What Is a Donovan Pinscher?

Donovan pinschers make excellent guard dogs.
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The Donovan pinscher is a designer dog who looks like a strong muscular mastiff mix with tall, cropped ears. The Donovan, developed in the late 1990s from a large number of established breeds, does not appear to have breed-related health problems. The Donovan pinscher is not acknowledged by the American Kennel Club and does not appear on the registry's list of breeds.

Donovan Pinscher Appearance

Donovan pinscher adults weigh 65 to 100 pounds and stand 20 to 26 inches at the shoulder. Males are bigger and heavier than females. They are square dogs with heavy-boned front ends and light springy back ends, giving the impression of strength. Donovan heads are wedge-shaped, proportional to their bodies, and set on well-muscled necks. The teeth are powerful with a scissor bite. Coats can be brindle, black, red or fawn. They may be with or without black masks. The skin should be thick and loose around the chest and neck, where it should show vertical folds, and should be tight everywhere else. The tail should be low set, thick at the base and docked.

Breed History

The breed was developed as a protection breed by Dominick Donovan, a dog trainer and handler who operated New Jersey-based K-9 Training and Breeding Facilities. Working dogs in the Donovan Pinscher's ancestry include the Akita, the American bulldog, the American Pit Bull terrier, the Belgian Malinois, the bull mastiff, the Cane Corso, the Dutch shepherd, the English mastiff, the Fila Brasiliero, the German shepherd, the Japanese Tosa, the Neapolitan mastiff, the Presa Canario and the Rottweiler. The Dutch shepherd was one of the main ancestors.

Potentially Temperamental

The breed was developed to be a hard-working and energetic service dog. The bully breed heritage provide it with a high prey drive and tenacity, while the herding and guarding breed heritage provide intelligence, trainability and the urge to be protective. Online forums show mixed opinions about the temperament of the breed -- the purpose of the dog's breeding was to engineer a dog who's aggressive when needed to serve as a guard dog; but instances of aggression toward owners are noted. The Donovan pinscher is meant to be a working dog and not a family pet.

Working and Competition

The breeding and temperament of the Donovan pinscher make it well-suited for police and security work. Donovans are excellent for guarding property, as they are protective and territorial, and ferocious when challenged. They are accomplished in protection sports, K-9 security and detection work, and competitive sports such as Schutzhund, KNPV, aAgility, and French Ring due to their speed, power and agility.