The Doberman originated in Apolda, in Thueringen, Germany, in the late 1800s. It was developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector who created elaborate crosses of different dogs to develop a breed that would be aggressive enough to protect him as he made his rounds in dangerous neighborhoods and whose appearance alone would be intimidating. Herr Dobermann also ran the local animal shelter and had access to many different dogs to use in his breeding program, although unfortunately he did not keep proper records to document the breed’s origin. Dobermans probably descending from shorthaired mixed-breed shepherd dogs, chosen for hardiness, intelligence and soundness, crossed with the Black and Tan Terrier, the smooth-coated German Pinscher and the Rottweiler. Other breeds that may have played a part in the Dobie’s background include the Beauceron, the Weimaraner, the black-and-tan Manchester Terrier and the Greyhound.
The breed type was stabilized by 1899 and officially recognized by the German Kennel Club in 1900. By the 1920s, Dobermans were found throughout Europe, including Russia, and as far as South Africa and the United States. The breed is distinctive in appearance and attitude, and is now found world-wide. Its early reputation for ferocity preceded it to the United States. It is said that one Doberman Pinscher won three American Kennel Club Best in Show ribbons before any judge had the courage to examine its mouth – where ultimately it was discovered that the dog had missing teeth, a serious breed fault.
Dobermans are extremely intelligent and are fast-learners, making them well-suited for police, military and guard work. Dobies have been used for hunting and to track criminals. They also have been used for search-and-rescue, as therapy dogs and as guide dogs for the blind. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded in February of 1921.
Dobermans have an average life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may included bloat, cancer, cervical vertebral instability (Wobbler syndrome), chronic active hepatitis, color dilution alopecia, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand disease. Other conditions include nasal depigmentation, mucocutaneous hypopigmentation, congenital portosystemic shunt, congenital deafness, arachnoid cysts, dermoids, entropion, “cherry eye”, cataracts and other ocular defects. Dobermans are sensitive to sulphonamide drugs.