The Doberman Pinscher is a breed often represented negatively not only in movies but in the media. Some areas have them listed on the list of banned breeds, a discrimination tactic of unspeakable ill. There are many outstanding Dobermans that are passed over, and there are many people who never get the joy of working with these exceptionally smart, very loyal dogs.
A cashier at a store was on duty when a beautiful Doberman came in with a customer. The dog had obviously recently been to the veterinarian and had a large jagged area stitched up. Making a liar of his stereotype this dog’s tail couldn’t have wagged any faster as he sat nicely and gave kisses to the stranger before gently taking a cookie as his owner explained the events of a couple nights earlier. It seems this dog woke the family up just after 1 a.m. whining, anxious and creating enough anxiety it woke the couple up although the children were sleeping. The dog did not normally wake them to go out at night but apparently he had to go so they opened the door. Growls, screams and chaos ensued. Although the man was not immediately caught he surely has scars as did the dog and a large meat knife was found, with a trail of blood from the kitchen window to the back of the property. One can only assume someone with a 10-12” knife outside your kitchen window at 1 a.m. is not there with positive intentions. The family was safe, the dog expected to make a full recovery.
Sikasso was a year old red Doberman when he woke his family, persistently barking to wake them and not happy when the mom let him out then went back to bed. He persisted barking and woke the family until someone came outside and saw the attic of the home was on fire. Smoke alarms had not gone off as the fire was above the alarms but Sikasso knew instinctively there was danger. He was honored with the Everyday Hero award from the Doberman Pinscher club.
People misunderstand the natural guarding ability of breeds like the Doberman, misunderstanding assertive for aggression. There is no need to make a dog mean – the natural guarding and protection instinct is there. The Doberman by the standard is 24-26 inches for bitches and 26-28 inches for males. Combining speed and power as well as athletic abilities and intelligence this is a dog that NEEDS consistent training more than many breeds. If one thinks of the movie K911 and “Zeus” to get the incredible amount of training and discipline these dogs can handle.
The dogs that are not trained, or not consistently disciplined, become unruly, further adding to the negative image some have of the breed.
By the standard the allowed colors are black, red, blue and fawn with rust markings above each eye, on the muzzle, throat and front of the chest and on all legs an feet as well as below the tail. A very small white patch under ½ inch square is permissible but other colors, including all white, are not.
Dobermans have long been of man’s closest working allies. They have been with our military, they’ve served as search dogs checking vehicles at our borders, they’ve been used as service dogs and they’ve protected millions of homes and families without incident. They have also been used as seizure alert dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, search and rescue and leading the blind.
During World War II seven Marine war dog platoons were trained at Camp Lejune. These dogs served with the soldiers in the war. By the war’s end 1,047 canine heroes served as “Devil Dogs” with 29 of those giving their lives for their home country. Snipers, knowing how valuable these dogs were to our soldiers, would focus on the dogs. The war dog cemetery at the US naval base in Guam has a life sized bronze of a Doberman, “Always Faithful,” in tribute to these heroes and their handlers.
They are often able to thwart a problem before it happens. A young woman was walking across a parking lot at a grocery store to her truck when a man approached asking for directions. He reached for the door of her truck as her Doberman stood up in the back and effectively changed the man’s mind about approaching his owner.
This is a breed that is smart enough to be what you want it, good or bad. Dogs don’t discern from the two – humans must. The dog pays with his life when humans mishandle the dog or fail to provide training he needs to survive in our world.
Smaller breeds have been bred down to minimum sizes and in the same vein there are some who have produced “extra large” Dobermans. The down side to this is the Doberman is an athletic dog and as size increases the athletic qualities often decrease, making a less than ideal dog overall. There are also some who produce the ‘rare’ white Doberman, which is not eligible for AKC registration as these dogs do not meet the standard.
This heritage of training and willingness to take our calling can mean a high drive dog that is active and easily bored. Plenty of exercise is needed and training to make a wonderful naturally protective – not vicious – dog. The best protection animals are those trained. A dog is not an effective protection if he’s not biddable and under control – and those things don’t happen without training.
There is no need to produce or maintain a dog with a bad attitude and creating such an animal is highly irresponsible. Because of the few that have done such things the majority within the breed pay for it in breed bias and bans in many areas, insurance hassles for their owners and other issues for having done nothing but being the same breed.
These dogs are best as part of a family. Isolation or simply cast off to a kennel leaves an intelligent dog that becomes a bored dog. Additionally it’s impossible for the dog to bond with your family and protect them if he’s removed from the situation. Many *do* love having their own “space” within the home in a crate in a quiet corner of the room that they can go to on their own.
Before getting a Doberman research the health issues that can occur with some individuals of the breed. Many can be eliminated with testing and evaluation. Hip Dysplasia, eye disease and congenital heart disease are three of the major things that affect the breed that can be cleared before breeding and eliminated by not breeding those individuals who do not pass clearances to your satisfaction. Autoimmune thyroiditis is another as is von Willebrand’s Disease.
Understanding and bringing out the good in these dogs rewards you with a gentle dog that will without hesitation lay down his life for you. But sometimes even dogs need second chances.
Cota fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand the Dobe nature and spent most of his days in a crate. An active, intelligent dog became frustrated, unruly and unstable. At a year old he was in his third home and even afraid of toys. He needed an attitude adjustment and was perhaps one many would give up on. Today at 7 he is a certified wilderness search dog with the North American Police Work Dog Association and a Delta Society Therapy dog.
Give the breed a chance and in the right hands they will steal your heart and hand you theirs.