From Germany To Around The World
Although the exact origins of the Doberman breed cannot be verified, it’s believed that this popular breed came about in Germany in the early 1880’s.
In the town of Apolda, in the state of Thuringia, lived Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, the man credited with developing the Doberman and who the doberman breed is named after. Herr Doberman was born in 1834 and died in 1894, at which time the Germans named the breed, Doberman Pinscher in his honor.
The Doberman was also known at the time as “Thuringian pinschers”, “Dobermann’s Hunde” or dobermann’s dogs and “Soldatenhunds” or soldier dogs. The pinscher was later dropped in 1949 as it was not a suitable descriptor for the breed. (Note that the miniature pinscher is not a “mini” Doberman and is not related.) Also, the second “n” in dobermann has been dropped in most parts of the world.
Herr Dobermann worked as the local tax and rent collector, a policeman, night watchman, dogcatcher and caretaker of the town’s dog pound. He was inspired to create a new breed of guard dog that would serve to protect him while doing his various work duties. He aimed to create a guard dog that was courageous with a protective instinct, intelligent, with a strong mouth and a good nose. Unfortunately for us, at the time he didn’t realize that his breeding experiments would be significant and that he was creating one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. As a result, we lack detailed records of his breeding work.
Although there is some disagreement over the Doberman’s background, the following dogs are thought to have contributed to the breed:
- German pinscher, a common dog in Germany that contributed the quick reaction timing
- The early Rottweiller, for its bravery and guarding ability
- The early Weimaraner for it’s hunting, scenting and retrieving ability
- Old German Shephard (now extinct) for its intelligence and physical ruggedness
- Black and tan Manchester Terrier for its appearance
- Black English Greyhound for its appearance
- Beaucerons and early sheep herding dogs are thought to also have contributed to the early Doberman
Note that the early Dobermans look considerably different from today’s current standard. Whereas the Doberman was originally bred for aggressiveness, today it is bred for a more even-tempered nature.
After Herr Dobermann’s death, breeders Goswin Tischler and Otto Goeller further refined the Doberman dog. The standard for the breed was written and approved in 1890 by the German Kennel Club. Otto Goeller also founded the National Dobermann Pinscher Club in 1899.
During the 1900’s the Doberman breed spread throughout Europe, to Russian and the United States. From 1914-1918 the Doberman breed suffered greatly due to WW1. Many Dobermans were used and lost in military service or suffered from food shortages that were prevalent at the time. Some Doberman breeders in an attempt to save their dogs from the war, sold their stock, including their finest dogs to enthusiast’s in other countries, especially the United States.
The Doberman Pinscher Club of America was created in 1921.
The first Doberman to win at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was Sieger Ferry von Rauhfelsen in 1939 (owned by Mrs. Hartley Dodge of Giralda Farms).
If you’d like to read more about the history of the breed, here is a link to the online book “History & Development of the Breed” by Philipp Gruenig from 1939. It shows the evolution of the breed and has lots of photos of what the original doberman used to look like before it was refined into our present day standard.