Doberman Pinscher At A Glance
- Group: Working
- Height: 27.5 inches or less; females are slightly shorter
- Weight:60 to 80 pounds
- Uses: Police dog, guardian
- Color: Black, red, blue or fawn; rust markings on legs, chest, cheeks, eyebrows and muzzle.
- Coat: Brush weekly. Bathe when needed. Routine nail cutting and teeth cleaning.
- Life Span:10-12 years
- Grooming: Brush weekly. Bathe when needed. Routine nail cutting and teeth cleaning.
This medium-size German working breed is named after Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, the man who developed it by crossing several breeds, possibly including the German Pinscher, Rottweiler, Manchester Terrier and the Greyhound.
Perfected late in the 19th century, the breed was accepted for registration by the German Kennel Club in 1900 and first imported to this continent in 1908.
The Doberman is internationally renowned as a security dog. It does extremely well in obedience work and makes a loyal family pet.
This watchful, fearless, biddable athlete is one of the most (if not the most) versatile working breeds.
It can be trained to compete in obedience trials and agility, and is a superlative show dog. The dog’s desire to work for his owner, and the fact that he is easily trained, has enabled the breed to perform exceptionally well as a police and war dog.
Police departments across the world continue to use the breed in their established K-9 units to track and apprehend criminals.
The U.S. Marines and other branches of the military used the breed for various assignments during World War II.
In fact, World War II was where the Doberman Pinscher gained its reputation as a fierce canine with a savage disposition.
This unfortunate stigma is for the most part more myth than fact, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom.
When trained and conditioned correctly, the Doberman Pinscher is a well-balanced, trustworthy family dog.
His loyalty to his loved ones and family members is unsurpassed. The breed brings constant devotion and affection to those who are willing to accept it.
The fact that the breed is sometimes feared and distrusted is rather disappointing. To understand the Doberman Pinscher is to understand its temperament.
As a watchdog and guard dog, its function and main priority is to protect. This protection includes your property and the individuals that are fortunate enough to share this space with the dog.
Responsible training and early socialization are important in keeping the breed’s protective nature in check.
“To protect” does not mean that the dog should be trained to attack and bite intruders, or, even worse, assault friends or loving family members.
If a Dobe is too aggressive and shows signs of unreliability, he can be extremely dangerous to everyone around him.
Ideal height for males is 27.5 inches at the shoulder, females slightly less. A gleaming, close-fitting, short coat in black, red, blue or fawn, all with rust markings, enhances the dog’s clean profile.
The coat doesn’t shed excessively, and weekly brushing will keep it gleaming. High-set ears are usually cropped to a point but may be left natural.
The breed needs daily exercise to maintain its sleek good looks, and adapts well to city or country living.
In general, the Doberman Pinscher is a very healthy breed of dog.
Nevertheless, there will be times when your dog may be affected by some type of illness.
There are a number of minor ailments that you should be able to treat yourself, rather than having to make a trip to the veterinarian.
If you are uncertain, it is always best to call the vet first, rather than attempt to treat something in which you have no expertise.
Like several other breeds of dog, the Doberman Pinscher can develop different types of skin and coat problems.
Many skin disorders are a result of parasitic, fungal, hormonal or allergic reactions, and others are hereditary.
1. “Blue Dobe” syndrome, or color dilution alopecia, is a persistent skin condition associated with blue Doberman Pinschers.
Dogs are usually affected at birth, with bald patches occurring throughout various parts of the body.
The condition is incurable, but some of the symptoms can be controlled and treated with medicated shampoos and ointments prescribed by your vet.
2. Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood-clotting defect that affects many breeds, including the Doberman Pinscher.
Depending on the severity of the disease, dogs may bruise easily or show signs of bleeding from the nose or mouth.
The disease is hereditary and can be accurately tested for. Obviously, dogs that have a tendency to bleed should be tested before being considered for breeding purposes.
3. Hypothyroidism is a very common disorder in all dogs. Some early indications of the disease include hair loss, lethargic behavior and dull or dry skin. A simple blood test will confirm the condition, and various medications will usually correct the problem.
4. Cervical vertical instability (CVI) or Wobbler syndrome is caused by an abnormality of the neck vertebrae.
The condition puts pressure on the spinal cord, which causes instability in the dog’s hind legs. Surprisingly, the condition has been found in many Doberman Pinschers in different degrees of severity.
The cause of the problem remains unclear, and some experts speculate that the condition has to do with the dog’s overall conformation, diet or perhaps even hereditary factors.
5. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is caused by the degeneration of the cells of the retina of the eye.
The condition is commonly found in sighthounds, but does occur less frequently in Doberman Pinschers.
The first signs of the disease include the dog’s loss of night vision. The condition will get worse until the dog is nearly or entirely blind.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition and all dogs that test positive for the condition should be removed from breeding programs.
6. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thin and stretched and is unable to pump effectively.
Affected dogs eventually succumb to heart failure. Some Doberman Pinschers with dilated cardiomyopathy have a defect in L-carnitine (an amino acid) levels in the heart muscle. These dogs occasionally respond to carnitine supplementation.
7. Wry mouth and 8. zinc deficiency are not very common, but enough cases have been reported in Doberman Pinschers to warrant their inclusion in this section.
Wry mouth is a dental abnormality in which an overshot or undershot condition affects only one side of the head.
Zinc deficiency is the result of the dog’s incapacity to utilize zinc.
The most common symptoms are small bald spots on the dog’s coat. A daily tablet of zinc sulphate will effectively correct the problem.
Discuss all these potential problems with your breeder and veterinarian. If your chosen breeder shows no concern about or knowledge of these problems, keep shopping!
Is the Doberman Pinscher Right For You?
Before you rush out and choose the Doberman Pinscher as your next pet, there are many things to consider.
- Are you the right person for this dog?
- Do you have an active lifestyle?
- Can you confidently control this strong, physically fit animal?
- Do you have the space to accommodate the Dobe’s strenuous exercise requirements?
These are the types of questions that you must carefully consider before making any drastic decisions, and before committing yourself to the obligations associated with dog ownership.
Although the Doberman Pinscher adjusts well to both city and country living, it is a large, active breed that needs adequate space to run to maintain its utmost physical condition.
If a large yard is not available for the dog to burn off energy, a long, brisk walk in a park or open field must be part of your daily routine.
Not only is physical exercise very important to the breed, but the same can be said for its mental exercise.
The Doberman Pinscher is a highly intelligent breed that requires mental stimulation and constant challenges.
If the Doberman Pinscher’s mental capacity isn’t stimulated, the dog will get bored rather quickly and look for ways to entertain himself, which usually results in destructive behavior at the owner’s expense.
For obvious safety reasons, the need to have full control of your Doberman Pinscher at all times cannot be overemphasized.
There is nothing more dangerous than an individual who cannot physically control his own dog. In the case of this powerful breed, the danger is even more enhanced.
The Doberman Pinscher is extremely intelligent and will test his owner’s dominance from time to time as he matures.
The breed’s possessive, protective nature usually develops between six to nine months of age. As the dog matures, his temperament should become more trustworthy and reliable.
For your own safety, and for the well-being of others, the dog must be kept secure both inside and outside the home.
Loose dogs are considered grounds for apprehension and are an utmost danger to the public.
The Doberman Pinscher should be kept on a leash at all times, and any free-running exercise should be done in areas where it can be properly controlled and away from the general public.
Although it is a lovely breed with very few drawbacks, it is important to respect any concerns that your neighbors might have regarding its stability.
Without showing any aggression whatsoever, even the quietest, best-mannered Doberman Pinscher can be very intimidating.
Keep your dog quiet, well mannered and free from any undesirable behavior, and you should meet with very little resistance from your neighbors.
The Doberman Pinscher and Children
One of the very first questions that usually occurs before a family purchases a dog of any sort is the breed’s adaptability to children.
Even if there are not any children living in the home in which the dog is to be kept, it is likely that the dog will at some point be exposed to them.
Once again, early socialization is extremely important to the breed’s willingness to accept children and any other unfamiliar individuals that cross his path.
If the dog is purchased at an early age (eight to ten weeks), the adaptability will be much easier. If the breed is acquired at a later age, and has already developed a mistrust or dislike for children, you could have a problem.
The young Doberman Pinscher will quickly accept children as cherished family members and will socialize with them from the beginning, while practicing his genetic protective nature.
For the older dog, it may take more time for a trusting relationship between child and dog to develop.
Owning a Doberman Pinscher can be a rewarding and satisfying experience.
However, if you do decide to own one, you must accept the responsibilities that are associated with this ownership.
What’s it like to own a Doberman Pinscher?
Or are you planning to get one?
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