The Doberman Pinscher (alternatively spelled Dobermann in many countries) or Doberman is a breed of domestic dog. Doberman Pinschers are among the most common of pet breeds, and the breed is well known as an intelligent, alert, and loyal companion dog. Although once commonly used as guard dogs, watch dogs, or police dogs, this is less common today. In many countries, Doberman Pinschers are one of the most recognizable breeds, in part because of their actual roles in society, and in part because of media attention (see temperament). Careful breeding has improved the disposition of this breed, and the modern Doberman Pinscher is an energetic and lively breed ideally suited for companionship and family life.
Doberman Pinschers typically have a deep, broad chest, and a powerful, compact, and square muscular body of medium size. However, in recent years some breeders have primarily bred, shown, and sold a slimmer or more sleek-looking Doberman Pinscher. This has become a popular body type among many owners, especially those who show their Doberman Pinschers competitively. The traditional body type is still more desirable to many casual owners and to those who want the dog for protection. Dogs bred to the ideal standard are bred to possess a body to meet the "Breed type", which is to say they can withstand the physical rigors for which the breed was originally intended. Furthermore, despite the "ideal" standards, it is impossible to have complete control over the size and weight of dogs. Generally speaking, show animals must fall within the ideal range of both size and weight (for that country's breed standard), but it is not unusual to find Dobes not to breed standard, that is, male Dobes 100 pounds (45 kg) or females correspondingly oversized.
Knowledgeable breeders of working dogs, who breed to the highest standard, respect the importance of the conformationally correct, functionally superior dogs. These animals are rare and fetch the highest price. A giant dog is useless when lacking the mental qualities necessary to deliver on the function his body should be bred to perform.
The Doberman Pinscher is a dog of medium size. Although the breed standards vary among kennel and breed clubs, the dog typically stands between 26 to 28 inches 27.5 being ideal (66 to 72 cm), the bitch is typically somewhere between 24 to 26 inches, 25.5 being ideal (61 to 68 cm) (UKC, AKC, UDC breed standard). The dog generally weighs between 75 and 100 pounds (34 and 45 kg) and the bitch between 60 and 90 pounds (27 and 41 kg). There is often a slight difference in type between dogs and bitches, with males being decidedly masculine (but not coarse) and females being noticeably feminine (but not spindly).
Two different color genes exist in the Doberman, one for black (B) and one for color dilution (D), which provides for four different color phenotypes: black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella). The traditional and most common color occurs when both the color and dilution genes have at least one dominant allele (BB, Bb, or bB and DD, Dd, or dD), and is commonly referred to as black or black and rust (also called black and tan). The most common color variation occurs when the black gene has two recessive alleles (bb) but where the dilution gene has at least one dominant allele (DD, Dd, or dD), which produces what is called a red or red and rust Doberman Pinscher in America and a "brown" Doberman in the rest of the world, which is a deep reddish-brown with rust markings.
The remaining two colors, "blue" and "fawn", are controlled by the color dilution gene. In the case of the blue Doberman, the color gene has at least one dominant allele (BB, Bb, or bB), but the dilution gene has both recessive alleles (dd). The fawn (Isabella) is the least common color and occurs when both the color and dilution genes have two recessive alleles (bb and dd). Thus, the blue color is a diluted black, and the fawn color is a diluted red.
Since 1994 the blue and fawn colors have been banned from breeding by the Dobermann Verein in Germany and under FCI regulations Blue and Fawn are considered disqualifying faults in the international showring.
In 1976, a "white" Doberman Pinscher bitch was whelped, and was subsequently bred to her son, who was also bred to his litter sisters. This tight inbreeding continued for some time to allow the breeders to "fix" the mutation, which has been widely marketed (beware of breeders selling their white Dobermans as "special" or "unique" for ridiculous prices). Doberman Pinschers of this color possess a mutation, which is called Agouti signalling peptide (also known as the "chinchilla" gene) which leave the coat and eye color pale,regardless of the genotypes of either of the two color genes. This gene is also shared with white tigers and white lions. Though some potential Doberman Pinscher owners find the color attractive, white Doberman Pinschers face increased risk of sun exposure due to pale fur and abnormal development of the retina. The popularity of the "white" Doberman Pinscher has decreased dramatically as these risks have become known, with many people having called for an end to the breeding and marketing of the white Doberman Pinscher because they perceive it as cruelty to the animal. They are also not a correct representation of the breed, with many having unpredictable temperaments, and serious behavioral problems. Some countries have made the purposeful breeding of the white Doberman illegal, but breeders who care and take note of the ancestors can avoid breeding white dobermans as they are all descended from the original female. A list of every descendent of the original white-producing dogs is available so that breeders can avoid producing this mutant dog. The American Kennel Club registers white Doberman Pinschers but disqualifies them from conformation shows, and the Doberman Pinscher Club of America has actively worked to discourage breeding to obtain a white Doberman Pinscher.
Few potential owners have a choice on the length of their Doberman Pinscher's tail, as docking is normally done soon after the dog's birth. This means that the breeder nearly always makes the decision before their dogs are even put on the market.
Doberman Pinschers will often have their ears cropped, as do many other breeds, a procedure that is functionally related to breed type for both the traditional guard duty and effective sound localization. Like tail docking, ear cropping is illegal in some countries, and in these Doberman Pinschers have natural ears. Doberman Pinscher ear cropping is usually done between 7 and 9 weeks of age. Cropping done after 12 weeks has a low rate of success in getting the ears to stand. Some Doberman Pinscher owners prefer not to have their pet's ears cropped because they are concerned the procedure is painful for the animal despite the use of anesthesia. The process involves trimming off part of the animal's ears and propping them up with posts and tape bandages, which allows the cartilage to develop into an upright position as the puppy grows. The incision scabs fall off within a week and stitches are removed a week after that. The puppy will still have the ability to lay the ears back or down. The process of posting the ears generally takes about a month, but longer show crops can take several months. Ear posting is more discomforting to the dog than the surgery itself. Posting techniques and the associated discomfort vary from one posting technique to the next.
After the initial surgery has been done, the ears are taped. Ear taping uses posts to keep the ears straight in the upright position, allowing them to grow and strengthen the cartilage. There are many variables involved such as crop size, infection, healing, post choice, tape choice, time, teething. Properly cared for ears rarely get infected.
The traditional Doberman has had both tail and ears cropped. Although a number of countries, such as Russia, Japan, Italy, United States and France, still allow docking and cropping, it is illegal in some other countries. In some countries' conformation shows, Doberman Pinschers are allowed to compete with either cropped or natural ears. In Germany a cropped or docked dog cannot be shown regardless of country of origin. Special written exception to this policy does occur when Germany is the location for international events.
Doberman Pinschers are, in general, gentle, loyal, loving, and intelligent dogs. Although there is variation in temperament, a typical pet Doberman attacks only if it has been mistreated or believes that it or its family are in danger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Doberman Pinscher is less frequently involved in attacks on humans resulting in fatalities than several other dog breeds such as pit bull–type dogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers and Alaskan Malamutes.
The Doberman Pinscher has been used as a protection and guard dog, due to its intelligence, loyalty, and ability to physically challenge human aggressors. Doberman Pinschers are commonly used in police work and in the military. The breed was used extensively by the United States Marine Corps in World War II, and 25 Marine War Dogs died in the Battle of Guam in 1944: there is a memorial in Guam in honor of these Doberman Pinschers. They are still the war dog of the U.S. Marines. In these roles, they inspire fear. A related problem is the misunderstanding of their legitimate roles; because guard dogs are trained to neutralize unwelcome intruders, many people mistakenly believe that Doberman Pinschers are vicious. Due to these misconceptions it is not uncommon to see this breed mentioned in forms of breed specific legislation.
The breed is believed to have been created from several different breeds of dogs that had the characteristics that Dobermann was looking for, including the Pinscher, the Beauceron, the Rottweiler, the Thuringian Shepherd Dog, the black Greyhound, the Great Dane, the Weimaraner, the German Shorthaired Pointer, the Manchester Terrier and the old German Shepherd Dog - now extinct. The exact ratios of mixing, and even the exact breeds that were used, remains uncertain to this day, although many experts believe that the Doberman Pinscher is a combination of at least four of these breeds. The single exception is the documented cross with the Greyhound. It is also widely believed that the old German Shepherd (now extinct) gene pool, was the single largest contributor to the Doberman breed. The book entitled "The Dobermann Pinscher", written by Philip Greunig (first printing in 1939), is considered the foremost study of the development of the breed, by the most ardent students of the breed. It describes the early development of the breed by Otto Goeller whose hand allowed the Doberman to become the dog we recognize today.