History of the Dobermann
The Dobermann was created by Herr Louis Frederic Dobermann around a hundred years ago around the Thuringen area. Herr Dobermann was a tax collector, and an official dog catcher. To protect him in his tax collecting duties, he bred using some of the stray dog population to create a guard dog with a strong mouth, courage, highly protective nature and hardness. Regrettably, there are no clear records to confirm the true basis of the breed, but it is highly likely it includes a black and tan Butcher’s dog, a Pinscher of some type and probably local sheepdogs.
Otto Goeller, owner of the famous v. Thuringen Kennels and founder of the Dobermann Pinscher Club Apolda (which later became the National Dobermann Pinscher Club of German), is credited with being the architect of the breed, and he believed the Dane, the German Shepherd dog, a shorthaired gundog and the German Pinscher were important parts in the origins of the breed. Latterly, Herr Phillip Gruenig felt it unlikely that the shoulder height would have been able to have been raised from
40cm to 70cm within 30 years, and therefore he did not feel the Pinscher could have been part of the breed’s early origins. The Greyhound seems to have featured very strongly in the breeds development, but, one of the strongest indications of a definite predecessor is the Beauceron of France. In both breeds there are specimens who are brown & rust, blue/fawn & rust, both breeds have the same hereditary genetics in which black is dominant over the other colours. However the breed originated, we are blessed with the noble Dobermann of today who still contains many of the attributes of its’ antecedents, but who are able to live in our homes and be part of our families.
Are Dobermanns good with children?
This breed was created to guard the family. If the puppy is well bred (ie not fearful) and if children are good with animals and treat them kindly and with respect, then as with any dog, Dobermanns are excellent with children. Their sense of protection is excellent and they will look after and play with children. One of the most common mistakes made by new parents is to disregard the dog in favour of a new baby. Eg, if the dog has been a subsititute baby and has been used to sleeping in the bedroom and then relegated to the kitchen on baby’s arrival and virtually neglected from their usual loving routine, displacement and jealousy will happen – just as it would with a first child. Midwives are one of the most common problem for dogs being sent to rescue! Some believe that dogs are dirty and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. This ridiculous attitude is probably why so many children these days suffer from allergies, as they are not exposed to dust and pollens in dogs’ coats. (If you are over fussy about germs and bacteria, please don’t call us!) No dog should have to tolerate being jumped on, so if you allow your children to disrespect animals, again, don’t call us – and preferably don’t get a dog.
Dog or bitch?
When males reach sexual maturity, they can become sexually and territorially dominant with other males and it isn’t still not much fun walking a territorial male in the company of other males in the park when he wants to throw his weight around. At home a young male can be a handful – just like a teenage boy deliberately disobeying authority, but this is largely due to a lack of respect which cannot be forced onto them with physical oppression. Respect, structure and leadership are qualities which the Dobermann responds well to. Bitches are generally less confrontational and sometimes easier to manage, but much depends on the character of the owners and of the individual animal. This is why we conduct Volhard character assessments on our litters, to help identify the dog or bitch best suited to a person’s individual character and requirements.
Do they need much exercise?
Yes, at least 90 minutes daily, free running and road walking, but more than that, they require mental stimulation – such as obedience, agility and thinking games. Dobermanns are a working breed, and if you took a Collie from a farm and expected it to be housebound 24/7, it won’t be happy. An excellent book is Think Dog by John Fisher; ideal for the new Dobermann owner for ideas on how to keep this highly intelligent breed amused. No dog is suitable to be left alone all day whilst its’ owners go out to work, but with intelligent breeds like the Dobermann for example, it is a recipe for disaster. Left alone with nothing to do, rather like leaving a 5 yr old child to its’ own devices, breeds like this can become destructive and highly frustrated. One of the most frequent problems is that once the novelty of the puppy has worn off, the dog can become as disregarded as the old couch in the corner. We all lead busy lives, but some people forget that the dog, especially the young dog, needs a lot of individual attention and time. You wouldn’t (hopefully) ignore your child all the time, so why do the same with the dog. When we’re asked ‘how do I stop my dog misbehaving in the house/nipping clothes/ankles/being destructive/crazy when the kids come home from school etc’ I ask the owner – ‘what is this dogs’ purpose in life?’ ‘What is his job?’ If you treat him like he’s nothing, and ignore him for much of the day, don’t be suprised if he directs his frustration to bad behaviour’. This is such a smart breed. Don’t buy a Dobe unless you have time and mental energy to devote to teaching the dog to do more than sit!
Is there any difference between British bred and European bred dogs in character?
Not really anymore, as the majority of British bred Dobermanns are first or second generation European bred anyway (I think last time I looked properly on the Crufts 2016 entry, it was 86% first or second generation). There are a few UK breeders with USA lines, but not so many. Generally speaking, European bred Dobermanns are usually higher driven/higher energy than the USA dogs for example, as dogs throughout Europe are worked/trained, whereas the UK have a general culture of not doing much more than a walk around the park on a Sunday and generally making breeding selection only on looks, not character or working/trainability. I have to say that I expect potential owners to ‘man up’ to owning a breed like the Dobermann, rather than to dumb down this exceptional working breed to be largely limited to the couch or worse, the crate.
If you ask any of the ‘pro English’ if they have ever actually lived with a full European Dobermann, they would say no. This misconception is usually from the less educated and those with a little Britain mentality! (One kennel who proclaims full English lines are based in their third generation on a Belgian import from a very strong working kennel). European Dobermanns are not generally considered for breeding (except by lower quality breeders) unless they have passed a fit for breeding test – ZTP. This encompasses character (crowd pressure behaviour/attitude to other dogs), conformation standards (head measurements, height measurement), health tests (heart, eyes, hips) and working (obedience/protection) ability, and only on achieving a high pass grade and certificate can a dog be registered. Dogs of inferior character or conformation may not be bred from. The European Dobermann must therefore demonstrate an ability to work in line with what it was originally bred for. No more than one can take a working Collie from a farm and expect it to do nothing all day, neither should a Dobermann have to do so. That is going to send any intelligent animal mad, which is why when they start to behave with boredom and frustration, people can’t cope with it because they don’t know how to guide or train a dog. They then try to dominate the dogs by ‘showing them who’s boss’, creating defensive behaviour n them, which when leads to potential aggression- not something that works well with any breed.
Aritaur dogs are mostly now European, but European import Ken-Ti’s Babalouba bitch is high driven with a huge requirement to work but not the strongest character – possibly more due to an eye condition making her naturally defensive. Her cousin Asia (Dominatrix) 1/2 UK, 1/4 American and 1/4 Dutch, wouldn’t get out of bed for less than a full cooked breakfast! She has no drive to work and her sire was a good easy dog. She is, however, the Alpha female and everyone naturally defers to her without her having to ever lift a lip. One of our full English bitches is always up on her toes, never sitting still for one moment, always up for games or walks, her brother is a steady well balanced, easy going dog. There is no hard and fast rule – they are all different, so generalisations about Euro v UK temperaments are only that. I am proud to breed Dobermanns, not Labra-Dobermanns.
How much does a Dobermann puppy cost?
Around £2000 – £2500 depending on the bloodlines of the litter. As you will all have seen, Dobermann and other breed puppies are sometimes being sold at £4000+, and sometimes without any health tests on the parents. I know people are desperate for dogs, but these people are just so greedy and are not interested in doing their best for you or the puppies. It’s unlikely these days, but if you come across someone charging under £1000, they are unlikely to be health testing and may not be breeding with a quality dog or bitch. You should be supplied with 5 weeks free insurance as standard, a complete puppy pack including food guide, worming having already been done. Don’t expect vaccinations to be done – that is up to each breeder. KC Reg papers should always be available by the time your puppy is ready, although sometimes paperwork errors can occur causing delays. If you are in doubt about the breeder, call the Kennel Club on 01296 318540. They are virtually impossible to get through to at the moment, so you can at least check on the KC website using the pedigree name to confirm that at least the parents are KC registered. You can also use the KC Health Test Finder page (google), and put in the parent name to give this for example: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/search/dog-profile/?dogId=0c611150-0e7c-e911-a8ae-00224800449b .
What health tests should the parents have done?
As much as is feasible. For more information about health in our breed, click HERE. Some breeders don’t have any tests done on parents. Very few do all tests. We test for Von Willebrands, Heart (DCM), Eyes (PHPV) -when we can get a test – Covid has stopped many eye panelists working, and Hips. You are making a substantial investment both financially and emotionally. Apart from vWD for which there is a DNA test, tests on parents will give you no guarantees of puppy health or their future health, but breeders should at least do the best they can.
How many litters should a breeder have?
If a breeder has more than three litters at one time, they would in many people’s opinions, be breeding commercially but that depends on how many puppies there are in the litter. Some show breeders may only breed if they want to keep something, but not all do. I only have on average two litters here each year, but I have great co-breeders who breed from their Aritaur bitches, so I can produce super litters with them without burdening my bitches or myself. Breeding is really REALLY hard to do properly unless you cut corners, and I can’t give my puppies enough attention if I’m overloaded with litters. If a breeder says ‘we always have puppies’, they are breeding commercially.
Should I see both parents?
You should always expect to see the Dam and it is now a legal requirement to do so (don’t get fobbed off by seeing a bitch who is obviously not the dam, brought out to show you), but do not expect to see the sire. Most quality breeders do not use their own dogs on their bitches although there can be occasions when this is done, for example if someone has brought in a dog for that purpose. If you can’t see the Dam, do not buy from the breeder. It is now a legal requirement to see the dam with the puppies – not just a bitch brought in from the back room.
What should I look for when buying a puppy?
Happy, confident puppies who readily come forward to meet newcomers. Any litter hiding at the back of the box should be left alone – do NOT feel sorry for litters or puppies displaying lack of confidence or fear – you might manage it when they are young, but when you have an adult terrified of everything, you will end up with fear aggressors – virtually impossible to cure. Puppies should have shiny coats, be clean – not left in litter pens with faeces and urine everywhere. Additionally, you might not want the puppy who launches him/herself at you, tugging your sleeves etc, unless you particularly want a worker. This puppy might be a little too much to cope with for the owner just wanting a steady companion. A good breeder who knows their puppies characters, should be able to point out the best puppy for you rather than let you have the choice on looks alone.
What guarantees should my puppy have?
This is up to the individual breeder, however, no-one can guarantee future health of a dog any more than we can guarantee our own health. Look on our puppy page for details of what we offer.
Why avoid puppies from puppy farms?
These sad little dogs and their poor mothers are purely money making machines. They are raised without love, the Mothers are usually mated as soon as they come back into season, and puppies are literally raised in outdoor pens and sold en masse to dealers such as PupsRUs in Manchester. They have no toys to play with or any emotional stimulus; their Mothers can’t teach them anything as they’ve never benefitted from living with humans themselves. Their living conditions are barren, they learn no human interaction which is so vital in order for them to become integrated in our homes. Good breeders are in with those puppies every day, playing with them, loving them and teaching them how to behave with us. Puppies from such places know no love or human contact in these vitally important formative stages. Incredibly, the Welsh Assembly had actually given financial grants to some farmers to help them diversify their farming! A recent demonstration in Cardiff showed the depth of feeling from caring dog owners to this shameful decision and the Welsh Assembly have now backed away from those decisions. If you buy a puppy from dealers – it will have come from a farm in Wales or one of the puppy factories in Ireland. However, not all Welsh or Irish breeders are puppy farmers, and if you visit their homes, you will be reassured. No farmer would have you come direct to them – no-one would buy if they saw these rows upon rows of miserable dogs in barren kennels. They either sell via dealers or deliver. NEVER accept a delivered puppy however cheap. We’ve all seen the Covid prices of £3500 + without any health checks; no breeder having that many litters can devote those puppies the time and attention they need.
Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is UKAS Accredited. Breeders are inspected for their general facilities and welfare of the dogs. When it was first established, the KC let everyone join and many breeders left – not wanting to be associated with the puppy farmers. The KC then put in place regular inspections (I was pleased with the comments of my assessor who stated “I am particularly impressed with the dogs and the way in which they were kept’. I have never seen so many well behaved and relaxed Dobermanns”. There are many excellent KC breeders who are not members of the ABS, but it does give buyers a sense of security.