Doberman Pinscher Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Doberman Pinscher Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014
This athletic dog needs brisk walking every day and all-out running as often as possible. Too little exercise and too little companionship can lead to restlessness and other behavioral problems.
Mental exercise (advanced obedience, agility, tracking, Schutzhund) is just as important to this thinking breed.
Though some Doberman Pinschers are big softies who love everyone, most are reserved with strangers and protective of their family. Early and extensive socialization is mandatory to avoid either shyness or sharpness.
Some Doberman Pinschers are dominant with other dogs. Some are confirmed cat chasers, while others love small animals.
Some excel in advanced obedience competition, while others are hardheaded and will test to find their place in the pecking order.
Calm, consistent leadership is a must, and obedience training must be upbeat and persuasive rather than sharp. This breed does not tolerate teasing or mischief.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large and strong, yet sleek- and elegant-looking
- Has a short easy-care coat
- Thrives on exercise, athletic activities, and challenging things to do
- Looks serious and imposing, so makes an effective deterrent even when friendly
A Doberman Pinscher may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing enough exercise to keep him satisfied
- Aggression, sharpness, or shyness when not socialized enough
- Possible aggression toward other animals
- Emotional sensitivity to stress and loud voices
- Physical sensitivity (tendency to react defensively when startled or mishandled)
- A multitude of serious health problems that can equate to a short lifespan
- Potential legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
A Doberman Pinscher may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Doberman Pinscher
If I was considering a Doberman Pinscher, I would be most concerned about...
- Unstable temperaments. Doberman Pinschers are a dime a dozen, and most of them are bred and offered for sale by people who don't have the slightest idea of how to breed good-tempered dogs. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see LOTS of Doberman Pinschers with neurotic behaviors.
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Doberman Pinschers were bred to be working dogs and they MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. If you don't have the time or inclination to get involved in some type of canine activity (agility, advanced obedience, tracking, schutzhund, or something similar, I do not recommend this breed. It was never intended to be just a casual pet.
- Providing enough socialization. Many Dobermann Pinschers have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Dobermans go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
To teach your Doberman to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Doberman Pinscher Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Animal aggression. Some Doberman Pinschers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest . . . is there tension in your home? Are some family members likely to be loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Doberman Pinschers are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with digestive upsets and nervous behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems.
If you have small children, I do not recommend a Doberman Pinscher. This breed may try to protect their own children from other children, which could lead to tragedy if the kids are simply roughhousing. In addition, there are just too many Dobermans who don't like the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making.
- Serious health problems. In the health department, Doberman Pinschers are extremely risky. An appalling number of Dobermans die of inherited heart disease and cancer before 7 years old.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Doberman Pinscher Health Page.
- Legal liabilities. Doberman Pinschers may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
Frankly, most Doberman Pinschers are "too much dog" for the average household. Very few people really have the knowledge or skills necessary to manage this breed, or to provide the activities that keep him satisfied.
To learn more about training Doberman Pinschers to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Doberman Pinscher the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Doberman Pinscher puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Doberman Pinscher might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Doberman Pinscher home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Doberman Pinscher...
When you're acquiring a Doberman Pinscher PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Doberman Pinschers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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