UPDATED! Doberman Pinschers: Breed of the Week
Are Doberman Pinschers Good City Dogs?
Back in the 1970s I remember seeing a movie called The Doberman Gang. It was about a well-trained group of Doberman Pinschers who robbed banks. They were brave, bold, and smart, all attributes of this amazing breed.
Developed as guard dogs in Germany in the 19th century, the Doberman is a beautiful majestic creature. Bred by Louis Doberman, a German tax collector, they are thought to be the result of crossing German Pinschers, Rottweilers, Beaucerons, Manchester Terriers, and Greyhounds.
Standing up to 28 inches high at the shoulder and weighing up to 88 pounds, the Doberman is a large and powerful animal. It is not uncommon to find a Doberman that exceeds the standard size, in fact, large Dobermans are common enough to have been given a special name: Warlocks. Dobermans have a short coat, most often black, but they also come in fawn, red, or blue. All varieties have rust colored markings over their eyes. Their short coats make them easy to groom. Occasional brushing and bathing should be enough to keep your Doberman looking dapper.
Do Doberman Pinschers Bark?
If you are an urban dweller and are considering making a Doberman your Urban Dog, remember that this a canine that was bred to do things. They need to run, walk, and think. A bored Doberman can be 80+ pounds of destruction. So make certain your life style is one that suits the dog. If you are a couch potato or someone who is gone most of the day, this is not the dog for you.
Also, keep in mind, Dobermans, rightly or wrongly, are often on lists of dogs that are not allowed in urban apartment buildings. But rules were meant to be broken. Where we live, Dobermans are technically verboten, but just the other day I saw one being walked nearby. The owner said all they had to do was present their dog’s training papers and behavior certification to show management it was well-behaved.
Dobermans were bred to be guard dogs, so it’s not unusual for them to sound the alarm every now and then. But they not considered excessive barkers. UC Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a chart ranking dogs by the likelihood of barking at inappropriate times. On a scale of one to ten — with one being the least offensive barkers and ten the most excessive barkers — Dobermans get a three rating. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.
Doberman owners are shocked and amazed at the smarts their dogs have. Dobies have an uncanny ability to figure out a situation; they know when to be sweet and cuddly, and when it’s time to defend. They are easily trained and have a strong willingness to learn, as well as to please their owners. They score in the top ten of brightest dogs when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first commands about 95% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes fewer than five repetitions for them to learn new commands. They can be taught to be great babysitters or fierce guard dogs. This is great news for potential city Dobies. You want your dog to be well-behaved in your building’s common areas.
They are good with people and often bond tightly with one person. It is very important to enroll them in socialization classes as puppies.
Dobermans are a very popular breed and unfortunately there are many backyard breeders out there who may not be aware of the perils of interbreeding. An illness found in Dobermans is Von Willebrand’s Disease, an inherited blood disorder that interferes with the blood’s ability to clot. Symptoms are excessive bleeding after an injury or surgery or nosebleeds and bleeding gums. They can also develop hip dysplasia, narcolepsy, and cardiomyopathy. So you can see, you must be very cautious when selecting a breeder.
For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Big dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.
Here is the American Kennel Club’s profile of the Doberman Pinscher.