About the Breed
The largest of the Pinschers, the breed takes its name from the man who developed it: Louis Dobermann, a tax collector in Apolda, Germany. He wanted a fierce looking dog to protect him in his work, to act as a deterrent to any would be robbers, and with courage enough to defend and attack when required.
To a foundation of Pinscher blood was added Weimaraner, Greyhound, Manchester Terrier, Rottweiler and German Shepherd blood to get a combination of intelligence, speed and toughness of character.
By the late 19th century Dobermann had established the type he wanted in his dogs: the squarely built, clean outline with a wedge-shaped head and keen expression. The breed was recognised by the German Kennel Club in 1899.
The Dobermann’s intelligence and trainability have been harnessed by the armed forces and the police and he has been used as a guard dog, a tracking dog and in various other roles.
There are so many factors you need to know if you are considering a Dobermann as a pet and whilst many Dobermann owners may extol the virtues of a “pet” Dobermann, it is very important to understand that they are all very different as individuals, as are we and we all have different lifestyles, commitments, live in different environments and have different amounts of time to devote to a dog, especially a large working breed, designed for a specific job. All these factors will impact hugely on you and your Dobermann and how successful your relationship and life together will be. A Dobermann is a big time, effort and lifestyle commitment.
We really need to understand what the function of our Dobermann is and quite apart from understanding his species-specific needs, we also need to know and understand exactly what he was specifically and selectively bred to do and ensure we have it in us to be able to provide what he does need in order to be able to live with him in harmony and train him successfully.
There is always an explanation as to why a dog, particularly a dog like the Dobermann, bred for a specifically selected job and purpose, will exhibit the behaviours we see from him but, as humans, we often struggle to understand.
I list below some of the issues owners of Dobermanns can face or don’t understand that I see regularly as a behavioural coach & trainer specialising in the breed:
* Why Dobermann’s love movement and chase everything that does move, not just squirrels but joggers, cyclists and children too
* Why Dobermanns are attention seeking and will often demand bark at you
* Dobermanns can be very destructive in the home if their needs are not met
* Why the obedience classes are not helping
* Why Eastern European breeding can be more challenging in a pet home
* Why so many Dobermanns are reactive
* Why you can never go to the bathroom or anywhere else alone
* Why Separation Anxiety can occur in your Dobermann
* Why Dobermanns as a working breed can be difficult as pets
* Why so many Dobermanns will jump up, mouth & bite your arms or clothing or their lead
* Why so many Dobermanns get expelled and banned from training schools
* Why Dobermanns are so different to other breeds
Dobermanns are very different to most other breeds.They are “a breed apart!”, they can be a “challenging” breed and that is why so many of us struggle with their training and why there are so many Dobermanns trying to find rescue space in the already overcrowded rescues at the moment, particularly as they hit adolescence!
It is so important a prospective pet Dobermann owner knows of the commitment and time that needs to be invested in the breed and that you get the right breed specific help from day one.
Most people know that before you buy any breed you need to do your research. If you are thinking of a Dobermann however, this is even more important.
Sadly, there are many health issues prevalent in the breed today and it is very wise to carefully research and do your homework, and lots of it, as to where you buy your Dobermann puppy. Temperament too is of course even more important in a “pet” Dobermann than of a smaller easier to manage breed.
A quality breeder will ask you many questions and will want to interview you to satisfy themselves that you can provide a suitable, safe, loving forever home for one of his/her puppies. Prepare to be quizzed. He or she will provide lifetime back up, being prepared to take their puppies back at any age if you find you are unable to keep him or her. Above all a reputable quality breeder will have carried out all necessary health tests to determine as far as possible that their progeny will be healthy and live a long life. This breeder will also be breeding for temperament and the improvement of the breed.
If you see puppies advertised on gumtree, preloved, pets for homes or other such selling sites then rest assured these people are not whom you should be buying from.
Those advertising special “colours” will also be looking for the colour of your money and won’t be breeding for health or temperament. These people are known as “Greeders”.
The lady down the road who has just decided her bitch needs to experience a litter, and has mated her with her own dog, or one from round the corner is also a scenario to be avoided. Often this lady has bred many litters without a second thought to health testing or temperament and again is breeding for money. Avoid those too who are prepared to sell you two puppies from the same litter!!
If you buy a puppy as an import beware! If you do not have the help of a reputable breeder in the UK to help you source a quality import puppy from a reputable breeder abroad, the likelihood is you will be buying from a puppy farm. Whatever the promise do be aware that there are some fantastic puppy farmers and forgers of papers selling from abroad and if you don’t know what the paperwork should look like it’s going to be even easier for them to defraud and claim to be breeding from “Champions”.
It is also important for pet dog owners to know that if you decide to import your puppy it will not arrive with you until he/she is much older and may have experienced a very difficult journey which is often traumatic for the puppy and will cause fear or anxiety issues for both puppy and you. Add this to the fact that by the time the puppy arrives, you will have missed the window of opportunity and ideal time to work on and build in safety, resilience and confidence through socialisation and training for your puppy, then this knowledge should further impact on your decision on whether or not it’s a good idea to buy from abroad. Liking the “look” alone is not a safe or sensible decision or option.
So how you can make life with your Dobermann work for you both?
- Ensure you have plenty of time to commit to a new Dobermann puppy.
- Hang out at some KC dog shows & get to know the exhibitors & the breed
- Ask questions from reputable experts
- Source your puppy from a reputable breeder who breeds for health and temperament
- If in doubt don’t buy
- Get the right specialist training and behavioural preparation advice in advance of collecting your puppy at 8 weeks
- Book into a puppy programme with a breed specialist who practices kind ethical training with built in support
- Be prepared to invest in behaviour and training advice for the next two years
- Don’t ask for or follow the advice of other owners. (I have had a set of teeth all my life, but I’m not qualified to carry out dentistry.
- Be prepared for considerable financial as well as time commitment.
Most IMPORTANT of all DO understand your Dobermann is a sentient being with species specific and breed specific needs that are hard wired and very, very different from yours!
You will need to understand and be prepared and able to take care of these needs and understand also your Dobermann has emotions and feelings just like you and me.
With thanks to Sharon Chamberlain of Dobercadamy for writing this article.
This little lady came into our care from the RSPCA as a victim of a cruelty case. She had a terrible scald on her back which was still quite raw; she went directly into foster care with a lovely family who cared for her during her recovery, they were amazing.
The trauma of the scald incident made her very nervous of the world around her; her anxiety was extreme. It was clear that to help her move forward she would need professional help and so she went off to a board and train facility for a few weeks. She is still not perfect but her adopters say “We used to live in a quiet street but you have certainly made your mark on that front. You have melted our hearts with your naughty/loving personality; you came into our lives and we’ve had counselling ever since – Only joking Pops, you are our little ray of sunshine. A big thank you to LDR for making this happen”