Differences Between The Doberman and The German Shepherd

doberman dog sitting on the grass

When considering what breed of dog to adopt into your family and home, it is important to take into account many factors. Everything from physicality and temperament can greatly affect how well your new pet will adapt and fit into their new surroundings. It is also important in determining whether or not they will get along with their new family. As a new owner it is helpful to know what you are getting yourself into in regards to disposition or ease of training.

For those trying to decide between a Doberman Pinscher and a German Shepherd, the following can provide some info to help make that decision a bit easier.

Physical Makeup

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a large sized dog with a height range of between 24-26inches when full grown. Their average weight range is from 75-95 lbs and they have a heavier build than the Doberman Pinscher. They have a dense medium coat that sheds rather heavily. The German Shepherd is most commonly found in black and tan but also comes in solid black or solid white.

Although they are heavy, seasonal shedders, they have relatively low maintenance needs that mostly consist of regular bathing. A German Shepherd’s average life span is 10-12 years. Their litters are usually about 4-9 pups.

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is a medium to large sized dog and has a very compact build that is both sleek and elegant. Their short, smooth, hard coat is fine and thick and they shed averagely and require minimal grooming. They are sensitive to the cold and do not do well living outside fulltime. Full grown stands slightly taller than a German Shepherd at about 26-28 inches in height.

The Doberman has a slighter build and weighs less than a German Shepherd. Average weight range is from 65-90 lbs. The average life span for Doberman Pinschers is 10-12 years. Litters are somewhat larger than those of a German Shepherd at anywhere from 3 to 13 pups.


German Shepherd

german shepherd dogGerman shepherds require plenty of exercise. They thrive with owners who are home regularly and who can involve them in plenty of walks, romps and games of fetch. They are generally though to be better with kids than a Doberman Pinscher due to a less aggressive nature.

Aggressiveness can present itself and will vary by dog, but proper training can remedy that and the German Shepherd can develop a gentle and quiet disposition when raised right.

They are a very loyal and protective breed that are out going.

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is known for having a better adaptability than a German Shepherd. This breed is very sensitive and highly responsive to their surroundings. This makes them better for apartment living than a German Shepherd as long as they get the exercise that they need. They thrive best if they have at least a medium sized back yard to romp in but they can adjust perfectly fine to smaller spaces as long as they are taken out for daily walks or games of fetch in the park.

The Doberman is a loyal and protective breed. They are known to be highly intelligent and also highly energetic.

The Doberman Pinscher temperament is not well suited to long term confinement or neglect. They are very people oriented and thrive on being included in family activities as well as good quality one on one time.

Health Issues

German Shepherd

German Shepherds have a rather lengthy list of health concerns that they are genetically prone to. Due to this it is important that their health care be maintained with regular checkups and that they are given plenty of exercise as well as a pure and healthy diet. Their greatest health issues include hip and elbow dysplasia.

Other lesser concerns are cardiomyopathy, gastric torsion, cataracts, malignant neoplasms, cauda equina. Pancreatic Insufficiency is also seen on occasion. It is recommended that a German Shepherd’s eyes, hips, elbows and blood be tested regularly as part of their healthcare maintenance.

Doberman Pinscher

doberman pinscher sitting on the floorMajor health concerns include cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects and cervical vertebral instability. They are also prone to cervical spondylitis which is also known as wobbler syndrome. This is a result of neck vertebrae fusion and spinal cord compression.

Lesser concerns can include hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, von willebrand’s disease which is directly inherited, narcolepsy, demodicosis, osteosarcoma.

Occasionally albinism is seen in this breed. Not hypoallergenic. It is recommended that cardiac and hip test be done regularly and that DNA testing be done for von willebrand’s disease.

Care needs to be taken with diet also, as the Doberman Pinscher is often prone to obesity during their middle age years.



German Shepherd

Crate training is a wonderful tool for use with the German Shepherd. However this breed, if left alone for too long can become bored and anxious and will be more prone to desctructive behaviors such as excessive barking, digging and chewing. This breed requires not only plenty of physical stimulation but also mental exercise in the form of good training.

The German Shepherd can be very suspicious of strangers but with proper and thorough socialization from a young age along with obedience training they will quickly become used to other people and dogs and respond appropriately in different situations.

Doberman Pinscher

Due to their incredible intelligence and desire to please, this breed is easy to train. One area of training that they certainly do not lack in is protection training. The Doberman breed is not for owners who are not willing to put the effort into being consistent and firm. This breed requires a leader who is willing and able to establish themselves as a natural authority.

Once included into the family, the Doberman Pinscher will need consistency and firmness from all family members. It is highly important that the owners establish themselves as alpha and learn how to properly handle a Doberman as the breed can be prone to becoming very willful and stubborn if they are able to regularly get their way. Consistency and a kind, gentle firmness are key to successfully training a Doberman Pinscher.


With Kids and Other Animals

German Shepherd

german sherpherd next to a wooden fenceWith the right guidance, training and socialization, can be great with kids. It is important to have exposure to children start as early as possible. A pup that is raised with kids can be a wonderful companion through the growing years.

It is also important that the German Shepherd be properly socialized with other animals from a very young age to ensure that they live peaceably with other pets and animals.

Doberman Pinscher

Due to their need for consistency in training from all family members, the Doberman Pinscher may not do well in a family with young children. However, given the right amount of exercise, consistent training and plenty of socialization with children, they can be a wonderful and loyal family dog.

Although the Doberman has a reputation for being a highly aggressive dog, this behavior primarily develops where there is lack of training and socialization. A pup that is thoroughly and properly socialized at a young age will not only escape skittishness but can also develop a gentle steadiness and reliability around young children and other animals.



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