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The Doberman – The Designer Breed of the 19th Century
This breed is named after its creator, the German tax collector Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. Around the year 1890, Mr. Dobermann, who also ran the local dog shelter, started combining several breeds with the aim of creating the ultimate guardian: A fearsome-looking dog who would defend its owner with its life, if necessary. For this purpose, the tax collector combined strong and naturally fairly aggressive breeds, such as the Rottweiler, the Old German Shepherd, the Jagdterrier and the German Pinscher.
However, in his role as tax collector, Mr. Doberman had good reason to wish for a dog with a high intimidation factor, and his Pinscher-Crossbreeds were still a bit on the small side. Therefore, he added large and giant breeds like the Great Dane and the English Greyhound. Now, particularly the English Greyhound is known to be very sensitive, gentle, and, at the same time, extremely devoted to its owner. By mixing in this large sighthound, the breeder managed to make his new dog calmer in temperament and more attached to its handler.
Which is exactly what Mr. Doberman wanted – his aim was to create a strong, intimidating personal protector who would, at the same time, be very closely bonded to its owner. Adding in the Old German Sheepdog provided the new breed with an enhanced eagerness to please.
Evidently, the man was successful: The beautiful, large, and athletic breed he created is both a devoted guardian and an affectionate companion who forms extraordinarily deep bonds with its owner.
Today, dog-enthusiasts all over the world adore the Doberman. And not only because of its amazingly strong protective instincts, but also because Dobies are a sheer joy to live with: Calm and quiet in a home environment, these dogs are so attached to their people that they are sometimes called “Velcro-dogs”. When exercised enough, the noble protectors
can even be kept in apartments.
The Doberman Today – a Natural Guardian
Now, let’s have a closer look at the guarding behaviour of the Doberman. Thanks to Mr. Doberman’s aptness in selecting the perfect breeds for the creation of his ultimate personal protection dog, today’s Dobermans are natural guardians. That means that they do not need any kind of specific training to make magnificent protection dogs for people and properties: They have an inherent predisposition to defend their own - which includes their owners, their territory as well as other pets living in the household.
And whilst Dobermans are usually friendly, albeit reserved, towards people in general, they form extraordinary close connections to their own family. In particular, they will bond with the one person in the household whom they regard as their leader. This close emotional connection gives us a clue as to why these dogs make such amazing natural guardians: Their deep affection to their loved ones gives rise to a fierce loyalty. This loyalty in turn motivates the dog to defend their people with everything they have got.
At the same time, Dobermans are not attack dogs and will usually abstain from “jumping the gun” and outright biting a person whom they see as threat to their handler. Rather, they tend to stay at their owner’s side, posturing, growling, and barking.
A similar tendency for displaying a more defensive style of guarding than, for example, the German Shepherd, can be observed in their defending behaviour of their property: Whilst they will absolutely run to the fence, or, front door to intercept the perceived threat, they will usually only bite when faced with serious provocation.
It is worth noting that some of today’s Dobermans can be rather timid in their defensive behaviour. To avoid that, it is advisable to engage them in some sort of guard dog training. This helps the dog to gain confidence, and at the same time, it helps the owner to gain a high level of control over them. In this way, even more timid Dobies can be empowered to the point where they are ready for any potential real-life situation.
Dobermans as Family Companions
Dobies make excellent family companions and guardians. They adore children and usually get along quite well with other pets in the household – especially if they grow up with them. Of course, as is the case with any large breed, you should never leave your dog and your young kids to play together unattended: Dobermans are fairly large dogs who can knock a young child over by accident.
These loving dogs are astonishingly measured in their movements and not prone to running around the house, or even to chasing a child, like other high energy breeds would. Thanks to the influence of their ancestor, the English Greyhound, the Dobie is an amazingly calm and gentle house dog. Even today, Greyhounds display a strong preference for spending time on the couch together with their owners – as do Dobermans: They absolutely love snuggling up to their people and follow them around the house wherever they go.
However, these same features make the Doberman prone to separation anxiety – especially when sharing the home with their owners. It can be observed that Dobies display anxious behaviour like peeing on the floor, whining or scratching at the door as soon as their favourite human leaves the house.
This tendency can be counteracted by having other family members take over some of the care for the dog, like, feeding and walking them as well. In this way, the intelligent Dobie will quickly learn that their main canine leader leaving the home is nothing to be upset about.
Intelligence and Energy Levels
Dobies are high energy dogs who absolutely love to play and to accompany their owners on long, vigorous walks. They require lots and lots of exercise every single day to stay balanced and content.
Because they are both highly intelligent and very trainable, Doberman’s make superb sports dogs as well as service- and even therapy dogs. They were one of the original breeds enrolled in the police force and have served their respective countries well as members of the armed forces. In almost all regards, the Doberman is right up there with the most popular of all German guardian breeds – the German Shepherd. However, despite its equally high energy levels, prey- and working drive, the Doberman is usually much gentler towards its handler than the often boisterous German Shepherd.
Dobies respond extremely well to training – so much so that harsh corrective measures are not needed: Their natural eagerness to please their handler makes these dogs very quick learners and keen workers. Reaching high levels of obedience with a Doberman by your side is easy, provided you know what you are doing. If you want to get a Doberman, but you do not yet have lots of experience in training dogs, you might want to join a dog sports club in your area. This will this provide both you and your dog with an excellent environment to learn and to grow together. At the same time, engaging in formal obedience- as well as companion and protection dog training will build your Dobie’s confidence from an early age onwards.
Not only are Dobermans quite effective and driven working dogs, they also make excellent guardians and protectors. At the same time, they are absolutely devoted and deeply loyal companion dogs who love children. This makes them the perfect choice for families with an active lifestyle who are looking for an affectionate, yet energetic dog.