Use of the word "fear" must be considered as well chosen. One of the first Doberman Pinschers to set foot on U.S. soil was brought here for show ring exhibition. The dog won "Best in Show" honors at three consecutive shows before any judge had the guts to open the dogs mouth to check teeth. If the owners, handlers, and judges of that dog couldnt bring themselves to open the dogs mouth, one can only assume that they "feared" the dog.
Lets go back in time and find out where this dog came from and determine whether the negative aspects of his reputation are truely valid. Certainly something must have happened at some time during his short history for such a label as "the most feared" to be tacked on to such a magnificent animal. The Doberman Pinscher did no more - nor any less - than the Airedale Terrier, the German Shepard, and the Rottweiler during the two wars in which they were used.
The Doberman Pinscher is a product of man - not of nature. To better understand that statement, a comparison between the Rottweiler and Doberman Pinscher can be used. The Rottweiler dates back to the days of the Roman era and in fact, was used as a war dog during the Roman conquests. The Doberman Pinscher was not even in existence at that time...And even in the near yesteryear of the Civil War, when Union and Confederate armies were battling for control of Richmond, Virginia, there were no Doberman Pinschers in exhistence.
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee sat down at a table and signed the surrender of his Confederate troops to General U.S. Grant at Appamadox. At that time in history, half way around the globe on the other side of the planet, in a little town called Apolda, Germany, the local dog-catcher had an idea.
He conceived in his mind, a giant terrier. At that time, the speed, agility and scrappiness of terriers were well known..But a giant terrier was something else.
The man was Louis Dobermann, who dreamed of a dog with a terriers speed and agility, combined with the strength and courage of some of the Thueringian shepherd dogs of that time. The sheepherding dogs were well-known for their bravery and intelligence. Herr Dobermann wanted to capture that bravery, intelligence and courage, and combine it with the speed, agility and determination of a scrappy terrier.
The intellect and bravery of those sheepherding dogs of Thuringia must have been something to behold, for they also served as the inspirational force to create what we know today as the German Shephard Dog. But Louis Dobermann was the first to conceive the idea of harnessing that intellect. By the time the German Shepard came into being, in 1889, the Doberman Pinscher was already in existence.
Louis Dobermann began experimental breeding between 1865 and 1870. Because he was the local dog-catcher, he had virtual access to every conceivable German breed in existence at that time. The foundation of his breeding plan included the Rottweiler, the German Pinscher, and some of the famed Thuringian shepherds mention above.
Some of Herr Dobermanns first dogs were born without tails and into the strain, the tailless feature disappeared. Then came the introduction of Greyhound blood into the breed, and Herr Dobermann had what he wanted. But he got more than he bargained for. At least one of the Greyhounds he used was a black female described as "very ferocious".
When the experimental breeding ended, Louis Dobermann was left with four dogs; Rambo, Lux, Landgraf, and Schnupp. They had not yet earned the name Doberman Pinscher but were referred to simply as "Dobermanns dogs". Schnupp was bred, and gave birth to a litter. Schnupp and her litter were described by noted historian Horowitz as being "deplorable to look at and very ferocious". Schnupp was later to be given the number one registration when the Doberman Pinscher Club of Germany was formed in 1912, although Schnupp didnt resemble very much of the Dobermans of today.
The first Doberman Pinscher to be crowned Champion was described by judge Philip Grunenig as having a coarse heavy body, very long hair and a light eye. By this time, other breeders were trying to inject their ideas and concepts into what the breed should look like. But it was Otto Goeller - from the same town of Apolda - who, more than any other breeder, was responsible for the appearance of the Doberman Pinscher as we know it today. He founded the von Thuringen Kennels in 1901 and was the individual who was responsible for adding the name "Pinscher" to the breed.
The words DOBERMAN PINSCHER were not yet a part of the English vocabulary as late as 1903. But alas, the reputation of the breed as being mean, ferocious, and something to be feared, had already been established in Germany. That reputation was destined to accompany the breed wherever it went, even into an era in which men walk the moon.
It can be seen then that the reputation of the Doberman was established in the 1890's. The character of the early Dobermans can be understood by comments made at the time, "they are certainly robust, have absolutely no fear - not of the devil himself". And so, the reputation of the breed had been well established before the breed was introduced into the United States following World War I.
Since that time, however, fanciers of the breed in the United States subdued and channeled the ferocity of the Doberman Pinscher. They didnt water it down, but rather, by careful and slective breeding and training, brought out and capitalized on the intelligence factor. The ferocity was subdued -- but by no means destroyed.
This was accopmplished - in large part - by strict breed standards. In describing temperament requirements, the standards, as prescribed by the AKC, are more specific for the Doberman Pinscher than perhaps any other breed. Those standards call for dismissal of any Doberman Pinscher that is either shy or viscious. By adhering to this standard, professional breeders of the Doberman Pinscher have been able to produce a dog that is highly intelligent, mentally stable, of unswerving loyalty, yet with the ability to protect and defend home and hearth.
"But dont they turn on their owners?" some will ask. HOGWASH! A Pekinese will turn on its owner if it has no respect for that owner. So will a Poodle...and so will a child! The Doberman Pinscher was established as the official war dog of the U.S. Marine Corps. Certainly dogs that would "turn on their owners" would never be allowed to attain such stature.
Although the character and temperament of todays Doberman Pinschers doesnt match the early Dobermans, the reputation does. It is a reputation that will undoubtedly remain as long as Dobermans exist. No matter how docile a Doberman Pinscher may be, the Doberman simply looks ferocious; and that appearance will always cause him to be a dog of which to be fearful. "When Hollywood needs a villain dog, the Doberman Pinscher gets the call".
Todays Doberman is a gentle, affectionate and loyal pet. But because of his uncanny intelligence, working ability and strength, a Doberman Pinscher needs proper discipline, an abundance of love, and - equally important, training! Theres an awful lot of energy as well as intellect packed into the Doberman Pinscher and it needs to be channeled in the proper direction. Fanciers of the breed and those that truly know the Doberman Pinscher do not see ferocity and fire in his eyes. They see loyalty, devotion and Intelligence,which has no peer. The utilitarian ability of the breed is historical fact, for they have been used in every capacity in which dogs are known to excel. The Doberman Pinscher has been used to lead the blind, as well as the pursuit and attack of fleeing criminals. He has been successful in search and rescue tracking as well as narcotics detection. He has excelled in his ability to work alone as a sentry dog. His instinct to protect and defend is unequaled. As more and more people come to realize the advantages of owning a Doberman Pinscher, his popularity increases.
The Doberman Pinscher is considered a "middle-sized" dog with a sleek coat which requires very little grooming. Measured from ground to shoulder, the ideal height is 27" for males, and from 24-26" for females. They are compactly built, muscular and extremely powerful. The have great speed and endurance. Though the coat of the Doberman Pinscher is short and smooth, they are considered a dog for any climate. They adjust well to both extremes of temperature. A Doberman fancier will have a choice of four colors to select from. The Doberman Pinscher will be seen sporting a coat of black, brown (red-rust), blue or fawn. The most polular color currently seems to be the red Doberman, followed by black, then blue.
As alert, intelligent, and loyal as they are, the Doberman Pinscher isnt a dog that fits in with just any family. If the owner of a Doberman Pinscher is permissive and lacks the ability to discipline properly, the dog will be quick to sense this. Since it is instinctive for a dog to assume leadership where there is otherwise no leadership, a permissive owner could be in for a lot of trouble. A Doberman Pinscher who has no respect for its owner, does not make a good pet. Some people think its cute to see a little Poodle ignore its owners wishes. Its not cute to see a Doberman Pinscher with such a disrespectful attitude. The Dobermans mind is active, and needs to be led. He needs to be taught obedience and respect. He needs it -- and he wants it! In return for the proper education, the Doberman Pinscher will repay his owner with loyalty, courage, decisiveness, obedience, and respect.
Truly one of the most remarkable breeds of this century, Louis Dobermann knew exactly what he wanted 100 years ago: a giant terrier, with all the speed and agility of the little terriers - but with the strength, endurance, intellect, and courage of the herding dogs. The name Pinscher means Terrier, and so it is obvious to those of us who know and love the breed, that Herr Dobermann was a success. His dream came true.
Although todays Doberman Pinscher must live with the tainted reputation of the "Dobermann dogs" of Apolda, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, together with the breeds fanciers, is continually trying to educate the public. "Its not an easy task, when the media insists on portraying the Dobie as a villian."
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