Doberman Pinschers are a relatively young breed, not having been developed until the 1890’s in Germany. The story of their conception is both interesting and serendipitous. Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, a local tax collector and overseer of the dog pound in his home town of Apolda in Thuringen, found his tax collecting duties to be dangerous. He sought to breed a companion animal that would both keep him company and protect him on the road. A number of breeds are believed to have contributed to the Doberman Pinscher, including German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, German Pinscher, and Beauceron. The Doberman Pinscher gained popularity during World War II when the United States Marine Corps named the breed as its official War Dog; however, after the war the breed nearly went extinct. Today the Doberman Pinscher is the (2016) 13th most popular dog in America.
Despite their original use as personal protection dogs, modern Doberman Pinschers are far less aggressive than their ancestors. They are bred to be loyal, intelligent, and protective, but also restrained and trainable. Doberman Pinschers are energetic and playful, and can make wonderful family companions with children. However, as with any dog, socialization is a necessity. Thanks to a number of studies on canine aggression, scientists believe that Doberman Pinschers are among the least likely of dogs to attack their owners or people they are familiar with, but are more likely than most breeds to show aggression towards strangers. For this reason, many landlords and apartment complexes ban Doberman Pinschers (among other breeds) from their properties.
The Doberman Pinscher is a large dog, weighing 88 – 99 lbs for males and 71- 77 lbs for females. Their short coat is low-shedding and low-maintenance, with five possible color combinations: black and rust, blue and rust, fawn and rust, red and rust, and albino, which is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. Two controversial components of the Doberman Pinscher’s aesthetic are a docked tail and cropped ears. While it is standard for the tail to be docked, this procedure is banned in some countries. The dog has naturally floppy ears that are typically cropped and trained to stand erect; however, this modification is also illegal in certain parts of the world.
The most serious health issues that Doberman Pinschers commonly experience are cardiomyopathy, cervical vertebral instability, prostatic disease, and von Willebrand’s disease. For many of these issues, testing is available to help breeders determine the risk of genetic disorders in their litters. For prostatic disease, neutering a male puppy at an early age can eliminate or drastically reduce the risk of developing an issue. Less serious health problems that Doberman Pinschers are prone to developing include hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and canine compulsive disorder. Keeping a pet Doberman Pinscher on a healthy diet and strict exercise is regime is important in order to maintain a proper weight in order to minimize the risk of common health problems. Typical life expectancy for the breed is 9 – 12 years of age.