My parents were working Doberman breeders. I grew up & tried to start my own breeding problem. It truly was my biggest dream but in 15 or so years the health of the breed had fallen apart! Our dogs died of old age in their early teens. This was normal to us. When I got my dobes I spent 10 years & went through or interviewed over 200 kennels/breeders world wide. I was not playing around. Dogs & breeding are serious to me. I finally found a line that basically come from Germany, Holland, & Belgium breeders & my foundation male had all the old Doberman traits. My pups' parents, grand parents were all health tested with everything available at that time. This does not have a happy ending. I lost all of my dogs the oldest was 2 days shy of his 6th birthday & the youngest ones (yes plural were 2). Every dog I lost was genetic health problem that involves the immune system & no vet was able to put a name on it except they all believed it was genetic. Boss' medical records were over 50 pounds at the time of his death & our case had been seen by vets in Holland, Germany, Belgium. Some of the breeders of my dog's ancestors were quite helpful but nothing could ever be determined as to what it was. When I lost Boss, I almost stopped anything dog in my life & anyone who knows me that's like telling Big Bird from Sesame Street not to be tall or yellow.
Research all the health issues the breed has & please understand that making certain you are working with an ethical breeder who has had the parents all tested is what you need to do but it's also not an iron clad guarantee. In my case I should have asked (for vWD testing what method or company was the dogs tested through because back then the older type tests were not as effective). I do not know if that's the case now. Most recently I got this article sent to me: An update on the genetic status of the Doberman Pinscher - The Institute of Canine Biology
And it's just one article. God spared me from having to see this but one of the young females we had to return to the breeder per our agreement died on the training field of cardio during a workshop training. It was devastating to all of us.
Now pros of Dobermans: This breed has been a life long love of my life. There's not much (except the health problems) that I do not like about the breed. They are sleek, agile, a dog bred without excess. When you look at one you should think they look like they're meant to move fast. You should not find structural lumps & bumps. They are sleek. They are a natural born working dog & should have the stamina, conformation, & temperament to be at ease in the home but jump to full out combat at the sound of someone opening your window without permission. And while the show lines they've tried to unDoberman the breed (meaning make him into the Wal Mart greeter type of dog) please understand this is against what the breed was created for. It's against his very nature & this is a human idea which is inappropriate for the correctness of Doberman. He was created by Herr Doberamnn for the purpose of protecting his humans & that which belongs to his humans. This does NOT mean vicious. Yes, when he goes into combat mode, if you were watching you might think vicious but the Doberman should have a mind that is thinking, that functions through every move he makes, yes, even in bitework. Even if you never want your Doberman to be a protector, he is NOT a Doberman if that is not present within him. I had & helped clients with Doberman puppies who went into hospitals & nursing homes, even child hospitals & they licked faces & were the best of the best. Some of these dogs were some of the finest protectors. My male Boss was 6 times certified to do work that police & federal agents used us for. He would scale scaffolding after a bad guy & engage him ON that scaffolding but he was safe & went with me to visit veterans homes, nursing homes, childrens hospitals. Do not confuse protecting ability with aggression. If the dog is too sharp to be trusted around humans, he is a poorly bred Doberman or poorly handled/trained. He should have special eyes & a stare that brings out confessions from bad people without you asking because they look as they they read your very soul. They are meant to look intimidating (is it not better to have a dog look fierce & never have to bark?). But with his family, he is a clown, so super loving, extremely affectionate, & it's easy to forget that he will bite more than a biscuit. As a baby I would stop breathing in my sleep. Mom had to sleep with her hand on me & when the Dobie pup came, she learned very quickly... baby stops breathing must make her breath. She would bang on my crib & this would wake Mom & between the two of them they'd get me to breathing again. This same dog who could bang on my bed & wake me or poke me with her nose in my tummy & ribs never once put a bruise on me... but she nearly killed one of our hogs when it attacked my Dad. Same dog. This is the true nature of the Doberman & they love deeply. Complete understanding of her place in the family. She would have died to protect any of us. We never disrespected that side of her.
Cons: HEALTH (can't stress that enough), Dobers have tunnel vision. They get so focused on something that they might see wildlife they need to drive from the yard & not see the laundry basket between them & the offending rabbit. Run, run, yelp. Or give you heart palpitations when they see it last second & jump it. They work hard & play hard & this can be a bit much for rambunctious children who get the dog hyped up but aren't physically capable of saying 'enough' & enforcing it. For this reason it's important to be honest about the kids & dogs & have rules & enforce them. Mine learned not to jump up on me if I touched her nose with the inside of a paper towel roll (not strike or slap in the face) I would touch her nose with it & say "no, no, no + her name". To the day she passed if she started to jump on something if I changed my voice to that of a child & said "no, no, no" she would stop & cock her head at me but not put her feet on it. Don't hold the Doberman's favorite toy from one side of the fence & be like, "Look what I've got" because he's apt to jump the fence to get it & now he's learned he can jump your beautiful, once-thought-safe 6 ft fencing. I've seen them go over some insanely high fences. My mother used to summons ours from the barn where they would jump over several fences to free themselves to come help us. You'd just see Dobies flying from all over & they wouldn't look right or left... just little Dobie freight trains coming for mother & us kids.
If any family trouble happens or you get to play wrestling & the kids get to squealing, be mindful that if the Dobe thinks someone is being hurt or if someone gets mad, that dog will step in. While it's unusual for the Dobie to use his teeth to correct a family member, much depends on what's happening how strong he will react.
Another fun thing about Dobermans is if they ever hold a grudge against someone, it's there. My dog saw one of my sister's friends make a grab at me. Now he was only trying to play with me but the dog saw it. To the day she died if that guy came to the house, she got between him & me & there was no redemption in her eyes. He could NOT be trusted with her kid.
Be careful when selecting Dobermans, this is concerning color. There's not enough money in the US Mint to get me to buy from a breeder who has z-factored (white dobermans). It's a huge no-no. I also advise avoidance of fawn or blue Dobermans (yes, I know, most know someone who has gorgeous ones). There can be skin issues in those 2 colors that you don't normally find in the black or brown Dobies. And yes, I use the term brown. Dobermans were never meant to be that brassy red color. The "red" ones are supposed to be the color of melted chocolate. Elsewhere in the world when you speak about dobermans it's black & brown ones. I stick to that custom because it appropriately describes the dogs than red. As a general rule my choice in Dobe colors is black & in the rare exceptional candidate a brown (sigh... red).
And last but not least, Dobermans poke & punch with their noses (so do Giant Schnauzers). So if you get into a staring contest with a Dobie, you are very apt to get a black eye or sore nose because eventually they'll bonk you with their nose. I've a friend who had bonk sized bruises all over his torso when he came home from a tour in the Gulf War & his Doberman was so overcome with joy to see him she about poked him to pieces & he got tickled & was at her poking mercy.
Okay comparison to the Standard Poodle. Like the Doberman, my Standard Poodle, Mr. Layne is an athlete. My boy is bolder & more confident than the average Doberman puppy starting out. At 6 months of age this SPOO would tunnel anywhere (point him at a drain ditch or something else that looks dark & spooky... he'd never hesitate). He will climb & scale rock walls, anything he deems safe. And yes, he will stand at the bottom & thoroughly check it out then... up he goes or he will rear up & test it. If he doesn't like the look of it, he finds another way. This is an indication of a dog who thinks his way through things. And more Malinois like in nature he can think on the fly. Some Dobermans & Giant Schnauzers will just bash through some things... this boy is careful & always thinking & trying to take the smart way. Now the smarter the dog the more clever the handler needs to be however with this SPOO, he is 100% my dog but he loves my husband too & when my husband works with him or is giving him commands he will adjust to suit his handler rather than ignore him. This is a similarity with the Dobermans. Mr. Layne has a little stubborn streak. I do not find this to be a breed trait so much as an individual trait. I sought out a SPOO with the potential to be a guardian/bodyguard. With that comes a level of internal grit that must be present for a dog to stand up to a human bad guy. So it's not a big deal however I don't let him get away with it. As his handler, I always get my way I just often times do this in a way that makes him think it's his idea
I find my Standard Poodle not as eager in training (again individual vs breed trait as others I've trained with using same methods were like WOW BOSS what're we gonna do next? This boy is like, yeah, okay now what. But if I put him to detecting something, or negotiating obstacles or anything that he's into, he is eager & full of fire. It is when I have him doing those things that you see the true Mr. Layne rather than the "we gotta do this?" dog. Beautiful minds on the SPOOs. Most of the ones I have handled like to show off. Mine is a runner & he could give a Doberman a run for their money, pun intended, in this area. He's tall, lean, & all power. When he stretches out & runs, it is beautiful to see. He shakes the floor like my Giant Schnauzer does when he trots, it's a springy gait that is just poetry in motion. I now understand why people say it's like having a Doberman in drag. The breeds are similar. I believe it's one of the reasons that I was drawn to both the Giant Schnauzer & the Standard Poodle breeds. The similarities I see in them to my beloved Dobermans without the nightmare health. To me, it was far easier to find health tested parents in SPOOs than in Dobermans & to find SPOOs who live nice long lives compared to Dobermans. Other than finding one with protective traits, the Poodle hair was my one deterrent to the breed. I am my dog's groomer. I thought, hey, I've been grooming this Giant for years... I can do this. I gotta tell you Poodle hair does not play nice compared to Giant hair & they both are a pain compared to Doberman hair
My husband assures me I will in deed get the hang of Poodle hair. I am getting better but... Mr. Layne looks goofy at times. If you take the dog to a pro, wa-la this isn't much of an issue except between groomer visit maintenance.
For us, the Standard Poodle has been one of the easiest puppies we've raised. My Giant wins the prize as the most challenging. Dobermans, all of our Dobies except one are a 2nd to Mr. Layne but because of my lifetime with the breed, it's not fair to say that's true of everyone with their Dobie puppies. You are welcome to message me with any questions or concerns & I'll do my best to help you. I've fallen for the Standard Poodle breed & - in spite of the hair - know that I will have another in the future. Wonderful dogs. I do not believe I will ever have another Doberman due to their health. When it comes to a thinking brain, the Standard Poodle rivals the old Malinois I had. That dog had a brain that was freaky scary but she was a combat dog where as Mr. Layne isn't looking for a war. He's my companion. He rises to the challenge to defend his family & home but he's not looking for a battle... except squirrels, he really hates the squirrels & I have seen this intelligent dog so lost in the world of scent tracking one that he doesn't realize the squirrel he's tracking is following behind him, around & around the tree. It is his one "blind" spot.