what's it like having a Doberman...?

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Skilos's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-29

Hello all,

I am new to the forum and very amazed with all the information.

I have had two German Shepherds before and being facsinated by the Doberman we are strongly considering one in our family home.  My question is..what are they like..? We have two children ages 8 and 3 is this breed fine or should we consider another breed (Labrador)

Thanks in advance

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Pet Profiles

This is a good question and brings up something I always like to mention to people bringing a dog into the home with children.

First, the assumption that certain breeds are safe can be dangerous. The commons assumption is that gentle dogs, mainly the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever, are and automatic fit with kids. The think about this assumption is that breeders also make it - so, when breeding such "gentle" breeds, temperament is not usually a focus. Personally, I've dealt with Goldens and Dobermans mostly. And personally, I'd trust one of the Dobermans with children before the Golden.

Here's why: The Doberman is bred (if bred responsibly) to deal intelligently with fear, pain, and stress. When children are injured by dogs, it almost always because the child did something, usually innocent and / or accidentally, to harm or frighten the dog. The Doberman is made to deal with such things.

The Doberman is also sharp as a tack and highly in-tune with humans. They can sense the fragility and vulnerability of children. Besides this, they are very coordinated so can be careful around little ones. An untrained Doberman or two Dobermans playing is the only time a child might be knocked down by their goofiness. For example, one of our girls, Stormee, she loves kids. But, as soon as they get close to her, or especially if they touch her, she holds perfectly still - all but her tail. She's that careful. She doesn't want to bump what she knows are clumsy kids.

The thing you do have to be careful with when having a Doberman and children is how gusts to your home act around the children. The Doberman is highly protective and if a friend comes but to tell a story, and he happens to be animated and using a loud voice next to the baby, he might find a Doberman suddenly between him and the baby showing some teeth. You can correct this behavior easily enough if you are well established as the alpha of course. And you shouldn't worry too much about a sudden bite from the Doberman. They are steady and only deliver such defenses when necessary. For example, or male, Drayko, has protected my wife twice from approaching strangers, neither time with a bite. The closest was when he knocked a fellow down with his paws.

The Doberman is very paternal. You need to be careful when other kids are playing with yours. If they play rough this might make the Doberman uncomfortable - although - the worst I've ever heard a Doberman doing to break up a fight is vocal corrections or dragging them around by their clothes.

If you've had German Shepherds, then you already have a good idea of the temperament of the Doberman. Just take the attributes of protectiveness and pack instinct and multiply them. The police I know that use both breeds say the Doberman is similar but quicker to respond under stress, like when the release command is given after pulling down a suspect. Trainers I know who work with both breeds say the Doberman is much more "attached to the hip".

If you look at what they were bred for you can see why. The GSD was bred initially as an all around sheepherder. The Doberman was breed only for protection work and for being a pleasant member of the family. They are bred to literally stay with their handler ALL the time.

In general, having a Doberman is great. They can be trained solidly obedient and can think on their feet. Grooming is minimal, they're easy going and always interested in activities. One things though, this great dog will cast you in the puppy stage. The Doberman puppy is an evil creature. All their wonderful attribute work against you in the puppy stage. Our most obedient dog, Drayko - he was terrible - sharp as a razor and sneaky - strong as a donkey and unaware he could ever be harmed - totally fearless. You really have to watch them and keep them kenneled when no one is available to supervise.

Regardless of the breed you choose, it's important to teach the children basic obedience as well as the dog. Children need to know proper behavior around a dog. Usually when people have trouble mixing children and dogs, it's because they misinterpret the dog or the child is behaving improperly.

If you get a Doberman puppy, understand he'll see the kids as new litter mates. this means wrestling and bitting - the the kids should know hos to redirect this behavior to chew toys or parents should be supervising to do so, until the Doberman matures a bit.

And oh yeah - little girls are expert puppy-raisers, but a little boy and a Doberman is like having two little boys - they find twice the trouble to get into.  ;)

Another neat thing is the Doberman's capacity for language - they'll learn everyone's name. This can sort of ruin hide and seek.  ;D

Skilos's picture
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Joined: 2008-05-29

Thanks that made a lot of sense.

Also for a family dog is it better to get a puppy from Confirmation show lines or from Schutzhund lines...?

Thanks again

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Pet Profiles

There are many Doberman breeders who focus primarily on producing dogs for pet homes, especially in the US. Schutzhund lines are generally good, as focus is primarily toward temperament. But be careful, having Schutzhund titles in the pedigree means little is the breeder does not have a breeding plan focused on health and temperament.

Use the greatest care is you find a good breeder breeding show lines. Many show breeders are focused on just that - shows - producing good looking 1-1/2 to 2 year olds.

The most important thing is healthy lines bred for sure temperament. There are a lot of bad lines out there and way to many bad breeders - in it for the money. Although - in all our years of breeding we never made a dime.... They must cut serious corners.  :P

Have you read over the Buying a Puppy articles?

Yarr's picture
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Joined: 2008-11-01

The only thing I can say about it, and I know that it's probably the same with all large breeds, is that Dobie puppies get big much faster than they mature.  We brought Scout home when she was little and she doubled in size twice within a few weeks.  She was all feet, very clumsy, and would hit you at a full run when she wanted to play.  We aren't around children, but my wife carried bruises pretty much all the time until Scout was about 8 months old.  I can say that a 3 year old could easily be (unintentionally) injured by a Doberman puppy.  They are very strong dogs. 

That being said, as soon as Scout grew into her body she became one of the sweetest and most affectionate dogs I have ever been around and I would trust her around children of any age. 

You just might want to be careful when they're little.

loungepup's picture
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Joined: 2008-09-29

hi skilos....i had my german shepherd misty for 13 years and 6 days....rip....her sisters were two cockers ...sisters from the same litter....they were 12 and 13.....my daughter had a rottie...big guy......and i was very close to him....blue and hogan are my first dobes....i always wanted one....and here is my report after nine months.....i got them at 6 1/2 weeks....and would recomend getting younger is very good for initial bonding....so far...they have the eyes and ears of the shepherd....the courage and strength of the rottie...and all the love and cuddles of the cockers...i feel like i got a piece of all my past dogs kind of rolled into one breed...since you had the shepherd...you know all about hair.....well when you nuzzle your dobie...and you will....you do not get a nose and mouth full of hair.....lol...for fun you or anyone....i search "doberman pinscher" on utube...boy there are some real entertaining videos...and some of them show how dobies protect their young family members...anyway...aside for being the "evil devil puppies"...they just got the hottob cover yesterday...i am more impressed with this breed than i ever could have imagined....

yianni54's picture
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Joined: 2009-01-17

horseatingweeds wrote:

There are many Doberman breeders who focus primarily on producing dogs for pet homes, especially in the US. Schutzhund lines are generally good, as focus is primarily toward temperament. But be careful, having Schutzhund titles in the pedigree means little is the breeder does not have a breeding plan focused on health and temperament.

Use the greatest care is you find a good breeder breeding show lines. Many show breeders are focused on just that - shows - producing good looking 1-1/2 to 2 year olds.

The most important thing is healthy lines bred for sure temperament. There are a lot of bad lines out there and way to many bad breeders - in it for the money. Although - in all our years of breeding we never made a dime.... They must cut serious corners.  :P

Have you read over the Buying a Puppy articles?

Hello,
I am also interested in a dobe and have the same question as Skilos. I prefer the european bred dobes and was wondering if you could recommend bloodlines for temperment, character, intelligence, health and longevity? Thanks

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

The best recommendation I can give is to get to know the breeder through discussions and look at the parents. If the Dame and Sire are dogs that have good temperament and have a good size and looks, then the puppies will be also.

But, even a Dobe that does not quite meet the breed standards can be a wonderful companion and pet. My male is over sized and even though very tall, has legs a little short for his body length. He has wonderful temperament and is a loving friendly dog. However, when something outside disturbs him, he does rattle the window with the deep throated bark typical of a Dobe. When I got him, I could tell from the parents that he would not be breeding quality, but the temperament would be right. That was more important to me at the time, and for the last six years he has been a wonderful companion.