Doberman vs. German Shepherd: Which Dog is Better?

doberman vs german shepherd

The Doberman is the 17th most popular dog while the GSD is the 2nd based on American Kennel Club (AKC). If you base your decision on popularity alone, GSD might be your choice. However, we have to consider other important factors aside from popularity. This article contains relevant differences between the breeds to help you decide which breed is right for you.

Doberman vs. German Shepherd Facts

Origin and History

Doberman – Dobermans and GSDs both originated in Germany but they have their unique history. Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a tax collector and a night watchman from Apolda wanted to breed a guard dog that could protect him from robbers since his jobs entail much danger. Unfortunately, there’s no written records about how he came up with the Doberman. Historians believe the Manchester Terrier, German Pinscher, and Rottweiler contributed to the Doberman breed.

German Shepherd – Max von Stephanitz, a former cavalry captain purchased a GSD and named him Horand von Grafrath, the first registered GSD of the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (GSD Club). Max focused on breeding Horand with other strong and healthy GSDs to expand the bloodline. Beowulf was the result of the breeding between Horand’s offsprings. He became the source of the current working lines GSD.

Size and Appearance

Dobermans are slightly taller and heavier than the GSDs. Male Dobermans have an average height of 26-28 inches while females are 24-26 inches. The average weight of male Dobermans ranges from 75 to 100 pounds while 60 to 90 pounds for the female. Their head is long and their ears are naturally floppy. After ear cropping, their ears become pointed. Their most common color is black and rust.

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Male GSDs usually stand from 24 to 26 inches while females stand from 22 to 24 inches. The average weight of male GSDs is from 65 to 90 pounds while for females, they usually weigh from 50 to 70 pounds. Their body is well proportioned and the ears of the adult GSDs are pointed. They come in different color variants but the most common is black and tan.


Dobermans and GSDs shed their coat whether they have short or long coat. The Doberman has shorter and simpler coat than the GSD so he sheds less. However, the frequency of shedding may also vary depending on their environment, nutrition, exercise, and health condition. For example, if a Doberman has itchy and dry skin because of poor nutrition, his coat will be thinner due to excessive hair loss. That’s why it’s important to feed them with high-quality food.

The GSD has long and thick double coat, plush coat or long haired coat so he tends to shed a lot. To manage this, brush your GSD’s coat daily. Bathe him at least once a week. It’s also good if you use a shampoo to reduce shedding. A healthy GSD will not shed as much as an unhealthy one if you make sure he exercises and eats healthy food.


The Dobermans and GSDs have similar temperament. They are intelligent and loyal. They can also be used for protection. Based on surveys, most households choose GSDs as their guard dogs because they can be menacing to intruders but loving to their family. Most people recommend having a GSD for families with children. Dobermans are very cautious of intruders and they can repress them so they work best if used by the police and military forces. With proper training, Dobermans and GSDs can be family pets or working dogs.

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Health Issues

Dobermans and GSDs have health issues they can inherit from their parents. For Dobermans, they can have hip dysplasia, heart issues, eye problems and von Willebrand’s disease. Hip dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint which can lead to difficulty in moving. Dobermans are commonly affected with Von Willebrand’s disease, a bleeding disorder caused by lack of von Willebrand factor. This protein helps in blood clot so a lack of this protein can lead to excessive bleeding.

On the other hand, GSDs can be affected with hip and elbow dysplasia, heart issues, eye problems and degenerative myelopathy, a disorder of the spinal column. GSDs are more prone to degenerative myelopathy than other dogs so the breeders need to screen their dogs for genetic diseases.

Before buying either a Doberman or a GSD, make sure you buy from a reputable breeder. Check their health certificates and other documents. Don’t buy from sellers who can’t show any certifications and clearances because they might sell sickly dogs to you. If you own one who is already affected by these diseases, work with your vet for possible treatments.

Would a mixed breed between a Doberman and a GSD a better option?

Choosing a dog boils down to your preferences.A mixed breed could be a better option if you want a dog to inherit traits from a Doberman and GSD. The problem is the parents’ genetic disease can pass on to their offspring. Buy from reputable breeders because they screen the parents for genetic diseases. 

What are the other names of the Doberman and GSD?

Some names used to refer to the Doberman are Dobermann Pinscher, Dobe, Dobie, Dobermann, and Warlock Doberman while for the German Shepherd Dog, other names include GSD, Alsatian, Deutscher Schäferhund, Schäferhund, and Berger Allemand.

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If a Doberman and a GSD are involved in a real fight, who would win?

It depends. The Doberman has a bite force of 245 pounds while the GSD has a bite force of 238 pounds. Based on their bite force, the Doberman could  win in a fight. However, the GSD has a thicker coat which can lessen the impact of the bite force. The GSD could also win if you start training him to fight at a young age.

Final Verdict: Doberman x German Shepherd

Doberman lovers will say the Dobermans are better while those people who love GSDs will say GSDs are better. The subjective answer usually depends on people’s experience with the dog. The Doberman and GSD may have similarities but they are different in their way. Their traits can also depend on external factors like their training or their handlers’ treatment. If you intend to buy one, be careful in your decision because you are about to care for another life. 

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