Dobermans are the 17th most popular breed in the USA.
These German dogs are often associated with being used by the military or police but Dobermans can also make great service dogs due to their high intelligence.
Unfortunately, the breed are sometimes subjected to unfair stereotypes due to their size and stature. The perception of Dobermans in the media hasn’t helped, either.
John Walter is the founder of website Doberman Planet, which is one of the foremost authorities on the Doberman breed.
We spoke to John to learn more about his Doberman called Cooper, as well as the breed as a whole. A family Doberman specialist, John is an expert on these Dobies, whether they’re working dogs or beloved pets.
1) What are the origins of the Doberman?
The Doberman breed was originally created by Louis Dobermann in the late 1800’s. Louis lived in Apolda, Germany and had many jobs including that of the town’s tax collector, night watchman, and local dog catcher. Louis set out to create the ideal personal protection dog to accompany him on his rounds throughout town. Using the access he had to multiple different dog breeds as the local dog catcher, he began selectively breeding dogs until he came up with what he believed was the ideal personal protection dog. The exact breeds he used in the creation of the Doberman has been lost to history but many experts believe he used the German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Blue Great Dane, German Pinscher, black and tan terrier, and many others.
2) How did the modern-day Doberman appearance come about?
The Doberman breed was further refined in the early 1900s by the addition of the Greyhound into the Doberman’s genetic line. In more recent generations, the Doberman Pinscher has been further refined to meet demand and is now a very loving, loyal, and naturally protective family dog. They’re just the best and most well rounded breed in my opinion!
3) Why are Doberman ears often cropped?
There are many reasons for this, but the die-hard Doberman fans out there will tell you that their biggest reason is because this is how Louis Dobermann originally had his dogs. They’ll say that this is how the breed started thanks to Louis and they want to continue the Doberman in the image that Louis meant for the breed. Originally, Louis cropped his dog’s ears so there would be one less handhold on the dog for someone to grab onto while the dog was performing protection duties.
4) Is Doberman good family dog?
The modern-day Doberman is an amazing family dog! The dog has been refined to meet the demand of people looking for an ideal, well-rounded family pet. The result is now we have a dog that’s highly in-tune with humans, loving, gentle with children, incredibly intelligent, and still protective of their family without being overly aggressive. They’re just an amazing balance.
5) Are Dobermans affectionate?
Definitely. They were bred to be personal guardians and as such, they are highly in-tune with their owners and want nothing more than to be stuck by their side. They love to climb up into your lap while you’re watching TV or sleep on your bed with you. Just when you don’t think your Dobie can get any closer, he’ll find a way!
6) Are Dobermans easy to train? Do they need any special training?
Dobermans are consistently ranked among the top 5 most intelligent dogs in the world. They also just have a high desire to be trained, so yes, they are very easy to train. They thrive on it. Working on any training aspects with your Doberman will keep them happy and their mind at ease.
7) Why are Dobermans often stereotyped as an aggressive breed?
It’s probably a combination of a few factors. Most likely it has to do with how Hollywood portrays these dogs as well as their history. They were originally protection dogs and a bit more aggressive than they are today. They also served the U.S. Marine Corps in World War 2 during the Battle of Guam and were referred to by the Japanese forces as “Devil Dogs”. Unfortunately, though, this stigma of high aggression has stuck with the breed even though it couldn’t be further from the truth with most of today’s Dobermans.
8) Do Dobermans bark a lot?
They certainly can. This is a function of their highly alert temperament and protection qualities. But when it becomes a serious problem, it usually has to do with something else, such as being left alone too long and suffering from some separation anxiety.
9) Are Dobermans a good guard dog?
They are great guard dogs! After all, that was their original purpose. Dobermans tend to be a bit better at personal protection work than guarding a large territory or property, but they can excel at either with minimal training.
10) Do Dobermans have a natural instinct to protect?
Definitely. Even a Doberman who has had absolutely zero protection training will take action when necessary to protect their family. It’s an amazing thing to see.
11) Do Dobermans tend to suffer from separation anxiety?
Yes, they are certainly prone to this. They are such people-oriented dogs that they want nothing more than to be by their owner’s side at all times. Exercise, training, and plenty of stimulating toys can help to prevent separation anxiety issues.
12) How much exercise do Dobermans need?
It varies depending on the individual dog, but typically 1 to 2 hours of exercise per day is a good place to start.
13) How much does it cost to feed a Doberman?
That varies widely based on the quality of food you feed and the dog’s activity levels, but around $80 per month is about average if you’re using high quality food.
14) What is the normal price range for a Doberman?
The cost of a Doberman puppy from a reputable breeder will depend on a number of factors including the specific lineage and your location. But in the United States, they’ll range between $1500 and $2500 for a quality Doberman Pinscher puppy. A European Doberman puppy will often run quite a bit more than that.
15) Are Dobermans suited to apartment or city life?
They aren’t the ideal dog for a small living situation, but they can certainly work. They are highly trainable and love being close to their owners—two qualities that are great in a small apartment. But they do need a lot of exercise so this means frequent trips to the dog park or at least outside the apartment are needed to give your dog enough space to let some energy out.
16) What are the frustrating stereotypes surrounding Dobermans?
Mainly the aggression issue. So many people are turned off to the breed because of this. But, these same people are just blown away when they get their first Doberman and realize how much of a cuddle-bug these dogs are and how much affection they give.
17) Do Dobermans shed a lot?
Not really. It’s a moderate amount of shedding but because the hairs are so short and thick, they’re very easy to sweep up. The only downside is that these hairs like to stick into the fabric of furniture or clothes.
18) Do you believe a specific type of person is required to own a Doberman?
Nope. The only thing you need is a desire and willingness to give the Doberman what they need. This is probably where I differ from many of the traditional Doberman professionals. I truly believe that just about anyone can succeed in owning a Doberman, yes even someone who lives in a small apartment, or who works full time. Dobermans are incredibly adaptable to a number of living situations with the right care and training.
19) How did you first become interested in Dobermans?
I remember driving by the home of a local Sheriff, and I saw the most impressive Doberman in his yard watching me like a hawk and protecting his home. I began to read and study as much as possible about the breed after that. I got my first Doberman, Cooper, in 2013 and there was no looking back. Now I train Dobermans exclusively for other people and share my knowledge through my website, Doberman Planet, as well as my YouTube channel of the same name. I specialize in family relations with Dobermans and absolutely love it.
20) How many Dobermans have you owned?
I’m onto my second Doberman now although I work with other Dobermans all the time. So far I have been unsuccessful in convincing the wife that we need more than one at a time. The upside to this though is that it has allowed me to focus all my efforts into one dog at a time which has been nice.
21) What were the initial challenges you faced with Cooper as a puppy?
The first year when he was a puppy was very tough. My wife and I were both working full time and we had to get really creative to make it work. We would have a family member or a neighbor kid come over part way through the work day to help us get through that first year as a puppy. That was probably the most difficult.
22) Did you have to make any adjustments or do any training after the birth of your first child?
Not much at all, Cooper was naturally very gentle with our baby boy. We made a few small changes, like deciding to make a new rule for Cooper that he wasn’t allowed on the couch without permission, since we didn’t want him to do one of his running jumps onto the couch and not notice the baby laying there. But we certainly were never worried about Cooper doing anything harmful on purpose. The changes we made were really quite minimal.
23) Do you enjoy your role as a Doberman advocate? I love it! It’s what gets me up in the morning. I feel that the Doberman is one of the most underrated breeds of all time. Once people discover how gentle, loving, and intelligent these dogs are they usually become as addicted to the breed as I am!
24) Can you explain how Doberman Planet came about?
I would often see Doberman owners struggling with raising their dogs (especially in that first year). I found myself doing what I could to help them but I knew that for every one I helped there were countless others I couldn’t reach. Doberman Planet came about as a means to help as many owners as possible get through the difficult and unique aspects of owning a Doberman. I also wanted to break the stigma around the breed and help loving families to successfully bring a Dobie into their home.
25) Is there a big Doberman community online?
Definitely. There are multiple different forums and groups out there. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are also a bit more inclusive than others. It can be hard to find one that “has it all” but I think that may be in the future for Doberman Planet also. Currently, I’m most active on a few Doberman-related Facebook groups, but there are many other options also.