Championship points or a Champion Title.  No Albino can ever achieve this degree of “perfection” as he Albino is considered a “Deleterious Genetic Mutation” and should not be bred under any circumstances.  The Albino trait carries many undesirable afflictions that seriously affect the physical and mental health of the Doberman.  It is the DPCA’s position that the Albino should not be bred or promoted and should be given “Limited Registration” status, which would prevent the breeding and registration of all Albinos.

The Doberman lives approximately 9.6 years on average, with the females usually living a bit longer than the males.   Unfortunately, a 10 year old Doberman, for the most part, is considered fairly old.  The larger and giant breeds have even shorter life spans, so we are fortunate that we have the Doberman for nearly ten years on average.   The Doberman does have some health concerns that are prevalent in the reed.   There is incidence of Hypothyroidism, Cardiomyopathy, Cancer, CVI (Cervical Vertebral Instability), vWD (Von Wildebrand’s Disease), CAH (Canine Active Hepatitis) and other lesser conditions.   This is not to say that every Doberman will be afflicted by these.   It is to say that these are the prevailing  conditions that cause disease in the Doberman.   Many are manageable and others are not.  Each Breed has health and medical conditions that make each susceptible to certain diseases.  Our intention is to make you aware of the most common.  You will find these explained further, in another article on this site.

The Doberman temperament has taken a transformation, also.  In the very early days of the breed, the temperament was very sharp and on the verge of being vicious.  This apparently was something that Louis Doberman desired in his guard dog.   Times were different and the robbers and thieves were common, and a “tough, sharp dog” helped deter that thought of victimizing by criminals.  Through the years, and into modern times, the temperament has been tempered and mellowed, so that today we have a Doberman that is not so “quick on the trigger” as in yester year.   They remain alert, watchful and ready to protect, but gone are the days of the Doberman going through the “window” after a passerby, or the Doberman being unapproachable by friends and acquaintances.  The “Reputable, Concerned and Careful” breeders of today pay very close attention to making sure these desirable traits are of top priority in careful breeding programs.

The Doberman is a very versatile Breed.   Dobermans are wonderful family members, but must be socialized, disciplined properly and kindly, trained to be good citizens, obedience trained, and properly cared for to ensure good health and a long life.   Dobermans are fun and energetic dogs that can play catch, Frisbee or go jogging with you.   You can do Obedience competition, Agility competition, and other sport venues that require an active breed. Dobermans can do Search and Rescue, and other activities that require a good “sense of smell”.  Dobermans can be found doing just about any activity that any other medium size breed does.

Dobermans are a short coated breed which means that there is NO CHOICE as to where he will stay.   The Doberman is a HOUSE dog and cannot survive being in the cold or heat.   Because his ears are erect and very thin, it is important to make sure he is not outside for long periods of time where he could get “frost bite” on the tips, or worse.   If you live in a very cold climate part of the year, this is something to consider and be prepared for. Also, the heat is a problem, as he has very short and thin coat around the ears and muzzle, which can sunburn and blister.   These are important considerations to remember.

The Doberman is a very active, lively and energetic breed.   They are on the go and love to be where the “action” is at all times.  They need to be around their family constantly.  If your lifestyle is such that you cannot spend long periods of time with this breed, or you work long hours on end, this will not work with a Doberman.   They are highly intelligent and require things to do and a family to interact with—being loose in a house all day, or locked in a dog kennel all day will only lead to bad habits and destructive tendencies. Exercise and a FENCED yard large enough for the Doberman to move about and run is a necessity—for the safety of the dog, to prevent injury from cars and also to allow for free exercise—not only on a leash.

You will find more specific information about many of the topics we have touched on throughout this website.   Please read everything you can about the Doberman before you decide if this is the breed for you and your family.   The Doberman is a big responsibility—more so than many other breeds, because they are a dog bred for guard and personal protection. This means they are innately possessing all of the traits of a guard dog—big,  strong & powerful;  large jaws and teeth;  guarding instinct;  alert and ready to react and evoke fear in most people.  They are considered dangerous by many Insurance Companies and many cities and  towns will not allow ownership of a Doberman because of their reputation as biters and attack dogs. Please look into all of these possibilities, as the purchase of a Doberman puppy brings with it many responsibilities.

submitted by
Theresa Mullen
DPCA Public Education Committee

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