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Let us begin with the history of the German Shepherd. Bred as sheepherding dogs, the ancestors of today’s German Shepherds have been working together closely with their sheepherder-owners for hundreds, if not for thousands of years. However, this was not their only task: They also had to protect their flocks from thieves and predators.

It was in the late 19th century when one man decided that Germany’s sheepherders needed an upgrade – a better sheepdog who would be able to trot for long stretches of time without tiring. This man, a former cavalry officer with the name of Maximilian von Stephanitz, expertly shaped his new breed out of the existing sheepherding dogs. In doing so, he focused on strong, sturdy, and yet athletic dogs of wolf-like appearance. Geographically, the new breed was developed in today’s Alsace region of France. Back in the 19th century, the Alsace was still part of Germany. Hence the name “Alsatian” that is sometimes still used for the German Shepherd.

Soon, it became clear that this new type of herding dog could do much more than just tend to sheep. And today, Germany’s most popular dog is used in many different disciplines that include high-level canine sports, police service, search & rescue, as well as, of course, sheepherding. German Shepherds are highly efficient natural guardians and loyal, active companions.

Now, let us look at the Doberman, a breed 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 was ready to defend its owner not matter what. For this end, Mr. Doberman combined strong and aggressive breeds such as the Rottweiler, the Jagdterrier and the German Pinscher, with large and giant breeds like the Great Dane and, very importantly, the English Greyhound. By mixing in this large sighthound, the breeder made his new dog calmer in temperament and more closely bonded to its handler. His efforts were a huge success, and Mr. Doberman created a strong, intimidating and yet deeply loyal personal protector. The beautiful, large, and athletic guardian he developed quickly gained recognition throughout the world. And just like the German Shepherd, the Dobie has become an established member of police and military forces in many countries.


With regards to their colouring, Dobermans are almost exclusively black – or chocolate - with clearly distinguished tan, rust, or mahogany markings. These are large, elegant dogs with an athletic, harmoniously proportioned body that. To this day, they bear a great resemblance to the sleek English Greyhound and the majestic Great Dane. In their overall appearance, the light-footed Doberman gives the impression of great speed and agility. Its height at the shoulder ranges from approximately 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, such as the UK, Germany, and Austria.

Unlike Dobies with their short, glossy black-and-tan or chocolate-and-tan coats, German Shepherds come in a wide variety of different shades and colours: purely black, black-and-tan, black and silver, red and black, as well as grey and sable. Breed standards differentiate between short stock coat and long stock coat.

In body shape, German Shepherds are slightly longer than tall, with the line of their back slightly sloping down from shoulder to hip. In size, their ideal is around 63 cm for males and around 58 cm for females. (That is around 25 ins for males and 23 ins for females.) Deviations of up to 2.5 cm (1 in) either above or below the ideal hight are permissible according to breed standards.


In terms of intelligence and trainability, these amazing working breeds rank almost equally high on the scale: Both the Dobie and the German Shepherd are incredibly intelligent, versatile and trainable – which of course makes them perfectly suited as sports dogs, personal protection dogs and service dogs.

As any owner and trainer of these smart dogs will agree, German Shepherds are a dream to work with – very eager to learn, and eager to please their handler. Of course, the same can be said for the Doberman, but perhaps to a slightly lesser degree: What sometimes can make the elegant Dobie more difficult to train is its sensitivity – a trait inherited from the English Greyhound. Dobermans require the patience and gentle guidance of an experienced handler to fully unfold their potential. They do not respond well to harsh corrections – not that they would react aggressively, but less refined and gentle approaches can cause anxiety in the sensitive Doberman.

The German Shepherd, on the other hand, is extremely forgiving and will usually continue to give its absolute best, despite any harsh corrections.

We can say with certainty that both the Dobie and the German Shepherd are excellent working and guard dogs - keen, alert and naturally protective of their owners and their territory. Both breeds greatly benefit from calm and consistent leadership to channel their high energy and prey drive into desirable directions.


Whilst Dobermans and German Shepherds have been bred as working dogs and not as family companions, Dobies do make amazing house- and even apartment dogs. They are sweet, loving and amazingly quiet indoors. Dobermans are known to follow their owners around the house wherever they go, and love nothing more than snuggling up to their humans on the couch. Again, we have their Greyhound ancestry to thank for this feature.

Whereas the ever keen and “switched-on” German Shepherds are far less suited for an indoor lifestyle - as they tend to feel the great need to move around a lot throughout the day. Of course, both breeds need lots of socialization throughout their lives, especially if they are raised to be family dogs. It is worth noting that especially German Shepherds who have been raised in relative isolation can become quite aggressive towards other people as well as other dogs.

With the right socialisation and training, Dobermans are amazingly devoted family dogs and do very well with children. German Shepherds on the other hand are not naturally patient with children, even though they can be educated to behave well around kids. Especially young German Shepherds may nip children into the legs and ankles, attempting to “herd” them – as they would in their original role as sheepherders. Of course, this behaviour should be trained out of them at an early age.

German Shepherds are no less loyal to their owners than Dobies and are equally effective as natural guardians – meaning they do not require specific guard dog training to protect their owners and their home. Even though they are not overly affectionate or attached to their owners, German Shepherds are most happy when around their family. In general, German Shepherds are about equally high in prey drive and energy levels as Dobermans.


The short coat of the Doberman does not require lots of grooming on a day-to-day basis: One to two brushes a week with a soft natural bristle-brush are sufficient. Dobies shed minimally year-round but need a bit of extra brushing during their seasonal shedding in spring and autumn.

German Shepherds on the other hand should be brushed thoroughly every day – and multiple times a day during shedding season. They are heavy shedders all year round, and those hairs tend to get everywhere in the house. The long-coated version of the German Shepherd, of course, requires slightly more brushing and, at times, washing, as their coat tends to accumulate dust and dirt from their outside activities.

In terms of exercise requirements, both breeds need to run and play a lot. At least one extended run off-leash per day is a must with those canine athletes. Being working breeds, these dogs can spend hours out and about – walking, running, doing obedience work, and playing. But they are equally happy to hang out with their human family on the couch. A great way to satisfy their need for movement is to teach them trotting next to your bicycle. Another good method to tire out your dog is to let them play with other friendly dogs. When well socialised, both breeds generally get along fairly well with other dogs, which makes them good candidates for visits to the local dog park.

It is worth noting that the German Shepherd comes in two distinct varieties: The slightly larger show dog version and the working dog German Shepherd. Whilst the show dog is relatively calm in temperament, working line German Shepherds are extremely intense, keen, and high in energy. They are not the best dogs to keep indoors, as they are constantly “switched on”, eagerly awaiting a clue from their owners to go outside to “work” again.

Working line Shepherd dogs need lots and lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation i to stay balanced and well-behaved canine companions. Show line German Shepherds are usually quite happy to relax on a comfortable dog-bed for hours at a time.


And this brings us to the end of our discussion of two of the best guardian breeds worldwide – the German Shepherd and the Doberman. These stunning dogs are built for strength, speed, and endurance. And yet, they come with a deep loyalty and devotion towards their owners and their families, which makes them wonderful active canine companions.


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