Doberman Pinschers are often known as aggressive and ferocious dogs even though they are classified as working dogs. Since the Doberman was originally bred as a personal protection dog, it was required to have certain traits. It needed to be intimidating, fearless, and completely willing to defend its owner, but also able to follow commands and obedient. Originally, the Doberman fits the role as a personal defense dog and was used as a police dog and dog of war, but more work had to be done to have it fall into the role of a companion dog. Over the years, breeders have been able to tone down the aggressive traits in the Doberman so today, they are better known for being highly trainable, good tempered, extremely loyal, and highly intelligent. These traits have made the Doberman a more desirable house dog, along with its short coat and intelligence. The Doberman Pinscher is an obedient, watchful, energetic, and fearless dog when trained appropriately.
Because the Doberman easily learns to “Respect and Protect” their owners, they are considered excellent guard dogs. They are typically social with humans and other dogs they are familiar with, and will protect them, but can be aggressive towards those they are unfamiliar with. It is very rare that Doberman Pinschers show aggression towards their owners.
Due to breeding strategies used by American breeders, Doberman’s in North America tend to have a calmer temperament than their European counterparts. Because of this, different breeding lines of Doberman’s tend to exhibit different traits. Even though many Doberman’s in North American are relatively gentle and friendly towards strangers, some lines are still bred to follow the more aggressive traits from the original standard.
The aggressive personality stereotype is a lot less true today than it was in the past, but the Doberman Pincher’s personality is still quite unique. There have been numerous scientific studies showing that the Doberman have many stable psychological traits, along with certain personality factors and intelligence. Studies began in 1965 showing that Dobermans have many traits that can be predicted based on genetics. Since then, those studies of genetics have moved over to trying to predict behavior and personality traits in humans as well. The studies will typically focus on one trait at a time. One of the studies showed that Dobermans, in comparison to other breeds, rank high in playfulness, low on aggressiveness, and low on sociability. Another showed that they rank low on re-activity yet high on aggression and train-ability.