I’ll be honest with you, I did not know too much about the illustrious background of the Doberman species before I associated myself with it. As a youngster, I wasn’t fond of them at all; in fact, I was quite scared of them, along with the other dog breeds, such as German Shepherds and Bull Terriers who I always believed were vicious and dangerous. And the faster that I ran from them, the faster they seemed to run after me and the louder they seemed to bark. It is no laughing matter being ignorant. Having ditched all of that, today I simply love all dogs, and other animals, I adore the handsome and attractive looking ones, such as the Dobermans, and often regard them as my children even though in reality they really are not.
If you really want an authoritative historical account on the Doberman you can look up German researcher and writer, Philip Greunig’s The Dobermann Pinscher. According to Wikipedia, this pre-World War Two book is considered to be the ‘foremost study of the development of the breed’ by one successor to the legendary Karl Dobermann who is credited with beginning the line of Dobermans as we know and recognise them today. Dobermann first bred his dogs in the German town of Apolda. It was just after another major war, the Franco-Prussian War.
Dobermann’s aim was to create a breed that could protect him while working in his (at the time) dangerous role as a tax collector. His work at the time took him to many dangerous areas where armed thieves could attack him. Dobermann was looking to create the perfect dog breed. This would be a combination of ‘strength, speed, endurance, loyalty’ and intelligence. The writer, Philip Greunig, later collaborated with Otto Goeller to further develop the breed. On first reading about the early history of Dobermans, I was rather surprised.
I learned that Doberman Pinschers were bred from strains of the German Pinscher and the Rottweiler. Now, this would seem quite logical in the sense that you can recognise several physical similarities. However, my surprise emanates from the fact that the German pioneers used the famous German Shepherd, Greyhound and Manchester Terrier as part of their breeding exercises. There is universal agreement that the German Shepherd (also known as the Alsatian) was the largest contributor to the early Doberman’s gene pools.
What is not known, still to this day, are the exact apportionments of mixing. Greunig’s early book annotates the development of the Doberman breed primarily by Goeller. The foremost American authority on dogs, the American Kennel Club, also believes that cross-breeding included other species such as the Black and Tan Terriers. Just a few years after he pioneered the Doberman breed, Dobermann died. Germans named this new dog after its creator, namely the Dobermann-pinscher. Ah, so now we learn new things. Remember my early enquiry into whether there was a subtle difference between the names?
Remember me querying whether there was a difference between the names Doberman and Doberman Pinscher? Well, as it turns out in this historical case, German authorities decided to drop pinscher from its original naming, arguing that, as the dog was bred to become a unique species, the application of pinscher was no longer appropriate. And, further, pinscher is the German translation of terrier, as in fox terrier, and Bull Terrier, and so forth. In an earlier post, I also mentioned the Doberman’s legendary status in history. The US Marine Corps adopted the Doberman, and no other dog, to serve it and its country during the Second World War. Now, this is confusing. The military authorities named the Doberman as its official war dog but did not actively use the dog thus.
It was left to another brave German to revive the species after it nearly became extinct just after the war ended. He literally hunted country German farms to find characteristic Pinschers that he could use to begin the breeding process all over again, just as the dogs’ forefather, Dobermann, had done in the beginning. By that time, the so-called iron curtain had divided Germany into East and West, and the brave Werner Jung had to criss-cross the border illegally to smuggle his dogs over. It is recognised today that most German Pinschers are direct descendants of these originally smuggled dogs.
And while reading all of this for the first time, I had to wonder what had happened to the Dobermans, just over twenty of them have died in service, that the US Military had taken as their own. Were there no new initiatives to reignite the species in North America? Finally, this last bit of information is a little hard to believe, given my utmost admiration for this majestic canine species. According to the American Kennel Club, the Doberman was ranked as the twelfth most popular dog in America just a couple of years ago. What could be America’s most popular dog then? Surely not Snoopy the beagle? But in all seriousness, the Doberman is indeed revered among dog lovers across the world.