Everything You Need to Know About the Doberman Breed
"Doberman? More like boogeyman!" is probably how most people feel about Dobies in general.
While the Dobie's reputation for ferocity isn't completely unwarranted, there's more to this dog than its bite.
If you're lucky enough to get a well-trained Dobie, expect to have a tenacious and protective companion for the next 10 years or so.
Below is what you need to know about the magnificent Doberman breed.
A Basic Overview of the Doberman
Dobermans are pretty easy to recognize, with their erect ears, slim yet athletic body, and black-and-rust coloring. They're large dogs, reaching up to 100 pounds and 28 inches in height. On average, they can live from 10 to 12 years.
Dobies have one of the strongest dog bites in the world, reaching up to 600 psi and second only to the Kangal from Turkey (which has a bite force of 743 psi). Considering that the Kangal can fight off jackals, wolves and even bears, you have a good idea of just how powerful Dobies can be.
Despite their reputation, Dobies aren't the vicious killers portrayed on TV and the movies. In fact, these pooches can be intelligent, loyal and gentle companions, provided they're trained and socialized properly. As long as you take care to buy your Dobie only from reputable breeders, you shouldn't have too many problems with his temperament.
What is the Personality of the Doberman?
As far as guard dogs are concerned, the Dobie is one of the best.
For one, they're fiercely protective of their "pack." The only time a well-trained Dobie would display any signs of aggression is when they detect a potential threat nearby. If your Dobie is acting up, it's a sure sign that you need to be on guard.
At the same time, they're loyal towards the people they call family. Any Dobie owner will tell you that their dogs can be trusted with children and guests, as long as you play nice with them.
One of the best ways to get a Dobie to respect you is to be a strong, forceful leader. If you're an active, always on-the-go type who's up for a challenge every day, a Dobie can be the perfect match for you.
Dobies may give off a confident, independent vibe, but make no mistake: They're not dogs that should be left alone. Being highly athletic and energetic, they will get frustrated and destructive unless you give them something to do. Take him with you whenever you're out for a jog, or better yet, have him tag along on family vacations. He'll definitely love being out and about!
History and Background of the Doberman
The Doberman is a relatively new breed, having been developed in the late 19th century by a German tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann.
At the time, tax collecting was a risky business. Dobermann often had to visit parts of town crawling with bandits, so he needed a way to protect himself. To that end, he bred a dog that was loyal, strong and intimidating enough to scare off strangers.
Eventually, Dobermann died in 1894, and German breeders further developed the dog that would be named after him. Because the breeders wanted a "super dog" (i.e. one that was strong, fast, brave and smart), they ended up with a version that was notorious for being stubborn and aggressive.
Like many European dog breeds, the Doberman would find its way to the U.S., where it thrived and survived two World Wars. Over the years, breeders would slowly but surely tone down the Dobie's vicious personality, leading to the dog we know and love today.
Are Dobermans Playful and Fun?
You bet they are.
Don't be surprised if your Dobie seems to have an endless supply of energy. As a working dog, he always needs something to do, so prepare to keep him occupied during his waking hours.
Give him a set of toys that he can play with whenever he's bored. Let him learn the names of each of the toys (e.g. "This is a bone," "That is a ball"). Get those toys out of his reach, ask him to fetch you a specific toy, and be impressed as he picks the right one every time.
You can let your Dobie play with the kids, as long as you're sure he won't knock anyone to the ground. Again, Dobies can make great family pets, provided that they've been socialized enough and that they come from a line with no temper issues.
How Much Exercise Does a Doberman Need?
That slim, athletic body doesn't come without a price. If you want your Dobie to stay strong and healthy, you need to be able to keep up with his high exercise requirements.
The first step is to make sure he has enough room to move around. Give him a wide-open space — like your backyard — to stretch his legs. Put a fence around the area to keep him from wandering outside. Remove anything that can potentially injure your Dobie, like rusty rakes or old plastic trash.
Give your Dobie an exercise routine that makes full use of his strength and intelligence. Enroll him in obedience classes, have him join agility competitions, and take him with you whenever you go hiking, running or doing any other high-intensity workout.
If you have other pooches that have been socialized with your Dobie, and have similar energy requirements, all the better. A Dobie can get bored and lonely playing by himself, so he might appreciate having another energetic dog around.
Keep in mind that exercise requirements may vary for individual Dobies. If you're not sure how much to exercise your Dobie, ask your vet for pointers.
What are the Grooming Needs of the Doberman?
Generally, the Dobie is a low-maintenance breed. Unless he has a habit of rolling in the mud, or he has a skin condition that requires frequent washing, you shouldn't have to bathe a Dobie more than once every 3 months.
Dobies aren't immune to shedding though, so you'll have to brush him with a grooming mitt every week. His toenails can also get too long for comfort, making it necessary to trim them once they start clacking on the floor.
Like humans, Dobies need their orifices cleaned regularly. Use a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste to get the tartar off his pearly whites. Check his ears for any odor or signs of infection. Give his eyes and nose a good look too, just in case there are any red flags that would warrant a visit to the vet.
Most importantly, get your Dobie used to grooming as soon as possible. The younger he learns that grooming is good for him, the better.
Are Dobermans Easy to Train?
On the one hand, Dobermans are intelligent, making it easy for them to learn new tricks. On the other hand, Dobies can be stubborn and disobedient, especially if they sense that their owner is not the strong, commanding sort.
When it comes to dogs that are both smart and willful, you need to be the sort of "pack leader" that they can respect. You need to balance a firm, disciplinary hand with patience and positive reinforcement.
The best way to train a Dobie is to start from puppyhood. Get him used to a collar from the get-go, so it's easier to keep him under control as he grows older and stronger. Use a collar that won't hurt your dog, and give it a quick, sharp pull every time you want him to stay put.
Don't forget the basics of training a dog. Teach your Dobie basic commands like "Sit," "Stay" and "Heel." Train him to answer the call of nature outside the house, instead of all over your carpet. Expose him to as many dogs and people as soon as possible, so he'll be less aggressive towards strangers later on. If you get these basics right, it shouldn't be too hard to teach him more complicated tricks later on.
How Much Does a Doberman Puppy Cost?
A pet-quality Dobie with papers will cost around $1,500. You can find puppies at a fraction of that price, but it's pretty likely that those are (1) from puppy mills; or (2) from a questionable lineage that could lead to unpleasant problems later on.
Also, you'll need to budget for yearly expenses like trips to the vet, vaccinations, deworming, emergencies, supplies, toys, food and training. If you don't mind shelling out a few thousand bucks a year on top of the purchase price for your Dobie puppy, you're all set to have one of these beautiful breeds as your pet.
Dobermans are as fierce as they are beautiful, and as tenacious as they are loyal. If you love this breed as much as we do, let's talk about it in the comments!