Spotlight on the Doberman Pinscher

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Kennel Club Breed Standards

Baby Doberman DogAppearance

The Doberman is recognized as medium size, muscular and elegant, with well set body. It should have proud carriage and be compact and tough. It is also required to be capable of great speed.

Characteristics

The Doberman should be intelligent with a firm character, it should also be loyal and and obedient.

Temperament

The Doberman should be bold and alert. Any shyness or aggressive behaviour is highly undesirable.

Head and Skull

The head should be in proportion with the body. It should be long, well filled out under the eyes, clean cut with good depth of muzzle. When viewed from above and the side it should resemble a blunt wedge. The upper part of the head should be wrinkle free and flat. The top of the skull should also be flat with a slight stop and the muzzle line should extend parallel to the top line of the skull. Lips should be tight and the cheeks flat. A solid black nose in black dogs,  a solid brown nose in brown dogs, a solid dark grey nose in blue dogs, and a light brown nose in fawn dogs is expected. If the head is out of balance with the body, the face dished, snipy or cheeky is highly undesirable.

Eyes

The eyes are almond-shaped, definitely not round. They should be moderately deep set, not prominent, with lively, alert expression. The iris is of uniform colour and ranges from medium darkest brown in black dogs, the darker shade being more desirable. In browns, blues, or fawns, colour of iris blends with that of markings, but not of lighter hue than markings; light eyes in black dogs highly undesirable.

Ears

Small ears neatly set high on the head is expected. Normally they are dropped, but they may also be erect.

Mouth

The mouth is well developed, strong and solid with complete dentition and a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite. (upper teeth should closely overlap lower teeth) and set square to the jaws. Evenly placed teeth. Undershot, overshot or badly arranged teeth are highly undesirable.

Neck

Fairly long and lean, carried with considerable nobility; slightly convex and in proportion to shape of dog. Region of nape very muscular. Dewlap and loose skin undesirable.

Forequarters

The shoulder blade and upper foreleg should meet at an angle of 90 degrees. They should also be approximately equal in length. The hind legs when viewed fro the side, should be perfectly straight and parallel to each other from, they should all be well muscled with round bone in proportion to body structure.

Body

Square body, the height is measured vertically from the ground to the highest point at withers, equal to length from fore-chest to rear projection of upper thigh. Fore-chest is well developed. Short and firm back, with strong, straight top line sloping slightly from withers to croup; bitches may be slightly longer to loin. Ribs are deep and well sprung, reaching to elbow. The belly is fairly well tucked up. Long, weak, or roach backs are highly undesirable.

Hindquarters

Legs should be parallel to each other and moderately wide apart. Pelvis falling away from spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees. Croup well filled out. Hindquarters well developed and muscular; long, well bent stifle; hocks turning neither in nor out. When standing, hock to heel perpendicular to the ground.

Feet

Well arched, compact, and cat-like, turning neither in nor out. Long, flat deviating feet and/or weak pasterns highly undesirable.

Tail

Previously customarily docked.

  • Docked: Docked at 1st or 2nd joint. Appears to be a continuation of spine without material drop.
  • Undocked: Appears to be a continuation of spine without material drop, kink or deformity. May be raised and carried freely when the dog is moving or standing.

Gait/Movement

Elastic, free, balanced and vigorous, with good reach in forequarters and driving power in hindquarters. When trotting, should have strong rear drive, with apparent rotary motion of hindquarters. Rear and front legs thrown neither in nor out. Back remains strong and firm.

Coat

Smooth, short, hard, thick and close-lying. Imperceptible undercoat on neck permissible. Hair forming a ridge on back of neck and/or along spine highly undesirable.

Colour

Definite black, brown, blue or fawn (Isabella) only, with rust red markings. Markings to be sharply defined, appearing above each eye, on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet and below tail. White markings of any kind highly undesirable.

Size

Ideal height at withers: dogs: 69 cms (27 ins); bitches: 65 cms (251/2 ins). Considerable deviation from this ideal undesirable.

Faults

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

In order to ensure a dog is likely to meet these stipulations, the breeder should be registered with the kennel Club and the puppies registered independently. If this is not the case then the stipulations cannot be guaranteed. That aside it is important to ensure the breed is one which may or may not suit a particular family environment. With this in mind we will now look at each of the breeds as a whole and their requirements to live a full and balanced life.

Jo’s Breed Overview

These dogs have a never ending energy and are driven to succeed. They require good strong management and like to live closely with their human individuals. A solid leadership program is a must to ensure adverse behaviour patterns do not develop. If control and direction is given they will be exceptionally loyal, dedicated and affectionate.

They are also capable of being extremely assertive, bold and determined and this can either result in being a quality or create huge problems for a family household. They are however, intelligent and as a result easy to train so with knowledge and understanding they will cope well with family life.

Naturally bred to guard and keep watch, they do not need any additional training in this department although it may be necessary to train them to ‘switch off’ if guarding begins to become excessive or unbalanced.

All member’s of the family must ensure they take a higher ranking role over this breed if young children are present the parents must ensure they utilise avenues to empower the children and control any high energy play so as things do not get out of hand. It is really important these dogs are not allowed to have their own way as they are stubborn and willful, if this occurs adverse behaviours will follow of a serious nature.

These dogs also need a lot of both physical and mental stimulation to keep them balanced and focused. Many do well with continued avenues for training such as obedience, agility or working trials. Socialisation also needs to be explored as the breed can have a tendency to develop timid and nervous responses. It is important this is addressed during the dog’s critical learning period. The Doberman requires an indoor environment as they are ‘cold’ sensitive and so would not be suited to an outdoor kennel unless heated.

These dogs do well as family pets, providing the knowledge and time is available to manage them effectively. Owners need to be experienced and understand dog behaviour to ensure a desirable outcome.

If a family decides they wish to own one of these dogs, they must also consider the financial implication this will have. To purchase a Doberman from a reputable breeder will cost anywhere in the region of £300- £2000, depending on breeding. The cost doesn’t end there, insurance is a must and will be the best part of £25-£35/ month, worming and vaccination costs will range from £150-£250/ year plus kennel fees as required and other veterinary fees. With a large breed you can be sure medication won’t come cheap! Finally, feeding; this will largely depend on what feed is chosen but a rough figure would come in around £60-80/ month. If this dog is chosen as the family pet it is important the family take all these factors into consideration.

While there are many positives to owning a Doberman, such as their great loyalty, affection and dedication, there are just as many negatives. Their strong necessity to guard and protect can result in becoming a danger if inadequately managed. The huge financial concerns coupled with the required level of knowledge means this breed is not suitable for the novice dog owner. Their exuberant and extremely protective nature can make daily life a challenge, they also closely bond to their owners and if allowed to get out of hand this behaviour can result in anxiety issues developing.

It is never advisable to leave children alone with any dog and while the Doberman is likely to take a protecting and affectionate role with the children in its pack, the same cannot be said for any visiting children who may be viewed as a threat. Likewise if for any reason the dog views its place in the pack at the same level as the child or higher, conflict may occur if the child inadvertently challenges this.

A nice positive about the Doberman is that it is generally viewed as a quiet dog and will only bark if threatened or placed in a position to guard. This makes them suitable to a residential environment, but again only if well managed.

With regards to their reputation, it begs the question; do statistics really support the general consensus that these dogs are aggressive? A study conducted by an American animal behaviour centre in 2008 focused on individual breeds and the incidents of different types of reported aggression. These were stranger aggression, owner aggression, and dog aggression, Interestingly the Doberman ranked extremely low for all forms of aggression, behind familiar breeds such as the Beagle and the English Springer Spaniel! More of a concern is their aggression towards other dogs which is why socialisation is really important.

1982-2010 Fatal Dog Attacks and Maimings

After much searching one other study came to light which focused on the breeds known for aggressive tendencies, this was as follows:

Breed Bodily
harm
Child
Victims
Adult
Victims
Deaths Maimings % of dog population
Pit bull terrier

1,552

691

529

166

859

.041

Rottweiler

457

262

118

73

246

.009

Husky

56

36

4

21

14

.081

Wolf hybrid

82

68

4

19

46

.003

Bullmastiff (Presa canario)

58

22

21

9

31

.013

German shepherd

79

52

20

9

50

.018

German shepherd-mix

37

26

8

7

24

Chow

53

35

15

7

35

.016

Pit bull-mix

102

44

21

7

51

Doberman

14

8

6

6

7

.008

This table looks at the serious side of dog behaviour, when it goes wrong!

The Doberman unfortunately does figure on this list which sadly re-enforces the thought that they are an aggressive breed.  However, the breed dose rank at the bottom of this group of dogs and the numbers are extremely low in comparison. Given what we know about their tight management requirements, it is likely that these dogs are the product of poor lifestyle guidelines. Many people would recognise the Doberman as far more aggressive than the Chow or German Shepherd but this table suggests an incorrect assumption.

This table was put together by a law firm in Philadelphia, despite much research, statistics for Doberman dog bites are not freely available. This may also suggest that figures are low enough not to be registered.

Author: Jo Croft

Canine Behaviour Practitioner - VN MCFBA GODT

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