Meet the Breed
Chiseled and Charming: The distinguished Doberman Pinscher boasts the total package: good looks, a sharp mind and unfailing devotion.
A relatively modern breed, the Doberman Pinscher was deliberately manufactured by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann in the latter half of the 19th century with a definite purpose in mind. Dobermann lived and worked as a tax collector in the town of Apolda in the German state of Thuringia. Collecting taxes was a dangerous job at that time, and Dobermann, who also ran the local dog pound, wanted to develop a loyal and intelligent dog that would protect him when passing through areas overrun with bandits.
The perfect mix
Dobermann used several breeds that possessed the characteristics he sought, including the Beauceron, German Pinscher, German Shorthaired Pointer, Greyhound, Manchester Terrier, Rottweiler, Weimaraner and the old-style German Shepherd Dog. Dobermann might have used other breeds, but he didn’t keep accurate records, except for those documenting Greyhound and Manchester Terrier crosses.
By 1890, Dobermann was satisfied with the breed he created. Later German breeders Otto Goeller and Philipp Gruenig improved and refined the breed. Gruenig wrote a book, The Doberman Pinscher (1939), considered to be the definitive description of the breed’s early history and development.
After Dobermann’s death in 1894, the breed was named Dobermann Pinscher in his honor, and was formally recognized by the German kennel club in 1899. The Germans later dropped the word pinscher which means “terrier.” The second “n” in the name was dropped around 1908, the year that the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America was founded in 1921. The United Kennel Club admitted the breed to its registry in the 1940s.
Shaped by war
World War I took a toll on the Doberman breed in Germany. Many dogs starved or were euthanized by owners who could no longer feed them during the harsh wartime conditions. Many good dogs were sold to other countries to ensure the breed’s survival during war time. After the war, armed-forces personnel who had seen the breed in its native land and were attracted to its sleek elegance, high intelligence and strength, imported Dobermans into the United States in large numbers.
During World War II, the U.S. Marines extensively used Dobermans as sentries and messengers in the Pacific. They also went ashore and flushed out the enemy, a task that earned them the nickname “devil dogs.” A bronze sculpture of a Doberman entitled “Always Faithful” was installed at the U.S. Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery in Guam as a permanent reminder of the heroic work of the dogs and their handlers.
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