The Doberman Pinscher is a dog breed first developed in Germany as a guard dog. Once known to be aggressive, the Doberman's temperament has improved through tactful breeding over the years and is now considered a reliable family pet.
The Doberman's powerful, muscular, compact, and square-proportioned build gives it speed, elegance, strength, and endurance. Its posture is alert and proud, while its gait is fast and loose. The accepted colors for the breed include black, red, blue, and fawn -- a light yellowish brown. And its rust-colored markings are found above each eye, on the muzzle, throat and forechest, below the tail, and on all four legs and feet. The Doberman also sports a smooth, short coat with neat lines and a white patch on its chest.
This adventurous and loyal companion is a talented and obedient pupil, always ready for a mental challenge. Though it’s usually sensitive and responsive to its owner's commands, the Doberman can be dominating and overbearing. The breed is also shy with strangers, while aggressive towards strange dogs. A Doberman's alertness and protection ability, however, are often the qualities sought after by dog fanciers.
The Doberman requires mental and physical exertion daily or it may become destructive or frustrated. This need can be easily met with a walk on a leash, a run in an enclosed area, or a long jog. And while it can live outdoors in cool climate, the Doberman is most effective indoors as a guardian and a family companion. Its coat requires minimal care.
The Doberman Pinscher has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Wobbler's syndrome, cervical vertebral instability (CVI), and cardiomyopathy are some serious health problems affecting Dobermans; some minor diseases seen in this breed of dog include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), osteosarcoma, von Willebrand's disease (vWD), demodicosis, and gastric torsion. Albinism, narcolepsy, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are occasionally seen in Dobermans, while the Blue Doberman is more prone to hair loss. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run cardiac, eye, hip, and DNA tests.
Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector, is credited for the creation of the Doberman Pinscher. In search of a watchful guard dog to accompany him during his rounds, Dobermann developed the Doberman Pinscher in the late 19th century by crossing the old German shorthaired shepherd and the German Pinscher. Later, the Black and Tan Manchester Terrier, Weimaraner, and Greyhound were also crossbred.
The original Dobermans had round heads and heavy boned bodies, but breeders soon developed a more robust-looking dog. Over time, the breed evolved remarkably and by 1899, the National Dobermann Pinscher Club, the first club for the new breed, was created in Germany.
After attracting much fame, the first Doberman was introduced to the United States in 1908. The Doberman was used as a guard dog, police dog and even as a war dog, all qualities that eventually made it a favorite as a family protector. Its chiseled outline also made the Doberman a popular show dog.
A new challenge for the breed would arise in the 1970s -- the emergence of the albinistic white Doberman. With this albino gene came a wide range of serious health conditions. In an effort to remedy this problem, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America convinced the American Kennel Club to tag the registration numbers of dogs susceptible to the albino gene with the letter "Z."
In 1977, the Doberman became the second most popular breed in the United States. Since then, the breed has kept its well-regarded status as both a guard dog and a family pet.