What do you think of when you think of the Doberman Pinscher? This breed has an unfair reputation for being aggressive, so that may be what comes to mind first and foremost. But the reality is that the Doberman is hardworking, brave, and loyal. In fact, this working dog breed is known for doing many jobs with the police and military!
But there’s so much more to the Doberman breed than just being hardworking. This dog has managed to do a lot since it was created—everything from heroic deeds to starring in heist movies. Keep reading to learn 15 unique and surprising facts about the Doberman that you probably didn’t know!
The 15 Unique & Surprising Facts About the Doberman Pinscher
The 15 facts about Dobermans that are below will boost your knowledge of the breed and give you greater insight into this lovable dog.
1. The Doberman was created by a tax collector.
You’d think that a dog breed would be created by, well, a breeder. But the Doberman actually came about due to Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, who was a tax collector (and sometimes worked as a dog catcher). As a tax collector, he wasn’t a very popular guy with the locals, and he often had huge sums of money on him—both of which made life dangerous. So, Karl decided that some protection was in order. He looked at the dogs at the dog pound to try and find a guard dog but wasn’t impressed. Thus, he decided to create his own breed of guard dog—the Doberman.
2. The Doberman breed isn’t that old.
When did Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman come up with the idea to make his own breed? In the 1890s, which makes the Doberman roughly 150 years old.1 And that makes them a relatively new breed (versus the many dog breeds that have been around since ancient times). They’ve only changed a bit since their early days, though; the breed was designed to be a protector and still fills that role today. However, the Doberman is now often found as a household pet, too.
3. Dobermans are not purebred.
Since we mentioned that Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman decided the current dog breeds surrounding him weren’t nearly protective enough and created his own breed, you’ve probably ascertained that the Doberman is a mixed breed made up of the breeds from the pound. While we’re not entirely sure just what breeds were used to make the Doberman, guesses include the Rottweiler, Manchester Terrier, German Shorthaired Pointer, Greyhound, black and tan terrier, Great Dane, Beauceron, and Weimaraner.2
4. The Doberman is quite clever.
Working dogs are often intelligent (they have to be to get the job done!), so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Doberman is quite clever. Just how intelligent is this breed? The Doberman ranked 5th on Stanley Coren’s list of the most intelligent dog breeds, based on Coren’s own test.3 And ranking that high up means that the Doberman is able to obey commands immediately, approximately 95% of the time, and learn new commands in 5 attempts or less.
5. American Dobermans aren’t as aggressive as European Dobermans.
The first Doberman was bred to be a guard dog to protect Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, and that meant the dog needed to be aggressive. And though the breed as a whole has become less aggressive over the years, the American Doberman has been deliberately bred to lessen aggressive traits and strengthen positive traits, such as loyalty. And that means Dobermans in the U.S. are less aggressive than their European counterparts.
6. There are white Dobermans.
Though there are only four official Doberman colors (black and rust, red and rust, fawn and rust, and blue and rust), there is also an unofficial white variation. This color isn’t recognized by the AKC, but the first white Doberman was made in 1976 and was a cream color with white markings. This white color is caused by a mutated gene that affects melanin. White Dobermans have blue eyes and are known as “tyrosinase-positive albinoids”.
7. There’s a reason a Doberman’s ears are cropped and tail docked.
If you haven’t heard of docking before, it’s surgically removing part of a dog’s tail (cropping is the term for when this is done to the ears). Since the original Dobermans were meant to be aggressive protectors, they needed to be ready at any time for a fight. So, owners would dock and crop weaker areas on the tails and ears of their dogs—places that could easily be torn or used against a dog in a fight.
Of course, Dobermans today aren’t getting into fights all the time, so there’s really no need for the practice, but some people do it for other reasons. For one, the Doberman has an extremely thin tail that’s easily breakable. For another, the breed’s floppy ears can lead to recurrent ear infections.
But many see the practices of docking and cropping as unnecessary and cruel, so these procedures have been banned in certain countries.
8. Doberman drill teams were totally a thing.
You’re familiar with military drill teams or those that perform with marching bands, but did you know that Doberman drill teams used to be a thing? As strange as it might sound, they totally were, and they were insanely popular! Quite possibly, the first ever Doberman drill team was begun by Tess Henseler. This drill team did a performance at the 1959 Westminster KC dog show, as well as appearances and performances at celebrations and sporting events over the next several years. Another famous Doberman drill team was started by Rosalie Alvarez and was so beloved it toured for 30 years.
9. Dobermans are great at Schutzhund!
And what exactly is Schutzhund? Schutzhund is a sport designed specifically for the German Shepherd to test different traits and weed out weaker dogs. It’s such a difficult test, though, that very few other breeds take part in the sport. To compete, a dog needs to be intelligent, agile, fast, strong, and have incredible endurance—all of which the Doberman has in spades, making it one of the few breeds other than the German Shepherd capable of competing. A perfect score in Schutzhund requires 300 points—the first Doberman to achieve that was named Bingo von Ellendonk!
10. A Doberman saved a lot of lives during WWII.
You might have heard the name “Kurt the Doberman” before, but do you know who this dog was? He was one of many dogs used during WWII to help soldiers and was, unfortunately, the first of these dogs to die. But he saved a lot of lives with the heroic act that made him a casualty. It was the 1944 Battle of Guam, and Kurt the Doberman went ahead of the soldiers he was working with to warn them that opposing soldiers were approaching. Though a grenade killed Kurt in that battle, he ultimately saved 250 soldiers. To honor his heroism, he was buried in Guam in the United States Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery, and a memorial in his likeness was placed in the cemetery.
11. The most successful show Doberman is named Ch. Borong the Warlock.
Doberman Pinschers are among the many breeds that perform in dog shows around the world. The most successful of these Dobermans was one named Ch. Borong the Warlock. He won a host of titles and shows during his time competing. Just a few of his accomplishments were winning three different country’s championship titles, being a 3-time winner of the Doberman Pinscher Club of American National Specialty Show, and winning six Best in Shows (all-breed), 30 Best in Specialty Shows, 66 Working Groups, and 230 Best of Breed. Wow! Plus, this dog was named top in breed at a Top Ten event by five Doberman specialists.
12. European show standards for Dobermans are different than American ones.
If you have a Doberman that competes in shows and have been tempted to try out European competitions, be forewarned that Europe has different standards than America. One of the more significant differences is that in America, Dobermans are permitted to have spots of white on their chests, so long as the spots are no bigger than a certain size. But in Europe, these white spots are not allowed at all. Just be sure you’re up-to-date on European show standards before trying your dog out in a show there!
13. Dobermans starred in a 1970s heist movie.
Yes, really. It’s not uncommon to see Dobermans in movies now and then, but in 1972 six Dobermans were the stars of the heist film “The Doberman Gang”. This ridiculously campy movie was about bank robbers and used the tagline “six savage Dobies with a thirst for cold cash that leaves banks bone dry.” Best of all, the Dobermans in the movie all had names based on famous bank robbers. The whole thing is a bit silly (but fun!), but the film ended up with two sequels. There was even talk of the original film being remade back in 2010!
14. The Doberman is quite sensitive to cold weather.
Dobermans may seem strong and tough (and they are!), but this breed is also quite sensitive to the cold. Most likely, this is because of their frames—slender, muscular, and lacking body fat to keep them warm. So, if you live in a colder climate and want to adopt a Doberman, just be advised that you’ll need to take extra care to keep your dog nice and toasty throughout the colder months.
15. Celebs are fans of the Doberman.
There are tons of celebrities that have chosen the Doberman to be part of their families. Mariah Carey has two Dobermans named Duke and Princess. William Shatner has been the owner of a whopping 11 Dobermans named Bella, Charity, China, Heidi, Kirk, Martika, Morgan, Paris, Royale, Starbuck, and Sterling. Other famous Doberman parents include Nicolas Cage, Priscilla Presley, John F. Kennedy, and Valentino.
Was there a lot on this list you weren’t aware of, or were you already a Doberman aficionado? The Doberman is a fascinating breed with a storied history (despite its relatively young age). So, if you’ve been thinking about adopting a Doberman but have been unsure due to its reputation for aggressiveness, remember there’s more to this dog than its past as a protector. The breed is hardworking, intelligent, and fiercely loyal and can make the right family an excellent pet!