Doberman vs German Shepherd – Know the Differences

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Dogs

Dobermans and German Shepherds are both from Germany. They are strong and smart and can be intimidating — but Dobermans with floppy ears don’t look as threatening. It’s the ear cropping and large size that gives them a tough appearance.

They are a little different in temperament and, of course, in appearance. The two dogs are very trainable, but the Dobie has to agree to the training before participating in it. Dobies follow their people around more. German shepherds can be better with other pets because they have a less strong prey drive.

Let’s see what else these cuties have in common and what the key differences between them are.

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Comparison

Doberman 

Size/Height24 to 28 inches
Weight60 to 100 pounds
Coat/Hair TypeSmooth, short coat
ColorsBlack and rust, blue and rust, red and rust, white, fawn and rust
TemperamentFearless, alert, protective, loyal
Life Expectancy10 to 12 years
TrainabilityHigh
Energy LevelsHigh
AdaptabilityHigh

Doberman Pinschers’s traits include being affectionate, alert, muscular, gentle, protective, playful, friendly, fearless, athletic, loyal, good with children, and needing mental stimulation.

Tax collector Louis Dobermann (the breed lost the second “n” somewhere along the way) developed a strong and imposing dog breed to accompany him when he went door to door to collect money. He crossed Black and Tan terriers and German Pinschers with Rottweilers.

The Doberman Pinscher breed, a large dog, became known as a great working dog and has been employed in the military and the police, as therapy animals and service dogs, in search and rescue, excels in dog sports, and makes a wonderful guard dog. Some enjoy helping with chickens in the yard or on a farm.

German shepherd 

Size/Height22 to 26 inches
Weight75 to 90 pounds
Coat/Hair TypeDouble coat with medium length
ColorsSolid black or blue, or bicolor with black and a variety of colors, including tan, red, silver, and the rare white German shepherd.
TemperamentTheir characteristics are being highly intelligent, loyal, courageous, confident, highly active, athletic, a good guard dog, aloof with family, full of energy, and will do anything to protect their family.
Life Expectancy10 to 14 years
TrainabilityHigh
Energy LevelsHigh
AdaptabilityHigh

German Shepherds are courageous, affectionate, athletic, intelligent, confident, protective, very trainable, playful, muscular, good with children, wary of strangers, and need mental stimulation. They make excellent guard dogs and love barking.

The German shepherd breed was developed as a herding dog. At the time, different areas of Germany had their own types of shepherd dogs.

At the end of the 1800s, a German cavalry officer named Captain Max von Stephanitz and some other breeders crossed northern and central district herding dogs and bred the ancestor of our modern German shepherd. The German shepherd became popular in the US in the early 1900s with Rin-Tin-Tin and another dog movie star named Strongheart.

When modern livestock practices left German shepherds unemployed, von Stephanitz successfully marketed the German shepherd for military and law enforcement.

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Similarities

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Similarities

Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd breeds were bred as guard dogs (and the German Shepherd herded) and are known for their protectiveness.

Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are loyal, brave, affectionate, energetic, good with kids, and highly intelligent breeds that need proper training and socialization to prevent aggressive behavior and chasing prey.

They are both large dogs that love their people, make nice pets and need enough exercise to be calm and well-behaved in the house. Each is known for their trainability, although Dobes need to assess the trainer before complying with any requests.

They are great military and police dog breeds, therapy and service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and guard dogs.

They are also powerful dogs, so novice dog owners may not be able to handle all the necessary training and establish dominance over them. They need to be socialized properly.

Difference Between Doberman vs. German Shepherd

german shepherd or doberman

As far as appearance, the Doberman breed is a little bigger, and the German shepherd is less slim (or is it just fur?). German shepherd ears are naturally erect, and Doberman pinschers have drop ears that are cropped to make them stand up.

Cropping is painful and unnecessary, and some dogs are escaping that fate as people realize it isn’t humane.

The German shepherd has a double coat/undercoat that keeps them warm in cold weather. Keep your brush handy because they need quite a bit of grooming. Fluff = shed = work. Conversely, Dobermans can’t be outside for long periods of time without getting cold because of their short coat.

Difference Between Doberman vs. German Shepherd

Personality differences include that the Doberman doesn’t bark as much as the German shepherd. Dobermans are independent and maybe a little more difficult to train.

Dobermans are a little more aggressive prey-wise, so they may want to chase cats and smaller pets. The Doberman follows their people around more than the German Shepherd. They always want attention and company.

Some owners claim that the Shepherd is more mischievous than the Doberman. They are also more wary of strangers and love barking. They bark when bored, and they bark to alert their family.

Doberman v German Shepherd Health Problems

A reputable breeder is careful to cross healthy dogs and not pass on any health issues.

are dobermans good protection dogs

The Doberman can suffer from these problems:

  • Von Willebrand Disease, which is a genetic blood disorder.
  • Hip dysplasia, a genetic disease causing the hip joint to fit together abnormally.
  • Hypothyroidism/slow metabolism
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus or bloat in which the stomach fills with food or gas and causes expansion and pressure.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is heart muscle degeneration, causing the muscle of the left ventricle to get very thin and pump weakly.  
health problem in german shepherd

The German shepherd is susceptible to:

  • Perianal Fistula, or Anal Furunculosis, which is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease that is marked by tunnel-like formations in a dog’s skin around the anal area.
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia, a genetic disease causing the hip or elbow joint to fit together abnormally.
  • Cauda equina syndrome, in which nerve roots in the lumbar spine are compressed and cut off sensation and movement.
  • Degenerative myelopathy, a disease affecting the spinal cord
  • Lumbosacral syndrome/disease is degeneration of the lumbosacral junction in the spine and/or compression of the nerves associated with it.

Doberman vs. German Shepherd as a Pet

is doberman a good guard dog

Choosing the best breed for you is a very subjective decision. Here are some factors that make each breed a perfect fit for a home:

The Doberman Pinscher likes a lot of attention. They can be velcro dogs because they love their humans and want to be with them constantly. They need lots of exercise, so they do well in families where they aren’t alone a lot and families that can devote time to play with them, walk them, etc.

German Shepherds (GSD) also thrive in active family households. Well-socialized and trained German shepherds enjoy playing with other dogs, cats, and kids. They are always near the top of the most popular dog breeds list because they are nice family dogs and are gorgeously fluffy.

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Training

A Dobes or GSD puppy needs training because they will become big and strong and need to resist their instinct to chase other animals. The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a guide on how to train these adorable beasts as they progress through their puppyhood.

doberman shepherd

Dobes training focuses on socialization from 8-16 weeks, house training, work on recall and attention, stopping puppy biting, and continuing to build on basic obedience training, and at 6-12 months, they suggest impulse control and dog sports.

The GSD is easier to train because they are less stubborn. Their schedule is 8-16 weeks of socialization, crate training, house training, beginning obedience training between 3 and 9 months, recall, impulse control, and following up. They are very motivated by praise and play. That’s why they are great in law enforcement.

One Dobe owner said that her dog seems to consider whether whoever is giving the dog commands is worth listening to and how serious the person is. Talk about testing limits.

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Reputation

full grown german shepherd doberman mix

People who aren’t very familiar with Dobes think that they exhibit aggression. Some also believe that GSDs are prone to aggression. That’s why they need training.

A large and strong dog that has been used as a guard dog must be under control and on their best behavior. They both have a nice temperament and just need guidance. They are pack animals that can’t be the alpha of the family.

Dogs are a product of their environment, so their humans are responsible for helping them be well behaved. These breeds are blessed with intelligence, and the environment that you create for them makes the difference between a well-trained and social canine and a not-so-well-behaved dog.

FAQs

Why Do Police Opt for German Shepherds Over Dobermans?

The German shepherd has a double coat so they can perform their jobs when it’s cold. They are also great workers who collaborate well with humans. The German shepherd has more control over their prey drive. However, Doberman Pinschers are actually police dogs in other countries.

Are Dobermans Stronger Than German Shepherds?

The average bite force of a German shepherd is around 238 pounds per square inch (PSI), and the average bite force of a Doberman is around 229 PSI.

Do Dobermans or German Shepherds Need More Exercise?

Sources have different opinions on this issue. Most agree that both dogs are very energetic and need an hour or two of exercise each day. Most other dogs need a certain amount of exercise before they can quietly relax with their family.

Who Would Win in a Fight: Doberman or Rottweiler?

Determining whether a Doberman or Rottweiler is stronger isn’t straightforward. While the Rottweiler boasts greater body strength, the Doberman surprisingly excels in puncture damage and bite strength. This difference is attributed to the leverage provided by the Doberman’s longer jaw.

Wrap Up

Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are energetic, nice family members, protective by nature, impressive guard dogs, and hard workers. Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are on the smartest dog breeds list. They also rank high on the toughest and strongest dog breeds list.

To choose the right breed for you, consider if you have enough time to give them exercise, if you want a velcro dog (Doberman) breed, if someone can be at home– the Doberman doesn’t like being alone for long periods and wants a lot of attention, and German shepherds seem to be able to control their prey drive better if you have other animals.

With proper training, and if they are properly socialized, each of these smart pooches is a pet with a great temperament and a wonderful guard dog. The best way to choose one over the other is by determining which fits best into your lifestyle.

Both the Dobe and the GSD dog do well with a family with an active lifestyle. You could get both, and they’ll keep each other company when you go out.

Check Petfinder and Doberman and/or German Shepherd rescue groups if you want to give a home to a dog waiting for one.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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