Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (2024)

Doberman Pinscher temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (1)

In most countries, this breed is called just plain Dobermann (with two n's, after the breeder's founder, Louis Dobermann). Only in the US and Canada is the name pinscher tacked on, as well as dropping one of the n's from Dobermann.

This athletic dog needs brisk walking every day and all-out running as often as possible. Too little exercise and too little companionship can lead to restlessness and other behavioral problems.

Mental exercise (advanced obedience, agility, tracking, Schutzhund) is just as important to this thinking breed.

Although some Doberman Pinschers are big ol' softies who love everyone, most are reserved with strangers and protective of their family. Early and extensive socialization is mandatory to avoid either shyness or sharpness.

Some Doberman Pinschers are dominant with other dogs. Some are confirmed cat chasers, while others love small animals.

Some excel in advanced obedience competition, while others are hardheaded and will test to find their place in the pecking order.

Calm, consistent leadership is a must, and obedience training must be upbeat and persuasive rather than heavy-handed. This breed is very sensitive and does not tolerate teasing or mischief.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is large and strong, yet sleek- and elegant-looking
  • Has a short easy-care coat
  • Thrives on exercise, athletic activities, and challenging things to do
  • Looks serious and imposing, so makes an effective deterrent even when friendly

A Doberman Pinscher may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing enough exercise and activities to keep him satisfied
  • Aggression, sharpness, or shyness when not socialized enough
  • Possible aggression toward other animals
  • Emotional sensitivity to stress and loud voices
  • Physical sensitivity (tendency to react defensively when startled or mishandled)
  • A multitude of serious health problems that can equate to a short lifespan
  • Potential legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)

A Doberman Pinscher may not be right for you.

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (2)

Dog Breed Traits – Which Traits Are Right For You?

In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

FREE eBooks by Michele Welton

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (3)"Respect Training for Puppies" and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words" are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (4)"11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy" is a free guide to keeping your dog mentally, physically, and emotionally happy and healthy so you can enjoy a longer lifetime of companionship.

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (5)

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Dobermans have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy.

More traits and characteristics of the Doberman Pinscher

If I was considering a Doberman Pinscher, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Doberman Pinschers don't need tremendous running exercise. But they were bred to be working dogs, so they do need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things.

    I always feel sorry when I meet a smart-as-a-whip Doberman Pinscher whose life consists of walks around the block and being let out into the yard. This is a waste of such a capable breed. To really provide the best life for a Doberman Pinscher, I recommend getting him involved in a canine activity where he can use his athletic skills and intelligent mind. Agility classes, for example. Or advanced obedience classes (not a basic beginners class, but ongoing classes). Or join a tracking or schutzhund club. The Doberman Pinscher was never intended to be just a casual pet.

  2. Providing enough socialization. Many Dobermann Pinschers have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to aggression. Some Dobermans go in the opposite direction – without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which is very difficult to live with.
  3. Taking charge. In the right hands, Dobermans are very trainable. But they are observant dogs who can tell if you're a wishy-washy person. Doberman Pinschers need a confident owner. To teach your Doberman to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read my free online training programs.
  4. Potential animal aggression. Some Doberman Pinschers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some Dobermans have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. Being able to control your Doberman's behavior with other animals is another reason for a thorough respect training program.
  5. Emotional sensitivity. Be honest.... is there tension in your home? Are some family members likely to be loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments? Doberman Pinschers are sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with digestive upsets and nervous behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems.

    A good Doberman is fine with their family's children. But some Dobermans may try to protect their own children from other children, even if the kids are simply roughhousing. More concerning is the number of Dobermans who are so sensitive that they become nervous and hyper-reactive with the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making. So if you have children, you need to be extremely careful when evaluating Doberman Pinscher lines.

  6. Serious health problems. A heartbreaking number of Doberman Pinschers die of inherited heart disease and cancer before 7 years old. Read more about Doberman Pinscher Health.
  7. Legal liabilities. Doberman Pinschers may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.

    Frankly, most Doberman Pinschers are "too much dog" for the average household. The breed is best suited in a calm household with experienced owners who are interested in participating in some sort of canine activity.

About the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em (2024)


Doberman Pinschers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em? ›

They can be a little headstrong to walk if you aren't a confident walker, but they can be the best and most dedicated of family dogs. If they're well socialized, most of them are fantastic with cats and even really small children. Dobermans can be really high energy but they're great dogs!

What are the pros and cons of Doberman pinschers? ›

Dobermanns can be calm and loyal dogs given the right training, but they are still very energetic and so suit active households. While they can make great family pets, due to their large size and strong build we wouldn't recommend a Dobermann if you have young children.

What are the bad things about Dobermans? ›

Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to aggression. Some Dobermans go in the opposite direction – without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which is very difficult to live with.

What are Doberman pinschers good at? ›

The Doberman Pinscher (Doberman) is a powerful and muscular member of the Working Group developed for police and military work and to be a protector and companion in the home. The breed originated in Germany and quickly gained popularity in other countries for its courage, intelligence, and loyalty.

Are Dobermans good pets? ›

Doberman pinschers are considered people-oriented dogs that are affectionate and sweet with people, if socialized and trained properly. They are loyal to their owners and are good with children if raised with them however, some Dobermans bond only to one person.

What is a Doberman weakness? ›

Doberman Pinschers are especially prone to a life-threatening heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, in which the heart becomes so large, thin, and weak that it can no longer effectively pump blood to the body.

What is a Doberman Pinscher weakness? ›

Unfortunately, 60% of Doberman dogs are genetically predisposed to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a fatal condition that causes a dog's heart to enlarge and become too thin and weak to pump blood effectively.

What is the main cause of death of Dobermans? ›

“These dogs usually succumb to arrhythmias, while older dogs with DCM are more apt to die of congestive heart failure,” says Dr. Morris. A beautiful, regal breed, Doberman Pinschers are sadly most vulnerable to DCM.

Are Dobermans aggressive? ›

Dobermans are one of the most popular dog breeds, but they also have a reputation for being aggressive. If you're thinking about getting a Doberman, it's important to understand what goes into training them so that they can be well-behaved members of the family.

At what age do Doberman become aggressive? ›

Mature Adulthood (1 – 4 Years) During this period your dog may again become aggressive and assertive. For instance, he may become more turf-protective, by barking when someone comes to the door. Temper his protective behaviors by teaching him how to accept strangers into your home.

What is the temper of a Doberman? ›

It gets along well with other family pets but can be domineering toward strange dogs. It is playful and very energetic. (Generalizations about dog breeds are well established and widely accepted, but individual dogs may differ in behaviour from others of their breed.)

Do Doberman pinschers like water? ›

Dobermans are strong and natural swimmers. They take to water naturally. They should not be forced into water, as they're sensitive and do not respond well to coercion. If they're let to wander into the water on their own, they will enjoy it immensely and always look forward to swimming.

Do Dobermans cuddle? ›

Yes, in short, Dobermans are much like other dogs and do like to cuddle. In fact, they love affection from their owners and will ask for cuddles as much as any other pet. Unknown to many, they are loving and social dogs and will not want to be left alone for too long without human interaction.

Is owning a Doberman hard? ›

requiring a higher level of owner commitment than many other breeds and I think that sums it up pretty well. There has to be a commitment to training, to exercising, to being a leader … and a strong commitment to the idea of never going to the bathroom by yourself ever again.

Do Dobermans pick one person? ›

As a general rule, and as compared to many other dog breeds, Dobermans generally bond a little tighter to one specific person in the household. With male Dobermans however, this is almost not noticeable as they're generally pretty welcoming of others and do very well in family settings.

Can Dobermans be aggressive? ›

While this might be reassuring to some, it is worth mentioning that these commands may include orders to attack, maim, or even kill others. Dobermans also exhibit relatively high levels of aggression as they are historically bred specifically to be aggressive and intimidating.

Are Dobermans high maintenance? ›

Certainly, Dobermans are energetic and demanding maintenance dogs. You will use every last bit of energy you have while you are alone. They need your daily time (at least two hours), energy, and effort. As working line dogs, GSDs require daily meals that are substantial, along with extensive walks and runs.

Are Dobermans good and bad dogs? ›

The good, the bad, the ugly

Endless Energy: Doberman Pinschers require extensive exercise and mental stimulation. Without proper outlets, they may become restless and engage in destructive behaviors. Socially Selective: They can become overly protective or aggressive if they are not properly socialized and trained.


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