The Doberman Pinscher is one of the most iconic dog breeds to originate from Germany. These large working dogs are loyal and fearless, making them some of the world’s best guard dogs.
But are Doberman Pinschers smart? Dobermans are some of the smartest dog breeds in the world. In fact, they’re the 5th most intelligent dog breed according to canine psychologist Stanley Coren. They shine with all dimensions of dog intelligence, including: obedience/working, adaptive and instinctive intelligence.
The Doberman Pinscher is a highly capable dog. There’s a reason why they make fantastic police and military dogs – in addition to being loving companions. Let’s examine what makes these dogs intelligent.
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Measuring the Doberman’s Intelligence
As the 5th smartest dog breed, Doberman Pinschers are more intelligent than nearly every other breed. Only the Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd and Golden Retriever rank higher. But how did experts come to this conclusion?
The most intelligent dog breeds list was published by pHD and canine psychologist Stanley Coren. Though he was credited for the research, he didn’t do it all by himself.
The Dog Intelligence Criteria
Coren requested the help of 199 obedience trial judges (from the AKC and CKC) to help evaluate and rank dog breeds based on his obedience training criteria. Here’s what the rankings were based on:
- The number of repetitions needed for a dog breed to learn a new command. Fewer repetitions meant the dog breed was a faster learner, thus more intelligent.
- The success rate of a dog breed obeying a known command on the first attempt. The higher the rate, the more obedient and intelligent the dog breed.
Coren received a much larger response than he anticipated. Still, not all dog breeds that participated in the trials qualified for his final list. Only breeds that had at least 100 responses qualified.
Thanks to their immense popularity, the Doberman Pinscher qualified. In addition, only recognized dog breeds were evaluated by the obedience judges.
How the Doberman Performed
The Doberman Pinscher performed exceptionally well. Like, top 5 well. Dobermans did so well that they were placed in the top 10 smartest dogs list – the highest category for dog intelligence.
Being in the top 10 meant that Dobermans were capable of learning a new command with less than 5 repetitions! Depending on the complexity of the command, you may be able to teach a Doberman a new trick in under 30 minutes.
Furthermore, Dobermans will successfully obey a known command on the first try 95% (or higher) of the time. Not only are Dobermans smart, but remarkably obedient too!
And just for reference, other dog breeds in the same intelligence class as the Doberman include the Rottweiler, Papillon, Australian Cattle Dog, Labrador Retriever and the Sheltie.
Dobermans vs. Average Intelligent Dogs
There’s nothing wrong with being average, especially when it comes to dogs. All dog breeds are smart enough to provide most people with their needs.
But out of curiosity, how does the Doberman Pinscher compare to the average dog?
The average dog is capable of learning a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. In other words, Dobermans are at least 5 times faster than the average dog when it comes to learning commands.
In addition, average dogs will obey a known command on the first attempt just 50% (or higher) of the time. That’s significantly worse than the Doberman!
The numbers suggest they’re certainly less obedient. However, it doesn’t mean average intelligent dogs don’t understand what you’re asking.
Owners: Is Your Doberman Smart?
One of the best methods for gauging a dog breed’s intelligence is to ask the owners themselves. Chances are, you may not known many Doberman owners. So, we surveyed the popular Doberman Subreddit for answers to this question. Here’s what the owners had to say:
1. Mermaidintraining says YES: “The good thing about Dobermans is that they’re highly intelligent. But the bad thing about Dobermans is that they’re highly intelligent.”
2. Dragonsecho says YES: “These dogs are termed Velcro dogs due to their need to be with you ALL THE TIME. Not sure on hunting, although they are extremely intelligent and highly trainable dogs.”
3. Fantasmalime says YES: “My Doberman is often times smarter than my kids. It’s a little comical just how intelligent these dogs are.”
4. Bajasa says YES: “They are super smart, easy to train, pick things up really quick. But saying that, they’re so smart, they need to be exercised or have some stimulation or they can get destructive/moody.”
5. Auserhasnoname says YES: “Our Doberman pup is proving to be a lot more trouble than expected. She is extremely intelligent and all the more stubborn because of it.”
6. Immikehonco says YES: “He is extremely intelligent and takes to the training very well. My wife…walks him a lot in the afternoon, plays with him and reinforces the training. The problem is he has destroyed so many things.”
7. Sherbetwinnr says YES: “I’ve owned a Border Collie, Rottweiler, Aussie and German Shepherd. The Doberman was the smartest and most obedient!”
8. Justamananddog says YES: “Never underestimate the intelligence of a Doberman!! Don’t fall for their ‘play dumb’ act. They’re smart and they know it.”
9. Evilsardine says YES: “First time dobbie owner here as well! They are extremely smart dogs that are super friendly with people and dogs as long as all the proper training and socialization is done.”
10. Terrencetice says YES: “Dobermans are hilariously smart…but only to the point where they become super adept at finding ways to get your attention.”
Other Reasons Why Dobermans Are Smart
When it comes down to obedience and working intelligence, the Doberman Pinscher is second to only a handful. They’re some of the best learners and most obedient dogs. But are they intelligent in other ways?
Obedience and working intelligence is just one dimension of canine intelligence. But because it’s much easier to objectively measure this type of intelligence, it’s used for Coren’s list.
However, there are two other components of dog IQ, namely, adaptive and instinctive intelligence. Both of which, Dobermans excel at.
The Ultimate Guardian Dog
Instinctive intelligence in dogs refers to the innate ability, skill or job the dog was bred for. For example, Border Collies were bred to herd livestock. Hence, herding is their instinctive intelligence.
The innate ability of Border Collies to round up livestock and move them into formations (all without human training) requires instinctive intelligence.
The Doberman Pinscher was bred to be the ultimate guard dog. And as a result, they’re become one of the most formidable guard dogs in the world.
By nature, Dobermans are loyal and will guard their people and territory. Their ability to recognize friends and foes is their instinctive intelligence.
There are a lot of big, scary dogs. But because they’re so good at differentiating good and bad people, they’re some of the best guard dogs.
Despite this, it’s still highly recommended that you provide them with lots socialization. Most of the time, Dobermans still need to be trained to be friendly.
Doberman’s Adaptive Intelligence
The final dimension of dog IQ is adaptive intelligence. This type of intelligence refers to the ability of the dog to learn for itself. High adaptive intelligence are seen in dogs that can solve problems and learn from mistakes.
It worth noting that adaptive intelligence can vary a lot within a breed. Still, the Doberman Pinscher is a dog breed with generally high adaptive intelligence.
For instance, one owner tells us: “my Doberman tried to out run a wolf. The wolf was faster, but she anticipates his moves and uses her intelligence to cut the wolf off.“
If you’re interested in watching the video, check this out.
One owner explains what happens when he doesn’t pay enough attention to the dog. He says, “he’ll walk to table, grab a pair of our sunglasses or something, bring them back over in front of us, and drop them on the floor. And then he just stares at us like ‘whacha gonn’ do?’“
These are just a few stories of high adaptive intelligence in Doberman Pinschers. There must be an unlimited number of anecdotes just like these.
If you ask a Doberman Pinscher what they’ve done that was “smart,” you’ll likely get a similar response.
Smart Toys for Smart Dobies
The problem with owning a smart dog is that well, they’re a smart dog. The more intelligent the dog is, the more mental stimulation they’ll need. And of course, Dobermans are some of the smartest dogs.
Imagine if Albert Einstein was not provided the tools and resources to research physics. By not providing a Doberman with mental stimulation, you’d be doing something similar.
One owner recommends, “give them an outlet, providing mental stimulation will work better than physical activity in keeping them happy and well- adjusted.“
The good news is that mental stimulation can come in the form of smart toys and dog puzzles. It’s the perfect tool to give you a break from obedience training. Here’s some of my dogs favorite smart toys.
A great interactive dog toy is the StarMark Bob-A-Lot. Instead of just handing you Dobie treats and kibbles, why not make them work? They’ll need to figure out that tilting the bobble a certain way releases the treats/food.
If you’re interested in this, make sure to get a size Large for your Dobie. It comes with two chambers, so you can have both kibbles and treats! I’d highly recommend checking it out at Amazon.
Another dog puzzle that my Aussie absolutely loves is the Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle. This comes in three variations, but I thought the Hide N’ Slide was the best.
Your Doberman can spend a great deal of time figuring out how to access his/her favorite treats. It’ll for sure keep them busy especially if you put in their favorite treats. Check it out at Amazon.
The point is that Dobermans need a lot of methods for mental stimulation. If not the toys I recommended, you should still find something to help out.
Doberman Pinschers are fantastic dogs with a high dog IQ. Just make sure you provide the essentials for a happy and healthy Doberman.
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