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Are Dobermans Good Family Dogs? The Surprising Answer

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By Nicole Cosgrove

girl and brown doberman dog

If you’re thinking about getting a dog but also plan to have kids (or already have kids), you may be wondering which breeds are best suited for families. Maybe you’ve already fallen in love with a Doberman at your local animal shelter and you want to make sure he’ll be a good fit for your home.  Whether you’ve just started looking for a dog or you want to make sure that your new furry friend is the one, rest assured that yes, Dobermans can make wonderful family dogs. In this article, we will discuss the history of the Doberman Pinscher breed as well as the traits that could make them great dogs for families with kids.

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The History of Doberman Pinschers

You may be surprised to learn that Doberman Pinschers were first bred as guard dogs in the 19th century by a German tax collector who was also the breed’s namesake: Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. As you might guess, tax collectors were not the most popular individuals and often feared for their physical safety when on the job.

In addition to his career as a tax collector, Dobermann also happened to be a dog breeder who owned a pound in Apolda, Germany. His goal was to breed a dog that was intimidating, intelligent, and loyal. Dobermann selected dogs with these desirable traits from among the dogs in his pound in order to breed the dog we know as the Doberman Pinscher today. It is unknown exactly which breeds of dogs were the ancestors of the original Doberman Pinscher, but it is speculated that the German Shepard and a now-extinct variety of the German Pinscher played a significant part in the Doberman’s genetic makeup.

chocolate brown and black doberman
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are Dobermans Aggressive?

The Doberman Pinscher may have been bred to serve as a tax collector’s guard dog, but the traits of intelligence, trainability, and loyalty have also made this breed a favorite for figures of authority and military personnel. Dobermans were used by the Marine Corps as messengers and scouts during World War II and have been used as police dogs. Unfortunately, this history has given Dobermans a reputation of aggression.

Luckily, Dobermans today are not as aggressive as they used to be thanks to changes in the way they are bred. Generally speaking, it is still true that Dobermans can be aggressive with strangers, though they are not usually aggressive toward their owners. Remember, Dobermans want to protect their owners; if your dog thinks you are in danger, he will act. However, with the proper training and socialization, Dobermans can learn to avoid aggressive behavior.

Dobermans and Kids

Highly intelligent, very loyal, and extremely protective: these are the traits that make Dobermans excellent pets and companions. But what if you have kids? Below we list some reasons why Dobermans have the potential to be great family dogs.

They’re Great Playmates

Dobermans can be excellent companions for your kids for several reasons. One reason is that they are very high-energy and require a great deal of exercise. Your Dobie should be getting around 2 hours of exercise each day You may not have time to walk your dog for that long, but if you have a backyard, your kids will love running around outside with him.

Incidentally, it is recommended that kids get at least one hour of exercise. Your kids and your Doberman can help each other get the exercise they need.

baby and a doberman dog
Image Credit: Nik Tsvetkov, Shutterstock

They’re Very Affectionate

Despite their reputation as aggressive guard dogs, Dobermans can be very affectionate pets. They are people-oriented and show affection by sleeping near their owners, nuzzling them with their heads, and even climbing into their laps.

One thing to consider is the fact that Dobermans do sometimes tend to bond with one person as opposed to the entire family. They need to spend time with each member of the family from the beginning so that they can create that bond, including children. Dividing dog caretaking tasks such as walking, feeding, and bathing is not only a great way to establish this bond with all members of your household, but it’s also a good way to teach your kids the responsibility of caring for another living creature.

They’re Excellent Guard Dogs

As members of your family, your Doberman will also be very protective of your kids. If you’ve ever considered installing a security system in your home, having a Doberman around the house will help put your mind at ease about the safety of your family.

As discussed, it is very important that you train and socialize your pet Doberman early on–this point cannot be overstated. Your dog may misinterpret roughhousing with other kids or visits from relatives as threats to your child’s safety, so it is important that he understands that these individuals outside of the home are also part of your family’s “pack.”

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Other Considerations for Adopting a Doberman

Now that you know a little bit about Doberman Pinschers, here are some other things you might want to consider before bringing home a Dobie.

If You Have Young Kids

If your kids are very young, you may want to reconsider whether this breed is right for you. According to the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, you should not get a Doberman puppy if you have babies, toddlers, or young school-aged children. This is because Doberman puppies are very high-energy and can easily frighten or even harm a young child. Negative interactions with your children could result in the puppy spending more time in isolation. When you neglect the proper socialization and training that young Doberman puppies need, you could be setting your dog up for behavioral problems down the road.

If you do have young kids, you should never leave them unsupervised with any dog. Children do not always understand boundaries and your dog may misinterpret your child’s actions if they interrupt the dog while he is eating, pull him on the tail, or otherwise disturb him. You are ultimately responsible for protecting your child from negative interactions with your dog.

doberman pinscher puppy
Image Credit: Jens Lanckman, Pixabay

If You Have a Busy Schedule

Dobermans need tons of attention and guidance, especially at the beginning. If you and your partner both work outside of the home or if your schedule is full of obligations such as your kids’ sports practices, you may want to consider whether or not you have enough time to devote to adequately training and socializing your dog. If you think you might be too busy to take on the responsibility of adopting a Doberman, it could be the right breed at the wrong time. Wait until your schedule allows you to give your pup more attention and he will ultimately be happier for it.

If You Live in an Apartment

If you have the time to adequately exercise your Doberman, they could adjust to apartment living without too many problems. However, they will likely do better in a house that also has a decent-sized backyard. If you don’t ensure that your Doberman gets the exercise they need, it could lead to restlessness and aggression. If you live in an apartment, you should be absolutely sure that your lifestyle can accommodate multiple dog walks or daily trips to the dog park before you bring home a Doberman.

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Dobermans & Families: The Bottom Line

Doberman Pinschers have many wonderful qualities that can make them great family dogs. However, only you know what’s best for you and your family. If you have young children, are on a busy schedule, or live in a confined space, a Doberman might not be the right dog for you. It is very important that you do your research before you bring home a new pet so that you make sure you will be able to care for it in the way that it needs.

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