As with any type of dog, owning a Doberman Pinscher has its responsibilities, its rewards and its unique challenges. The rather dominant temperament and protective instincts of the Doberman Pinscher can make them more challenging to own and train when compared to other breeds that were never developed as protection or guard dogs. However, the very loyalty, playful nature with their owners and high levels of intelligence also make them a desirable breed for many families and individuals.
Determining if the Doberman Pinscher is the best match for you and your family is really a very personal decision. Taking the time to research the breed and understand both the rewards and potential issues with owning a Doberman Pinscher is the first step. In studies of actual dog bite incidents the Doberman Pinscher is not, as some people surmise, one of the top breeds. They are actually behind the tiny Chihuahua and even the very social Cocker Spaniel for reported bites against strangers. They do, however, have a reputation as a very aggressive and even vicious dog, largely due to irresponsible owners and the history of the breed as a military and protection dog. Some areas list the Doberman Pinscher under breed bans or breed restrictions, so it is essential to know if there may be a potential issue with owning a Doberman Pinscher in your area.
Below are several questions that will help you decide if a Doberman Pinscher is the right match for you and your family.
Am I comfortable with training and owning a dominant type of dog?
The Doberman Pinscher is not a submissive dog by nature, although there are submissive traits within the Doberman Pinscher once leadership has been established. The Doberman Pinscher, particularly the males, will go through a period of testing the leadership skills of their owners. Usually this occurs when the dog is between one and two years of age and can be quite marked in some dogs. This testing may include non-compliance to previously mastered commands, basically ignoring the owner or even becoming more aggressive with other dogs, cats or pets in the home. While this is a phase, it can be particularly testing to a person that is not familiar with a dominant breed. It is highly recommended that first time dog owners consider a mature Doberman Pinscher from a rescue that is fully trained and through this period or that they continue to work with a Doberman Pinscher friendly trainer to prevent negative habits and behaviors from occurring.
Am I prepared for a moderate to large sized, high energy dog that has massive amounts of stamina?
All dogs need to have routine exercise no matter what their size or breed. However, the Doberman Pinscher is going to need considerably more exercise than some of the other working breeds. This is partially due to their heritage as traveling protection dogs that ran along beside carriages and horses for days at a time. These dogs can adjust to living in an apartment or small living space without a yard provided they have routine time off-leash in a secured area to run and romp. The Doberman Pinscher loves to really stretch out and run and they are incredibly fast.
Ideally the Doberman Pinscher should be in a home with a large sized, securely fenced yard. This provides room for the Doberman Pinscher to run and play by themselves or with the family, but also gives them a job to do patrolling and protecting their space.
Am I able to manage a dog that could potentially have a higher than average level of dog-aggression and stranger distrust?
Doberman Pinschers, even when highly socialized, will have a natural distrust of new and strange dogs until they have been introduced and have got to know each other. This is particularly true if the other breed is a dominant breed as well. Generally a Doberman Pinscher that is raised with other dogs and pets will get along very well with the other canine and non-canine pets in the family. They are very smart and can identify which animals "belong" in the family unit and which ones don't.
Poorly socialized Doberman Pinschers will exhibit high levels of dog aggression and are not suitable for working in off-leash areas or even to be in dog parks during times when others are present. This is not a normal trait of a well socialized and obedience trained Doberman Pinscher and is a direct sign of an owner that is unable to establish leadership through positive training and obedience work.
Well-socialized Doberman Pinschers are a bit aloof but friendly towards new people in the family home, however unsocialized Doberman Pinschers can be more aggressive and territorial. Some may become distinctively nervous or prone to startling when in new places as they are so alert to any changes in the environment. Nervousness with a Doberman Pinscher can result in biting as the dog reacts in fright rather than aggression when they feel trapped or cornered. As with any dog, routine exposure to lots of friendly people and positive new places will help eliminate this typical dog behavior.
Do I want an inside dog that is this large?
The Doberman Pinscher will mature at between 70 and 90 pounds on the average and will measure up to 28 inches at the shoulder. Despite their size they are relatively cold intolerant and are not suitable for outside kennels or living in any type of cold or wet conditions. Ideally the Doberman Pinscher needs to be indoors with the family, both for physical comfort as well as for the human companionship they crave. Even though they are a large dog they tend to be calm indoors and not at all boisterous or rambunctious once they are out of their juvenile stage of development. Some Doberman Pinscher are almost like lapdogs and would prefer to be up on the couch or the bed with you, a habit that can be very difficult to break once it has been established.
The Doberman Pinscher has a very short, sleek single coat but is never the less a moderate year round shedder. Grooming with a grooming mitt or a medium bristle brush is all that is required to keep the coat in top condition.