Originally known as the Thuringer Pinscher or the Plizeilich Soldatenhund, the breed was renamed in 1899 as the Dobermannpinscher (one word) to honor the breed's founder, Louis Dobermann, who passed away in 1894. Also called the Doberman, the Dobe and the Dobie, the Doberman Pinscher is a member of the Working Group of the American Kennel Club. While alert, bold and fearless, the Doberman should never be either vicious or shy. Dobermans are instinctively protective of their people and can be temperamental. Because of their size and sometimes exuberant nature, Dobies should be supervised around small children. The Doberman Pinscher was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908.
The mature male Doberman Pinscher is between 26 and 28 inches at the withers, with 27½ inches being considered ideal. Bitches are between 24 and 26 inches in height, with 25½ inches being considered ideal. Dobermans typically weigh between 60 and 90 pounds, with females usually being smaller and lighter than males. The Dobie's short coat is easy to care for. Regular brushing will help to reduce shedding in the home.
The Doberman originated in Apolda, in Thueringen, Germany, in the late 1800s. It was developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector who created elaborate crosses of different dogs to develop a breed that would be aggressive enough to protect him as he made his rounds in dangerous neighborhoods and whose appearance alone would be intimidating. Herr Dobermann also ran the local animal shelter and had access to many different dogs to use in his breeding program, although unfortunately he did not keep proper records to document the breed's origin. Dobermans probably descending from shorthaired mixed-breed shepherd dogs, chosen for hardiness, intelligence and soundness, crossed with the Black and Tan Terrier, the smooth-coated German Pinscher and the Rottweiler. Other breeds that may have played a part in the Dobie's background include the Beauceron, the Weimaraner, the black-and-tan Manchester Terrier and the Greyhound.
The breed type was stabilized by 1899 and officially recognized by the German Kennel Club in 1900. By the 1920s, Dobermans were found throughout Europe, including Russia, and as far as South Africa and the United States. The breed is distinctive in appearance and attitude, and is now found world-wide. Its early reputation for ferocity preceded it to the United States. It is said that one Doberman Pinscher won three American Kennel Club Best in Show ribbons before any judge had the courage to examine its mouth – where ultimately it was discovered that the dog had missing teeth, a serious breed fault.
Dobermans are extremely intelligent and are fast-learners, making them well-suited for police, military and guard work. Dobies have been used for hunting and to track criminals. They also have been used for search-and-rescue, as therapy dogs and as guide dogs for the blind. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded in February of 1921.
Dobermans have an average life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may included bloat, cancer, cervical vertebral instability (Wobbler syndrome), chronic active hepatitis, color dilution alopecia, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand disease. Other conditions include nasal depigmentation, mucocutaneous hypopigmentation, congenital portosystemic shunt, congenital deafness, arachnoid cysts, dermoids, entropion, "cherry eye", cataracts and other ocular defects. Dobermans are sensitive to sulphonamide drugs.
Individual personalities of Doberman Pinschers are varied. Some are outgoing and friendly, others are shy and reserved. Some are dominant with other dogs and chase cats and small dogs, while others are social butterflies at the dog park and have been known to cuddle up with kittens for long naps. Regardless of the individual, all Dobermans are steadfast and loyal companions, true friends to the people they love. They are fearless in the face of danger and make excellent guard dogs, but contrary to popular opinion, they are not attack dogs. Their method of protection is to keep intruders at bay, pinning them to a wall or corner until backup arrives. Despite their reputation for viciousness, most Pinschers are big softies at heart who love the companionship of people.
Doberman Pinschers are large dogs with high energy levels and require a lot of exercise in order to avoid destructive behavior. Activities should vary, in order to keep them interested, as they are intelligent dogs who bore easily. They enjoy outdoor activity and will be happy to accompany people on walks, runs, hikes or bike rides. They were bred to work alongside people – acting as guard dogs, police dogs, military sentries, medical dogs and as part of search and rescue teams. This desire to work still remains, and they are at their best when learning new tasks.
This desire to be at "work" means this breed needs a lot of mental stimulation, as well. Agility competitions are excellent outlets for Pinschers to exercise and use their thinking abilities at the same time. This breed was not designed to be a lazy couch-dweller.
Indiscriminate breeding over the years has led to variable levels of trainability in Doberman Pinschers. Some take to training well and pick up new tasks easily and amiably, while others are stubborn and hard-headed. Regardless of the individual, all Doberman Pinschers should be trained with consistency, strong leadership and a firm, but gentle manner. They will shut down if treated harshly.
Once leadership is established, most Dobes take well to advanced training. Their desire to work alongside people, their ability to take direction well, and their menacing figure is what has made them excellent police dogs for many years.
Over breeding has wreaked havoc on Doberman Pinsher's bloodlines. Potential owners should research any breeder they are considering adopting from, as many lines have become neurotic. You can often find Doberman Pinschers chasing their tails in their cages, barking uncontrollably and suffering from severe anxiety. If adopting from a Pinscher Rescue, it is important to know the dog's history or neurosis before bringing him home.
Because they love to work alongside people so much, Dobes are prone to separation anxiety which can be made worse if they don't get enough activity. Their anxiety usually manifests itself in the form of bakring and destructive chewing. Dobes should never be tied up alone, outside. People who work long hours should not adopt a Doberman.
Socialization is important when raising a Doberman Pinscher. They are naturally protective of their home and people, but this can get out of hand if left unchecked. They should be taught that guests are welcome and that other dogs are not intruders to be chased away.
The appearance is that of a dog of medium size, with a body that is square. Compactly built, muscular and powerful, for great endurance and speed. Elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility and temperament. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Height at the withers: Dogs 26 to 28 inches, ideal about 27½ inches; Bitches 24 to 26 inches, ideal about 25½ inches. The height, measured vertically from the ground to the highest point of the withers, equalling the length measured horizontally from the forechest to the rear projection of the upper thigh. Length of head, neck and legs in proportion to length and depth of body.
Long and dry, resembling a blunt wedge in both frontal and profile views. When seen from the front, the head widens gradually toward the base of the ears in a practically unbroken line. Eyes almond shaped, moderately deep set, with vigorous, energetic expression. Iris, of uniform color, ranging from medium to darkest brown in black dogs; in reds, blues, and fawns the color of the iris blends with that of the markings, the darkest shade being preferable in every case. Ears normally cropped and carried erect. The upper attachment of the ear, when held erect, is on a level with the top of the skull.
Top of skull flat, turning with slight stop to bridge of muzzle, with muzzle line extending parallel to top line of skull. Cheeks flat and muscular. Nose solid black on black dogs, dark brown on red ones, dark gray on blue ones, dark tan on fawns. Lips lying close to jaws. Jaws full and powerful, well filled under the eyes.
Teeth strongly developed and white. Lower incisors upright and touching inside of upper incisors a true scissors bite. 42 correctly placed teeth, 22 in the lower, 20 in the upper jaw. Distemper teeth shall not be penalized. Disqualifying Faults: Overshot more than 3/16 of an inch. Undershot more than 1/8 of an inch. Four or more missing teeth.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck proudly carried, well muscled and dry. Well arched, with nape of neck widening gradually toward body. Length of neck proportioned to body and head. Withers pronounced and forming the highest point of the body. Back short, firm, of sufficient width, and muscular at the loins, extending in a straight line from withers to the slightly rounded croup.
Chest broad with forechest well defined. Ribs well sprung from the spine, but flattened in lower end to permit elbow clearance. Brisket reaching deep to the elbow. Belly well tucked up, extending in a curved line from the brisket. Loins wide and muscled. Hips broad and in proportion to body, breadth of hips being approximately equal to breadth of body at rib cage and shoulders. Tail docked at approximately second joint, appears to be a continuation of the spine, and is carried only slightly above the horizontal when the dog is alert.
Shoulder Blade - sloping forward and downward at a 45-degree angle to the ground meets the upper arm at an angle of 90 degrees. Length of shoulder blade and upper arm are equal. Height from elbow to withers approximately equals height from ground to elbow. Legs seen from front and side, perfectly straight and parallel to each other from elbow to pastern; muscled and sinewy, with heavy bone. In normal pose and when gaiting, the elbows lie close to the brisket. Pasterns firm and almost perpendicular to the ground. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet well arched, compact, and catlike, turning neither in nor out.
The angulation of the hindquarters balances that of the forequarters. Hip Bone falls away from spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees, producing a slightly rounded, well filled-out croup. Upper Shanks at right angles to the hip bones, are long, wide, and well muscled on both sides of thigh, with clearly defined stifles. Upper and lower shanks are of equal length. While the dog is at rest, hock to heel is perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, the legs are straight, parallel to each other, and wide enough apart to fit in with a properly built body. Dewclaws, if any, are generally removed. Cat feet as on front legs, turning neither in nor out.
Smooth-haired, short, hard, thick and close lying. Invisible gray undercoat on neck permissible.
Color and Markings
Allowed Colors: Black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella). Markings: Rust, sharply defined, appearing above each eye and on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet, and below tail. White patch on chest, not exceeding ½ square inch, permissible. Disqualifying Fault: Dogs not of an allowed color.
Free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting, there is strong rear-action drive. Each rear leg moves in line with the foreleg on the same side. Rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out. Back remains strong and firm. When moving at a fast trot, a properly built dog will single-track.
Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient. The judge shall dismiss from the ring any shy or vicious Doberman.
Shyness: A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination, it shrinks away from the judge; if it fears an approach from the rear; if it shies at sudden and unusual noises to a marked degree.
Viciousness: A dog that attacks or attempts to attack either the judge or its handler, is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed viciousness.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Doberman Pinscher. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
Overshot more than 3/16 of an inch, undershot more than 1/8 of an inch. Four or more missing teeth.
Dogs not of an allowed color.
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Sources: American Kennel Club