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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 planning to have kids (or already have kids), you may wonder 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 they’ll be a good fit for your home.

Whether you’ve just started looking for a dog or want to make sure that your new furry friend is the one, rest assured that Dobermans can make wonderful family dogs. In this article, we will discuss the history of the Doberman Pinscher breed and the traits that 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 was a dog breeder who owned a pound in Apolda, Germany. His goal was to breed an intimidating, intelligent, and loyal dog. Dobermann selected dogs with these desirable traits from among the dogs in his pound to breed the dog we know as the Doberman Pinscher today.

It is unknown exactly which breeds 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 them 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 for aggression.

Luckily, Dobermans today are not as aggressive as they used to be, thanks to changes in how 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, they 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 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 high-energy pets 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 them.

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

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

They’re Very Affectionate

Despite their reputation as aggressive guard dogs, Dobermans can be 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 that Dobermans 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 an excellent 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, you must train and socialize your pet Doberman early on. Your dog may misinterpret roughhousing with other kids or visits from relatives as threats to your child’s safety, so it is vital that they understand that the 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 about Doberman Pinschers, here are some other things you might want to consider before bringing a Dobie home.

If You Have Young Kids

If your kids are young, you may 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. Doberman puppies are very energetic 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 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.

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 work outside of the home or 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 train and socialize your dog.

If you think you might be too busy to adopt a Doberman, it could be the right breed at the wrong time. You can until your schedule allows you to give your pup more attention.

If You Live in an Apartment

If you have adequate time to exercise your Doberman, they could adjust to apartment living without too many problems. However, they will likely do better in a house with 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 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, some environments and owners are unsuitable for Dobermans. 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 to ensure you will be able to care for them properly.

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