I bet you found this article because you either are interested in figuring out whether adopting a Doberman is right for you, or you were curious as to what our journey was like. I’m guessing the former.
We are former dog owners, Wil and Janet, who started out in our marriage 17 years ago with my then 11 year old black Labrador Retriever, CJ. She lived to be 12 before passing on.
We waited one year before adopting a Weimaraner, Cosmo, who was 4 at the time. He was filled with social anxiety and anxiety in general. He was a very sweet dog and he’s since passed on four years now.
How to decide if adopting a doberman is the right choice of breed for you
If you’ve ever considered adopting a Doberman, you might have gotten some looks from people when you mention the breed you're interested in. Dobermans require lots of training, are very friendly, but also very active working dogs. If you consider adopting a doberman, you should have plenty of time to be outdoors socializing, engaging in activities like running, lots of walking, or hiking. They are in the working class and really enjoy working. They are also known as ‘velcro” dogs, which means they really enjoy their people and want to be with them as much as possible. Being outdoors alone is not a good situation for the Doberman.
What Our Dog Breed Selection Process Looks Like: The 12 Steps to Choosing a Doberman
We began our search once all our travel, and family activities had calmed down so that in the event we needed to visit a dog, or potentially bring one home, we were ready. Now, Wil and I are very much dog people - if you have a cute dog (sorry we’re not real toy dog fans 😉 we’ll stop, say hello and get our dog fill for that moment.
Looking through Petfinder.com - all the breeds we've had, and some we haven't had
We started like many people ready to adopt - we jumped online went to Petfinder.com and looked for medium to large size dogs within a 100 mile radius. If you’ve done this, you likely found hundreds of dogs. Some from shelters, some from animal rescues, others being fostered.
The filter we used for age was set to “young dog” and “adult dog’ which meant that we’re looking for a relatively young dog, less than 2 years old, but older than 9 months. Well, we aren’t the only ones looking at that age range - there’s lots but they mostly, fortunately, get adopted much faster.
We looked at Labradors, some mixed, Weimaraners of course, and had to rule out boxers because Wil doesn’t fancy their noses too much. Though, I’ve always had a soft spot for that breed.
We inquired about one dog, a Weim, but found out he was already adopted!
The Decision to Adopt a Bonded Pair, or a Single, then a Second Dog Later
Having two dogs is something we absolutely want. The decision to adopt a bonded pair right off the bat was one we did consider. So we’ve heard they are difficult to find a forever home, unless they are young, adorable and have no issues - then they’re finding homes.
So because we’re not looking for a puppy, and we aren’t rushing off to a breeder, we’re looking to adopt a rescue, who may need us to take whatever time they need to adjust to us and our home. That’s when we came to the decision to adopt one at a time. We’ve read and heard from a rescue the general rule is to adopt one, then after six months, you can start to look into adopting another. That’s a more comfortable route for us. We’d like to get the one dog all settled in first, and for us to have our routine and schedules down before we bring in another.
What Characteristics We Looked for In a Breed
Funny enough, Wil and I didn’t actually talk about the kind of dog we wanted.
What we'd done, was sort of in a vacuum. We’d search online and share our results with one another. I was surprised by his somewhat negative comments about my choices. Then we decided that we’ve had a Labrador, and a Weimaraner, so maybe we’d like something a little different.
Why Adopt a Doberman?
Wil mentioned he’d always wanted to have a doberman. They are characteristically very friendly, loyal and extremely smart. I like them for all those reasons, but also for the short hair they have. I’m not a huge fan of lots of dog hair all over the place. Big hairy golden retrievers are adorable but they grow up and have lots of hair that sheds all over the place.
We are both very active, and enjoy hiking, running, playing outside. A working dog would be the right fit for us. We then began to do more research on the doberman and found they are really an interesting breed
Is the Doberman A Good Family Dog?
After having done much research on this breed, and as someone who is very interested in a dog who does get along well with all members of a family, this has been something I've been very interested in.
Yes, they are very much a family dog. I’d say, the fact that they are so loyal and attached to their people, makes them a great family dog. They, like many breeds, do require some good, regular obedience training.
We’ve interviewed a recent president of the Doberman Assistance Rescue & Education located in Maryland, who said the doberman is a really great family dog. They are great with kids and even have a special sense with their people. I recalled a story where an owner who had a doberman and would notice he’d nudge his nose into the owners stomach, then look up at their owner, and nudge again.
Well, after some testing, the owner had some serious stomach cancer and the dog was highly sensitive to the fact that his owner was not well.
Finding a Local Dog Rescue and Make Sure It's Legit
So now that we’re interested in adopting a Doberman. We were ready to find a good rescue. We’ve heard nightmare stories of some rescues that just should be reported to the humane society. We wanted to interview the rescue as much as they wanted to know about us.
Finding a “legit” dog rescue isn’t something obvious. The best way to find a rescue that will absolutely make sure they place the dog into a good and stable home is to do your research. A general Google search for “name of breed + rescue” is one way. If they happen to have Google reviews, read them all. Not just the four star reviews.
Look at all those that serve your local area and review their adoption requirements.
Here’s a few others that may seem obvious but shouldn’t be overlooked:
- Make sure there’s a foster or time after transport and before adoption period for the dog. Just picking the dog up, taking his picture and posting dog for adoption without any health check or behavior analysis is a red flag and that animal rescue should be avoided.
- They do not take dogs back. If you adopt a dog, then for whatever reason you need to return the dog they should take them back and work on rehoming him properly.
- Adopts out dogs that are not spayed or neutered, no vaccinations or missing medical history. You should have all that checked off.
- Doesn’t offer full view into dog’s vaccinations
- Rushing adoptions - this should never be rushed. This is a big decision, and each adoption should feel as though every step is being carefully considered, which in turn helps you carefully consider the adoption. Their goal as a rescue should be to avoid a rehome situation.
- Has no resources to actually help you and your newly adopted dog get off on the right foot. If some have a required dog obedience training, they should have a few obedience training resources to offer you in your area.
Filling out And Submitting The Dog Rescue Application
So now we decide this breed fits all our requirements - they’re an active breed, we work from home 100% of the time, so we’ll facilitate good structure and training. And after having had a Weimaraner, we know how important it is to lead the pack and provide direction and that they train very easily because they are very smart.
Filling out the application, is not too dissimilar from many other rescue applications. You’re asked to provide your history as a previous dog owner, the last veterinarian you used, along with a few personal references. I found this to be pretty seamless and simple enough.
We are told that we’d be called to schedule our home visit within a few days of submitting our application.
Our Rescue Home Visit and Interview Process
Now the home visit. We scheduled this for a Friday afternoon - the rescue representative came on time and we sat down in our kitchen to talk. We discussed the breed, our reasons including our interest in the breed and our home situation. As he was able to see, we had plenty of room on our property to go out and play. We just moved in a few months ago, so we don’t yet have a physical fenced in yard, but because we’d like two dogs one day, we’ll absolutely look into that at some point.
For now, though, we don’t have a fence or plans for getting one this year. That meant, according to this rescue, that we could not adopt a dog under 1 year of age.
The entire home visit lasted about 1.5 hours. We asked and answered a lot of questions. We could tell during the interview that our answers were what the rescue was looking for in a good dog owner. Of course this didn’t surprise us too much. Not only have we previously owned dogs, but our last one was particularly difficult to manage.
We have a “dog proof” home, which, according to the rescue simply means we don’t have lots of crapola chachkas all over the house.
This was pretty straightforward and now we’re told our information will be submitted to the board of the rescue and they would inform us as to whether we’re approved to adopt.
The Rescue Dog Approval and The Search
In less than two weeks, we were informed through email that we were in fact approved to adopt from their rescue. We were not surprised, but still very happy to get the chance to ask about the dogs they have listed on the website.
Being approved to adopt dogs over 12 months is how our approval was based. Should we adopt the senior or should we remain patient and adopt a one year old? When you’re ready, you’re ready and waiting after waiting four years to be dog owners again takes a lot of patience.
Every Thursday they have a newsletter that goes out to those approved to adopt with a list of new dogs that is shared first before listing them on the website. The first Thursday came, and there was the same few less than one year olds that we’d seen and were interested in - so no change there unfortunately. Next on their list was a non rescue female available. There weren’t any flags in the description, the dog was over a year old, so we were cleared there. We decided to inquire about the dog.
Well after a few emails back and forth, we were connected with the person fostering the dog to discuss her situation and learned that she unfortunately had a really horrible first family situation. She had what was called “resource guarding” which is as the name implies - she has an aggressive or difficult attachment to her people. This type of guarding can be trained away, and we were told this, and I have no doubt in my mind a good trainer will help her and she’ll likely recover from this, but this isn’t something we’re at all prepared to deal with.
After having a dog who had mad anxiety issues, was destructive to our home, and who was regularly a target of other dogs while out on a walk with him - we are really just looking for a “normal” dog who has a relatively easy going personality who just needs a solid home and lots of love.
So…. we wait some more. In the meantime we talk very briefly about the possibility of getting an invisible fence, which is less costly than getting a physical fence. So, why are we having this conversation?
Should We Buy an Invisible Fence or a Physical Fence?
The cost of a physical fence depends mostly on the kind of fence you get, the materials involved, the area you plan to cover, etc. We asked our neighbors what their really nice looking fence cost them. It probably covers about a half acre, with some really good quality wood. Their cost was $10,000. Right now, that’s not an expensive we’re willing to take on.
Invisible fences have many pros and cons. What I do like about them, is they are a great lower cost effective method for keeping your dogs on the property, playing catch without worrying they’ll decide to run off. The negatives though, do seem to outweigh the positives.
We had an invisible fence about 16 years ago when we had our Labrador Retriever. She ran through the fence and dealt with the little ping she’d get anytime a deer, other dog or cat walked by the driveway. The other issue with this is the fact that any dog, cat, wild turkey, deer, you name it can walk right into your invisible fenced in area.
So after a bit of deliberation, we’ve decided a physical fence would be the ideal solution once we have at least one dog, but more likely two dogs in our home.
The Reaction We Get When We Tell Our Friends & Family About the Breed We're Interested In
Our family and friends know we’re well within the active process of looking for a dog or two to adopt. They often ask what kind of dog are you looking for? When we tell them a doberman, we’re met with a mix of reactions, mostly a look of interest, or we’ll get “oh, ok, aha so why…?”
Including my own father, who has some horror story from the 70s about one dog that had a particularly insane situation. Now, every doberman will attack their owners he’s convinced. Oh boy….
Yes, the Dobie does get a bad wrap, much like the Pit Bull or Rottweiler. What many, who aren’t educated in the breed, temperament, history of that particular dog, should realize every dog is different. There are Labradors who had to endure horrific abusive situations who have bitten people they know, become possessive, or have aggressive behavior. That’s not normal in that breed, but it's also not normal in the doberman either. If the dog is abused, and the dog is not ever trained, you’ll get a precarious situation that may prove to be untenable and require some heavy duty dog behavioral therapy.
Let me know if you’ve ever considered adopting a doberman or not. Why or why not?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the meantime, I’ll be updating you on our next steps in this process. We hope to have some news that I don’t yet want to share with you in the next week or so.