Breed History

by Malcolm Dupre


The history of the Doberman has been documented by many very reliable authors, who have sometimes spent a lifetime with this one breed of dog.  It is highly recommended that anyone interested in including one of these magnificent animals in their family, to purchase and read at least one book (preferably more) that is written by  these authors. It is also important that the potential new owner belong to a local Doberman club; get to know the people who have experience in this breed, ask questions concerning training, nutrition, exercise, and temperament of the breed. The Doberman is a noble-looking, elegant, powerful, and highly intelligent animal.  The feelings between a Doberman and its owner are reciprocal, the love and devotion that one has for the other is a mutual giving and receiving.  That is one of the amazing benefits of ownership of this breed of dog.
     The Doberman had its beginnings in the city of Apolda, located in the state of Thuringia, Germany.  Louis Dobermann was reputed to be a tax collector in this area, and was also responsible for keeping the strays in the local dog pound.  Herr Dobermann carried money on his person, and wanted a dog for self protection.  His ultimate aim was to possess a dog that was of average build, so that it could be intimidating to intruders or robbers.  A dog with a short, smooth coat would be easy to care for, with a minimum of grooming. The dog would also have to have great stamina, be intelligent, and display alertness, and even aggression. So when he decided to use different breeds to develop this special guard dog, Herr Dobermann had a very specific end in mind.  His choices were not slap hazard, he picked and chose the dogs very carefully.  This is one of the reasons why the Doberman Pinscher is referred to as "a man-made dog".  Unfortunately, he did not keep any written records.  However, some very good conjectures can be drawn from the knowledge we have of the anatomy and temperament of the Doberman, and the knowledge of the type of dogs that were indigenous to that area and time.
     The German Pinscher was probably the foundation breed that Herr Dobermann used to build his new strain of dog.  This type of dog was described as being rather non-descript in looks, but the reputation of temperament that this dog had was one of alertness and aggressiveness.
     The Rottweiler was used in the development of the breed due to its massiveness and intelligence. This very solid dog also possessed great stamina, and had excellent tracking ability.  Sometimes the Rottweiler strain can be seen in a Doberman with a "wavy" coat.
     The Manchester Terrier contributed the black-and-tan coloration, and the short, shiny coat.  The Doberman inherited some of the elegant looks, the refinement and line of this breed of dog.
     The Beauceron contributed size and color to the Dobermann bloodline.  The Beauceron was a solidly built dog, very alert, and was known to be intelligent as well.
     Louis Dobermann passed away in the late 1800's.  He left his bloodline in the keeping, and care, of Otto Goeller.  It is speculated that it was Otto Goeller that added the Greyhound, possibly black in color, to the bloodline.  This would account for the additional height, stamina, and the speed of the Doberman.
     In 1899, the National Dobermann Pinscher Club was organized in Germany.  One year later, Otto Goeller, and other fanciers, drew up a standard for their breed.  The German Kennel Club immediately gave official recognition of the newest breed
     The first Doberman's to enter the U.S. did so around 1908.  In 1921, the Dobermann Pinscher Club of America was organized, and one year later, the standard that was written in Germany, was adopted as the standard here in the U.S.  The next 15 years were very important years in the Doberman's history.  World War I had severely depleted the number of Dobies, due to the near, and actual, starvation of many of the people of Europe. The luxury of having Dobermans as a family pet was too much for some, many puppies, as well as adults, had to be put to death.  The military, the police, certain organizations, and the very wealthy were able to possess these dogs.  So there was a need to be filled by the continued breeding of the Doberman.  But now the emphasis was on the best bred dog.  After 1921, an American market opened up for these German bred dogs, and most of the Siegers and Siegerins, and virtually every German sire of reputation, sooner or later reached American shores, if not the dogs themselves, then their get did.  World War II was another close disaster for the Doberman.  If not for the fact that Americans had purchased so many Dobies, it is likely the breed would have come close to extinction.  The American breeder had, from 1921 until around 1937, invited German judges to our American Shows, and had asked for, and followed, their advice on how to breed the Dobie, traits to look for, and to be mindful of the temperament desired. In Great Britain, the Doberman was rarely seen, not becoming known by the public until around 1947.
     It is important that the public understand that in the early years of the Doberman Pincsher the breed was valued most for its aggressiveness.  It had a use at that time, it was a working dog, used in guard work, military policing, and with the police.  Today, the responsible breeder is more aware than ever before of the importance of temperament.  The responsible breeder will not knowingly sell an aggressive tempered dog into a family situation.  The aggressive types must be trained, and possessed, by a dominant (not abusive) owner, who has a job for the Dobie to do. A new owner to the Doberman breed should have the common sense to research and get to know the breed very well before buying.  He, or she, should not be getting the Dobie for the purpose of scaring his neighbors, or their dogs.  If that is the case, shame on you.  You possess an animal that can become dangerous in the wrong hands, yours. Just like a mishandled weapon, it's not the gun that kills, it is the mentality behind it.