The Doberman pinscher is a perfect example of an "artificial" breed. In the early 1870's, a German, Louis Dobermann of Thuringia, set out to create a new breed of dog that would be a giant terrier with the strength of a working dog such as the German shepherd, and with the sleek appearance of the miniature pinscher. In disposition, he was seeking a "sharp" dog. In the German breeder's terminology it meant one that could be trained to attack man or any animal.
In some twenty years he achieved his goal and his dogs rapidly became popular as police and guard dogs. However, in the years since then the dogs have become gentler than the original Dobermans, and the strains found today generally have little of the ferocity of their German progenitors.
A number of Dobermans have been used as guide dogs for the blind with good success, and many have performed well in the obedience ring.
As a rule, Dobermans are highly amenable to training and their disposition can be molded to a considerable extent by their upbringing. One of the most famous teams of Dobermans are those used by R. H. Macy's department store in New York City to guard the premises at night. They are trained not to attack, but to corner and hold any intruder and to summon human assistance by barking.
Raised as a house pet, the Doberman is friendly and quiet, but novice owners should be warned against trying to train their Doberman as a watchdog. That is a job for someone who knows the breed. However, there is some possibility of purchasing a Doberman that is just too "sharp" to make a safe pet, so the puppy's disposition should be watched carefully as he grows up; and if possible, a Doberman should be purchased with a "trade-in" agreement if the dog proves unsatisfactory.
Standard of the Doberman Breed
General Conformation and Appearance: The appearance is that of a dog of good middle size, with a body that is square, the height measured vertically from the ground to the highest point of the withers, equaling the length, measured horizontally, from the forechest to the rear projection of the upper thigh. Height, at the withers—males, 26 to 28 inches; bitches, 24 to 26 inches. Compactly built, muscular and powerful, for great endurance and speed. Elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, reflecting great ability and temperament. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless and obedient. Faults: Coarseness. Fine greyhound build. Undersized or oversized. Shyness or viciousness.
Head Shape: Long and dry, resembling a blunt wedge, both in frontal and profile views. When seen from the front, the head widens gradually toward the base of the ears in practically an unbroken line. Top of skull flat, turning with slight stop to bridge of muzzle, with muzzle line extending parallel to the top line of the skull. Cheeks flat and muscular. Lips lying close to jaws and not drooping. Jaws full and powerful, well filled under the eyes. Nose solid black in black dogs, dark brown in brown ones, and dark gray in blue ones. Faults: Head out of balance in proportion to body. Ram's, dish-faced, cheeky or snipy head.
Eyes: Almond-shaped, not round, moderately deep-set, not prominent, with vigorous, energetic expression. Iris of uniform color, ranging medium to darkest brown in black dogs, the darker shade being the more desirable. In reds or blues, the color of the iris should blend with that of the markings, but not be of a lighter hue than that of the markings. Faults: Slit eyes; glassy eyes.
Teeth: strongly developed and white. Lower incisors upright and touching inside of upper incisors, a true scissors bite. Forty-two teeth (22 in lower jaw, 20 in upper). Distemper-stained teeth not penalized. Faults: Overshot more than 3/16 of an inch; undershot more than 1/8 of an inch.
Ears: Well trimmed and carried erect. (Ear-trim waived in states where prohibited.) Upper attachment of the ear, when carried erect, should be on a level with the top of the skull.
Neck: Carried upright, well muscled and dry. Well arched, with nape of neck widening gradually toward body. Length of neck proportionate to body and head.
Body: Back short, firm, of sufficient width, and muscular at the loin extending in a straight line from withers to the slightly rounded croup. Withers pronounced and forming the highest point of body. Brisket full and broad, reaching deep to the elbow. Chest broad, and forechest well defined. Spring of ribs pronounced. Belly well tucked up, extending in a curved line from chest. Loins wide and well muscled. Hips broad in proportion to body, breadth of hips being approximately breadth of body at rib spring. Tail docked at second joint, should appear to be a continuation of the spine, without definite drop.
Forequarters: Shoulder blade and upper arm should meet at an angle of 90 degrees. Relative length of shoulder and upper arm should be as one to one, excess length of upper arm being much less desirable than excess length of shoulder blade. Legs, seen from the front and side, perfectly straight and parallel to each other from elbow to pastern; muscled and sinewy, with round, heavy bone. In a normal position, and when gaiting, the elbow should lie close to the brisket. Pasterns firm with an almost perpendicular position to the ground. Feet well arched, compact, and catlike, turning neither in nor out.
Hindquarters: In balance with forequarters. Upper shanks long, wide and well muscled on both sides of thigh, with clearly defined stifle. While the dog is at rest, hock to heel should be perpendicular to the ground. Upper shanks, lower shanks and hocks parallel to each other and wide enough apart to fit in with a properly built body. The hip bone should fall away from the spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees. The upper shank should be at right angles to the hip bone. Croup well filled out. Catlike feet as on hind legs, turning neither in nor out.
Gait: The gait should be free, balanced and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting there should be a strong rear-action drive, with rotary motion of hindquarters. Each rear leg should move in line with the foreleg on the same side. Rear and front legs should be thrown neither in nor out. Back should remain strong, firm and level.
Coat, Color, Markings: Coat smooth-haired, short, hard, thick, and close-lying. Invisible gray undercoat on neck permissible. Allowed colors: black, brown or blue. Markings: rust red, sharply defined, and appearing above each eye and on muzzle, throat, and forechest, and on all legs and feet and below tail. White on chest, not exceeding one-half square inch, permissible.