First Time Owner with a Couple Questions!

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Exanta's picture
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Joined: 2017-07-16

Hi all!

I'm looking to own a Doberman sometime in the near future! I've personally never had a dog, but I grew up around them and my condominium complex is made up of 3/4 of dog owners. My mom used to breed Dalmatians. I had originally looked into getting another large, active dog breed—a Husky or German Sheperd—but made the decision long fur was not for me!

I have a couple questions that have been nagging me, however:

a) I'd eventually like to train my dog to be a therapy dog to help people in hospitals who need the comfort. Do Dobermans have any success with this training? (Side note: not exactly a must--if the dog I love doesn't have the tempermant for it, it's not the end of the world for me.)

b) I live in the middle of the city and it gets dark fast in the winter. I'm a pretty small woman, and my neighborhood has a high rate of crime of people breaking in. How far do the Doberman's natural guarding instincts extend? I'd love the extra protection, but I'd also like to make sure I'm not known for having an unfriendly dog.

c) While I am an active athlete, I do work a full-time job, which means no time for puppy potty training (unfortunately), so I'm electing to get an adult Doberman. What age consistutes an adult that can control his bladder?

d) There's a method of thought out there that rescues are better than breeders. Price isn't an issue for me; so barring that, what's the general consenus on someone's first Doberman? A rescue or one from a breeder?

Thank you so much for your help! :)

Lots of questions!  I'd really suggest you pick up a good book on Dobermans that will really give you an overview of the breed. I'd recommend a book written by Doberman experts and not one of those generic breed books. A really good one is:  "The Doberman Pinscher Brains and Beauty" by Rod Humphries and Joanna Walker  it was written in 1999 but should still be available on line. 

Dobermans require a lot of exercise, but often do not do well in a dog park situation as they are not a pack type breed. Same sex aggression is common. So unless you are really committed to exercising a high energy breed, this may not be the breed for you in a condo.  Also, you can make it work with a full time job, BUT may need to budget in the cost of a dog walker. An adult dog should be fine for 8 hours or so, but this is a breed that gets bored fast and can be very destructive and loud.... something to think about depending on how close your neighbors are.

Generally Dobermans are protective and just the look of an alert Doberman is enough to deter 99.9% of anyone you would see while out walking the neighborhood. 

I have had Dobermans that made excellent therapy dogs, and some that just didn't have the right personality for it. It really depends on the dog. 

As far as rescue vs breeder, rescue is a great alternative when looking for an adult dog. Do not expect a well behaved and trained adult from rescue. The average rescue is a poorly bred dog (well bred dogs from good breeders don't generally end up in rescue as they go back to their breeders) that was never trained.  Males between 9 months and 2 years is pretty average - wild boys that never got what they needed.  It isn't too late for them, but will again really take some dedication. A truly reputable breeder is way more than just a breeder and is a resource for the life of your dog. They probably produce less than 10% of the dogs out there. They do sometimes have older dogs to rehome since they take back dogs from their breeding if an owner ever can't keep them. They also sometimes have show dogs that just didn't turn out for the show ring. There are some facebook groups out there that are good resources for getting in touch with good breeders. 

You might want to consider going to some dog shows in your area to connect with good breeders/owners and see good dogs.  You can find shows on www.infodog.com - about a week before the show, you will find a "judging program" that will list time and ring number. A lot of show people are very busy pro handlers and will not have time to talk, but you can usually find someone ringside that will let you know what is going on.  Like anything, some people at shows are nice, and some are not.

CRDobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-11-06

Pet Profiles

Many people do not recommend a Doberman for a first time dog owner. If you are determined to have one, please go slow. As Fitzmar suggested, go to some dog shows, talk to some Dobe people. If there is a Doberman specific rescue near you, you might volunteer there to get to know the breed. 

Not trying to be negative, just realistic. It would be a shame if you rushed getting the dog, then discovered... oops, more dog than I'm ready for!

Exanta's picture
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Joined: 2017-07-16

Hi guys!

Thank you so much for answering my questions! I've wanted a dog for three years now, so I'm all for going slow. Another year or two of waiting and research isn't going to break me. I absolutely want to make sure I give my future dog, whatever the breed, the proper care!

Re: condo, we do have a fenced in area, but I wouldn't exercise my Dobe in it. However, I'm fortunate enough to be within a quick drive to quiet fields and open spaces without the interference of other dogs (and so I can get some run time in myself, too).

And thank you so much for the book recommendations! I'd been having trouble finding ones about the breed, so I will definitely check this out.

And no worries about sounding like a stick in the mud, I get you all want to see Dobes go to loving, future homes; it's all good! :)

RexNAZ's picture
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Joined: 2017-07-12

Hi Exanta,

You've gotten some excellent replies.  I'm brand new to this forum, but feel like I can contribute to this thread as I just adopted a Dobe last week.

I grew up with Dobermans, and have trained dogs before (including one for therapy).  I adopted a 5 month old rescue, who as Fitzmar described, is a very wild pup.  I thought that with my training experience, it would be a breeze.  This was after informal temperament testing (pulling on his ears, touching paws, opening mouth, attempt to startle, etc.).  I felt comfortable taking him home.  He gets a hike (offleash) twice a day to burn off some steam, and it doesn't make a dent to his energy level.  We have been training non-stop (NILIF style), and we've made some huge improvements.  But he's still a very wild pup.  He is very large, and very strong.  He is also, as Fitzmar metioned, extremely loud...to the point where I've given my neighbors my phone number just in case they can hear his barks/howls/screams after I leave home.  Everyone has said they can't hear a peep.  My pup is going to be a project, and I am fortunate enough to work from home (and crazy enough to take on this wild pup).   He's a sweetheart under all the wildness, but I really wouldn't recommend it to a first time dog owner.  

If you are set on a Doberman, perhaps going with a breeder's return/retired show dog would be a better way to go.  I love rescues, but Fitzmar's description is pretty accurate, and it doesn't sound like you have the time needed to train/rehab an untrained rescue.   

As far as personal safety (I'm a small woman), I can already tell the difference it makes in public when I walk my pup (even at just 5 months old). 

Best of luck to you finding the best fit for your home!