Breed history: 1890-today
In 1880, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who served in the dangerous role of local tax collector in the town of Apolda, East Germany, first engaged in the challenging self-assignment of engineering what would become the Doberman breed. Although is it said the breed effectively existed before 1890, the earliest official records of a Doberman only appear in the studbooks of the Dobermannpinscher Verein studbook dating back to that year.
Although it may be hard to understand how a new breed can be created in less than 10 years, one must keep in mind the gestation period for dogs is between 58-68 days – and 60-63 days for the Doberman breed. Also, remember that Doberman males and females are ready to be bred before one year of age, though nowadays, any responsible and ethical breeder would never consider breeding a female before at least two years of age, and in both cases until appropriate health testings are duly completed.
Until 1899, the breed was known as the Thuringer Pinscher or the Polizeilich Soldatenhund. In 1899, five years after Karl Dobermann’s death, the Germans named the breed Dobermannpinscher – one word – in his honor, only to drop the “pinscher” half-century later on the grounds that this German word for “terrier” was no longer appropriate. The British did the same a few years later. North Americans referring to the breed also often omit using “pinscher” and rather just use “Doberman,” though it is still officially used in CKC and AKC documentation.
With access to dogs of many breeds, Karl Dobermann aimed to create a breed that would be ideal for protecting him during his collections, which took him through many crime-prone areas. He set out to breed a new type of dog that, in his opinion, would be the perfect combination of strength, speed, endurance, loyalty, intelligence, and ferocity. Later, Otto Goeller and Philip Greunig continued to develop the breed to become the dog that is seen today.
No precise early breeding records were kept, but many studies of the Dobermann’s background conclude that the following breeds may have been involved:
- German Pinscher
- Sylvan Dog
- Great Dane
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Manchester Terrier
- Old German Shepherd Dog
The exact ratios of mixing, and even the exact breeds that were used, remain uncertain to this day, although many experts believe that the Doberman is a combination of at least four of these breeds. The single exception is the documented crossing with the Greyhound and Manchester Terrier. It is also widely believed that the old German Shepherd gene pool was the single largest contributor to the Doberman breed.