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The Doberman is a German breed named after its creator, Karl Dobermann. A tax collector by profession, Mr. Dobermann must have felt a strong need to have a reliable personal protection dog by his side when making house calls. Fortunately for him, he also ran the local dog shelter.

Around 1890, he set out to create the perfect guardian breed for his requirements: A large, fearsome-looking dog who would courageously defend its owner. For this end, he crossed more aggressive breeds like the Rottweiler and the German Pinscher with large and giant breeds like the Great Dane and the English Greyhound. By mixing in the gentle Greyhound, Mr. Dobermann made his new breed calmer and more closely bonded to its handler. His efforts were a huge success, and he created a strong, intimidating and yet deeply loyal personal protector. The Doberman quickly gained recognition throughout the world.

The Labrador Retriever on the other hand was bred for vastly different purposes. Whilst its name suggests the Canadian province of Labrador as its origin, this dog comes from Newfoundland. In the 1500’s, the large, shaggy Newfoundland dogs were crossed with smaller local water dogs. The breed resulting from this mix was given the not very glorious name “Lesser Newfoundland”. However, when it came to their capabilities, there was nothing “lesser” about them: For their fishermen owners, these dogs jumped into the icy waters off the coast of Newfoundland to pull in fishing nets filled and to retrieve fish that had dropped off the hooks. Equipped with thick, water repellent coats and webbed paws, this new breed was perfectly suited for the job.

In the early 1800s, these intrepid Retrievers were brought to Poole, England, where the Earl of Malmesbury took a liking to them. He soon discovered their immense talent as Retrievers and used them in shooting sports. It was him who named them “Labrador Dogs”. The Earl’s son refined the breed until it was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1903. In the early 1900s, American hunters and farmers started utilising the Labradors as working dogs and family companions. And in 1917, they were recognised by the American Kennel Club


Dobermans are large and elegant dogs with short coats and athletic, well-proportioned bodies. In their overall appearance, they give the impression of great speed and agility. These canine athletes are almost exclusively black – or chocolate - with clearly distinguished tan, rust, or mahogany markings. Their height at the wither ranges from 26 - 28 ins in male and from 24 - 27 ins in female individuals. That is about 66 – 72 cm for males and 61 – 68 cm for females. Their heads are narrow and elongated with no marked stop and long muzzles. Traditionally, the Dobie used to have cropped ears and docked tails – however, the practise of cropping and docking has become illegal in many countries.

Labradors are built far stockier than the sleek Doberman, especially the more compact and sturdy show line Labs. They have long, rather thick tails and pendant-shaped ears that hang down. Their short coat comes in Black, Yellow or Chocolate. Male Labs can measure 22 to 24 ins at the wither and females 22 to 23 ins. Which is 57 to 62 cm for males and 55 to 60 cm for females.


Just like Dobies, Labradors are ever ready to work and please their owners, which makes them extremely easy to train. Both dogs thrive when provided the opportunity to perform – even if that work only consists in fetching toys or in running through obedience drills. Highly intelligent dogs, they love nothing more than flexing their physical and mental muscles. Which is why lots of mental stimulation should be provided for both breeds. One possibility to keep these dogs sharp mentally is working them in the fields of obedience, tracking, guarding or gundog training. But also, regular walks in areas with lots of different smells, sights and sounds are excellent ways to provide both physical and mental stimulation for your Dobie or Lab.


In their temperament, these breeds are quite similar – active, keen and alert outside and when working, but calm and composed in the house. That said, the Labrador is the more boisterous of the two and can take some work to teach house manners as a youngster. Dobies, however, are so calm and settled indoors that they even make good apartment dogs. They are also natural guard dogs who can and will protect you and your home – whereas the Labrador can be trained to sound an alarm but should not be counted on when it comes to attacking an aggressor. Both the Doberman and the Labrador absolutely adore children, which makes them ideal companions for families. They are perfect for active owners - who love to take their dogs on outings and who want to share their home with them: These are very much people-oriented dogs who should be allowed to live with their family. Labradors are affectionate and outgoing characters - very friendly to other animals and humans, especially children. Dobies are more reserved and take longer to build up trust towards people they are unfamiliar with.


Labradors require a huge amount of daily exercise, for example vigorous walks, games of fetch, runs next to a bicycle or swims in a pool, river, or lake. The same is the case for Dobermans, even though they do not usually share the Labradors’ love for water. Both breeds should be given at least one good long run off leash per day, combined with a few other walks and play sessions throughout the day. As they both have a high prey drive, they can easily be enticed to playing with toys such as balls, Kongs, frisbees and flirt-poles.

Neither breed needs all too much grooming: Dobies do fine with one or two brushes a week with a soft bristle brush, but Labradors are quite heavy shedders and should be brushed daily, especially during shedding season in spring and autumn.

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