Breed Profile: Doberman Pinscher

Most commonly known as guard dogs, Dobermans are energetic and affectionate dogs that make great pets and service animals.   Read More

Dobermans are energetic, affectionate and easily trained.


Doberman pinscher, aka Doberman, Dobie or Dobe



Physical Description

Dobermans are medium-sized dogs that are compact and muscular with great endurance and speed. The long head leads to an elegant and regal appearance of this dedicated breed. Ear cropping and tail docking has been common for the breed but becoming infrequent as some countries have banned the practices.

Males range in height from 26 to 28 inches while females are about two inches shorter. Weight ranges can vary between 66 and 88 pounds. Regular Doberman colors include black, red, blue and fawn, and there is also a gene that causes an all-white Doberman. The average life expectancy is around 13 years but can vary.


The Doberman is believed to have been developed in the late 1860s in Germany. Louis Dobermann was a tax collector who wanted a dog to provide protection in the unpredictable areas in which he had to perform his job. The dog was created from crossing several different breeds and reportedly made its first dog show appearance in 1876. The Doberman was named for Louis but the additional letter was dropped by some organizations. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1908 and the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded in 1921.


Dobermans make great companion animals but also participate in tracking, guarding, therapy, police and military work, search and rescue, conformation shows and obedience trials.


The breed is loyal, intelligent and affectionate with exceptional strength and stamina. They are easy to train and retain their training well with regular reinforcement. Dobermans need consistent leadership and should be well socialized before entering a home with children (this is best done when the dog is young and they can be great with kids). They also perform well as therapy dogs. They prefer to be close to their owners and are not recommended as outside-only dogs.

Dobermans are commonly described as dangerous or aggressive in breed-specific legislation (BSL). While dominance varies among the breed and even among a litter, viciousness results as a lack of proper training and socializing or improper guidance such as being trained to attack or fight on a regular basis. Just as with the bull terrier breeds, Dobermans can be trained and socialized to be excellent companion animals and family pets.

Exercise Needs

Dobermans are energetic dogs that need daily exercise and do best with a yard. Long walks or short jogs are recommended with regular reinforcement of training commands and practices.

Meari demonstrates the fun and playfulness in Dobermans with this funny hide-and-seek game:

Grooming Requirements

The short coat of the Doberman sheds from minimal to average compared to other dogs. Grooming can be as simple as a short brush once per week while cleaning the teeth and ears and trimming the nails.

Common Health Problems

The Doberman breed does have genetic health problems. Some or all of these may be possible:

  • Cervical issues due to spinal compression
  • Blood disorder (Van Willebrands disease)
  • Obesity in later years
  • Skin issues
  • Bloat
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart defects
  • Increased health problems in all-white Dobermans (believed to be caused by a specific gene, although the presence of the gene contributing to additional health problems is still being debated)

Is the Doberman Pinscher the Right Dog for You?

Dobermans are sensitive to cold and need regular exercise. They can do well in apartments or city life with an active owner that can commit to daily outings with the dog. These intelligent dogs are easy to train and can be socialized to live with children. They are also protective and exceptional guard dogs, so their natural instincts need to be nurtured with effective training and socialization. If you can provide their exercise and training needs, you will be rewarded with a well-behaved, loyal and affectionate companion.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Doberman for your next pet, check adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoption center.

Additional Resources

Photo: andreaarden/Flickr


Also Popular

Join the Conversation

Join the Conversation


  1. sarahbarah987 Reply

    I love Dobies!  My dad has one and I was scared of her at first, but she’s the sweetest dog!  She even gets along with their Chihuahuas!  They had some problems with her being allergic to her dog food when they first got her, but they feed her the grain-free Alpha now and she doesn’t have the red spots anymore.

  2. Thomas Reply

    I Wonder if resource guarding and general nervousness is common to this breed? I have grown up with boxers and have a great behavioured one myself trained by me. All our boxers have been and are calm and secure dogs safe and well behaved with dog parks and children. My fiancee’s dog is my first meeting with the pincher and its, what I would call, dangerously aggressive due to the forementioned and will not hesitate to bite you bloody or attack my dog.
    If my dog starts “washing” himself in his basket across the room from the pincher the pincher will charge my dog with bared teeth and ready to bite if not for my calm dog who generally just looks over at me in confusion to this behaviour.

    This dog will even attack her at times.
    This dog does not respond to positive reinforcement training and only very little to my alpha type training.

    I have trained a nervous mistreated boxer before and in my experience my dogs have become very self confident, unafraid and obedient with my strong leadership but I can tell this dog of two years have no clue on boundries no matter what we try.

    Is this common for the breed so that it should be emphasized that this breed requires an experienced strong leader?

    1. Kristine Lacoste Reply

      Hello Thomas,

      A strong leader is essential to the breed, but there are many other factors which could be affecting the dobe’s behavior. They were bred to be fearless and will protect/guard their owner and home until death if necessary. Allowed to take charge, they will be destructive and disobedient. Dobermans should not be aggressive when they don’t need to be. I would not say they are resource guarders but people guarders. Shyness or fear is not common for this breed, although presence of it could create aggression if the dog has used aggression in the past to keep people away.

      Ask yourself and your fiancee these questions below to try to narrow the cause, since the information you provided about the dog is limited:

      How old is the dog? 2? (you mentioned “dog of two years”)
      If so, what training has the dog received, and who trained the dog?
      Has the dog been cleared by a veterinarian to rule out any pain, injuries, inconsistent levels (such as thyroid)? When was the last health check?
      Is the dog spayed or neutered?
      Has the dog shown this behavior before and if so, when, where and toward whom?
      Were there any behavioral problems when the dog was younger or shyness exhibited?
      Was the dog socialized to other people and other pets?
      Was the dog acquired through a shelter/rescue or a breeder?
      If the dog was acquired from a breeder, has the breeder been contacted? Did your fiancee meet the parents of the dog to gauge their temperament? Are there any temperament problems with any other dogs from the same breeder?
      How long has the dobe known your dog, and how were they introduced?

      As you can see from above, there are quite a few factors which have been or could be influencing the dog’s behavior. Since it sounds like your dog and the dobe haven’t been around each other for very long, another factor could be the family dynamic. Was the dobe only living with your fiancee or were there other people in the house? If the dog was used to guarding those people and that property, and if you two moved in together, the leader and the dynamic has changed.

      I suggest going through the questions above, gathering the answers, and heading to the vet. From there the health check can be done (if needed), then you can advance to a behaviorist. Below are some additional links which may help, and I would also suggest contacting a doberman parent breed club, such as the Canadian or American club (links are also below) to see what assistance or insight they can offer after the health has been cleared.

      Best of luck, and please let us know what happens.

      Kristine (American club) (Canadian club) (unknown aggression case) (Doberman temperament)