When you think of a Doberman, the image of a snarling guard dog with bared teeth and dripping saliva may come to mind. While it’s true that they are bred to be protectors, did you know that they can also have a soft side, or that their personalities have changed over the years?
From guardian, to work dog, to family friend, Dobies are a very versatile breed. If you don’t know much about them, stay tuned: you’re bound to learn something! And if you’re someone who thinks they’re all a little scary, these 11 fun facts just might change your mind.
(As always, all dogs’ temperaments should be evaluated on an individual basis.)
1. They were bred to be protective companions.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Dobermans were bred some time in the 1890’s by German tax collector Louis Dobermann. He wanted a guard dog who could protect him–while appearing intimidating, yet elegant–and to act as a companion on his evening shifts through town, where he carried large amounts of cash.
2. The tradition of ear clipping and tail docking was meant to make them better fighters.
Dobies are actually born with long tails and floppy ears. But Mental Floss explains that ear clipping and tail docking were meant to enhance performance. With big ears and tails, their competition could gain an advantage by grabbing on to these appendages.
Some people still dock their Dobie’s tails because they are thin and fragile, making them easily breakable. Likewise, ear clipping allows for better airflow and can help prevent infections that floppy-eared dogs are prone to. However, many feel this practice is unnecessary and inhumane; it is even outlawed in some countries like the U.K. and Australia. (Plus, their ears are naturally beautiful, just as they are.)
3. Dobermans are the result of a cocktail of breeds.
Animal Planet explains that genetics include: German Pincer, Rottweiler, Thuringian Shepherd Dog, Black Greyhound, Great Dane, Weimaraner, German Shorthair Pointer, and German Shepherd. Whew!
4. They’ve gotten a bad rap.
Like Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, Dobies can be thought of as vicious. After all, they were bred to be fierce guard dogs. Animal Planet also says that they have a strong and scissor-like bite, making them all the more intimidating. And if they are crossed the wrong way, they will certainly do their jobs. However, they are currently one of the world’s most misunderstood breeds. (Read on!)
5. They were also bred to be fiercely loyal to their owners
Mr. Dobermann didn’t just want a killing machine–he wanted a loyal companion. This dog was bred to be a loving friend to his family.
6. And today’s Dobermans are less aggressive than ever before
What’s more, Animal Planet says that over the past decade, Dobies have been bred to retain more docile qualities and less aggressive ones. All dogs must be evaluated on an individual basis, but in general, today’s Dobermans are less aggressive than those in years past.
7. They are known for their superior intelligence
The AKC ranks them as the 5th smartest dog breed in the world, and also describes them as highly trainable. This means that they have a great capacity for learning tasks–but can also get easily bored.
8. And they can make amazing family dogs
The AKC says that “not all Dobermans have the same temperament,” but “A Doberman Pinscher of correct breed temperament is trustworthy with his master’s children, friends and company.” Animal Planet suggests that Dobies be socialized with children, people, and pets from puppyhood. Bottom line: if you want a family dog that is capably protective of you and your kids, the right Dobie might fit the bill!
9. They come in 4 different colors:
Black & rust, blue & rust, fawn & rust, and red & rust, according to the AKC.
10. They are prone to some health issues, so it is imperative that they are purchased through a reputable breeder.
..as with all purebred dogs. (This both diminishes the risk of health issues due to irresponsible breeding, and it ensures that you’re not supporting backyard breeders or puppy mills.) According to the AKC, some potential health problems include hip displaysia, eye disease, Wobbler’s syndrome, which affects the spine, and von Willebrand’s disease, a condition where the blood does not clot.
If you are rescuing a Doberman (yay!), find out as much as you can about his/her parents.
11. And even though they’re tough guys, they are susceptible to getting chilly!
Because of their predisposition to retain very little body fat, Dobies are sensitive to the cold. If you have a Doberman and live someplace where it gets cold, you may want to invest in some doggy sweaters!