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What Were Dobermans Bred for? History & Origin Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

doberman dog in late autumn

The Doberman Pinscher Doberman is a dog breed with an interesting history. The Doberman was developed in the 1880s to protect a feared and hated tax collector in Germany. If you find that part of the Doberman breed history fascinating, just wait until you learn more! Below we’ll take a closer look at the Doberman breed and its rich history.

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The Breed is Named After Its German Developer

A man named Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman from Apolda, Germany developed the Doberman Pinscher in the late 19th Century to help him in his tax collecting work.

Back then, tax collectors like Doberman traveled around Germany collecting taxes for the government. Not surprisingly, these people were not often welcomed at the homes they visited. Because of the overall hatred for the tax man, it made them feel very vulnerable.

Louis Doberman’s goal was to create the ultimate guard dog that nobody in their right mind would approach, making him feel safer while carrying out his tax-collecting duties.

When Doberman set out to develop the breed that would later be named after him, he worked with two other dog aficionados who often traveled to Switzerland to buy cattle. Together, they bred the first litter of Dobermans from cattle dogs that were destined to be euthanized.

It’s not known exactly how the Doberman was bred, but it’s thought by many that this breed was developed by crossing several other breeds including the Rottweiler, Weimaraner, German Pinscher, and the Beauceron.

However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has a different take on the breed. The AKC believes the Doberman was developed using the Rottweiler, Black and Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, and the old German Shepherd.

Like with many other dog breeds, the exact history of the Doberman is unclear. What we do know for sure is that the Doberman was developed using several large dog breeds known for their loyalty, agility, and intelligence.


The Breed’s Name Has Changed Over Time

Following Louis Doberman’s death in 1894, the Germans named the breed the Doberman Pinscher as a tribute to the man. However, 5 decades later, the word “pinscher” was dropped from the name. The second half of the name was dropped because “pinscher” means “terrier” in German, which the dog does not resemble.

Black and tan Doberman dog dock tail_Eudyptula_shutterstock
Photo Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

The Doberman Was a Faithful War Dog

During the Second World War, the US Marine Corps named the Doberman Pinscher its official war dog. They used this breed to carry out various duties like defending camps, tracking enemy troops, and locating explosives. They also used other breeds for these perilous tasks, including the fearlessly brave German Shepherd.

The Breed Quickly Became Popular in the USA

The Doberman breed became very popular in the United States after winning four Westminster Kennel Club Dog shows in 1930, 1953, 1953, and 1989. The AKC ranked the Doberman as the 12th most popular dog breed in both 2012 and 2013.

Since this breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1908, it continues to be one of the most beloved dog breeds in America. It’s no wonder this elegant dog is so popular in the United States. The Doberman always catches the eye of humans with its gleaming coat, chiseled head, and amazingly perfect silhouette. On top of its great looks, the Doberman is a loyal dog that’s highly trainable and very intelligent.

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The Doberman’s History Includes Some Myths

Unfortunately, the Doberman has a reputation for being a dangerous dog. However, people familiar with the breed know that Dobermans are loving, affectionate, sensitive, and loyal.

The Doberman is so loved in the United States that it’s affectionately called the Dobie. But even with the cute nickname, this dog is unfairly stereotyped. There have been myths circulating about Dobermans for decades that focus on this breed being overly aggressive and dangerous.

In reality, the Doberman has always been a loyal dog that forms a protective bond with its owners. When you have a Doberman, your dog may physically defend you and your family members from perceived threats, but it’s highly unlikely that your dog will attack you.

Another old myth says that Dobermans can’t be trusted around kids. This myth probably got started due to the dog’s large size, its history as a guard dog, and its protective nature.

The reality here is that a Doberman that grows up around kids typically becomes an affectionate family member that’s very loyal. Sure, a Doberman, like any other dog, may accidentally knock over a small child when playing, but overall, these dogs are patient and gentle with children, especially when trained and socialized.

If you have small kids and bring a Doberman into your family, teach your children not to play rough with the dog and to never pull his ears or tail. Also, teach your kids that your big dog can easily trip and knock them down during play. It’s always a good idea to supervise young children whenever they’re around any dog, though, including a Doberman.

doberman shepherd
Photo Credit: Anna Mogilevtseva, Shutterstock

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The next time you see a Doberman, think about this breed’s fascinating history so you’ll appreciate their beauty even more! If you’re looking for a canine companion that’s regal, strong, agile, and loyal, the Doberman is a breed to consider.

Even though the Doberman was bred for protection, today this dog is admired around the world by families wanting an active, loyal, and loving pet.


Featured Image Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock

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