The Doberman Pinscher is a powerhouse of loyalty, strength, alertness and potential. Cited as a breed who can “truly do it all,” the Doberman of today has come a long way from the vicious, intense, hard-to-handle breed it used to be. Now suitable for almost any job, the Doberman Pinscher makes an excellent Service Dog candidate.
Doberman Pinscher Basics
Originally bred as a guard dog, the Doberman Pinscher is medium-sized, dark and exceptionally powerful. Typically 60 to 90 pounds of solid muscle, a Doberman is physically capable of besting a full-grown man. Dobies stand 24 to 28 inches high (all great heights for brace work or mobility support) at the withers with females smaller than males. The breed possesses exceptional endurance, speed and intelligence.
Doberman Pinscher Coat and Grooming
Dobermans have two genes for coat color. There is a gene for a black coat and then a diluted coat. Depending on how these genes are combined, four different colors of Dobes are possible. There are black, fawn, blue and red Dobermans. Every variety of Doberman Pinscher is required to have clean-cut, sharp tan/rust accent markings.
In the international breed ring, fawn and blue Dobermans are not allowed to be shown and can be disqualified as breeding stock. They also have been proven to have suffer from skin issues. While there are white Dobermans, such dogs aren’t allowed in the show ring and are forbidden by the breed standard. In addition, white Dobies often have extensive health and temperament issues due to in-breeding. Many breeders will cull a white puppy at birth or will provide the puppy with limited or no registration and a spay/neuter contract.
The Doberman Pinscher coat is extremely sleek, smooth and shiny. Dobies shed very little which makes caring for their coat a breeze. To keep a Doberman’s fur in optimum condition, run a grooming glove or bristle brush over their body once or twice a week to re-distribute the body’s natural oils and to loosen dead hair. With just a couple minutes of brushing a week, Dobies glow.
In the United States, Doberman Pinscher puppies are commonly “cropped and docked” at birth. The breed standard states that the tail should be docked at the second joint. There are two different types of cropped ears, a shorter military crop and a longer show crop. With both types of cropped ears, aftercare is extensive and can take months. For a Dobie who’s going to be a Service Dog, many trainers and breeders recommend leaving the ears natural to give the dog a softer, more approachable look, especially if you have frequent dealings with emergency medical services (EMS). Be aware that some EMS teams may be apprehensive and refuse to approach a person accompanied by an intimidating-looking dog — and in a medical emergency, time can be of essence.
Doberman Pinscher Temperament
Doberman Pinschers possess an alert, calm and loyal temperament. Dobies are often called “velcro” dogs because they bond very tightly with their handler. Dobes are known for following their person from room to room and insisting on being close at hand, all the time. As a Service Dog, this behavior can be exceptionally helpful, but it needs to be watched so it doesn’t develop into separation anxiety. As a guardian breed, Dobermans require careful and extensive socialization from an early age so they can learn discern threats from mere day-to-day life.
The Doberman Pinscher ranks among one of the most highly trainable breeds and it possesses an innate joy of working with and for its handler.”
The Doberman Pinscher ranks among one of the most highly trainable breeds and it possesses an innate joy of working with and for its handler. Capable of learning any complexity of task, Dobes are a joy to work with. That same ease of trainability, though, can get a Doberman in trouble if it’s not receiving enough mental or physical stimulation. Dobies have no qualms about creatively “entertaining” themselves at your expense.
The wily Doberman is not a dog for every handler. Doberdogs work best for experienced handlers who know how to harness their intelligence and working ability and maximize their potential. Because of the Doberman’s history as a guardian breed and because of the stigma still associated with the breed, Dobies are best partnered with adult handlers.
Finally, when picking a Doberman as a Service Dog candidate, be certain to select a breeder who has extensively socialized her puppies, who has certified the parent’s elbows and hips and who does genetic testing for the most common genetic illnesses in Dobermans, including Cervical Vertebral Instability (Wobbler Syndrome) and von Willebrand’s. Ideally, the puppy’s parents should possess temperament certifications (the American Temperament Test Society offers a mainstream certification popular with breeders) and working or performance titles.