The Doberman Pinscher (alternatively spelled Dobermann in many countries) or Doberman is a breed of domestic dog. Dobermann Pinschers are among the most common of pet breeds, and the breed is well known as an intelligent, alert, and loyal companion dog. Although once commonly used as guard dogs, watch dogs, or police dogs, this is less common today. In many countries, Dobermann Pinschers are one of the most recognizable breeds, in part because of their actual roles in society, and in part because of media attention. Careful breeding has improved the disposition of this breed, and the modern Dobermann Pinscher is an energetic and lively breed suitable for companionship and family life.

 

Appearance

The American Kennel club standards describe Dobermann Pinschers as dogs of medium size, square build and short coat. They are compactly built and athletic with endurance and speed. The Dobermann Pinscher should have a proud, watchful, determined, and obedient temperament. The dog was originally intended as a guard dog, so males should have a masculine, muscular, noble appearance. Females are thinner, but should not be spindly.

Size and proportions

The Dobermann Pinscher is a dog of medium size. Although the breed standards vary among kennel and breed clubs, the dog typically stands between 26 to 28 inches 27.5 being ideal (66 to 72 cm), the female is typically somewhere between 24 to 26 inches, 25.5 being ideal (61 to 68 cm). The Dobermann has a square frame: its length should equal its height to the withers, and the length of its head, neck and legs should be in proportion to its body.

There are no standards for the weight of the Dobermann Pinscher. The ideal dog must have sufficient size for an optimal combination of strength, endurance and agility. The dog generally weighs between 75 and 100 pounds (34 and 45 kg) and the female between 60 and 90 pounds (27 and 41 kg).

Color

An example of one black and one blue Dobermann Pinscher
 

Two different color genes exist in the Dobermann, one for black (B) and one for color dilution (D). There are nine possible combinations of these allelles (BBDD, BBDd BbDD BbDd, BBdd, Bbdd, bbDD, bbDd, bbdd), which result in four different color phenotypes: black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella). The traditional and most common color occurs when both the color and dilution genes have at least one dominant allele (i.e., BBDD, BBDd, BbDD or BbDd), and is commonly referred to as black or black and rust (also called black and tan). The red, red rust or brown coloration occurs when the black gene has two recessive alleles but the dilution gene has at least one dominant allele (i.e., bbDD, bbDd). "Blue" and "fawn" are controlled by the color dilution gene. The blue Dobermann has the color gene with at least one dominant allele and the dilution gene with both recessive alleles (i.e., BBdd or Bbdd). The fawn (Isabella) coloration is the least common, occurring only when both the color and dilution genes have two recessive alleles (i.e., bbdd). Thus, the blue color is a diluted black, and the fawn color is a diluted red.

An example of a fawn colored Doberman Pinscher

Expression of the color dilution gene is a disorder called Color Dilution Alopecia. Although not life threatening, these dogs can develop skin problems.[5] Since 1994 the blue and fawn colors have been banned from breeding by the Dobermann Verein in Germany and under FCI regulations Blue and Fawn are considered disqualifying faults in the international show ring.

In 1976, a "white" Doberman Pinscher bitch was whelped, and was subsequently bred to her son, who was also bred to his litter sisters. This tight inbreeding continued for some time to allow the breeders to "fix" the mutation. White dobermans are a cream color with pure white markings and icy blue eyes. Although the disorder is consistent with albinism, a proper characterization of the mutation is currently unknown. The animals are known to be tyrosinase-positive albinoids, lacking melanin in oculocutaneous structures, but no known mutation has been identified. Thus, these Doberman Pinschers are not actually white,[6] rather they suffer from a deleterious genetic disorder that is associated with increased health risks.

Tails

Doberman with undocked tail

The Doberman Pinscher's natural tail is fairly long, but individual dogs often have a short tail as a result of docking, a procedure in which the majority of the tail is surgically removed shortly after birth.

The practice of docking has been around for centuries, and is older than the Doberman as a breed. The putative reason for docking is to ensure that the tail does not get in the way of the dog's work. Recently, docking has become a controversial topic. The American Kennel Club standard for Doberman Pinschers includes a tail docked near the 2nd vertebra. Docking is a common practice in North America, Russia and Japan (as well as a number of other countries with Doberman populations), where it is legal. In many European countries, docking has been made illegal, and in others it is limited.

 Ears

Doberman with natural ears.

Doberman Pinschers will often have their ears cropped, as do many other breeds, a procedure that is functionally related to breed type for both the traditional guard duty and effective sound localization. Like tail docking, ear cropping is illegal in some countries, and in these Doberman Pinschers have natural ears. Doberman Pinscher ear cropping is usually done between 7 and 9 weeks of age. Cropping done after 12 weeks has a low rate of success in getting the ears to stand. Some Doberman Pinscher owners prefer not to have their pet's ears cropped because they are concerned the procedure is painful for the animal. The process involves trimming off part of the animal's ears and propping them up with posts and tape bandages, which allows the cartilage to develop into an upright position as the puppy grows. The incision scabs fall off within a week and stitches are removed a week after that. The puppy will still have the ability to lay the ears back or down. The process of posting the ears generally takes about a month, but longer show crops can take several months. Ear posting is more discomforting to the dog than the surgery itself. Posting techniques and the associated discomfort vary from one posting technique to the next.

After the initial surgery has been done, the ears are taped. Ear taping uses posts to keep the ears straight in the upright position, allowing them to grow and strengthen the cartilage. In some countries' conformation shows, Doberman Pinschers are allowed to compete with either cropped or natural ears. In Germany a cropped or docked dog cannot be shown regardless of country of origin. Special written exception to this policy does occur when Germany is the location for international events.

Temperament

Doberman Pinschers are the target of a mistaken stereotype of ferocity and aggression. As a personal protection dog, the Doberman was originally bred for these traits: it had to be large and intimidating, fearless and willing to defend its owner, but sufficiently obedient and restrained to only do so on command. These traits served the dog well in its role as a personal defense dog, police dog or war dog, but were not ideally adapted to a companionship role. In recent decades, the Doberman Pinscher's size, short coat, and intelligence made it a desirable house dog. Although these dogs are mistaken for their aggression, they are extremely loyal. They can easily learn to 'Respect and Protect' their owners. In response, they are excellent guard dogs that protect the ones they love. There is evidence that Doberman Pinschers in North America are calmer than their European counterparts because of these breeding strategies. Because of these differences in breeding strategies, different lines of Doberman Pinschers have developed different traits. Although many contemporary Doberman Pinschers in North America are gentle, loyal, loving, and intelligent dogs, some lines are bred more true to the original personality standard.

Although the stereotype is largely mistaken, the personality of the Doberman Pinscher is peculiar to the breed. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that Doberman Pinschers have a number of stable psychological traits, such as personality factors and intelligence. As early as 1965, studies have shown that there are several broad behavioral traits that significantly predict behavior and are genetically determined. Subsequently, there have been numerous scientific attempts to quantify canine personality or temperament by using statistical techniques for assessing personality traits in humans. These studies often vary by identifying different personality factors, and by ranking breeds differently along these dimensions. One such study found that Doberman Pinschers, compared to other breeds, rank high in playfulness, average in curiosity/fearlessness, low on aggressiveness and low on sociability. Another such study ranked Doberman Pinschers low on reactivity/surgence, and high on aggression/disagreeableness and openness/trainability

Intelligence

Canine intelligence is an umbrella term that encompasses the faculties involved in a wide range of mental tasks, such as learning, problem-solving and communication. The Doberman Pinscher has ranked amongst the most intelligent of dog breeds in experimental studies and expert evaluations. For instance, biologist Stanley Coren ranks the Doberman as the 5th most intelligent dog in the category of obedience command training based on the selective surveys he performed of some trainers as documented in his book The Intelligence of Dogs. Additionally, in two studies, Hart and Hart (1985) ranked the Doberman Pinscher first in this category, and Tortora (1980) gave the Doberman the highest rank in trainability, as does Howe.[Although the methods of evaluation differ, these studies consistently show that the Doberman Pinscher, along with the Border Collie, German Shepherd and Standard Poodle, is one of the most trainable breeds of dog.

Aggression

In addition to the studies of canine personality, there has been some research to determine whether there are breed differences in aggression. In a recent study, aggression was divided into four categories: aggression directed at strangers, owner, other strange dogs and rivalry with other household dogs. This study found that the Doberman Pinscher ranked relatively high on stranger-directed aggression (behind the Dachshund and Chihuahua), but extremely low on owner-directed aggression. The Doberman Pinscher ranked as average on dog-directed aggression and dog rivalry. Looking only at bites and attempted bites, Doberman Pinschers rank as far less aggressive towards humans, and show less aggression than many breeds without a reputation (e.g., Cocker Spaniel, Border Collie and Great Dane). This study concluded that aggression has a genetic basis, that the Doberman shows a distinctive pattern of aggression depending on the situation, and that contemporary Doberman Pinschers are not an aggressive breed overall.

Although recent studies do not rank Doberman Pinschers as the most aggressive breed, their size, strength and aggression towards strangers makes them potentially dangerous. Studies of dog bites and dog bite fatalities have shown that the danger of attack by Dobermans is relatively high, and that children are five times as likely to be bitten by a Doberman as a Labrador Retriever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1979 and 1998, the Doberman Pinscher was involved in attacks on humans resulting in fatalities less frequently than several other dog breeds such as pit-bull–type dogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Husky-type, Wolf-dog hybrids and Alaskan Malamutes. According to this Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, one of the most important factors contributing to dog bites are related to the level of responsibility exercised by dog owners.

Health

On average, Doberman Pinschers live about 10–14 years, and they frequently suffer from a number of health concerns. Common serious health problems include dilated cardiomyopathy, cervical vertebral instability (CVI), von Willebrand's disease (vWD), (a bleeding disorder for which there is genetic testing), and prostatic disease. Less serious common health concerns include hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia.

Studies have shown that the Doberman Pinscher suffers from prostatic diseases, (such as bacterial prostatiti, prostatic cysts, prostatic adenocarcinoma, and benign hyperplasia) more than any other breed. Neutering can significantly reduce these risks.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in Doberman Pinschers. This disease affects Dobermans more than any other breed. Nearly 40% of DCM diagnoses are for Doberman Pinschers, followed by German Shepherds at 13%. Research has shown that the breed is affected by an attenuated wavy fiber type of DCM that affects many other breeds,[ as well as an additional, fatty infiltration-degenerative type that appears to be specific to Doberman Pinscher and Boxer breeds. This serious disease is likely to be fatal in most Doberman Pinschers affected Across multiple studies, more than half of the Doberman Pinschers studied develop the condition. Roughly a quarter of Doberman Pinschers who developed cardiomyopathy died suddenly from unknown causes, and an additional fifty percent died of congestive heart failure. In addition to being more prevalent, this disease is also more serious in Doberman Pinschers. Following diagnosis, the average non-Doberman has an expected survival time of 8 months; for Doberman Pinschers, the expected survival time is less than 2 months. Although the causes for the disease are largely unknown, there is evidence that it is a familial disease inherited as an autosomal dominant trati Investigation into the genetic causes of canine DCM may lead to therapeutic and breeding practices to limit its impact.

 

Famous Doberman Pinschers

  • Ch. Rancho Dobe's Storm: back to back Westminster Best in Show (1952, 1953).
  • Bingo von Ellendonk: first Dobermann to score 300 points (perfect score) in Schutzhund.
  • Ch. Cambria Cactus Cash: Sired 144 AKC champions as of June 2007.
  • Graf Belling v. Grönland: first registered Dobermann.
  • Zeus & Apollo: Jonathan Higgin's guard dogs in the 1980's American television show Magnum, PI.
  • In the J.D. Salinger novel The Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist Holden Caulfield meets a girl (Jane Gallagher) because her Dobermann Pinscher would come into his family's yard.
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