Doberman Pinscher (Dobie)

A Doberman Pinscher sits by the Bow River in Banff, Alberta with the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the background.
Jonathon Olenick/Moment/Getty Images

The Doberman pinscher is a medium-large, deep-chested dog breed with a sleek and sturdy appearance. The breed is muscular and athletic, possessing great strength and endurance. Dobermans (also called "Dobes" or "Dobies") are fearless, loyal and highly intelligent. These traits have made them ideal police, war, and guard dogs, but they are also outstanding companions.

Well-trained Dobermans often do very well with children and in various social situations.

They can make great therapy dogs. The breed's temperament is generally known to be docile yet protective. The Doberman has earned a reputation as a fierce guard dog (which it can certainly be). However, the breed is usually quite gentle and not aggressive by nature.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Working
  • Size: Weight of 65 to 100 pounds; height of 24 to 28 inches
  • Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in black, red, blue, or fawn with rust markings (sometimes small patches of white are seen)
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Doberman Pinscher

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency to BarkLow
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of the Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman pinscher emerged as a breed in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, for whom the breed was named, developed the breed out of the desire for a medium-sized companion and guard dog.

In addition to being a tax collector, he operated the local dog pound and had access to a variety of dogs to use in his breeding program. It is believed that the Doberman originates from breeds such as the Rottweiler, black and tan terrier, German pinscher and possibly the greyhound.

The Doberman pinscher has been treasured for its great intelligence, loyalty, and athletic abilities.

Over the years, the breed has diligently worked as a war dog and police dog but has also remained a faithful companion to many.

The breed served as the U.S. Marine Corps' official war dog during World War II. Twenty-five Dobermans who died fighting with troops on Guam are honored on the World War II War Dog Memorial at the National War Dog Cemetery at Naval Base Guam.

Dobermans have traditionally had their tails docked (removed) soon after birth and, later, their ears cropped (trimmed surgically in order to make them stand erect). Much controversy has surrounded the practice of ear cropping and tail docking in dogs, including the Doberman. Some countries have actually outlawed these practices, but they are still permitted in the U.S. However, many people do elect to keep the ears natural on their Dobermans.

Doberman Pinscher Care

The Doberman has a short, smooth hair coat that requires very little grooming. You can brush him once a week or give his coat a rub with a wet towel. You don't need to bathe him often, just when he gets dirty or develops an odor.

If ears are kept natural (not cropped), then extra attention should be placed upon keeping the ears clean. Trim your dog's nails monthly to prevent them splitting or tearing.

You should brush your dog's teeth at least a couple of times a week to help prevent gum disease and other dental problems.

Most Dobermans have a fairly high energy level and require plenty of exercise in order to stay healthy. Because of their natural athleticism, a few brisk walks or runs every day will help keep a Doberman in tip-top shape. The Doberman is very smart and learns quite easily. Proper training is absolutely essential for this breed to ensure good behavior. Socialization is equally important so the dog isn't overly fearful or aggressive.

It is best to keep your dog on a leash when you go for a walk. Dobies can be aggressive towards other dogs that are not part of their family and defensive if they think you are under threat. They may not be welcome at a dog park if they exhibit this behavior.

As well, many people fear this breed and will be more comfortable around your dog if he is on a leash.

Your yard should be securely fenced so your Doberman has room to roam and play. This breed can get chilled in cold weather. Your dog will want to be part of your family life rather than alone outside.

Though many people think of Dobies as serious dogs, they can actually be a bit goofy and rambunctious at times (especially as puppies). They will do well with children and enjoy playing together as long as the child is old enough to treat the dog with consideration.

Doberman Pinscher Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Diet and Nutrition

Your dog should be fed two meals each day with as much as 3.5 cups of dry dog food per day. The amount your dog needs will depend on size, activity level, age, and other factors. Having two smaller meals rather than one large meal can help prevent GVD, in which gas leads to bloating. This can become a medical emergency if the stomach twists to cut off the blood supply.

Be sure to monitor your dog's weight as obesity can reduce your dog's lifespan and contribute to the risk of other health conditions. Discuss your dog's nutritional needs with your veterinarian to get recommendations specific for your pet.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the Doberman pinscher is the right dog breed for you, be sure to do plenty of research before adopting one. Talk to other Doberman owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you are interested in similar dog breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

You can further explore our many dog breed profiles to find the one that is right for you.