Close this search box.

Are Dobermans Bad Dogs? 9 Reasons NOT To Get a Doberman

Last Updated: December 16, 2023

Of all the dog breeds in the world, Doberman Pinschers are among the most distinctive. However, just as their physical appearance sticks out and demands attention, their reputation is of an aggressive, mean canine. But are Dobermans bad dogs?

Dobermans aren’t bad dogs, at least when they’re properly trained. However, there are multiple reasons why the breed may not be the right fit for you, including their aggression, the amount of care and attention they require, and their overall reputation.

The rest of this article will cover nine reasons you should reconsider getting a Doberman Pinscher as your canine companion. 

Are Dobermans Bad Dogs?

Things To Consider Before Getting a Doberman Pinscher

Are Dobermans Bad?

There are no “good” or “bad” dogs, but some breeds can be a bad fit for your household. However, the Doberman is the perfect dog for many owners.

Doberman Pinschers are relatively large dogs with slender, athletic builds. Their short coat is typically black with brown on their legs, muzzle, and above their eyes, but other colors are possible. Pointed ears that are always on the alert complete their eye-catching silhouette.

These dogs are affected by their environment and don’t do well with stress or changes to the household, so a stable, calm home where they’ll receive a lot of attention is ideal. As a result, there are many factors that you should take into account before getting a Doberman Pinscher, starting with what they’re best known for: their aggression.

1. Dobermans Can Be Aggressive

The most common reason you’ll see as to why Doberman Pinschers are bad dogs is related to their personality and reputation of aggression

“There’s a good reason this breed is seen as mean — that’s precisely what Doberman Pinschers were created to be.”

World of Dogz

The German man who bred the first Doberman around the 1890s wanted an imposing, protective, and ferocious canine as a bodyguard. He was a tax collector, after all!

Doberman Pinschers’ modern use in policing can be seen as a continuation of their original purpose. 

It’s not just a Doberman Pinscher’s personality that’s fiercely protective; they have the body to back it up. Males range from 75-100 lbs (34-45.4 kg) and 26-28 inches tall (66-71 cm), and females, at 60-90 lbs (27.2-40.8 kg) and 24-26 inches tall (60.1-66 cm), aren’t much smaller. 

These dogs are fast runners — much faster than a human, and their interlocking teeth combined with powerful, rapid bites means their targets won’t get away unscathed once the canine latches on. 

While their body structure remains today, there are some places, such as in the U.S.A., where Doberman Pinschers have been bred to be less aggressive family dogs, but their willingness to use intimidation or force to defend their humans is still present.

Two Dobermans Playing
Aggression or Playtime?

2. Dobermans Need a Lot of Exercise and Enrichment

All dogs need physical and mental stimulation to remain healthy, but Doberman Pinschers are on the high end of both scales. They have a lot of energy, meaning long, daily walks are required. 

So, if you aren’t able to take your canine out every day or live in a small house, Doberman Pinschers aren’t the right dog for you. Even a large yard won’t be enough for one of these high-energy dogs, though it’s a good start. 

Alongside their loyalty and aggression, Doberman Pinschers were also bred to be very smart. They can learn commands, and activities like obstacle courses are highly recommended. The good news is that Dobermans love to please their humans, so positive reinforcement when training will go a long way. 

These levels of interaction, stimulation, and exercise must be kept up over the dog’s entire life, typically ranging from a ten to thirteen-year commitment. 

If they don’t receive enough exercise or mental enrichment, Dobermans can become aggressive and destructive due to boredom and not having a good outlet for their energy. 

Learn More About The Doberman In This Video…

3. Dobermans Need To Be Well-Trained and Socialized

Training and socializing any dog is hard, time-consuming, and critical for Doberman Pinschers, especially when young. A Doberman who wasn’t correctly socialized as a puppy is likelier to be aggressive toward people and other animals. 

Doberman Pinschers can be particularly challenging for first-time dog owners, as you should assert yourself as the one in control, or the dog will try to take the leader role. This means the Doberman might not listen to you, which is critical for training and keeping your pet and those around them safe. 

Doberman Sitting

4. Dobermans Don’t Like Strangers

One of the main points of a guard dog is that they don’t like strangers and will protect their owners from any perceived harm. Doberman Pinschers were bred to fall into this category, so, unsurprisingly, even modern, less aggressive canines aren’t fond of strangers. 

This is a good thing in some ways, as Dobermans will go after intruders or someone trying to harm their person. 

However, “strangers” can mean something different to you than your dog. To Dobermans, any non-regular household member can count as a stranger and, therefore, a potential danger. Visiting family members or friends can upset these dogs, so if you love having guests over (or know people who tend to drop by frequently), a Doberman Pinscher isn’t a good idea. 

Scared or nervous dogs can also turn to aggression and lashing out. 

Good solicitation and training can help, of course, but a Doberman’s guard dog’s instincts are something to always be mindful of. You’ll need to learn to look for potential signs that your dog is getting ready to attack and be aware of how the canine interacts with other creatures. 

5. Dobermans Get Extremely Attached

Loyal, protective, and affectionate are a common trio of positive words people use when discussing Doberman Pinschers, and those are all true. Dobermans want to be part of the family, but this desire to be included has downsides. 

One issue is that Doberman Pinschers, like other animals, can get jealous. You’re their human, and if they feel someone else — human or animal — is getting more attention, they can act out, including becoming more aggressive. 

And, because these canines get so attached to their human, they don’t like being separated from their owners. Separation anxiety is common, and while things such as training, exercising your dog before leaving, and not staying away from the house for a long time can help with the anxiety, getting any dog with this problem will still take work to remain calm when alone.

Doberman Pinschers can become destructive and stressed if the anxiety isn’t addressed. 

Do Doberman Pinschers Make Good Family Dogs?

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, not only are Doberman Pinschers becoming more popular, they’re sometimes labeled as good “family dogs.” When you consider their good points, this isn’t as surprising as it might seem, but there are things to watch out for:

  • If multiple people live in the house, you must ensure your Doberman is used to everyone.
  • These dogs don’t do well in stressful environments, so if your home can be chaotic and loud, that’s not a good place for a Doberman to live. 
  • Doberman Pinschers can be seen as a strong and loving extra guard for younger kids, giving parents another level of safety. However, these canines can accidentally hurt their smaller humans or may “defend” the child from other kids if the dog thinks roughhousing is a real danger. 

6. Dobermans Might Be Banned Where You Live

Due to their reputation, Doberman Pinschers, along with other breeds typically seen as “mean,” like Pitbulls, is a target of laws known as “breed-specific legislation.” 

Breed-specific legislation means that some cities, or even states or countries, don’t allow people to own those breeds. Or, even if people can own them, there are restrictions, such as the dog having to wear a muzzle outdoors. 

Despite these laws not being very effective, the ASPCA reports over 20 states have some version of BSL in effect as of 2020. As an example, two cities that flat out don’t allow Dobermans are Crowley, Louisiana, and Berkeley, Missouri, and the breed is on the equivalent of a watch list in other states, such as Michigan. 

In addition, while not as high a concern as being restricted or banned, Dobermans, with their short coats, don’t do well in colder weather. A breed with longer fur is a better option if you live someplace with freezing winters.

7. Dobermans Can Be Expensive

It’s possible that you could find a Doberman Pinscher at your local animal shelter, but many come from breeders. A pure breed Doberman can cost between $600 to more than $2000 if you’re looking for a dog-show-level canine. 

Along with potential vet costs, these high-energy dogs require a lot of food. Adults eat less than puppies, but full-grown Dobermans should still get fed twice daily. 

8. Dobermans Have Some Genetic Health Issues 

Some dog breeds are likelier to develop specific health issues than others; that’s genetics. Dobermans, especially pure-breed ones, are no exception. You’ll want to ensure you have the finances to support your dog if they develop a health condition. The genetic-linked issues common to Doberman Pinschers are:

  • Wobblers syndrome. This disease is caused when a dog’s neck vertebrate “slip” and hits the spinal cord nerves. As the name suggests, a Doberman Pinscher with this health issue will “wobble” when they try to walk. There are medicines to treat this and surgery for extreme cases. 
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Dobermans, with their high-energy lifestyle and needs, require a strong heart. Unfortunately, DCM, where the heart grows too large and frail, is not an uncommon genetic problem in this breed. Eventually, the heart can no longer pump blood, and the disease becomes fatal. 
  • Bloat (Gastric dilatation vlvulus, GDV). A Doberman Pinscher’s broad chest — a defining feature that shows off its strength and alertness — has a downside. GDV is when gas builds up in a dog’s stomach, contorted into an irregular shape. The blotted stomach will then block blood from the organ. This is always an emergency and needs to be treated quickly.  
  • Von Willebrand Disease (VWD). VWD is common in Dobermans and is a condition where blood doesn’t clot correctly, taking longer than normal. Because of this, injuries that break the skin will bleed for longer, risking blood loss in extreme cases. 

There are also the “regular” health conditions to watch out for, like: 

  • Dental problems
  • Eye problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Issues with the liver
  • Internal or external parasites, such as fleas or heartworms

9. It Might Be Hard To Get Insurance for Dobermans

Having a Doberman Pinscher might earn you distrusting looks from friends, family, and strangers, but they aren’t the only ones who might change how they treat you based on your canine companion. Many home insurance plans won’t cover people if they have certain dog breeds in the house, and Dobermans are common on the “no-coverage” list. 

This might sound extreme, but insurance companies don’t want the risk of lawsuits or other legal trouble an owner can get into if their dog, particularly one already labeled “potentially dangerous,” rightly or wrongly, attacks someone. 

It’s not just house insurance, either. Pet insurance, which works like regular health insurance, can also be hard to get for Doberman Pinschers due to their reputation and the resulting fear of legal issues. And with the above genetic health issues this breed commonly has, the vet bills might cost more than other pets. 

Things To Remember About Doberman Pinschers

Many Doberman Pinschers today have been bred to be less aggressive — more of a bark first, bite last. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still dangerous if untrained and unsocialized, but these canines are becoming more popular despite BSL and a general distrusting public. 

It should be noted that female Doberman Pinschers may be more aggressive than males. In addition, females can be more bad-tempered and need extra attention when in heat.

Final Thoughts

The answer to the question, “are Dobermans bad dogs?” depends on the dog and its breeding. You shouldn’t get a Doberman for many reasons, including their inclination to aggression and high-energy temperament.

However, Doberman Pinschers may have more concerns than other breeds due to their aggressive history, but they have their strengths. 

Dobermans may be the perfect canine companion for the right person, but that decision requires a fair amount of thought and isn’t one to be made lightly.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

Leave a Comment

Image for Newsletter Signup

Rehabilitate. Repeat.

Get the best in dog rescue news, care, and health tips, and be a part of the rescue dog revolution.