Originally bred and trained as guard dogs, Doberman pinschers have evolved into popular family companions. Dobermans are called “Velcro dogs,” because they attach themselves to family members and express love by leaning or rubbing against, observing, following and sitting on the lap of their human. Dobermans need companionship, guidance and challenging activities, because bored Dobies might entertain themselves with mischievous or destructive behavior. For hands-on experiences with Dobermans, contact a Doberman dog club.
Temperament and Personality
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images
An individual dog’s temperament refers to its genetic predisposition to exhibit certain behaviors, whereas personality describes a predisposition that is influenced both by life experience and by genetics. People who live with Dobermans describe their temperament as intelligent, versatile and protective. Responsibly bred and properly socialized Dobermans are affectionate companions. The Doberman’s genetic heritage is the basis for the breed’s temperament, but the way a dog is nurtured forms an important part of her personality.
Training Includes Socialization
Many dog behaviorists and trainers believe that positive reinforcement is the best method for teaching dogs positive behavior. According to Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University, “the opposite of reward is not punishment; it is no reward." Dobermans respond well to treats and praise, because they are food-motivated and want to please their humans. Dobies tend to be one-person or one-family dogs, so socialization is essential.
Whether their home is an apartment or a house in the country, Dobermans need daily physical exercise, such as long, vigorous walks, outdoor play and mental activities that challenge their minds. When given opportunities to use their intelligence and expend their energy productively, Dobermans are delightful, perceptive and occasionally silly companions. Dobies enjoy playing kids who are gentle and know not to tease dogs. Young children should not be left alone with dogs or puppies of any breed.
In some cases Dobermans are victims of breed-specific legislation that restricts or bans so-called dangerous breeds from residing in certain housing or towns. Negative perceptions arose in part from the breed’s original role as guard dogs. Dobermans today also work as service and therapy dogs. They may look tough, but Dobermans are sensitive and enjoy curling up beside their people or crawling under blankets for warmth or affection.
Even though their coats are short and smooth, Dobermans shed year-round. Their grooming requires brushing the coat a few times a week with a rubber dog brush or curry. An occasional rubdown with a damp towel benefits the skin and removes loose hair. Doberman pinschers are clean, low-maintenance dogs with no strong odor. Trim their nails as needed, brush their teeth to avoid tartar and check their ears for wax buildup or irritation. Examine your dog while grooming, and if something does not seem right, consult your veterinarian.
The Doberman pinscher, with an average height of 24 to 28 inches, weighs between 65 and 90 pounds and has a life span of 10 to 15 years. Generally a healthy breed, individual Dobermans might inherit serious medical issues, such as cardiomyopathy, which causes an enlarged heart; von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder; Addison's, which causes adrenal insufficiency; or cervical vertebral instability -- Wobbler’s syndrome -- a malformation of vertebrae in the dog’s neck that creates pressure on the spinal cord. Other diseases afflicting the Doberman include hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and bone cancer.
Maura Wolf's published online articles focus on women, children, parenting, non-traditional families, companion animals and mental health. A licensed psychotherapist since 2000, Wolf counsels individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, body image, parenting, aging and LGBTQ issues. Wolf has two Master of Arts degrees: in English, from San Francisco State University and in clinical psychology, from New College.