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Doberman Pinscher
The Tax Collector's Favorite Pet

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New dog breeds are created by different people for different reasons. The Doberman's reason for existence may be unique. He was bred by a tax collector who lived in dangerous times.

Here is the Doberman at a Glance
Name Doberman
Other Names Doberman Pinscher
Nicknames Dobie
Origin Germany
Average size Large
Average weight 60-80 pounds
Average height 24-28 inches at the shoulder
Life span 10-13 years
Coat type Fine, short, thick
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, black and tan, brown
Popularity High
Intelligence Very high
Tolerance to heat Average
Tolerance to cold Average
Shedding Minimal
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Average proneness
Grooming/brushing Needs very little
Barking Does bark
Exercise needs Quite high
Trainability Very trainable
Friendliness Average
Good first dog Not the best
Good family pet Yes
Good with children Not the best
Good with other dogs Okay
Good with other pets Okay
Good with strangers Could be better
Good apartment dog Not really
Handles alone time well No
Health issues Cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $330 average annual
Food expenses $235 average annual
Miscellaneous expenses $65
Average annual expense $635
Cost to purchase $600-$1,000
Biting Statistics Attacks: 23 Child Victims: 12 Maimings: 12 Deaths: 8
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The Doberman's Beginnings

The Franco-Prussian war, which ultimately led to the creation of the German Empire, only lasted about nine months, from the summer of 1870 until the spring of 1871; but like most wars, it made life difficult for the people who had to live through it, especially people who had to get around the countryside to make a living. A German named Karl Dobermann, whose home territory was one of the hot spots of the war, experienced that. Worse, Dobermann was a tax collector, so hardly anyone liked him to begin with. He decided he needed a big, fierce dog to accompany him on his travels from town to town to pick up tax receipts. He had one thing going for him-he also ran the local dog pound, so he had plenty of raw material to choose from as he developed his new breed.

The result of his efforts was the Dobermann Pinscher, which later dropped an "n" from its name along with the Pinscher designation. The Doberman was a mix of several dogs, including Great Dane, Rottweiler, and Greyhound, among others. The result was an animal that was big, strong, smart, fearless and ferocious. Later breeders worked to tone the Doberman down, and today it is recognized by those who know it as a calm, even gentle dog; but its early reputation has stayed with it to some extent. That was true as well when the first Dobie arrived in the United States in 1908. That dog won Best in Show three times, even though part of the examination, examining its teeth, was never performed; the judges were afraid to try to open this fierce dog's mouth.

During World War Two the Doberman came into its own with American troops. The U.S. Marine Corps adopted it as its official war dog. A Doberman named Kurt saved several hundred lives by alerting troops to approaching Japanese soldiers. Kurt also became the first K-9 casualty of the war when wounded by a Japanese grenade, and later died in combat, as did 24 other Dobermans. His bronze statue now graces the U.S. War Dog Memorial that guards the gateway to the New Jersey Vietnam War Veterans Memorial.

New Lease on Life

The Dobermans in the United States, most of whom had been brought in during the early twentieth century, proved to be the saving of the breed. The two World Wars had come close to eradicating Dobermans in Germany. There were no litters born until several years after the second war. That has changed, but the U.S. Dobermans kept the breed alive in the meantime. Now the Dobie is one of the most popular dogs around.

The Dog You See Today

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The contemporary Doberman is a large, strong dog with a muscular, square body and a broad chest, weighing in at between sixty and eighty pounds and standing twenty-four to twenty-eight inches at the shoulder. The coat is short, thick and fine, and is usually black, brown, or black and tan. The Dobie's head is long and somewhat wedge shaped, and the teeth have a scissor bite. The ears and tail speak to hound forebears. The ears are medium long and, if not cropped, hang down. The tail is long and somewhat narrow, and curls up at the end. The eyes are dark and bright.

The Inner Doberman

Temperament

Karl Dobermann wanted a ferocious companion; later breeders not so much. The modern Dobie is calm, gentle and playful, although this is apparently more true of U.S. Dobermans than of the European strain. The Dobie's track record shows that it is actually less aggressive than many other dogs that are seen as gentle, such as Great Danes, Dalmatians, and Cocker Spaniels.

They are a little distrustful of strangers, but will follow the owner's lead there. If you say someone is okay, the Dobie will accept that unless it is shown differently; but it is important to remember that it is protective, and the people around it need to respect that.

A Doberman needs to know who is boss, and should be given frequent, calm reminders. This goes for the kids as well. They need to be calm, respectful, and firm. The Dobie will respond to that; after all, obedience was one of the traits it was originally bred for.

Living with A Doberman

Training the Doberman

Dobies rate as one of the most intelligent dogs around. They are easy to train, have excellent memories, and are typically obedient. They are very alert and pick up on things quickly. The Doberman still shows his roots, however. This is not the right dog for everyone. It has a strong need for dominance, and does not take well to negative discipline. Its owner needs to be firm and strong from the beginning. If the owner does not immediately take the alpha role, the Doberman will. At the same time, properly socialized, the Dobie will be gentle, loyal and affectionate.

How active is it?

Dobermans are extremely active and needs daily exercise. They also need to be mentally challenged to keep from becoming bored and restless. This is a dog that needs and wants companionship and attention, and does not do well with long periods of isolation. Having a Dobie is pretty much a full time job, and if you don't have the time or energy to offer, it is not the dog for you.

A Doberman is probably not the best bet for apartment living. It is big, and really needs some space around it. It also has a high need for activity, so it needs to be outside, even if on a leash, quite a bit of the time.

Caring for the Doberman

Grooming needs

This is a breed with minimal maintenance required as their coat is short and easy to care for. There will not be as much hair around the home with the shedding varying from low to moderate. Its coat should still be brushed at least once a week as it helps keep it healthy and shiny and removes debris and loose hair. Give a bath just when it is needed, when it is especially dirty or getting smelly and make sure you only use a dog shampoo. Over bathing a dog damages the natural oils in its skin and can lead to skin problems.

Dental hygiene is important in canines as well as people. Take steps too look after its teeth like brushing at least twice a week. Check the ears for infection and wipe clean once a week. If it does not wear down its nails naturally cut them when they get too long but only do it yourself if you have experience, dog nails are not like ours.

Feeding time

The Doberman will need to eat between 3 to 4 cups of high quality dog food a day depending on its activity level, age, health and size. Quality dog food is important as it is far better for the dog. The 4 cups should be split into at least two meals to avoid eating too much too quickly which could trigger issues like Bloat.

Doberman with children and other animals

Dobies are great family dogs. They bond with family members, are affectionate, and playful. Properly socialized, they are good with kids and with other pets. They always want to be included in family activities, and they love to romp around. If they get a little bored, they probably will grab a favorite toy and push it into your lap, demanding to be played with.

However they are best with older children as they are very sensitive and do not like loud noises or sudden movements. One that is not well trained and socialized is likely to see smaller pets and animals as prey to chase and seize. They can also be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

Dobermans are for the most part healthy, durable dogs, but there are some medical problems they can be vulnerable to. Here are the most important:

Canine cardiomyopathy. This disease apparently has a genetic basis in Dobermans. It can lead to strokes and cardiac arrest, and is therefore possibly fatal. It is not, however, inevitable, and most Dobies will be fine all their lives.

Hypothyroidism. Again, this is genetic. An early sign of this is hair loss and a flaky scalp. Later on there will be lethargy, general slowness, and weight gain. The good news is that hypothyroidism isn't fatal, and is easy to treat. Your veterinarian can have Dobie back to normal very quickly.

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Dobermans are also prey to hip dysplasia, where the hip fails to stay firmly in its socket. Yourdog won't show signs of pain necessarily, but will limp and favor that hip. The dislocation can be treated surgically if need be.

Biting Statistics

The Doberman Pinscher has an aggressive past and that can still come though in some of them today despite most being a lot more gentle now. Looking at data that covers dog attack reports over the last 34 years the Doberman Pinscher has been attributed to 23 attacks. It is known that that at least 12 of those victims were children. 12 of those attacks are known to have been maimings, meaning the victims were left with permanent scarring, disfigurement and loss of limb. There are 8 deaths linked to Doberman Pinscher attacks.

Too often people get a dog and it is more than they can handle, they are not prepared for its needs, its level of mental and physical needs, the care and attention that is needed for effective socialization and training. Be sure you can commit to giving your dog all of that and a place that is suitable for it to live and be loved and you will lessen the risk of any aggression problems. However any dog, from Chihuahua to Doberman Pinscher can become aggressive if mistreated and not raised properly.

Your Pup's Price Tag

Start with the purchase price. The cost of a Doberman from a professional breeder can run anywhere from $600 ton $1,000, so it pays to shop around, although of course you also want to be sure that the breeder is reputable; otherwise the bargain pooch is no bargain at all. You may also want to check out dog shelters in the area, where you might find a Doberman for closer to $200 to $250. You will be getting an older pup that way, but that can be a plus in terms of things like housebreaking.

After that comes initial medical work, like spaying, if your pup is female, or neutering if it is male. That tends to run around $220. At the same time you will need to get the first set of inoculations, along with things like deworming, which will cost about another $70. You will, of course, also need a leash and collar for around $35.

Obedience training comes next, and a Doberman is not a good choice for do-it-yourself work unless you have the skill and experience. A first round of obedience training will typically cost about $110.

Dobermans are big, active dogs. They burn a lot of energy, and so they need to eat a lot. A year's supply of good quality food for a dog this size will cost in the neighborhood of $235. There will be treats on top of that, which for most people run around $50 a year. On the other hand, some owners spend as much or more on doggie treats as they do on dog food.

As the year passes, there will often be other medical expenses in addition to standard stuff like shots. This might average out to something like $260 a year. Many people choose to buy animal veterinary insurance, which can run $200 a year or more.

Overall, the expectable annual cost of owning a Doberman is in the neighborhood of $635.

Names

Looking for a Doberman Pinscher Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

  • Male Doberman Pinscher Names
  • Female Doberman Pinscher Names
  • A Doberman is a lot of dog. It was originally bred for aggressiveness, protectiveness, fearlessness and fierceness. A lot of that has been toned down over the generations, but owning a Doberman is still a decision to be considered carefully. Not everyone is a good fit for a Dobie.

    First of all, a Doberman is one of nature's alpha dogs. It needs early and consistent discipline from its owner. If you are going to own a Dobie, you also have to control it, calmly and gently, but absolutely. You are the one who needs to be the alpha in the household. This is a responsibility that not everyone is able or willing to take on. You need to ask yourself if you are.

    A Dobie is loving, affectionate and extremely loyal. It is playful, and can be great around kids, although both it and the kids need to be properly socialized for this. Because the Doberman is very protective, it makes a good guard and watch dog, but that makes early socialization even more important, especially for dealing with strangers.

    A Doberman needs to be active and get plenty of both physical and mental exercise. It needs a reasonable amount of space, or at least regular times every day where it can be outside moving and working out its kinks. That means it is not the best dog for people who live in apartments. It is also not a good choice for someone who cannot devote the time and attention to it. It does not do well with time alone; it has a craving for company and attention, and can become a problem without that.

    All in all, a Doberman can be a handful, but if you and Dobie have the right fit, it is a wonderful, fun handful.

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