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 © 2000-2018
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 and activities 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.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Dobermans have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Doberman to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Doberman Pinschers don't need tremendous running exercise. But they were bred to be working dogs, so they do need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things.
I always feel sorry when I meet a smart-as-a-whip Doberman Pinscher whose life consists of walks around the block and being let out into the yard. This is a waste of such a capable breed. To really provide the best life for a Doberman Pinscher, I recommend getting him involved in a canine activity where he can use his athletic skills and intelligent mind. Agility classes, for example. Or advanced obedience classes (not a basic beginners class, but ongoing classes). Or join a tracking or schutzhund club. The Doberman Pinscher 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 aggression. Some Dobermans go in the opposite direction – without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which is very difficult to live with.
- Taking charge. In the right hands, Dobermans are very trainable. But they are observant dogs who can tell if you're a wishy-washy person. Doberman Pinschers need a confident owner. To teach your Doberman to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Doberman Pinscher Training.
- Potential 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. Being able to control your Doberman's behavior with other animals is another reason for a thorough respect training program.
- 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? Doberman Pinschers are 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.
A good Doberman is fine with their family's children. But some Dobermans may try to protect their own children from other children, even if the kids are simply roughhousing. More concerning is the number of Dobermans who are so sensitive that they become nervous and hyper-reactive with the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making. So if you have children, you need to be extremely careful when evaluating Doberman Pinscher lines.
- Serious health problems. A heartbreaking number of Doberman Pinschers die of inherited heart disease and cancer before 7 years of age. Read more about Doberman Pinscher Health.
- 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. The breed is best suited in a calm household with experienced owners who are interested in participating in some sort of canine activity.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.