So you want to add a Doberman to your life? Here’s some things to think about and answers to questions you may already have.
Living With A Doberman Pinscher
A Doberman is a loving, loyal, smart, athletic, and attached “velcro” companion. They are relatively clean and must be indoor dogs due to their short coat and their desire to be with their people. In order for them to be truly happy dogs they require a loving and interactive home.
They need to be with the family, have a comfortable place to call their own within the house (large dog bed or crate), have good quality food for a larger sized/athletic breed (we start puppies on Purina ProPlan) and clean water always available. They must have kind discipline and training and quality veterinary care. Doberman grooming needs are minimal but teeth brushing is advised, just like any dog, for good canine oral health. A weekly or bi-monthly nail trim/dremel is necessary, regular bath as needed, regular exercise (a “walk” is not sufficient, they need free run/play).
If you take care of your Doberman, providing these things along with kindly enforcing basic obedience and manners rules, your Doberman will reward you with a love and devotion like no other. They will live to be with you and please you. They adapt very well to the lifestyle of their owners as long as their basic needs are met.
Questions about Doberman pinschers
Q: Is a Doberman a good dog for everyone?
A: The Doberman is a wonderful breed but they are not the right breed for everyone. Consider carefully what this breed is all about. Be sure you can provide for basic needs and specific requirements before committing. Dobermans are not for those who want to keep their pet outside, is gone all day, doesn’t have time to interact with the dog, or who are not willing to provide proper socialization and basic training from the beginning.
Q: Do you have Gladiators? I've seen those really big Dobermans.
A: Sometimes oversized Dobermans are called Warlock, Gladiator, King, Gentle Giants, etc. They are often dogs who are deliberately bred to be oversized, and sold by breeders who are only looking for financial profit not good health or the welfare of the dog.
Here’s the history on the Gladiator name. Many years ago in the 1950s and 60s, there was a Doberman kennel named “House of the Gladiators”. It had nothing to do with the size of the dog; they chose it because it evoked the breed since the Roman gladiator is historically depicted as a brave, loyal defender of his country.
Because the dogs were successful and well-known, “Gladiator” ended up being associated with big, powerful dogs. This became exaggerated, then the name was (incorrectly) given to all oversized Dobermans.
However, oversized dogs is not now, and never was, a good thing. Dobermans are medium-sized dogs. The AKC standard is specific about size–bitches should be 24″ to 26″, the ideal being 25.5″. Males should be 26″ to 28″ with the ideal being 27.5″. There is no disqualification for size in the AKC standard so there have been a variety of sizes in the ring. A healthy Doberman is a well-balanced, medium-sized dog.
Q: What fun things can I do with my Doberman?
A: Louis Dobermann needed an animal that was versatile and he created an intelligent, fearless, smart dog with a great nose. Today’s Doberman is as versatile as the original.
Aside from being wonderful family companions, our dogs have been successful in many things such as:
- barn hunt
- dock diving
- fly ball
- freestyle dance
- lure coursing
- therapy & service work
- conformation (dog shows)
Q: Is it true that male Dobermans do not get along with other male dogs?
A: Sometimes. Some male Dobes will get along with other males just fine. But some dogs after reaching maturity suddenly have a huge problem with other male dogs in the house. Sometimes it has to do with the personality of the dogs that are together, or hormone side of things (neutered or intact), how they were raised, and several other factors.
It almost always ends up in some kind of bad scuffle however. These are powerful dogs and any conflict can have bad consequences. Therefore we generally don’t recommend taking the risk of a male doberman living with another male doberman in a home.
Q: Do I need to train my Doberman to protect me?
A: No. In a well bred, well raised Doberman, the instinct “should” be there. It’s not a guarantee that all Dobermans will protect by instinct and most need to grow into adulthood confidence before being asked to be protective. The DPCA offers a “Working Aptitude Evaluation” (WAE) which tests the stability and protective instinct of an adult Doberman. The WAC title is given to those that successfully show good character and proper instinct.
Q: What about white or Albino Dobermans?
A: White or Albino Dobermans are not rare and they are not a color, it is a genetic fault. ANY white (except for the permissible 1/2 square inch chest patch) is considered a disqualification.
White Dobes can be traced back to one dog, “Padula’s Queen Sheba” and her sire (dad) and mom (dam). This lineage tracing is known as “Z factor,” and the pedigrees of any descendants are marked with a Z in the registered number (WZ…. instead of WS….).
The reduced pigment in skin and eyes causes photosensitivity (squinting or shut eyes in sunlight) and increased risk of solar skin damage including cancer. Albino Dobermans are known to suffer from other deleterious health conditions and temperament problems. Ravensown-KO does not support the breeding of Albino Dobermans for these reasons.
Q: How much do your puppies cost?
A: We consider our puppies part of our family and devote ourselves 24/7 to raising the babies with everything they require from the moment the bitch is pregnant. We spend a great deal of resources raising healthy, well-socialized puppies. If price is the primary consideration for you, please consider adopting an older dog.
Q: Should I get a Doberman from a rescue instead?
A: This is totally up to you and your situation. There are many of good dogs who have wound up in shelters through no fault of their own and who very much need a loving home.
Consider: A dog is made up of its past – in both experience and genetics – and there is (usually) no way to find this out in shelter dogs, so there is a risk with a larger, strong dog like a Doberman. It could put your children or other pets in danger, it could cost a lot in vet bills, it could mean a lot of heartache if the dog passes away unexpectedly from a genetic disease you couldn’t have known about.
Genetics are not 100% predictable — we know how our dogs are today but we may not know what we do in the future. Health risks are associated with dog ownership, but generally these things are in our favor and less “risky” when the dog is from a good breeder and good breeding.
Q: Why do you crop ears? Does it hurt the dog?
A: There are several factors you need to consider before making your own opinion. Trust the advice and practice of experienced good breeders, they put so much love and care into their dogs they would not do ear cropping if it was pointless and really hurt the dog. Our dogs ear crops are done by an experienced and ethical veterinarian so that the outcome looks as desired and that it heals well with no extreme discomfort to the puppy.
Click here to see the best way to care for your puppy’s ears.
Q: If I live in an apartment, should I get a Doberman?
A: Probably not. It can sometimes work out if you are able to take them out safely for exercise and activity multiple times throughout the day (potty breaks alone don’t count, they need daily long walks and room to run and play or a daily “job” such as agility). Often apartments or rentals have breed/size restrictions. We do require our puppies go to a home where a securely fenced yard is already in place.
Q: I have heard that the Doberman is an aggressive breed and will turn on their owner, is that true?
A: No! There are many of these old rumors still around but it is not true in a well-bred and well-socialized dog. Aggressiveness or shyness is a disqualification in the Doberman standard. Ravensown KO Dobermans aim for Always Companions First. While we cannot control all factors for a dog’s behavior, we aim toward breeding for stable temperaments in our dogs.
Q: Will my Doberman get along with my other pets?
A: Yes, but it depends. How a Doberman reacts with other pets in your household or meeting them out in public often comes down to (mostly) how they are raised. Socialization is important during puppyhood and teenage phase. Take your Doberman puppy to puppy obedience class, on walks, to pet friendly stores/venues where they can meet and appropriately interact with other dogs and people.
If raised with good experiences and quality training, the Doberman should be great with other pets. Give them boundaries too, and consider the tolerance level of the other pet(s) they may be introduced to. A brand new curious puppy may want to play a little too much with the kitty, or an older dog may have less patience – teach them to be sensitive and that they are not allowed to be overwhelming. By the time they are mature they will be reliable and not require constant supervision.
Q: Are Dobermans hypo-allergenic? Do they shed?
A: No. They do not have an undercoat so they are easy to groom, but they can shed quite heavily which will spread their dander everywhere, giving you more cause to sneeze.
Hypoallergenic just means that the dog is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It does not mean that the dog will not cause allergic reactions. So, breeds like Poodles and Bichon Frises are less likely to cause allergic reactions.
If you have a severe allergy you may not be able to find any dog that you do not have a reaction to. Unfortunately, even hypoallergenic breeds produce the protein that causes the allergic reaction.
Many “-doodle” or “designer” dogs have been bred and marketed as hypoallergenic for profit. While all dogs deserve a good home, and the majority of non-purebreds are good dogs, too many of the “hypoallergenic” dogs are plagued by mental or physical problems which can be quite expensive and heartbreaking. This is the reason why we talk about the predictability of a purpose-bred dog.
Q: Can I get a puppy from you right now?
A: We have puppies only occasionally — when we have the right dam and sire and also when we have time to devote to raising the babies properly. It’s important that our puppies go to the best home they deserve, so we do not breed simply to “sell” dogs. Puppies are often spoken for in advance.
But if we are not the right fit for you or the availability is just not going to work out, feel free to ask us if we know of any other reputable breeders with planned litters or check out the DPCA’s breeder referral.
Q: Do you co-breed with other breeders?
A: Yes. We are proud to have co-bred with Michelle Santana, the DPCA APEX award Gold Level (Outstanding Breeder), 2012 Dogs in Review Outstanding Breeder, and 2010 AKC Working Group Breeder of the Year and Eukanuba Breeder’s Stakes Champion.
When you see KO in the registered name, we are the co-breeder of the litter (such as “Foxfire n KO…”). Co-breeders will often be included somewhere in the registered name (such as @ Foxfire). This lets everyone know the parentage and be able to better predict how their puppy will grow up.
Q: I just want a family pet. Why does health testing or show titles on parents matter?
A: It’s very important! Dogs can have genetic health conditions that are not shown on the surface. Sometimes they show up later in life or sometimes when bred with another dog with the same gene they can have puppies that show that condition.
The purpose of showing is to prove and qualify which dogs have the right structure, temperament, and appearance to carry on the future of the breed. If the dog is shown and judged to be a good candidate in those areas by winning their show titles- it doesn’t just mean the dog “looks good” or “shows well,” it means they have the character and physical substance to do what they are meant to do.
The purpose of health testing is to reveal the condition of what is not readily apparent to the eye. It shows you what their genetic makeup is and the actual screenings that can only be performed by specialists.
A dog from the background of no showing or no testing is basically a “crapshoot.” Conditions and issues can readily crop up. If you consider just one single risk – fatal congenital heart condition of Dilated Cardiomyopathy, wouldn’t it be worth it to support a breeder that goes above and beyond testing for those things versus the “backyard breeder” who does not know the health history of the pedigree?
Q: Will my Doberman get along with children?
A: Yes, but it depends. When raised with appropriate boundaries and with appropriate exercise outlets, then a Doberman can be a wonderful companion around children. Often they become especially attached to the little ones of the house.
But they are larger sized dogs and a couple month old Doberman that has not been trained could play too rowdy and knock over or bump into kids. They can sometimes be overly protective of their “own” childen as they play with others.
The sensitive nature of the Doberman makes them easy to adapt and befriend kids. Use your best judgement and training.
Q: Should I get two Doberman puppies as playmates?
A: No! A reputable breeder will discourage this because of something called “littermate syndrome.”
What is littermate syndrome? It is when two young or immature dogs (not necessarily litter mates) are raised together and develop unhealthy attachment/obsession with each other and dominating/submissive behaviors with each other. We want the puppy to bond and mature with YOU. Waiting at least 6 months, preferably a year or more is the best option if you want more than one Doberman.
If you still insist on having two young dogs together, consider the emotional and financial toll it will create in the future when you have not one but two senior age dogs.
Questions to ask yourself before adding a Doberman to your family
- Are you prepared to see your Doberman through to old age
- What’s your lifestyle and how will a large, energetic dog fit in?
- Are you prepared for an inside only dog?
- What do you plan to do with your dog while on errands or when you go on vacation?
- Do you have a large proper fenced yard or are willing to go exercise several times a day in all weather conditions?
- Who will be taking care of the dog?
- If you work, what will your dog do while you’re at work?
- Do you have training classes arranged for your dog? Will you join your dog at those classes and follow up on training?
- Do you have children? Are they mature enough to treat the dog with respect? If they are young children, are you prepared to raise a puppy (basically another child) and your child at the same time?
- Does your housing, city, homeowner’s insurance, or neighborhood allow Dobermans?
- Can you afford a dog right now? Are you prepared to make that financial commitment for the life of the dog?
- Do you want a puppy from a reputable breeder or would you consider adopting an adult?