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Hi all, thinking of getting a new dog next year and am thinking about Dobermans as an alternative to the GSD. The amount of fur produced by the GSD is the reason I am considering alternatives. Does anyone have experience with or owning Dobermans, particularly Euro lines whether show or working lines? To be frank, I am an absolutely not looking to work the dog. Maybe a bitework session here and there for fun but nothing serious. Mainly looking for a family and traveling companion that has decent watchdog abilities since I am moving into a home surrounded by a good amount of land. Any comparisons to the GSDs in regards to temperament, personality, health, everyday care etc.?
 

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I had my sweet dobie girl for ten years. I probably won't be any help at all because I haven't owned a GSD yet (got a puppy in the wings!) and also because my girl was not a typical doberman. But if someone asks about dobies, I can't help but talk about her.

Dobies do shed, it's just not as noticeable as other dogs. We have dark colored leather furniture, so no hair ever showed on that. Any other material probably would have collected a dark layer of dobie hair in its weave. Also, when we would move her crate away from the wall, there would be quite a pile of hair that had collected behind it.

We did obedience and agility....but just for fun. We never went to any trials or anything.

She was a lover...loved people, loved other dogs, loved cats. Squirrels, rabbits, and small birds, though, were all the enemy. And for some reason, she loved to chase down and corner snakes. She never attacked those...just cornered them and barked maniacally until I would come and rescue the poor creature. LOL

I miss my girl...
 

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Love love love Dobes. I’ve had 3 of them, with 2 of them living to 14 years. They’re goofy and more Velcro than GSDs. Very attuned to their owners.



 

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Dobes are a spectrum, much like any other breed. But one of the BEST dogs I've ever known was a beautiful red Dobe! Amazing dog! That being said, I've known a lot more GSDs that I would describe similarly. Several of the Dobes I've known did not turn out to be good family dogs. Good dogs, just not cut out for that life...

If a companion is what you're after, select your Dobe carefully...though that's the advice you'll get for any breed, with Dobes it's even more important. Many are great dogs, they just don't "click" with that particular environment IMHO!
 

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I had two temporarily but neither were a good fit. Both had pretty severe separation anxiety, but they also came from less than ideal homes. However I've been told it's a common issue in the breed.

That said I was very impressed with both of them in the short time I had them. Learned quickly and bonded with me very tightly and fast. The male was young and wanted to mark on anything he liked. I have really considered them in the future although I would want to get one as a puppy.

I'd be wary though as apparently there is a fairly common heart issue in the breed that causes heart failure in them fairly young? I haven't done a lot of research but if you can find a good breeder with dogs you like I'd look into them for sure.
 

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I had my sweet dobie girl for ten years. I probably won't be any help at all because I haven't owned a GSD yet (got a puppy in the wings!) and also because my girl was not a typical doberman. But if someone asks about dobies, I can't help but talk about her.

Dobies do shed, it's just not as noticeable as other dogs. We have dark colored leather furniture, so no hair ever showed on that. Any other material probably would have collected a dark layer of dobie hair in its weave. Also, when we would move her crate away from the wall, there would be quite a pile of hair that had collected behind it.

We did obedience and agility....but just for fun. We never went to any trials or anything.

She was a lover...loved people, loved other dogs, loved cats. Squirrels, rabbits, and small birds, though, were all the enemy. And for some reason, she loved to chase down and corner snakes. She never attacked those...just cornered them and barked maniacally until I would come and rescue the poor creature. LOL

I miss my girl...
Would you say they definitely shed less than GSDs or is it the same amount but a different type of fur so it is not as noticeable? I know you haven't owned a GSD yet, just wondering if you would know.
 

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We had a Doberman many years ago, he was good with my toddler, very sweet. They don't have a undercoat so no, they don't shed like a German shepherd! His tail was cropped, but his ears were not! If I ever got another, and I have thought about too, I'd like to just have natural tail and ears!
 

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I considered one before I got my current GSD, for the same reasons. Dobes do shed, it is just a different type of fur. It can really get woven into things like fabric. It is defeinitely not the tumble weeds you get with a double coated breed though.

I had a hard time finding a litter of lines that were health tested to my satisfaction. I *believe* they have a larger collection of things to watch out for in the lines than GSDs do. Wobblers, DCM, and I have heard of quite a few with cancers. GSDs definitely have issues too so you have to be selective, but Dobes seem to have a larger collection of potential issues.

And, like GSDs if breed without thought you can get serious nerve issues. But, like GSDs a good one makes for a fantastic dog.

What ultimately kept me on GSDs was, ironically, their hardiness which come with...the coat lol I am outdoors with my dogs a LOT in the winter. During our recent polar vortex Valor and I ran 6 miles when the actual temperature was 14 and with the wind chill it was...oh....1 (planes trains and automobiles lol) We train IPO all winter too so it isn't uncommon for him to spend hours in my truck. We hike in snowstorms..I did not get to do it this year, but I like snowshoeing. One thing I DONT like is a dog in sweater lol So..GSD with all their fur is best for me.

Where are you located? I know of a really nice litter of Dobes on the ground. Bred by a guy who is a really good decoy, he is pretty happy with this litter.
 

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I considered one before I got my current GSD, for the same reasons. Dobes do shed, it is just a different type of fur. It can really get woven into things like fabric. It is defeinitely not the tumble weeds you get with a double coated breed though.

I had a hard time finding a litter of lines that were health tested to my satisfaction. I *believe* they have a larger collection of things to watch out for in the lines than GSDs do. Wobblers, DCM, and I have heard of quite a few with cancers. GSDs definitely have issues too so you have to be selective, but Dobes seem to have a larger collection of potential issues.

And, like GSDs if breed without thought you can get serious nerve issues. But, like GSDs a good one makes for a fantastic dog.

What ultimately kept me on GSDs was, ironically, their hardiness which come with...the coat lol I am outdoors with my dogs a LOT in the winter. During our recent polar vortex Valor and I ran 6 miles when the actual temperature was 14 and with the wind chill it was...oh....1 (planes trains and automobiles lol) We train IPO all winter too so it isn't uncommon for him to spend hours in my truck. We hike in snowstorms..I did not get to do it this year, but I like snowshoeing. One thing I DONT like is a dog in sweater lol So..GSD with all their fur is best for me.

Where are you located? I know of a really nice litter of Dobes on the ground. Bred by a guy who is a really good decoy, he is pretty happy with this litter.
Thanks for your input. I'm located in Georgia but am relocating to Indiana by the end of the year for a new job. I didn't factor in how the cold would affect my decision to owning a Doberman. Like you I spend a lot of time outdoors but have very little experience with snow so don't know how that would play into my all this. I'm still in the early stages of preparing for a new puppy so have some time to decide. I'm a die hard GSD fan but the tumbleweed amount of fur is astonishing.
 

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I grew up with GSDs -- my dad always had one. As an adult, my first dog of my own was a Dobe. I went back to GSDs after her death broke my heart: she dropped dead at barely 7 years old, two weeks after a perfect annual exam. She had what back then was called the "sudden death gene" that plagued the breed in the early 90s -- I think that meant DCM.

Our families' GSDs always lived good, long lives, wherever they came from (breeder or rescued). Even the one we lost to DM was pretty old when the DM symptoms appeared. Hemangio has also hit us in old dogs. The GSD breed has its share of terrible health issues, but my experience has always been that with enough money, most of them are treatable and manageable until old age. Having one drop dead at 7 is a whole other thing.

I've sometimes thought of getting another one. I'm in a different place in my life with access to extremely high quality of vetting, specialists, echos etc. than I was back then, and I would know to look for it, which I didn't back then. The scar of that loss is what keeps me from doing it -- that one really hurt.

That said, she was a fantastic dog. I loved the personality. She was hilarious. I do prefer them natural though -- natural ears and a natural tail. Almost nobody believes they are "real" dobes when left that way, so they're somehow less intimidating and more true to their real goofy selves. I am not a dog show or sport person though, so my dogs' appearance doesn't matter to anybody but me.

FWIW, I like Rottweiler personalities too -- but I couldn't live with all that drool and slobber. *blech*

I should probably add that I met a vet over the weekend at a pet festival with a stunning, huge black-and-tan male dobe that she imported from Europe. She did a global search for the lines she wanted for health. He's a love -- he goes to the clinic every day and puts his paws up on the counter to see people and dogs checking in. Magnificent dog. I've heard from Dobe people that the American lines are much better than they were in the 90s -- good breeding work has supposedly been done by some breeders on the DCM gene. @dogfaeries, can you offer any insight into efforts in the breeder community in that regard?
 

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Would you say they definitely shed less than GSDs or is it the same amount but a different type of fur so it is not as noticeable? I know you haven't owned a GSD yet, just wondering if you would know.
Definitely less shedding. Very short, stiff, sharp hairs, though, that would be challenging to get out of fabric furniture. Even if they're not allowed on the sofas, they would be rubbing up against them. Leather furniture solves that.
 

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I grew up with dobermans, had 1 as an adult and my best friend is on her 3rd. I’d honestly take GSD hair over a Doberman anyday. They shed less, but those short prickly hairs work their way into things and no amount of lint roller or vacuum is getting them out. Typically in areas where they reside heavily - home/car/beds... where as a gsd can just brush up against you for a second and your leg is covered in hair.

If hair/shedding is your main concern - stick to the GSD and look for one with a shorter tighter coat or maybe even a long coat (counter intuitive I know but mine really has been easier overall to my stock coats), as well as explore some different diets, grooming tools/products/routines. Dobermans are great dogs and on paper can sound very similar to GSD... more similar than a cocker spaniel, but enough noticeable differences for a shepherd person. My shepherds have been healthier, more obedient, affectionate and adaptable. The dobes have been intelligent (clever), quirky, goofy, territorial, reserved and sadly the oldest one I’ve known was 9.
 

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I've heard from Dobe people that the American lines are much better than they were in the 90s -- good breeding work has supposedly been done by some breeders on the DCM gene. @dogfaeries, can you offer any insight into efforts in the breeder community in that regard?

I haven't had a Dobe for so long, so I don't have very many Dobe connections these days. That said, I do know they have much better temperaments than they did 30 years ago. They had a bad reputation for a reason. When I got my first Dobe puppy, my father said "I'm not coming to visit you anymore. Dobermans are crazy". Fast forward a few years. My father is living on his houseboat. "Can I have Tess?" No, get your own Dobe. "I don't want my own Dobe, I want Tess". Yeah, she was an incredible dog. Show lines.

Yes, there are health problems. Cardiomyopathy, Wobblers, Von Willebrand's. But, just like in responsibly bred GSDs, health testing is done. The DPCA has a longevity program. I've had two Dobes that were 14, which back then, was uncommon. If I were to get another Dobe, I'd make sure all the health testing was in order.

You wouldn't think that a Doberman would be such a silly goofy dog, but they are pretty hilarious. Always sitting on your feet. Leaning on your leg. Always touching you. They take velcro to a new level. So many of them do what we call "the helicopter". Twirl in one direction. Stop. Twirl in the other direction. Stop. Repeat. I have a video of Tess doing it, I'll try to find it.

Oh, great. Now I want one, lol. The only reason that I got a GSD, instead of a Dobe after Tess died, was that I got so emotional when I'd see them at a dog show. I just couldn't get one. My friend that showed GSDs had puppies, so I got Carly, and put the Dobe thing on the back burner. I'll tell you though, when I had a couple of Dobes romping around on my beautiful backyard lawn, they didn't beat it to death like the GSDs do. I kinda miss that! And no, they don't like inclement weather. They'll melt in the rain.
 

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And no, they don't like inclement weather. They'll melt in the rain.

I thought that was just a quirk of my dog! She would not go out to potty in the rain, no matter how badly she wanted to go. There was no convincing her -- she would hold it for as long as it took, wait for a break in the rain, dash out, get it done, and dash back before it started up again. Luckily for her, we lived in a California climate that didn't get rain very often.


My GSDs go out through the dog door to stand out in the rain, play in the mud, and couldn't care less about getting wet. Totally different mind set!
 

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I thought that was just a quirk of my dog! She would not go out to potty in the rain, no matter how badly she wanted to go. There was no convincing her -- she would hold it for as long as it took, wait for a break in the rain, dash out, get it done, and dash back before it started up again. Luckily for her, we lived in a California climate that didn't get rain very often.


My GSDs go out through the dog door to stand out in the rain, play in the mud, and couldn't care less about getting wet. Totally different mind set!
Yes, my experience exactly! I was so used to Dobes, that when I got Carly I was dreading housebreaking her in the spring with all the rain. Ha! That crazy GSD puppy thought rain was the best thing EVER.
 

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And no, they don't like inclement weather. They'll melt in the rain.
OMG! So true! Mira was miserable anytime it was raining. Snow on the ground was no problem, she never seemed to mind the cold, but if it was falling out of the sky, she'd look at us like we were crazy for wanting to go out in it.

Also so true on the leaning and touching. She'd step up to me and just "fall" against my leg, leaning almost her whole weight against me. I sometimes wondered how she managed to stay on her feet when she did that. And if leaning wasn't an option, then she'd step on my foot or put her head on my lap. Always had to be touching.
 

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Always touching you. ALWAYS.

I have so many funny stories of life with Dobes. The time Tess got a marrow bone stuck on her toes. I had to use vegetable oil to get it off. Stealing bars of soap out of the bathroom. One time I filled the bathtub up for my son. I went to get him, and Tess was standing in the tub in the water. My son yelled “feet germs!!” And wouldn’t get in the tub until I drained and refilled it. After that I had to shut the bathroom door, lol. I had a friend who was getting dressed and said his dobe was playing with a bone, kinda tossing it around the room. She whipped it at the dresser and it broke the mirror! I know Tess beaned me in the head more than once flinging her toys around.

Tess was about 5 months old and in her first obedience class. Dobes get bored VERY easily. We were told to down our dogs, and we had several reps of this. Uh oh. I could see the wheels turning in that dog’s head. The next time I said “down” she threw herself on her back and waved her legs at me. Well, technically she was down, lol.
 

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If you want to find out more about Dobermans, then I suggest you join DobermanTalk, if you haven’t already. https://www.dobermantalk.com/forumindex.php

If you are really interested in a Euro show line dog, I can tell you right now that good breeders are few and far between. A lot of people claim that Euro line dogs are supposed to be bigger than NA dogs as an excuse to breed oversized dogs. However, the AKC and FCI standard vary by about an inch at the top end of height, so anyone touting their 30” tall, 120# dogs is someone you want to stay away from. Also, European Dobermans are NOT automatically any healthier, better temperament, better anything than NA dogs.

Doberman as a breed are prone to health problem, with probably the most seriou being dilated cardiomyopathy. At the moment, there are DNA tests for two different markers, but they are more for research purposes than anything. Breeders need to be doing annual holter and echocardiogram tests on their breeding dogs. If someone tells you that they’ve never produced a dog with DCM, or that it’s not in their dogs’ pedigrees, run, do not walk, away from them. DCM is everywhere, with an estimated 50 to 60% of all Dobes developing it.

Seriously, join DT, and you can learn a lot more than I can put into one post here.
 
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