Choosing a Doberman Pinscher

Choosing a Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman pinscher is a relatively new breed, officially recognized in 1900. Though originally developed as a fiercely protective guard dog, the Doberman's temperament has been toned down and he is now a loving and devoted, yet still protective, family pet.

History and Origin

In the late 1800s in Thueringen, Germany, Louis Dobermann was looking to develop the perfect guard dog. Though the foundation stock of the Doberman is often debated, many people believe the Rottweiler, German smooth-haired pinscher and black-and-tan terrier were significant parts of their history.

By 1890, the Doberman was born and by 1900 the breed was officially recognized. Soon the breed was imported to the United States. By 1921, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded and the dog quickly gained popularity as a working breed.


The Doberman has an air of aristocracy, nobility and elegance. This medium-sized dog is compact and clean cut. The haircoat is short and available in black and rust, black and tan and red with rust. Newer haircoats include fawn with lighter markings, called Isabella, and blue with lighter markings.

The Doberman has a wedge-shaped head and ears may or may not be cropped. Uncropped ears naturally hang and the tail is docked.


The adult Doberman pinscher stands 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 60 to 100 pounds.


The Doberman pinscher was developed as the ideal guard dog and companion. The original Dobermans were more aggressive than the dog of today. Now, the Doberman is more friendly but is still a good watchdog. With proper socialization, the Doberman is affectionate and loyal and will guard his master to the bitter end.

Home and Family Relations

The Doberman loves human companionship but is not the best breed for small children. Despite being loyal and protective, if improperly bred or raised, the breed can be mean or aggressive. The Doberman is intelligent but can be domineering and is not the best breed for the first time dog owner.

The Doberman tends to chill easily and should be kept indoors on cool nights. Actually, the dog is an excellent housedog.


The Doberman excels in obedience training but due to a streak of independence, the breed needs firm guidance and consistency. The breed's ability to learn quickly has led to their use as guide dogs for the blind and deaf.

Special Concerns

The popularity of the Doberman has led to some improper breeding. This has lead to some aggressive tendencies in certain dogs. Make sure you purchase your Doberman from a reputable breeder.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Doberman is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Wobbler's disease is a malformation of the bones in the neck resulting in neck pain and a characteristic wobbly gait.
  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that results in a large, thin walled heart muscle.
  • Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.
  • Von Willebrand's disease is a disorder that results in the inability to clot blood. Affected animals will bleed extensively following trauma or surgery.
  • Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.
  • Cutaneous Histiocytoma - is a benign tumor of the skin that can affect young dogs.
  • Lipomas are benign fatty tumors of the subcutaneous tissue.
  • Fibrosarcoma is a type of cancer that arises from the fibrous connective tissues.
  • Alopecia is a disorder resulting in a loss of hair.
  • Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
  • Lick granuloma is a condition in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed.
  • Parvovirus is a devastating gastrointestinal virus that primarily affects unvaccinated puppies.
  • Chronic hepatitis is a chronic and progressive inflammation of the liver of dogs that leads eventually to the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue.
  • Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a malformation of the blood flow associated with the liver. Blood is shunted away from the liver, resulting in accumulation of blood toxins and subsequent profound illness.
  • Drug reaction to a group of drugs called "sulphonamides" may cause skin reactions and polyarthritis in this breed.

    In addition, the Doberman is prone to acne, osteosarcoma and elbow dysplasia.

    Although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

  • Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a disorder that affects the spinal disks resulting in pain, difficulty walking and possibly paralysis.
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) - is a congenital defect of the atrial septum of the heart.
  • Primary seborrhea causes scaly skin. Some dogs are born with a defect of the normal keratinization of the skin.
  • Color dilution alopecia - in blue or red Dobermans is a disease that causes hair loss in blue or red colored Dobermans.
  • Vitiligo - is a skin disease that causes destruction of the melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) causing depigmented patches of skin.
  • Congenital deafness can be present at birth in some dogs.
  • Nasal depigmentation - is a disease that causes depigmentation of the nose.

    Life Span

    On average, the Doberman pinscher lives for 12 to 15 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.