Doberman Pinscher

AKC Working Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Doberman Pinscher was named after Louis Dobermann, a German who developed the breed in the late 1800s. Dobermann was a tax collector working in rough neighborhoods, rightfully afraid of being attacked. He decided to create a new breed: an aggressive, alert protection dog to help him in his work. It is thought that he crossed German Pinschers with Rottweillers, Beaucerons, Pinschers, Greyhounds, and other breeds to create the sleek and highly intelligent Doberman Pinscher. True to his original purpose, the Doberman excels at police, military, and guard work. The breed has been used to patrol department stores to catch “sleep’ins,” thieves hiding in the store after hours. Many Dobermans have been war heroes, serving as first-aid dogs, attack dogs, patrol and sentry dogs, messengers, and mine-detecting dogs. The Doberman also excels at competitive obedience, Schutzhund, and tracking. The breed’s appearance itself is a potent crime deterrent. A well-bred, well-trained, and well-treated Doberman Pinscher can be a fine companion dog.


The Doberman Pinscher is an aristocratic, elegant, compact, and athletic square-proportioned dog, usually black and tan or red and tan. The sleek, short coat’s well-defined markings complement the sharply defined body contours. The head is long and narrow and the top of the skull is flat; the head resembles a blunt wedge from the side and top. The eyes are almond-shaped, dark, and lively. Ears may be cropped or natural, but the tail is generally docked at the second joint. The body is squarely proportioned, about the same length as the height at the withers, with a well-tucked-up abdomen. The breed has a graceful and buoyant gait. Colors are black and tan, red and tan, blue and tan, and fawn and tan.

Key Facts

  • Height:  26 to 28 in. (male); 24 to 26 in. (female)
  • Size:  Large
  • Weight:  70 to 75 lbs. (male); 60 to 65 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Tracking, watchdog, guarding, police work, military work, search and rescue, competitive obedience, agility, and Schutzhund


The Doberman is very energetic and needs thorough frequent exercise. The coat is easy to care for. Quality and personality characteristics of Dobermans are highly variable. Some breeders select for “sharpness” (aggressiveness), so choose a puppy with care. Avoid timid dogs, as they can become fear biters. Imported lines can be particularly aggressive. Many American breeders have been striving to refine the temperament for companionability. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America sponsors a temperament test. It is helpful to know the temperaments of the sire and dam of your puppy as these characteristics are often inherited. Never buy a Doberman from a puppy mill; seek a reputable source that emphasizes good temperament and sound body. This breed is susceptible to many serious diseases, including hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, and congenital heart disorders. The latter two can be fatal, so buy only from stock that has been tested for these problems. Subject to cold, and might be prone to bloat. Might also develop skin problems.


Bred for a century to be an outstanding guard dog, the Doberman Pinscher is intense and energetic with tremendous strength and stamina. Versatile and highly intelligent. Determined, fearless, and assertive, but not vicious. Noble, loyal, and affectionate with the family. Likes to be physically close to family members. Devoted and watchful. A very people-oriented breed. The Doberman needs an owner who is willing and able to discipline the dog without being afraid of him. All family members should learn to handle the dog properly as Dobermans can be pushy if allowed to have their own way too much. The Doberman is naturally protective and does not need additional “protection” training to be a fine guard. In fact, he should be thoroughly socialized when young to prevent overprotectiveness. Mental stimulation is important for a truly well-adjusted and happy Doberman. The Doberman must be consistently and thoroughly trained to be a good pet. Training should be through positive reinforcement. Dobes can be good family dogs if of good temperament, well trained, and raised with children from early puppyhood. Best for the experienced owner. Aggression toward other dogs is accepted in the AKC standard. Though generally a dominant breed, Dobermans vary greatly in temperament. Some are even very submissive. Some individuals are family dogs, and some bond only to one person. The Doberman has been bred to work with man, and he needs this interaction often. Dobermans must be with the family, and not abandoned to the backyard.


  • Children:  Good only when raised with children from puppyhood
  • Friendliness:  Moderately protective
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Very high
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Very dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Average bark
  • Indoors:  Fairly active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  A little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Docking:  The ears are customarily cropped, and the tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Vigorous daily exercise needed
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® Doberman Pinscher Breed Standard

Doberman Pinscher Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher Gifts