As with most of the breeds of dogs that were developed in Europe and more specifically within what is now Germany, the origins of the Doberman Pinscher reach back far into history. The actual development of the current breed of Doberman Pinschers is much more recent, but also like most dogs from the area they were developed for a very specific purpose as a working dog.
The original ancestors of the Doberman Pinscher were originally developed in Europe by crossing the Molosser dogs, which were herding and droving as well as fighting dogs, with the local breeds. This developed into what was known as the German Pinscher. The German Pinscher is still a recognized breed today, although they are much more refined than they were in the early 15th and 16th century when they were bred only somewhat selectively. These dogs were used to guard coaches and travelers and had incredible stamina. They also closely resembled some of the features of the modern Doberman Pinscher with their black and tan coats, red colorations and lean yet muscular appearance.
The rather well documented development of the Doberman Pinscher occurred because of one man that had a very challenging job. In the early 1890s in the small town of Apolda, Germany a man by the name of Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann began collecting taxes for the government. His route often took him through vary dangerous areas plus, as a tax collector, he was not the most welcome visitor in many rural areas and farms. Mr. Dobermann was also the owner of a local dog pound and was responsible for collecting stray dogs that wandered about the town.
With his constant supply of various breeds of dogs, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann deciding to create the perfect guard and protection dog for his tax collection route. He started with the German Pinscher, which was already well known for protecting coaches as well as great stamina and endurance. While not particularly aggressive these dogs would bark and had watchdog abilities that came very naturally. However, the German Pinscher was not a huge or imposing looking dog, only about 35 pounds and 20 inches in height at the shoulder. With an undocked tail and natural ears these German Pinschers resembled a smaller hound type variety and didn't pose a deterrent type of presence.
In order to breed size, strength and some enhanced protective traits into the German Pinscher Mr. Dobermann used the various breeds of dogs that came through the pound, indicating that they were likely hybrids rather than purebreds in many cases. No specific documentation was kept of the breeding since he was not attempting to create a breed as such, rather a protective type of dog.
Early breeding is believed to have included most of the German breeds of dogs including the black and tan German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Great Dane and the very athletic Weimaraner. All these dogs contributed to the solid body, intelligence and personality type of the modern Doberman Pinscher. In addition it is very likely that the French hunting dog, the Beauceron, was also used in the breeding program. The Beauceron contributed color as well as some natural herding and protective instincts.
Manchester Terriers were added into the breeding program somewhere along the line, which added the terrier personality as well as with the Rottweiler and Beauceron contributed to the common black and tan color in the modern Doberman Pinscher. Finally, to add speed, endurance and athletic ability the English Greyhound was added into the program. When the breeding program was finished Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann had created a very close approximation to what the modern breed standards are for the Doberman Pinscher. The dog, which traveled with Mr. Dobermann, was known and Dobermann's Dog, which was eventually changed to Doberman Pinscher.
After Mr. Dobermann's death the line was given to a fellow dog breeder by the name of Otto Goeller. He continued to work on the breed and is believed to have added the English Greyhound to more fully develop the breed. He also established the German National Doberman Pinscher Club in 1889. Mr. Goeller is largely considered to have set the breed standard and really launched the Doberman Pinscher into the public eye. The first Doberman Pinscher breed standard was developed by the German National Doberman Pinscher Club in 1890, which is considered by many to the be actual founding date of the breed.
The first Doberman Pinscher was brought to the United States in 1908 with the breed becoming highly popular. The first Doberman Pinscher club in the US was developed in 1921 and the same German breed standards were adopted. Unfortunately for the Doberman Pinscher both World War 1 and World War 11 left people unable to care for their pets and only those dogs in the military or living outside of the country survived in any significant numbers. At this time, especially in military breeding programs the more aggressive and protective as well as the most intelligent Doberman Pinschers were all that were used in breeding programs.
In the United States, private breeders tended to look for a more mellow type of temperament while still preserving the strength, stamina and intelligence of the breed. Early breeders also strove to keep the American bred Doberman Pinscher very close to the original German bred Doberman Pinscher, preventing the divergence of the lines. With the ravages of the Wars many breeders from Germany exported puppies to American and other countries, ensuring that the best bloodlines would survive and become foundation stock both inside and outside of the dog's native country.
Modern breeders continue to strive for a dog with a true working temperament. Intelligence and protective instincts are important, as is a dominant type of temperament that is still controllable. Doberman Pinschers have been used in the vicious dog fighting rings in many countries, which has caused the breed to have a much undeserved reputation as a vicious or violently aggressive breed. In reality the modern Doberman Pinscher is no different than most of the working breeds, a wonderful companion pet that is still a natural watchdog and protector. With training they can also be used in Schutzhund competitions, agility and obedience work as well as in police, military and search and rescue organizations.