Doberman Pinscher - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideDoberman Pinscher - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideDoberman Pinscher - Trupanion Dog Breed Guide

Doberman Pinscher



Doberman Pinscher Breed Highlights

Two Doberman Pinscher dogs wearing collars standing in the grass

  • The Doberman Pinscher was the official war dog of the United States Marine Corps in World War II. Dobermans and the other dog breeds used in the program were nicknamed “Devil Dogs.”

  • A Doberman named “Cappy” saved 250 U.S. Marines in the Second Battle of Guam during World War II. He alerted them to the presence of Japanese soldiers and became one of the first K9 casualties when killed by a grenade. He is honored, along with 24 other Doberman Pinschers, with a statue sitting atop the World War II War Dog Memorial.

  • Doberman Pinscher is often shortened to just “Dobe” or “Dobie” by their owners.

  • This breed was originally developed by a tax collector (who also worked as the town’s dog catcher) named Karl Louis Dobermann. He wanted a dog to protect him as he went house-to-house collecting taxes.

  • The Dobe is truly a melting pot of dog breeds. No one is quite sure the exact breed mix that Herr Dobermann used, and as the town’s dog catcher as well, he had quite a few options to add to the mix. Recent genetic studies point to the Rottweiler, Beauceron, German Pinscher, Weimaraner, and German Shepherd as being the foundation for the Doberman Pinscher.

  • Dobermans are athletic, agile, and intelligent, which makes them perfect performers in Doberman Drill Teams. These teams have marched in parades and performed at halftime shows for decades, showing off the beauty of the breed.

  • The Doberman Gang, a 1972 movie about a group of bank-robbing Dobes, showcased their trainability and gorgeous Hollywood-worthy looks.

Unique Physical Features

Illustration of a black and brown Doberman Pinscher with his ears pointed up

  • Deep chest

  • Sleek, muscular build

  • Dolichocephalic (long and narrow skull/muzzle)

  • Distinctive brown markings on the face (especially those expressive eyebrows), chest, and legs

Unique Personality

Illustration of a brown Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans might have a tough guy persona wrapped in a regal package, but they are quite the playful lovebugs with their family. Loyal and protective, they are more reserved when meeting new people. Once you’ve been accepted into their good graces, be prepared for a goofy companion that wants to be involved in your day-to-day life. Even though they’re a large breed, Dobes think themselves the perfect lap dog. They will take every opportunity to cuddle with their person.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - high (tri athlete)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

Dobermans can do well with children if introduced as a puppy and children are taught how to interact respectfully with dogs.

With Other Pets

Icon - cat and dog outline

This breed will do well with other animals in the home with needed socialization and exposure from puppyhood

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

Dobies are adaptable to a variety of homes as long as they get enough exercise. Their short single-layer coat is suited to warmer climates. But a dog jacket helps in colder climates. Dobes are banned in some areas, so you may need to own a home or purchase special insurance to keep one.

Average Lifespan
(Range)

9 - 12 years

Average Size
(Range)

Large:

  • 60 - 100 pounds
  • 24 - 26 inches tall

Breed Group

Working

Similar Breeds

History of the Doberman Pinscher

A brown and black Doberman Pinscher relaxing in the grass

You can thank the taxman for creating the Doberman Pinscher breed. During the 1880s, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, of Apolda, Germany, wanted an imposing and loyal dog to accompany him for his work collecting taxes. Reported to also work as the town’s dog catcher, he had ample choices in breeding a dog that would best fit the job. The exact breeds he used to create the Doberman Pinscher breed are debated, as he didn’t keep copious records of the process. Most agree their lineage includes the Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Black and Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, German Shepherd, and the Beauceron.

Whatever its parentage, the resulting Doberman was perfect for the job. Majestic and intimidating with its compact, muscular body, people would think twice before denying the taxman his due. After Dobermann’s death in 1894, a dog breeder named Otto Goeller took on the job of refining the breed. Goeller started the National Doberman Pinscher Club, and the breed grew in popularity throughout the 20th century.

U.S. History of the Doberman Pinscher Over Time

With Goeller refining the breed in Germany, it didn’t take long to make its way to the United States. In 1908, the first Doberman was registered with the American Kennel Club. But it wasn’t until 1921 that the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formed. Dobermans became a favorite breed for police and military work and were used as guard dogs for American soldiers throughout World War II. The breed continues to be an essential working dog in the 21st century, joining the search and rescue efforts after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

Dobes also made their mark in the show ring, winning Best in Show at Westminster in 1939, 1952, and 1989. The breed has consistently ranked in the top 25 breeds in America, landing the spot of 17th most popular breed based on AKC registrations in 2018.

Doberman Pinscher Behavior and Training

Dobermans are most suited to experienced owners or those willing to dedicate the time and effort to training. Bred to be protective and with an intellect to match, it’s important they are set up for success. Training your Doberman should begin when they are a puppy and continue throughout their life.

When socialized and trained, a Doberman makes a wonderful companion who can do well in meeting new people. Unfortunately, their looks can be quite intimidating to many, and they’ve gotten a bad rap — often labeled aggressive. But if you invest the time and energy in positive reinforcement training and socialization, your Doberman can be a great ambassador of the breed.

Dobermans are eager to please their person and will do best with positive reinforcement training. They can be quite sensitive to methods that rely on force and punishment, which will damage the relationship they have with their family and can cause long term behavioral issues. Focus on rewarding what you want your Doberman to do and managing their surroundings to set everyone up for success.

Plays Well with Others?

  • Proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for a Doberman’s socialization. Maintain this positive socialization for adult Dobes with new people and places. They can be territorial and protective of their family, so it’s essential to maintain positive associations with strangers.

  • TRAINER TIP

    Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet, so it doesn’t get overwhelming.


  • Doberman Pinschers can do well with children if they have been properly introduced and socialized as a puppy. It’s important to make sure that children are polite and gentle when interacting with puppies and dogs. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • This breed will enjoy living with other animals in the home if socialized to them from puppyhood. Take care when introducing your well-socialized adult Doberman to other dogs and animals, as their size can be overwhelming. Dobe play can be quite rambunctious, which might be a bit too much for more cautious dog playmates. Carefully manage their playtime to ensure everyone is having a good time.

Graphic - a bouncing red ball

Exercise Requirements

Daily exercise helps keep a Doberman healthy and gives them an outlet for their energy. Dobermans were bred to work and can go-go-go. Make sure they get enough exercise so they don’t engage in other unwanted behaviors. This breed will need at least an hour of exercise every day. Once fully grown, they can accompany you on your daily run and make great hiking buddies.

Speak with your veterinarian about appropriate exercise for a Doberman Pinscher puppy. Until they are full-grown (bone growth plates typically all close by around 12 to 18 months of age), minimize excessive strenuous or repetitive activities like jogging or running — as this can increase their risk of damage to the growing bone and cartilage, causing pain and future joint issues.

VETERINARIAN TIP

While a tired dog might be a good dog, puppy exercise shouldn’t be forced or “pushed” in any way. Follow your Doberman puppy’s lead in the amount of activity they can do. If they stop and sit down, it’s time for some rest and recovery. In some cases, they might try to “keep up” with an adult dog, so make sure not to let them push too far and over-exercise themselves.

Mental Enrichment Needs

A Doberman needs mental enrichment and loves to solve puzzles. Feeding regular meals with puzzle-bowls, providing interactive toys, and keeping their brain engaged with consistent positive reinforcement training will go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviors. Another great way to provide mental enrichment is to go on long walks where your Doberman can sniff to their heart’s delight.

Common Behavioral Issues

Due to their love of companionship, Dobermans need positive exposure to alone time from puppyhood, to prevent or minimize any separation anxiety issues as they get older. It’s much easier to prevent than to treat once it’s started. Make alone time a positive and relaxing experience for your Dobe.

TRAINER TIP

Any time you leave your Doberman puppy alone, pull out a frozen stuffed Kong or other yummy treat toys. When you return (even if only after thirty seconds), put it away until next time. This will help your Doberman learn that when you’re gone, awesome stuff happens, and they’ll make a positive association with your absence.

Activities the Doberman Pinscher Enjoys

Illustration of a Doberman Pinscher puppy

Dobermans do well in many different activities:

  • Rally Obedience

  • Canine Freestyle

  • Agility

  • Search and Rescue

  • Schutzhund

Doberman Pinscher Coat Type

While their rust-colored markings are quite distinctive for the breed, Doberman Pinschers come in 4 different colors: Black, Red, Blue (a diluted black), and Fawn (a diluted red). They have a smooth single-layer coat, which makes them susceptible to cold weather. They’ll appreciate a warm fleece or jacket during cold weather romping outside.

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 3 of 5 piles of fur

3 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Low maintenance

A Doberman’s sleek coat is easy to maintain, but will still shed. A weekly brushing will help keep that short fur from ending up around your house and help distribute natural oils throughout their coat to keep it healthy and shiny.

Regular nail trimming is needed to keep nails at the proper length. Dobermans have black nails, which can make it difficult to determine how much to clip without causing pain or bleeding. Nail grinding is a preferred trimming method for black nails.

Best Brush for a Doberman: Curry brush, Bristle brush

Famous Owners of the Doberman Pinscher

  • William Shatner (Actor)

  • Kevin Hart (Comedian)

  • Mariah Carey (Singer)

  • JFK (President)

  • Bea Arthur (Actress)

  • Rudolph Valentino (Actor)

  • Victoria Principal (Actress)

  • Jean-Christophe Novelli (Chef)

Famous Doberman Pinschers

Cappy, a Dobie who saved 250 U.S. Marines and died in the line of duty. He became the first dog to be buried in what eventually became the War Dog Cemetery.

Doberman Pinchers in Books, Movies and TV

  • Rodney from It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dog

  • Zeus & Apollo in Magnum PI

  • Alpha from UP

  • The dog from Eyes of an Angel

  • Diablo from Beverly Hills Chihuahua

  • The dogs from The Doberman Gang films

  • Zeus from K-911

  • The dog from Hugo

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Doberman Pinscher

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for Doberman Pinschers. Every Doberman Pinscher is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Condition: Sarcoma

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Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

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Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

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