By Cathy Richey
Louis Doberman of Germany developed a new breed of dog in the
late1800s. His goal, as a tax-collector and dog-catcher, was a
service dog which would be protective, intelligent and agile.
By crossing such breeds as the German Pinscher, Rottweiler, Weimaraner,
English Greyhound, and Manchester Terrier, he developed a dog with a
distinctive coat color that was hardy, being intelligent, strong,
courageous, quick, with guard instincts and hunting ability.
From Germany, the breed spread to other countries, including the United
States, by the 1930s. He has been used as a working dog by the military and
the police, as well as guard work, search-and-rescue, and guides for the
blind. The Doberman has been used in Therapy work also, and excels in
Saluting the Dobermans of War
In World War II, the 3rd War Dog Platoon consisted
entirely of Dobermans. In the battle of Guam, a Doberman named Kurt saved
the lives of 250 Marines when he warned them of Japanese troops ahead.
"Always Faithful," a life-size Doberman in bronze, is located in Guam at the
war dog cemetery at the U.S. naval base in Orote Point as a permanent
monument. Carved into the stone are names of 25 other Dobermans who gave
their lives there.
Michael Lemish, author of
War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism, says Dobermans worked as
scouts, trackers, messengers, and detectors of mines and booby traps. With
their sense of smell, they can detect enemy soldiers at over 1,000
yards, hear the whine of a gentle breeze blowing over
the tripwire of a booby trap, and smell the breath
of underwater saboteurs breathing through a reed. In Vietnam,
they were invaluable for locating snipers and checking tunnels and huts.
The Doberman is a highly trainable, intelligent dog. He is energetic,
alert, loyal, and fearless. The Doberman has an air of aristocracy,
nobility, and elegance. While being very affectionate, he needs to be well
socialized with firm, though not harsh, control. He requires daily exercise.
The Doberman tends to chill easily and should be kept indoors on cool
Actually, the dog is an excellent housedog, and should never live on a
chain outdoors (actually, no dog should--this is cruel and results in a dog that
is either mean and dangerous or deeply depressed).
The Doberman likes to be physically close to the family. This is a
very people-oriented breed. If you are looking for an outdoor pet, do not
consider a Doberman. A Doberman wants to be a member of your family. He will
not be satisfied with an occasional pat and kind word.
Harsh owners should not get a Doberman because Dobermans are very
sensitive and will not deal well with rough treatment. Abusive treatment
will quickly result in a Doberman with a broken spirit. Quite often, such an
abused dog becomes overly aggressive. No dog deserves to be abused. Dogs
aren't born bad, they're made that way.
The Doberman has a long, wedge-shaped head with powerful jaws. The eyes are
almond-shaped (aficionados of the breed prefer the eyes to be dark brown),
with a keen, alert expression. The bite is a scissors bite.
The Doberman'ss ears are set level with the top of his skull and
naturally hang down along the neckline, but in the United States, are more
often cropped to stand in an upright position.
His body is compact and muscular, but not heavily boned. His length
should equal his height. His neck is well-arched and well muscled. His
topline slopes slightly from withers to croup. His legs are straight and
powerful. His feet are compact and cat-like with well-arched toes. He moves
with a free, balanced, vigorous stride and should tend toward single
The tail is usually docked. The coat is short, smooth, and hard. It lies
close to the body. Coat color may be black, red, fawn, or more rarely blue,
all with tan or rust markings on the muzzle, throat, chest, legs, and below
the tail. The Doberman stands between 26 and 30 inches and weighs between 65
and 85 pounds.
The Doberman's gait is free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in
the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting,
there is strong rear-action drive. Each rear leg moves in line with the
foreleg on the same side. Rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out.
The back remains strong and firm. When moving at a fast trot, a properly
built dog will single-track.
Many factors contribute to the lifespan of Dobermans. The average is
eight to ten years. How the dog is cared for and the genetic makeup of the
dog, whether it develops any health problems along the way, and so on. Just
like in humans.
What a Doberman is all about
- Alert. The Doberman is always aware of his surroundings. He is on
guard and on duty at all times. It's part of his ongoing personality. He
doesn't miss a thing, is responsive, and will check out anything that
alerts him to possible danger to his family.
- Fearless. The Doberman standing alertly--staring at the danger--ears
held totally up and eyes focused on the threat. Woe to the foolish man
who doesn't think the Doberman will stand his ground and dare the
intruder to go through him. It is this stance and attitude and
lightening fast reflexes and responses that, coupled with the Dobermans
totally fearless and confident attitude, that make him the absolute
premier protection and guard dog, as well as cherished pet and family
companion and comrade. He is unflappable when danger is present.
- Loyal and obedient. These qualities make the Doberman more than
simply a weapon for guard and protection. Only total devotion to family
is what the Doberman's job is everyday. He is focused on his
family and wants to please and do exactly what they want him to do. He
will bond and attach himself to the family and execute his role as
companion and protector like no other breed can.
A Doberman is a sensitive dog, keenly alert to your feelings and wishes.
If someone you don't like happens to visit you, watch the dog. He'll be
watching your visitor.
Each Doberman is different, yet each exhibits "Doberman characteristics
of mind and disposition." Called "the dog with the human mind," the Doberman
has ways of communicating though he can't talk. Often, a Doberman will hold
quite a lengthy conversation with you about something which is important to
him at the moment. Watch his facial expressions and body language, but also
be alert to what he does and where he looks.
Probably the most distinguishing thing about a Doberman is the speed of
reaction. Where another dog is doing one thing, a Doberman will do ten. They
learn through watching. They learn through trial and error, and often seem
to reason things out. Though deeply loyal, they can be clowns who have minds
of their own.
Talking about Doberman ownership is a little like trying to explain a
family relationship, for a Doberman demands and takes a full place in your
life. A Doberman either trains you, or is trained by you. For most of us, it
is a little of both. You can't put a Doberman away, forget about him and
take him out when you want to show him off. A Doberman isn't built that way;
he wants to be with you, to help you, torment you, love you, and guard you.
And he will work out ways to get what he wants.
A Doberman is an affectionate animal, but his affection is noble. You
can't bribe a Doberman with a pat on the head. He doesn't enjoy "just being
petted" the way many other breeds do. He wants to be close to you, to have your
hand on his head, to rest his head on your knee, or to sit on your shoe with
his back to you. He won't leave you for a stranger who offers to scratch his
ear. Scratching an ear may be nice, but it isn't as nice as resting his rump
on your shoe.
Seldom do you find a "licking" Doberman. A single kiss--a touch of the
tongue, a touch of his nose to your ear--that is his way of special
greeting. To lick (unless you have a wound that needs healing) would be too
undignified for most Dobermans. Yet, with his dark eyes, short tail, and
graceful body, he can tell you how special you are to him than all the
licking and rubbing or petting in the world.
All of these wonderful traits blend and combine in the Doberman to
produce a devoted, loving, and protective dog that is unique and truly
admired in the dog world.
After he has been with you for a few years, you will find that often you
don't need to speak a wish. He will know and respond. You become part of
him, and he becomes part of you. The only tragic part of owning a Doberman
is that a part of you is buried with him when he dies.