In this edition of Animal Facts, we’ll examine the differences and similarities between two iconic German breeds, the Doberman Pinscher vs German Shepherd, so you can decide which breed is best for you.
Doberman Pinscher Vs German Shepherd History
Nobody likes the taxman. So, In the 1880s, when German tax collector Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman engineered a new breed by crossing dogs such as the Rottweiler, Manchester Terrier, Weimaraner, and Black English Greyhound. He did it with one goal in mind—to create a guard dog unmatched in fearlessness, intelligence, toughness, vigilance, and athleticism. His efforts resulted in a breed that bears his name to this day, the Doberman Pinscher.
Near the end of the 19th century, a breeder named Otto Goeller founded the National Doberman Pinscher Club. Goeller further developed and refined the breed, and in 1900, the German Kennel Club officially acknowledged the Doberman Pinscher. In 1908, Dobies made an appearance in the U.S.
In the 1800s in northwest Europe (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands), the most common dog used to herd sheep and protect homes was the so-called “continental shepherd dog.” Around 1890, the three breeds (Belgian Shepherd, German Shepherd, and Dutch Shepherd) began to part ways.
The modern German Shepherd Dog descends from ex-cavalryman and former veterinary student Max von Stephanitz’s work, creating dogs for a more industrialized Germany. He wanted working dogs. He recognized herding dogs’ attributes but could not find a breed that checked all the boxes for what he considered a working dog.
So, with a dog he found at a dog show, he created the Society for the German Shepherd Dog, which crafted the breed we know so well today.
Fun Fact: The Doberman saw a surge in popularity when a K9 military unit called the Marine Corps Dobermans of the Pacific rose to fame during World War II.
Appearance and Size
A medium to large breed dog, the male Doberman stands 27 to 28 inches at the withers, while the female stands 25 to 27 inches and typically weighs between 70 and 100 pounds. The Dobie has an elegant built with a streamlined, muscular frame, long neck, and narrow muzzle. Although they’re born with floppy ears and long, thin tails, many owners have their pup’s ears clipped, and tail docked to enhance their sleek looks, while some have them altered to give them a more intimidating appearance. We prefer them unaltered, to be honest.
Their short-haired coat comes in black, red, brown, blue (diluted black), fawn (diluted red), or any combination of two of these colors.
Fun Fact: There is also an albino variation of the Doberman. These pups are a cream color with white markings and blue eyes.
The German Shepherd’s body is long — generally between 22 and 26 inches — in proportion to its height, giving the dog strength, agility, elasticity, and long, elegant strides.
The GSD has a double coat consisting of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy, or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black, is medium in length and is shed all year round.
Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver, and blue.
The German Shepherd weighs between 49-88 pounds, making it technically smaller than the Doberman, but with their thick coat and long body and legginess, appearances say otherwise.
Doberman Pinscher Vs German Shepherd Temperament and Family Life
When it comes to their people, Dobies are unwaveringly loyal and reliable but can be suspicious of strangers. The quintessential guard dog, they won’t hesitate to protect you, your family, and your property if they perceive a threat. Just the suggestion that a Doberman is on patrol is enough to make most “ne’er do wells” think twice about doing anything that might bring them face-to-face with such a fierce opponent.
Dobermans get a bad rap for being overly aggressive. The truth is, most Dobies are aggressive only when they have a reason to be.
That said, they can also be quite playful and take years to reach maturity. Most females aren’t ready for guard training until age 2, while most males aren’t ready until they’re four years old. Dobermans are “one-human dogs.” They tend to bond closely to one person in the family, and even though they don’t come across as softies, they’re gentle and loving with the children they are raised with.
The German Shepherd is very protective and devoted to its family and home, maintaining a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers. It can be dominating and assertive towards dogs, though it is ordinarily friendly with other pets.
The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks.
However, the German Shepherd Intelligence comes with no small amount of stubbornness, as we’ll find out later when we discuss trainability.
They are quick to bark and are top of the class guard dogs. They also are a bit of a velcro dog.
You’re not going to have much alone time with a German Shepherd in your home. The same is certainly not untrue of the Doberman, especially with their chosen favorite person.
Doberman Pinscher Vs German Shepherd Trainability and Intelligence
According to dog psychologist Stanley Coren, Dobies are perhaps the most trainable dog breed and have the fifth-highest intelligence rating of all canines. They learn quickly, maintain a level of alertness not seen in other breeds, and are devoted to their humans, implicitly following their commands to the letter.
The trick to training this savvy Dobie is to be consistent, fair, and observant. Pay close attention to your pup, lest you may find yourself outsmarted, and like other breeds, this dog type responds well to positive reinforcement.
Since they’re so easy to train, the Doberman is highly sought after to fill several different positions. Not only are they used for protection, but they also serve as police dogs, take part in search and rescue operations, and make excellent service and emotional support animals.
The German Shepherd is considered more intelligent than most dogs, at least according to Dr. Coren in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs.” But, despite being able to learn a myriad of complex commands is not “user-friendly” when it comes to training.
The German Shepherd has all of the tools necessary to be an efficient learner. They are smart, hard-working, and capable. It is no surprise, then, that this breed contributes to some of the most essential canine workforces. They are commonly used as service dogs, drug dogs, bomb dogs, security guards, and even serve in the military and law enforcement.
GSDs can do so much. It is a shame when they do not receive adequate stimulation. If you don’t ask them to use their brains constructively, they may begin to cause problems.
Thankfully, you can avoid problems by participating in fun and interactive activities—many GSD excel in agility and showmanship.
It is best to initiate early training with a confident, calm person. Such allows puppies to begin socialization and obedience exercises before developing negative behaviors. They also appreciate the stability of learning from a partner they trust. Like all dogs, German shepherds respond best to consistent reward-based instruction.
How does a Doberman stay fit? With 1 to 2 hours of exercise each day. Not only does a high level of activity help keep their slender, well-toned physique in check, it also keeps their mind sharp and curbs destructive behavior due to boredom.
Start by walking your Dobie once or twice a day for at least 30 to 45 minutes. The length of time you spend walking your dog will depend on you, as Dobermans have incredible stamina and can go ‘til it’s all gone.
In addition to walks, keep your pup’s quickness on point by tossing them a Frisbee, or setting up a spring pole or agility course in the backyard. Remember, the Doberman is one of the smartest canines on the planet, so mind-stimulating activities like puzzle toys, scenting games and learning new commands or tricks are a must if you want your best friend to stay well-behaved and happy.
When it comes to energy and intensity, the German Shepherd cranks everything to 10.
A German Shepherd who’s under-exercised and ignored by their family is likely to express pent-up energy in ways you’re not going to like.
Like the Doberman, your German Shepherd will need at least an hour of strenuous exercise daily.
However, be careful when working with your German Shepherd in the heat. They are prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, thanks in no small part to a thick double-coat.
And, don’t forget to work your dog’s “main muscle”—its brain. To stimulate mental activity, add chew toys, new tricks, and puzzles, scenting, and nose games to the mix.
Can’t get enough dogs? Check out more videos here. Might as well smash that subscribe button for future videos. And as always, catch ya next time.
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).