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Canines are by nature, predators, no matter how different they are now from their wolf ancestors. Every modern breed has some prey drive, but some breeds have a lot more or less than others, and each individual in a breed is different. A lot of a breed's prey drive stems from their original working role, energy, playfulness, and guarding instincts. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the powerful Doberman and see what kind of prey drive you can expect this breed to have. HISTORY The Doberman we know today was developed by a German tax collector in the 1800’s who wanted an imposing canine to accompany him on his rounds. In addition to being the town taxman, he also ran the local pound where he started breeding his perfect guardian from a mix of the Black & Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, Rottweiler, and other smooth-coat herding breeds. The terrier and Pinscher lines have more prey drive than the Rottweiler and other herding breeds, but the prey drive wasn’t encouraged in breeding the Doberman. When they are raised with and taught the appropriate behavior around livestock of any size, Doberman’s can appear to have almost no prey drive. Like I mentioned a moment ago, all canines have some prey drive and it varies between breeds and individuals and Dobermans are no exception. One of the best things you can teach your Doberman is a reliable recall and 'leave it' command for their own safety and when curiosity gets the better of them, and of course, keeping them out of situations where they are set-up to fail.  ENERGY/SPACE Part of what made the Doberman’s ancestor an effective taxman guardian and has also allowed them to be a very effective modern day military and police canine is their energy and devotion. You'll find that the modern Doberman still has one of the highest energy levels of any large breed and is often considered one of the most intelligent. They are also quite protective of their family, which makes any strange animal fair game for inspection. They might simply be curious about a new creature, but with over 80 pounds of muscle and teeth coming at them, most small animals are going to bolt. From there, instinct kicks in, and the Doberman both fast and agile enough to catch just about anything they set their mind to. TRAINABILITY/PLAYFULNESS As I mentioned before, when Doberman’s are raised with potential prey animals like cats, chickens, and rabbits, they can appear to have a minimal prey drive. That's not to say, given the right set of circumstances, that they wouldn't go after something they usually don't bother. Even though Doberman’s are highly trainable and excellent family guardians, it's best to keep an eye on them around small animals even after their puppyhood. You can direct their playful puppy energy to obedience training and games; just be mindful of the games you chose. You might want to avoid things like a Flur pull until they are older and established around small prey animals since this activity taps directly into their prey drive. Frequent obedience work is a great way to build this relationship, and you can check out my course shop which includes a Puppy Training course and a Bootcamp training course that's perfect for canines of all ages. FAMILY/GUARDING Being a guardian breed with a high energy levels means Doberman’s can be quite reactive, especially if you have more than one or other dogs in the home. Allowing too much roughhousing or depending on the other dogs to work off the Doberman’s energy is a recipe for disaster. Doberman’s can and will think for themselves, and their large size means they are more reactive and play rougher well past the time they are full grown. They also form deep family bonds, making them effective guardians and helping them excel at protection work in a professional capacity. Some Doberman’s will be more reactive to a situation while others may be more proactive, and either way, it's vital that they see you, and every member of your family, as their canine leader. While they won’t see you or your family as prey, they can get over-excited when playing, and it's critical that anyone who is home with them be able to control them in any situation. WRAP UP The Doberman generally has a low to moderate prey drive once they reach maturity, but this will vary between individuals. You'll want to introduce them to any small animals in your home at the youngest possible age, so they grow up seeing them as part of the family. Always supervise their interactions with potential prey animals or make sure there are plenty of secure places for the smaller animals to get to if you'll be a step away. Most Doberman owners never have a problem, but I can't stress this enough, these are large, powerful canines that must have a calm, consistent leader. 

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