The Doberman

Sleek, Agile Dobermans were Born to Work


With beauty, brains, agility, and loyalty, what other breed could it be but the Doberman Pinscher?

Today's Doberman Pinscher is one of the most popular and respected members of the canine clan. Developed first as police dogs in 19th Century Germany, this breed continues to excel as a watchdog, guardian, and protector. In addition, the breed is now remarkable as a guide dog for the blind, military dog, and pet.

The Doberman, or Dobe as he is now called by his friends, is a product of Germany. Herr Louis Dobermann developed this versatile breed in the Apolda region of Germany to suit his own need for a loyal, obedient, fiercely protective dog to accompany him in his nightly rounds as a policeman. Since he also worked as the local dogcatcher, Herr Dobermann had access to a wide variety of dogs to develop his large "pinscher" or terrier. Some of the breeds used to shape the Dobe include the pinscher (a smaller black and tan dog very similar in appearance to the modern Doberman and the Manchester Terrier), Rottweilers, and Thuringian Shepherds. Other breeds that contributed their genes are black Greyhound for elegance and sleekness, Great Dane, Weimaraner and German Shorthaired Pointer.

The resulting dog possessed an uncanny intelligence, bravery. loyalty, stamina, and protectiveness in a medium-to-large working dog with an easy-care, short, dense coat. It was with great pride that this breed became known as "Dobermann's Pinscher."

The modern Dobe

Today's Doberman Pinscher has lost the second 'n' from its name and has mellowed in fierceness to become a family member apable of displaying great gentleness and devotion to children and other animals in the home. Having left behind his terrier roots, he has also dropped the Pinscher portion of the name in many countries.

In appearance, the modern Doberman Pinscher is elatively tall with males standing between 26 and 28 inches at the shoulder and females standing 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder. he weight of an adult dog will typically range between 60 and 85 pounds depending on size and sex. Overall, the Doberman should appear muscular, athletic and energetic. The ideal specimen should be squarely built with the height at the withers approximating the length of the dog's body from the point of the chest to the rearmost portion of the upper thigh. The back rises in a clean, well- arched, muscular neck to the head. The chest is deep and broad with a smooth line from it into a well-tucked up belly and loin. The legs are strong and possess good bone mass without appearing coarse. Dewclaws are usually removed if they occur. The tail is most often docked at the second joint within a few days of birth and is carried as an extension of the spine.

The ideal Doberman head is wedge-shaped with eyes blending in color with the color of the coat. Dark eyes are much preferred over other shades and should be relatively deep set. A Doberman's expression should display his great intelligence and vigorous character.

Of great importance in the proper appearance of the breed is the ear, and especially the proper cropping of the ear to create a pleasing shape and appearance. Ear cropping is illegal in many countries including Great Britain and Australia but many others, including American Doberman fanciers, believe that an erect, cropped ear enhances the appearance of this breed.

In making a decision on whether or not to crop the ears of your own Doberman, remember that it is a surgical procedure that is best done by only the most experienced veterinarians. For this reason, many breeders do not place puppies until after this operation has been done. Mistakes can be made that adversely affect the appearance of the dog. Following surgery on the ears, taping and propping to achieve proper healing and ear carriage is essential.

The Doberman occurs most typically in black with rust markings or red, actually a deep rusty red with lighter rust markings. Less common but also acceptable in the breed are steel blue or light fawn. Known respectively as blue and Isabella, these colors must also possess the rust markings of the other colors. The rust markings should appear on the muzzle, the throat, above the eyes, the front of the chest, beneath the tail and on all legs and feet. A small white patch less than one-half inch square is permissible on the chest but no other white is allowed. White Dobermans may not be shown as this is a disqualifying fault.

The coat is short and smooth and requires little beyond a good brushing or rubdown with a rough towel. Shedding is minimal and tolerable because of the shortness of the coat.

In temperament, the Doberman should possess a great intelligence and desire to please the owner. It is not unusual for this breed to produce one-man and one-family dogs because of their great loyalty. With their protective natures, Dobermans should not be left unsupervised with children. Many protective breeds will be very good companions for their own children but may be overprotective and misread the roughness and shouting of play as a threat to their own children.

As a working dog, the Dobe may display nervousness, destructiveness, excessive barking and other undesirable behaviors if it is deprived of exercise and training. This breed is full of quick learners and training should be undertaken as soon as possible after bringing the new dog into the family to cement the bond between owner and dog and to control this energetic breed. With their great capacity to understand and react properly to situations, the Doberman is quite adaptable to city life if it is given the proper training.

Exercise is critical for the health and well-being of the dogs. They were bred and born to work and have a great deal of energy to burn. Long walks and frequent play sessions in secure areas will make your dog fit and keep him from becoming nervous. A good romp or game of fetch in a fenced yard is an ideal way to keep your dog healthy and happy.

As wonderful as the Doberman Pinscher is, there are health problems that occur in the breed. As with any breed of dog, hip dysplasia is a real threat and any dog's pedigree should be checked to see if it's parents are from sound stock. Dobermans may also have heart problems, bleeding disorders, eye defects, skin diseases, and hypothyroidism. Bloat is also a major threat to any Doberman and owners are urged to consult with their veterinarian for advice on preventing this problem.

If the Doberman is the breed for you, the threat of a health problem is not a reason to avoid the breed. Health concerns should only inspire you to be more careful in finding a breeder committed to protecting and bettering the breed. Going to dog shows and reading dog magazines are both good ways to meet breeders and learn more about the breed. Talking to friends with Dobermans or who are active in dog sports may also help you find a reputable breeder.

With a little luck and a bit of hard work, you will find the Doberman for you. As your reward you will have a friend for years of happiness

[More on finding a dog]

Norma Bennett Woolf

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