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What Were Dobermans Bred For? – The Jobs & History of Doberman Pinschers

A loyal Doberman Pinscher bred to protect and guard.
Written by Richard Jeng

The Doberman Pinscher has been one of the most iconic dog breeds in American history. And the fact that they’re agile and powerful dogs, makes them attractive working breeds. But given their physical qualities, you may be wondering what they were bred for.

So, what were Doberman bred for? The modern Doberman Pinscher was originally bred by a tax collector named Louis Dobermann. They were developed to guard and protect him during his profession, as tax collecting was a dangerous job. From there, Dobermans evolved into guard dogs, military and police canine, and service dogs.

Dobermans quickly garnered international attention due to their excellent working skills. Though they participated in many roles throughout human history, Dobermans are mostly companions today. Read on to know more about the history of Doberman jobs.

RECOMMENDED: 9 Distinct Doberman Colors

Brief History of Dobermans

Dobermans are some of the most intelligent dogs in the world.

The development of the Doberman Pinscher is largely credited to Louis Dobermanm. He was a German tax collector from the late 19th century. As such, Dobermans were aptly nicknamed the “Tax Collector’s Dog” in Germany.

Believe it or not, tax collecting was a dangerous job in the late 1800s. Not everyone was happy to pay up. Plus, thieves often targeted tax collectors because, well, they tend to carry a lot of money with them. As a result, Louis Dobermann set out to breed a protector.

Even today, there is little evidence on the exact breeding process he used. However, historians do believe Louis had to cross several popular dog breeds to produce the Doberman Pinscher. Most of which, are equally-iconic dog breeds today.

Some believe that a combination of the Rottweiler, German Shepherd, German Pinscher, Great Dane, Manchester Terrier and English Greyhound were used. Though, there is no conclusive evidence to confirm this theory.

People quickly took notice of Louis’ dogs. And eventually, Doberman Pinschers made their way out onto the international stage, where they were used as all-purpose working dogs. Not only did Dobies help the disabled, but also guarded property and served in law enforcement.

These one-of-a-kind dogs finally made their way to America in the early 20th century. And in 1952, their legacy was cemented as an official recognized dog breed of the AKC. From there, they’ve won numerous competitions and stole many hearts – the rest is history.

The Doberman’s Purpose

The black and rust (tan) color Doberman Pinscher is the most popular and common variation.

The Doberman Pinschers made their name starting off as a formidable guard dogs. However, as more people began to realize the true potential of these massive dogs, they became more and more prevalent in various fields.

With a favorable temperament highlighted by their loyalty, work ethic and smarts, Dobermans were highly suited for for search and rescue, guarding, personal service and therapy service. Read on to learn more about the jobs of Dobermans.

Dobermans for Personal Protection

Even today, Doberman Pinschers are famously known as formidable guard dogs that’ll risk their lives in order to protect the pack. And according to The Spruce Pets, Dobermans rank among the top 10 best dog breeds for protection.

As such, you may be wondering why this is. The answer is quite simple: they were originally bred for protection. It’s relatively easy to train them for protection purposes because of their instinctive intelligence in guarding.

In other words, they have very strong protective and territorial instincts. So much so, that they can be dangerous dogs if not properly socialized and trained. But when these inherent instincts are kept in check, they’re some of the best in the business.

The Doberman was bred for personal protection so those instincts are there. However, each dog manifests them differently at different times.

– Marinegeekswife (Doberman Chat)

Another reason why they make great guard dogs is their loyalty. The Doberman Pinscher is as loyal as they come. In fact, Pet Helpful ranks them as the most loyal breed alongside notable dogs, such as German Shepherds and Cane Corsos.

These dogs love to interact with human beings and often develop strong bonds with them. You can bet they’ll have their owners backs. And if you have older kids in the home, they make good playmates, or at least a great second pair of eyes on the children.

Guarding Large Properties

The agility and energetic personalities of Dobermans make them the perfect choices for large property owners. According to Cesar Milan, Dobermans are capable of detecting and reaching the intruders in a short amount of time.

Dobermans are known as fearless and quick dogs that’ll run towards the first sight or sound of danger on the property. They are freakishly fast, capable of accelerating up to 30 miles per hour with relative ease. There’s no reason they can’t hang with the world’s fastest dogs.

I have had 7-8 Dobies on my farm. If you love them, you’re hooked. All mine have been very high energy and love to run. They are very sensitive, loyal, and adore people.

– Vahunter (Chrono of Horse)

Now when you combine their insatiable energy and quick speeds, you’ll get a dog that’s more than capable of covering a large farm if need be. And while Dobies aren’t your “typical” farm dogs, many owners still use them to guard livestock today.

When picking out a guard dog, there are many options to choose from. Dobermans have the natural ability to detect threats and anticipating dangers, but so do many other dogs. The key difference is that Dobermans have the physical gifts to cover larger properties.

Dobermans in the Military

The Doberman Pinscher has had a colored history as US military dogs because they bravely participated in both World Wars. Not only were they were trained to detect mines, but also find wounded soldiers, scout enemy locations and act as messenger dogs.

When they weren’t on the field, Dobermans had the duties of guarding camp grounds during the wars. All these roles and acts of bravery, while in the military, has earned these dogs the title as the greatest military dogs in US history.

The US Marine Corp had a K-9 Corps during WWII, famously known as the “Devil Dogs.” They were messenger dogs that were trained to deliver messages, while supplying ammunition and crucial medical aid. However, they were essential in enemy detection too.

For example, history reveals that these dogs detected several ambushes that ended up saving many lives during these world wars. When soldiers were sleeping in their camps, it was the duty of these dogs to alert the troops at the first sign of approaching enemies.

Unfortunately, reports suggest Dobermans were used for suicide missions. These dogs were believed to be called anti-tank dogs or dog mines. They would strapped on bombs to approach enemy tanks. But, it’s not completely clear if this is true.

In total, 25 Dobermans lost their lives in the Battle of Guam. Today, a memorial has been built in memory of these Dobermans who had sacrificed their lives on the island of Guam. William W. Putney, a dog veterinarian and First Lieutenant, created the dog memorial.

Dobermans as Service Dogs  

The intelligence, affection and protectiveness make Dobermans perfect service dogs. They are obedient and easy-to-train dogs, thus making them suitable for almost every type of job. Dobies love to work for their handlers, even if it means assisting in disabilities.

The socialization of these dogs is very important before choosing them to perform service dog duties. Because service dogs are depended on for everyday tasks, the last thing you’ll want is an aggressive or out-of-control dog in public.

Regarding legality, service dogs are considered necessary medical equipment. In other words, these dogs can go anywhere with their owners, in the United States, under the protection of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

There are plenty of Dobermans that are service dogs. They’re velcro dogs and want to be with their family and have a job. So being trained as a service dog is very fitted for them.

– Jan S. (Doberman Chat)

What better dog breed to have around all the time than a Doberman Pinscher? The unwavering loyalty in these dogs means they may become “velcro-dogs” anyway. In addition, their instincts to protect will deter anyone from taking advantage of a disabled person.

Dobermans are not for everyone. But an experienced handler and a well-trained dog can make them some of the best service dogs the canine kingdom has to offer. In fact, they’re listed as a top service dog, according to Pet Guide.

Search and Rescue

There are few Doberman Pinschers in K9 task forces today. However, these dogs have made a splash in another sector of law enforcement, that is, search and rescue. Everything from their agility, to strength, endurance and size, make them great search dogs.

As a result, there are several exemplary SAR dogs that are Dobermans. For example, Joe Pete recently won the 2019 AKC Humane Fund Award for superb work in this field. Through years of hard work, this Doberman became the lead example for all SAR dogs.

There’s no doubt Doberman Pinschers have strong work ethics. And when you properly train a dog for the SAR job, they’ll embrace it with confidence and pride. The high energy lets them perform and work tirelessly on the field – until the target has been found.

Doberman Pinschers may not have the brilliant nose of a Beagle, but they have all the physical qualities that make up a great SAR canine. While others may be better with the “search” part, a Doberman has an advantage with the “rescue” part of the job.

The Modern Doberman

According to the VetStreet, Doberman Pinschers are perfect dogs that excel with adaptability, affection, apartment friendliness, intelligence, watchdog ability, and trainability. They’re truly an all-purpose dog breed and it’s easy to see why.

They have both the brains and brawn. These massive yet muscular dogs can reach a height of 24 and 28 inches, depending on the gender. However, they’re not all about height as a male can weigh upwards of 100 pounds.

It’s the personality that makes them stand out among the crowded canine kingdom. Dobies are sweet-natured and highly affectionate to a fault. As you spend time with these dogs, they will naturally develop strong and long-lasting bonds.

The Doberman Pinscher is energetic, watchful, fearless and obedient. They are ready to give prompt alarm (and back up that warning), but are also affectionate, obedient and loyal.

– Fred C. (Doberman Chat)

For these reasons, they make superb guard dogs. No matter who the intruder may be, they will always defend you and have your back. After all, they are loyal velcro dogs. Owners often say they pick favorites and tend to foster especially strong relationships with one person.

On the other hand, a Doberman Pinscher will undoubtedly be highly energetic. As such, they will need plenty of exercise to live a happy life. We recommend they get between 1 to 2 hours of vigorous physical activity each day.

Without mental and physical stimulation, Dobermans often exhibit destructive behaviors. They may destroy your shoes, rip open a couch, or worse, unintentionally hurt a child. And trust me, no one wants a destructive 100-pound beast in the home.

Is a Doberman For Me?

Dobermans get along best with young energetic children that are old enough to respect them.

The Doberman Pinscher isn’t for everyone. But that’s not to say they aren’t for you! Due to the long working history of Dobermans, many of their instincts are still intact. As a result, the dog can be a handful for many owners.

Because they were originally bred for protection, you may have an overly-protective dog. The territorial nature is something that you must accept. However, there are ways you can keep this in check: socialization and obedience training.

Socializing and training a Doberman can “make or break” the dog, so to speak. While it’s true that these dogs are frequently in the news for human attacks, it’s usually the owner’s fault and not always the dog’s. I cannot stress how important training is!

As working dogs, Dobermans need plenty of exercise. But what’s even better is giving them an “assignment” or job to do. They’ll happily take on any task with confidence and pride. For this reason, they’re excellent service dogs. They’re literally bred to work for you.

So by better understanding the history and jobs of Dobermans, you can learn to accept them as they are. And if this sounds like your dream dog, we highly recommend you bring one home. There are few dogs as brave and devoted as a Doberman Pinscher.

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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