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HISTORICAL DIFFERENCES A guardian breed from Germany, the Doberman is named after its creator, the tax collector Karl Dobermann. He needed an effective and obedient protection dog to take along on his rounds. A dog whose high intimidation factor would naturally discourage any attack to the taxman’s person. But none of the breeds available in Germany at that point in history met Mr. Doberman’s requirements. Therefore, in 1890, he decided to create his own breed. To get the dog he needed, he crossed Rottweilers and German Pinschers with Great Danes, English Greyhounds and probably a few other dog breeds. Quite obviously, his efforts paid off nicely, and Mr. Dobermann created a strong, intimidating and yet deeply loyal personal protector. In the decades to follow, the Doberman rapidly gained recognition all over the world.  And even though the American Pitbull Terrier has never been bred as a guardian breed, it certainly has been designed to be an extremely efficient fighter: Contrary to its name, the American Pitbull Terrier originates from England. In the years following the ban of blood sports in 1835, people turned to “ratting”: Instead of fighting bulls and bears like before, the descendants of the Old English Bulldog now had to destroy rats that were thrown into pits to prevent them from escaping. Hence the name “Pit Bull”. Unfortunately, people soon discovered there was more profit to be made in underground dog fighting than in ratting. As well, they found that working in those same pits required dogs of less bulk than the Bulldogs, so they crossed them with various Terriers. These new dogs became the direct ancestors of the present-day American Pitbull Terrier. The first Pitbulls to enter the United States were the companions of British Immigrants. As these dogs had been bred to fight, the early Americans soon discovered their natural aptitude in hunting roles as well as farm- and livestock guardian roles. DIFFERENCES IN LOOKS Dobermans are large, light-footed, and quite elegant dogs. With their large frames, athletic but slight built and their narrow, elongated heads, they still very much resemble their Greyhound ancestors. They have short coats that come in black or chocolate, with clearly distinguished tan markings. Their height at the wither ranges from 66 to 72 cm in male and from 61 to 68 cm in female individuals. That is about 26 to 28 inches for males and 24 to 27 inches for females. Traditionally, the Dobie used to have cropped ears and docked tails, but the practise of cropping and docking has become illegal in many countries.  Contrary to the Dobie, the shape of the Pitbull’s head, tail and entire body is typical for the bully breeds: These powerful, stocky and compact dogs have very muscular bodies, broad heads with prominent cheekbones, rosebud ears and rather thin, whip-like tails. Adult male Pitbulls can reach between 45 and 53 cm at the withers and weigh between 16 and 30 kg (which is between 18 and 21 inches and weighing between 35 and 66 pounds). Females are slightly smaller and lighter.  Both breeds have beautiful short, tight, and shiny coats, but contrary to the Dobie’s colour restrictions, the Pitbull’s breed standards permit any pattern or colour – except for merle. INTELLIGENCE & TRAINABILITY DIFFERENCES Dobermans are extremely keen working dogs: Ever ready to perform and as easy to train as it gets. Highly intelligent dogs, they love nothing more than flexing their physical and mental muscles. Dobies are exceptionally versatile canine athletes who can be trained to stunningly high levels of obedience, guarding, tracking and so forth to name only a few examples. These dogs are top-performers and a sheer pleasure to work with. But just like the Pitbull, the Dobie is a very sensitive breed that does not respond well to harsh training methods. When it comes to their intelligence and their capabilities as working dogs, Pitbulls are on par with Dobermans: Teamed up with an experienced canine leader, they quickly will take to almost every role available for utility dogs, such as Search & Rescue, drug and explosives detection as well as canine sports like IPO.  TEMPERAMENT DIFFERENCES In their temperament, both breeds have a lot in common: They are incredibly switched-on, active, keen, and alert when working. However, when the time comes to settle down in the home after time spent outdoors, these dogs tend to turn into calm and composed canine companions: Contrary to popular belief, when exercised enough, these powerful breeds make superb housedogs. And indeed, they should be allowed to share the home with their humans. This is especially important for the Pitbull, as the breed can develop various behavioural problems around the theme of aggression. A Pitbull that is well-socialised and a well-trained family member is far less likely to spin out of control than a Pitbull kept in a small backyard, left to its own devices.  Due to their violent history as fighting dogs, Pitbulls are far more prone to aggression towards other dogs than Dobies. And even though Dobies do come with a high prey drive, Pitbulls take that prey drive to the next level – and back it up with a tenacity that is almost unequalled in the canine world. Therefore, caution is advised and as a novice owner, you should probably not choose the Pitbull as your first dog. However, you might go with the Doberman, if you are willing to put in the work: Educating yourself on dog psychology, and on how to become a calm, consistent canine leader. And joining a canine club in your area that specialises on large, powerful guardian breeds. EXERCISE AND GROOMING DIFFERENCES In terms of exercise – both breeds need lots and lots of it! Without sufficient, vigorous daily exercise, these high energy dogs can become disturbingly vocal, destructive and, in the worst case, even aggressive. Especially when left to their own devices. Daily runs off-leash are a must, and these can be further intensified by bringing some sort of retrieval dummy along for the walk. Apart from playing fetch, you can tire your dogs out by engaging them with flirt-pole or by letting the dog run next to your bicycle. Both the Doberman and the Pitbull love to play with all kinds of biting toys as well as balls, frisbees and flirt-poles. Of course, for the Pitbull’s extremely powerful jaws, ordinary toys will not do, so make sure you select extra durable toys like Kongs. Also, like all bully breeds, Pitbulls absolutely love engaging with spring poles and flirt poles. Both are excellent tools to drain their surplus energy. On the grooming front, these breeds are as low maintenance as it gets: Their short, tight coats hardly accumulate dirt or dust. As an added benefit, Dobies and Pitbulls hardly shed outside of shedding season in spring and autumn. For these reasons, neither of them requires lots of brushing to stay clean: A good weekly once-over with a rubber grooming mitt or a natural, soft bristle brush is more than sufficient. And this brings us to the end of our discussion of these incredible guardian breeds - the beautiful, elegant Doberman and the stunning, muscle-packed American Pitbull Terrier. Both breeds are extremely intelligent and loyal - and they both are the perfect choice for an experienced handler.

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