Photo credit: @snoop.dogg.the.dobie on Instagram.

Dobermann Breed Guide

Last Updated 15 NOVEMBER 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc

With their athletic figure, sleek coat, and regal posture, the Dobermann Pinscher looks the part of an aristocrat. This breed is highly energetic and intelligent, and they perform well in police and military work, canine sports, and guard dogs. Originating in Germany during the late 19th century, Dobermanns were mostly bred as guard dogs. Over the years they made their way into family homes as companions and have since become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

Dobermann Facts

Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Large Germany Dobie, Dobe
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Working Medium Females 32-35kg, Males 40-45kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
10 - 13 years Low Females 61-68cm, Males 66-72cm at shoulder
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Short, sleek and shiny Black and tan
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Social needs:
Low Low Reserved with strangers, so good socialisation is required

How big do Dobermanns get?

Dobermann males are typically 66-72cm tall at the shoulder and weigh 40-45kg. Females typically measure 61-68cm tall at the shoulder and weigh 32-35kg.

Do Dobermanns shed?

Yes, Dobermanns shed a moderate amount compared to other breeds. They shed low to moderate amounts year round, with very little seasonality to their shedding. Regular hair brushing is a good idea, as is feeding them a top quality diet to keep their fur silky and smooth.

How much does a Dobermann cost?

Dobermanns can cost anywhere from $300 at an animal shelter to $5500 from a registered breeder. Dobermann and Dobermann crosses are often available at animal shelters, so it is always worth checking your local rescue centres first - not only will this likely be cheaper than purchasing a dog from a breeder, but you will be saving a life!

Are Dobermanns good pets?

With the right training and socialisation, Dobermanns can make excellent pets. They have the potential to be loyal, affectionate, and people-oriented dogs. However, because of their history as guard and protection dogs, the work involved in their socialisation shouldn't be underestimated - Dobermanns can be wary of strangers, stubborn, and protective of their family. They require firm, consistent training and copious socialisation from an early age.

How long do Dobermanns live?

The Rottweiler lifespan is 10-13 years. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you feed them a premium quality diet, never let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

Do Dobermanns bark a lot?

Yes, Dobermanns do bark a relatively frequent amount - usually to alert their owner of potential dangers. Dobermans were originally bred for protection work and as a result, they bark when on guard. However, they are easy to train and excessive barking can be reduced with consistent training. To reduce your Dobermann's barking, ensure you train with positive reinforcement from a young age and reduce problem behaviours before they begin!

How do I choose a Dobermann breeder?

When looking for a Dobermann, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and selectively breed healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Are Dobermanns good with kids?

If you have young children and are considering getting a dog, a Dobermann might not be the best choice. They can be dominant and puppies can be nippy, and sadly many families with kids end up rehoming Dobermanns Dobermanns as they don't have the time to commit to proper socialisation and training. That said, Dobermanns can be wonderful pets for families with older kids due to their loyalty and protective nature, but the children should be trained how to act around a dog first. Furthermore, caution is advised around children unknown to the dog, as Dobermanns can be wary of strangers and may perceive the boisterous, confronting energy of children as a threat.

Should Dobermann Ears be Cropped?

Absolutely not. Surgical procedures performed on animals for purely cosmetic reasons are unacceptable under any circumstances, and ear cropping is illegal in every state in Australia. Sadly, the practice is still commonplace in other countries such as the USA. To read more, visit the Australian Veterinary Association's official stance here: Cosmetic Surgery to Alter the Cosmetic Appearance of Animals.

Should Dobermann Tails be Docked?

Absolutely not. As with ear cropping, tail docking constitutes as a surgical procedure for purely cosmetic reasons and is therefore unacceptable. Tail docking is illegal in all states of Australia, unless it is an amputation for a medical purpose such as tumour or injury. Besides, a natural tail allows your dog a lovely satisfying wag when they're happy! (And what's better than a big waggy tail to come home to?!) Read the Australian Veterinary Association's statement on tail docking here: Cosmetic Surgery to Alter the Cosmetic Appearance of Animals

Dobermann History

Left to right: an early Dobermann, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann with his dogs, and Graf Belling, one of the first show Dobermanns at a dog show in 1899 (sources: Dobermansden and DCPA).

The Dobermann* was perhaps the first 'designer dog' breeds. The breed was originally created by a man they were named after - Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. Herr Dobermann was a dog warden and collector of taxes and rent, and his work meant that he required a dog to protect him on his rounds. As a dog warden, he was ideally equipped to breed a the perfect dog for himself. In the 1880s he began breeding dogs from the pound with other breeds to create a clever, alert and physically superior guard dog. The exact ancestry of the Dobermann is unknown because Herr Dobermanns' breeding records were not kept. But it is believed that the German Pinscher, the Beauceron, and later the greyhound, the Manchester Terrier and possibly the Rottweiler, were all used in the ancestry of the Dobermann.

*Traditional spelling of 'Dobermann' has been used in this article - see our section below for a discussion on the spelling of the breed's name.


Dobermann Personality

The Dobermann can be described as intelligent, loyal, protective and self-assured. They can be dominant with people and other dogs - and may become more dominant if they sense weakness in their owner. Therefore, calm, consistent leadership is a must, as well as early socialisation to reduce shyness.

The Dobermann is a breed that requires a lot of mental stimulation, attention and is extremely responsive to training. Puppy preschool and socialisation when they are young is a must, with the critical socialisation window between 8 to 16 weeks of age. It is also recommended to continue training through adulthood, and consider enrolling in other activities such as obedience, agility, tracking or rescue work. Without sufficient mental stimulation and exercise, they can develop destructive behaviours which can be difficult to manage.

The Dobermann can also be described as nervous with strangers and may not immediately accept newcomers, instead preferring to stick by their master's side until they are comfortable. This makes them excellent guard dogs and companions to people who can commit a lot of time to them.

Top toy recommendations for Dobermanns

Tasty Bone

These nylon bones come in a range of delectable flavour and withstand hours of intense chewing. Go large or mega for maximum durability.

Ruff Play Toys

Ruff Play toys are designed for durability to stand up to the toughest of dogs. Look for large toys in this range for a Doberman.

Kong Extreme

Made from the most durable KONG rubber, the KONG Extreme can be filled with treats, paste, kibble or even frozen stock to prolong play time. Choose XL or XXL for power chewers.

Paws for Life Snuffle Puzzle Mat

Hide some of your dog's kibble or treats in the nooks and crannies to keep their mind busy and occupied.


What to feed a Dobermann Puppy?

Dobermann puppies require a diet that is less energy dense than a standard puppy food, because overfeeding and an overweight body condition are important risk factors for the development of orthopaedic disease such as hip dysplasia. A high quality puppy food specifically designed for large breed puppies will be designed with this in mind. Diets formulated for large breed puppies also contain an appropriate amount of calcium and phosphorus with a lower overall calcium content than a regular growth diet. Puppy diets should be fed in controlled amounts, and never in excess, to promote a slow rate of growth and a lean body condition score.

Raw diets for Dobermanns? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for Dobermann puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination, which can lead to food poisoning and upset their sensitive tummies. Plus, an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

When should you transition a Dobermann from puppy to adult food? As a general guide, Dobermanns can usually be transitioned from a 'puppy' food to an 'adult' food at around 12-18 months of age. This does, however, vary depending on your dog's body condition score - if your pup is underweight, they may require a puppy food for a little longer. Likewise, if they're starting to show a bit of 'pudge', it may be time for a lower-in-calories 'Adult' diet.

Top food recommendations for Dobermann Puppies

Royal Canin
Maxi Puppy

This premium dry food is specifically formulated to support the health and wellbeing of large breed puppies.

Puppy Large Breed

An Australian made diet to support the unique nutritional requirements of large breed puppies. Added green lipped mussel to support joint health.

Ivory Coat
Grain Free Large Breed Puppy

Natural, grain free dry food for large breed puppies. Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

Hills Science Diet
Large Breed Puppy

Contains optimal levels of calcium, phosphorus and energy for controlled bone growth and to minimise the risk of developmental bone and joint problems.

Photo credits: the adorable @littlemarvtales

What to feed an Adult Dobermann?

It's important to feed your adult Dobermann a complete and balanced diet, and veterinarians particularly recommend feeding one that has been formulated for large breed dogs.

Although there are no specific feeding requirements for a Dobermann, their diet needs to be age-appropriate and meet all of their daily nutritional and energy demands. Also, it is very important that you do not overfeed or immediately exercise your Dobermann after a meal due to their increased risk of getting GDV and Bloat. Most Large Breed Adult Food from premium brands including Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Advance are suitable for Dobermanns. These scientifically-formulated diets also contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing.

Large Breed

This high quality, grain free dry food contains functional ingredients like pumpkin seeds and blueberries to promote immunity, and chicory root for natural sources of prebiotic fibre to support gut health.

Instinctive Bite
Large Breed Chicken and Brown Rice

With feeding such a large dog, many owners need to seek out the best value food they can! Instinctive Bite is great value without compromising on quality.

Royal Canin Maxi Adult

With kibble specially designed to slow your Ridgeback's mouth shape, this premium quality food contains nutrition tailored the the specific requirements of adult large breeds.

SavourLife Large Breed
Grain Free Ocean Fish

This Australian made, grain free kibble contains highly palatable salmon and ocean fish, combined with omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and, glucosamine and chondroitin.

Dobermann Health Concerns

Health concerns affecting the Dobermann are those that also affect large and giant breed dogs in general, the most common of which are orthopaedic diseases and gastric dilation and volvulus.

Hip dysplasia:

The term 'dysplasia' means abnormal growth, therefore 'hip dysplasia' means abnormal growth or development of the hips. The condition is primarily genetic in origin. The degree of hip dysplasia will vary between dogs due to a combination of factors such as body weight, nutrition, hormonal factors and other environmental considerations such as exercise. It's important to note that the inheritance of the gene is not simple, and breeding dogs with 'normal' hips can give rise to offspring with dysplastic hips and vice versa.

How to prevent hip dysplasia? Responsible breeders will ensure their breeding stock is tested prior to breeding. Since 2016, the Australian National Kennel Council Ltd (ANKC) have been responsible for the Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Scheme (CHEDS) which is weighted towards secondary joint changes associated with hip dysplasia.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM):

This a genetic condition that causes degeneration of the heart muscle, weakening and thinning of the muscle in the left ventricle so that it pumps weakly. and eventual heart failure. A symptom of DCM is difficulty breathing, so if you notice your dog struggling to breathe, you should seek a veterinary consultation immediately. If you're planning on getting a purebred puppy, speak to the breeder about the history of heart disease in the kennel's line.

GDV or "Bloat" - Gastric Dilation and Volvulus

Bloat is a life-threatening condition whereby the stomach stretches many times its normal size and in many cases twists and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply. The spleen is usually an innocent bystander that gets pulled into the rotation, also compromising its blood supply. This condition is common in deep-chested breeds like the Dobermann. The main signs to look out for are sudden onset of abdominal distension, distress, anxiety, pain (such as panting, guarding the belly), drooling and multiple unproductive attempts to vomit. What should you do in this situation? Transport them to a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic immediately where urgent treatment and surgery is required. Do not attempt to give anything by mouth.

In breeds with a high risk of bloat, a preventative surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy can be performed at the same time as desexing. The surgery involves securing the stomach to the inside of the abdomen to prevent it rotating. For more information about bloat and preventative surgery, we recommend speaking with your regular veterinarian.

Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)

VWD is a disorder of blood clotting that is genetically inherited. It occurs when there is not enough Von Willebrand factor, which is a plasma protein that is essential for blood clotting. In dogs with vWD, severe bleeding can occur even from a minor scrape, and symptoms to watch for including bleeding from the nose or mouth. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. All you can do is control the bleeding and try to reduce the number of bleeding events. However, DNA tests are available to help detect this disease early in life, and you should ask your breeder if they test for this disease.

Wobbler's Syndrome

Wobblers syndrome is a disease seen in dogs that affects nerve function in the neck and causes a wobbly gait (hence the name). The technical name for this syndrome is cervical spondylomyelopathy. In dogs with Wobbler's, the spinal cord in the neck region is compressed - there are a number of different mechanisms for how this can occur but usually relate to a narrow spinal canal or a bulging intervertebral disk. This then affects the signals the nerves are sending to the limbs, leading to an uncoordinated gait. In severe cases it can lead to paralysis. Treatment can be either medical or surgical, or a mixture of both.

Top health and supplement recommendations for Dobermanns:


Glyde is a joint supplement containing New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to help reduce joint inflammation. Palatable and safe to give long term.


Contains Epiitalis, a unique plant oil extract combined with marine concentrates including green lipped mussel, shark cartilage and abalone to target joint inflammation. Palatable and safe to give long term.

Anti Gulping Bowl

Eating rapidly is a risk factor for the development of bloat. Anti gulping bowls help to slow down the rate of food intake and minimise excessive air intake during feeding.

Canine Care Dog Ramp

A lightweight, non slip ramp ideal for helping eldery or sore dogs in and out of the car.

Related Breeds to the Dobermann

The Dobermann is part of the Working breed dog group. Over centuries, Working dogs were selectively bred to be guards and rescue dogs. The Working breed group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, including the Masttif, Boxer, Great Dane, Rottweiler, Husky, Samoyed, Dobermann, and St. Bernard. This group consists of the real 'specialists' in their field, each dog excelling in their line of work.

The Dobermann breed is considered one of the first 'designer' dog breeds, and was originally developed using a cross of breeds including the old German Shepherd, German Pinscher, Beauceron, Rottweiler, and Greyhound. As such, these breeds tend to be its closest relatives. Contrary to what you may think, the Miniature Pinscher - which resembles a mini Dobermann - is not actually related to the Dobermann (but we've included it below as they look so alike!)

German Pinscher

The German Pinscher, also referred to as the middle Pinscher, sits as a stepping stone relative between the Dobermann and the Miniature Pinscher. The German Pinscher is of medium size, weighing between 14–20 kg and measuring 45-50 cm height at the shoulder (ie, around 2/3rds the size of a Dobermann). They are smaller than the Dobermann and come in two coat colours, self-coloured red and black-and-tan.

German Shepherd

Another large and protective dog, the German Shepherd is related to the Dobermann as it was supposedly used in the original breed cross. Renowned for their acts of courage, confidence and loyalty, the German Shepherd is often on the front line of the police force and military units all over the world. These attributes mean they also make excellent household guardians and a devoted member of the family.



The Beauceron is a herding dog breed originating from the plains of Central France. A versatile breed, the Beauceron is used to both guard and herd sheep and cattle, and is still a popular breed in France. The Beauceron is related to the Dobermann as it was supposedly used in the original breed cross.


Miniature Pinscher

Contrary to what you might think, the Miniature Pinscher (or 'minpin') is not actually related to the Dobermann. It's generally believed that both the Min Pin and the Doberman descended from the German Pinscher, but the Doberman's other ancestors were the Rottweiler and Beaceron, wheras the Min Pin's were Italian Greyhounds and Dachshunds. Miniature Pinschers weigh only 3.5-6kg and stand at just 25-30cm tall.

Dobermann vs Doberman - How to Spell It?

In most countries (particularly in Europe and the U.K.), the breed is called a 'Dobermann' and spelled with two 'n's. This is the correct spelling of the name of the man who created the breed, Karl Freidrich Louis Dobermann. In the USA and Canada, the breed is referred to as a Doberman Pinscher and is routinely spelled with one 'n'.

In Australia, the two terms are used interchangeably and you may see some people spelling it as 'Dobermann' and others writing 'Doberman'. For this article, I have chosen to use the traditional spelling for the breed.

Further Reading

Complete Beginner's Guide To Puppy Care

How To Spot A Good Pet Food

5 Facts To Know About Parvovirus

Which Flea and Worming Product Does YOUR Dog Need?