Although this breed has changed a lot since it was first developed, the Doberman has always been associated with guarding. Karl Dobermann, a tax collector in Germany, developed the breed in order to protect himself from robbers as he travelled. It is not certain which breeds he used, but it is widely believed that the old German Shepherd breed was greatly involved. Some of the other possible breeds are the German pinscher, Greyhound, and Manchester terrier. It is easy to see a resemblance between the Doberman and any of these breeds. Dobermann wanted his guardian to be quick, strong and loyal.
The Doberman is a medium to large breed, standing 24 - 28 inches and weighing up to 100 pounds. It has a narrow, wedge-shaped head; long, thin legs and a compact, muscular build. The ears and tail are often cropped for showing, or to create a fiercer guard dog look.
Though it is said that cropped ears help the dog to hear better, a Doberman with uncropped ears can still hear as well as, for instance, a pointer, whose hearing is many times better than that of a human. Colors vary from the most common black and rust to red, blue, fawn and (in rare cases) white. However, only black and red are accepted at most shows.
Despite being energetic and high-maintenance, Dobermans do not do well staying outdoors by themselves for long periods of time. They prefer to be with their human companions. A Doberman can make a very loyal family dog, or a fearsome guard dog, depending on its training. It will be quick to pick up on the behavior of the humans around it, so consistency is very important to successful training.
All members of the family must work with the dog in the same way so that its place in the household is clear. If this is not possible with young children, then the Doberman is not a good choice for the family pet. Being lowest on the proverbial totem pole will not make it feel unloved; instead, it will make the dog confident and secure.
The guardian Doberman does not need to be trained to guard; he will do so out of instinct--and woe to the trespasser who intrudes uninvited. Though they are generally calm and affectionate toward their owners, Dobermans are fierce and aggressive when their homes or people are threatened.
Whether it is to be a guard or a pet, the Doberman puppy should be well socialized from the beginning, to avoid its becoming timid. It should also be given adequate exercise--walking, running beside a bicycle or fetching a Frisbee in a fenced yard every day.
Dobermans have a built-in nature to be not aggressive, but loyal. As long as they have enough exercise and firm handling, they can make loving family pets, and double as security guards. They are very trainable and get along well with other animals in the house, provided they get the proper guidance from their human pack leaders.