Would we make a better home for a Rottweiler or a Doberman?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Member Since
Barked: Thu Jul 19, '12 6:06pm PST 
First, Hi. I've read, at this point, over 2000 posts here.

Second, I would very much like help with our choice of breed. We're most likely getting a puppy from a breeder (not yet chosen - there are so many to sift through!). Yes, we're prepared to wait for months/years, which is why it would be great to pick a breeder sooner rather than later. smile

The following is all the information I think you'll need, but if you have any questions, I will answer as best as I can. If anyone who has owned or experienced both a Rottweiler and Doberman could chime in to explain their differences to me, that would be fantastic. Or maybe, Tiller, who seems to be magic here, could do the topic justice. I haven't yet found a post on the subject.

Kid safe (I know this is socialization, but some breeds are more naturally inclined than others)
Cat safe (controllable prey drive – *our* cat(s) are sacred, disinterest would be nice for everyone else's)
< 2 hours of exercise per day

SSA, DA – it'd of course be nice if the dog was tolerant...
Grooming – a blown coat twice a year is okay; weekly or biweekly trips to the groomers are not
Size - closest to medium is preferred

We're relatively small in stature and weight – both < 5'5", 130 lbs.
Handler soft preferred – SO is not nearly as good at enforcing boundaries as I am. SO is learning.

What I am looking for in a dog:
Aloof with strangers
Discerning – low reactivity, steady nerves, a studier
Protective – will back it up
Highly trainable
Enjoys play
Relaxed dog indoors

I view dogs first as having a purpose: protection, next as a source of fun: play. They are to be well-mannered and under control at all times – it may take a full 4 years to get them there (and the rest of their life to keep them there), but fun is never at the expense of self-control. Fun comes out of impulse control. I can give them the world if I can trust them.

What my SO is looking for in dog:
Affectionate – cuddly, adores owners
Isn't scary (No really. I had SO meet some Dobermans to prove that they are "nice." She likes them now. smile )

My SO views dogs as cuddles, affection, and general fuzziness. Dogs are trained so they are livable, but no high precision is necessary, because SO has no high demands. She has only experienced mutts from the shelter that were saved because they looked sad or wouldn't otherwise be adopted.

Current living situation:
Own a townhome with small yard (under 300 square feet)
Lots of open green spaces within walking distance
One 12-year-old cat
SO works full-time, outside of the home
I work (primarily) from home, but could go back to full-time, outside at some point
We typically do our exercising indoors
There are a lot of great places to walk near us, but we are disinclined to walk about after dark without a dissuasive presence accompanying us.
No children yet; no immediate plans

What we're reasonably prepared to do:
We are prepared for a 30-minute walk in the morning, possibly play. We are prepared for 45-minute play, walk, and interaction for the dog's sake at night, not including any interacting/exercising that are just a part of life together. To be honest, if the dog loves to play, they will most likely get more than 45 minutes at night. My love of play cannot be understated. We still want the flexibility, however, that if one or two days of walking/etc are missed occasionally (talking biweekly/monthly basis), we do not have hell to pay. That's not fair to the dog.

I would like to do Mondio/PPD-type activities with the dog, but I'm not going to commit to that. Achieving that level of trust/relationship/control with the dog seems awesome, joining a club/competing does not.

The dogs we're considering:
We have considered a Beauceron and pit-type mutt from the shelter. I excluded the Beauceron after hearing that the dog needs to be run on a treadmill (every day, for hours) if not worked in sport to be manageable. We cannot make that commitment. The energy needs, temperament, and prey-drive of a pit-type dog are also not a great match. We have been told that they will run for hours and that most "have never met a stranger."

So now I think it's between a Doberman and a Rottweiler.
Rotts are large, have health issues, and can be incredibly stubborn/dominant. They also have lower energy needs than a Dobie. Dobies are slightly smaller, but have health issues and higher energy needs. I'm also not entirely convinced that they are any less dominant than a Rott.

I have Rottweiler experience from growing up. I now see where our family went wrong in his socialization/training process. I also know that having no legal responsibility for him is very different from raising him myself. I am prepared for that. I know how dominant/stubborn they can be. I'll be honest, I don't know (yet) how I would problem solve every issue, but I'm not sure how to do that with a 15-lb. dog, either. It'd be something I asked about *before* getting a puppy. I have no experience with the other breeds we're considering beyond the occasional out-of-control-because-it's-not-exercised-enough pit-mix. I have always admired Dobermans. For reference, I consider beyond my abilites: BRT, KBT, GS/SS, Malinois...

Edited by author Thu Jul 19, '12 6:08pm PST


Spooky Mulder
Barked: Thu Jul 19, '12 8:02pm PST 
I think what you need to keep in mind, is that a lot of the things you read about any of these breeds are generalizations. Nothing is cookie-cutter, no two dogs are the same, and just because most fall into a certain category, does not mean that ALL do or finding something specific isn't possible.

That said, I'll give my opinion just based on my impression from your post. You will most likely be happier with a Rottweiler wan a Dobie.

Just a few things off the top, GENERALLY speaking a better kid dog. Rotts have huge hearts, and most are absolute lushes with their families. Dobies are too, but they express it in a different way. While the Dobie is a more refined, gentlemanly dog who works within his own set of rules (so to speak), the Rott is more of an open heart, willing to be goofy and willing to get down and dirty (in a playful sense, of course) with his loved ones. Rottweilers have no shame... they are happy to partake in shenanigans with you. A Doberman is more apt to be embarrassed of your antics laugh out loud

Rottweiler is a more forgiving dog. Dobermans can take things personally, can be sharp and very sensitive, and will tolerate mistakes less readily than the Rottweiler (though the Doberman remains more forgiving than many of the other breeds you've mentioned, Beaucerons, BRTs, etc).

You will have a much easier time finding a club to work your Rottweiler, than you will your Doberman. Rotties, while not as common as GSDs or Mals, still have fair representation in the working circles. Dobermans less so, and it will be harder to find someone who truly understands your dog and works them properly if you go with this breed. And that's very important, as the Doberman is NOT a breed who should suffer poor training when it comes to bitesports... again, they are less forgiving, sharper, and a poorly started Doberman has more potential to become screwy than a poorly started Rott.

Plus, even if you go with a high bred show Rottweiler, you will still have a willing and ready worker, who is certainly still capable of bitework and protection despite his "bench" status. NOT as easy to do with a Doberman, and truly exceptional working lines on this side of the world are not common. I tell you this from experience- I've looked, and only one did I find that I would truly feel confident purchasing a puppy from (sadly, they are no longer producing).

Neither breed is really healthier than the other, though in the Rott's defense, his problems tend to crop up somewhat later in life and are usually not as seemingly out of the blue as the Doberman's. Its less common to lose a dog suddenly, such as from sudden heart failure, with a Rott. You are more likely to deal with cancers and other progressive diseases.

Just some things to think about.

oops theres a- wall there!
Barked: Thu Jul 19, '12 8:39pm PST 
The people that I know who have Dobbies, their's are NOT good with cats at all. I'm not sure if the dogs had any training, but they were/are very good gaurd dogs. These people also had kids, I believe 4? Through the ages of 5-9. The Male dobbie was good with the kids and the female had her moments. If you did something that she did not like she would let you know. For instance one of the older kids "puffed" air at her and she snapped at the kid. Like I said, don't know if they had any training. (prob not)


Loving life
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 2:42am PST 
i am also thinking a rottie would be a better fit for your situation. While I love dobes and the first dog I ever trained was a dobe I have not ever heard of one being great with cats.
As long as your cat doesn't run and is willing to stand its ground against the rottie, it should be fine. When I brought Valentine home I was worried because she was an adult rottie mix who had never seen a cat and I had 4 cats at the time. She came in, ran up to my oldest cat, Sassy, and he smacked her across the face...she yelped and ran back to hide behind me. Valentine never went near the cats again, she was such a baby!

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 6:51am PST 
In my defense it has been 30 years since I was around them but my mother raised Dobes when I was young. Ours came from what were then considered some of the top lines in the country,we had,small dogs,cats,and children around the house including infants/toddlers and never had a problem with the exception of some SSA but in less than half of our regular kennel stock.
I have however heard since that the breed has taken a drastic change.
Ours also at that time had far fewer health problems than Rotties unless you got into the fawn or blue colors. I would love to know what caused such a drastic change in the breed because ours were amazing,it is sad that it seems they are not the same breed now that they once were. Given what I knew from growing up with them I would have said Dobie easily but due to what I have since heard of the change in the breed the rottie seems like a better choice provided it comes from a good/reputable breeder and you are able to be as firm and consistent as you both need to be.
Angel Lou

Everybody wants- to be a...DOG!- not a CAT
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 8:09am PST 
I agree with Mika and Kai, growing up I knew of some lovely Dobermans that had no problem being around children and dealing with typical child like behavior. Since then however have heard there have been changes in the breed. Making a Rottie more suitable for you and your SO.

However, if you are still considering other breeds and are willing to go a bit bigger size a properly raised and socialize English or Alpine(St.Bernard) Mastiff may fit your criteria as well. Both have been know, again properly socialized ones, to be phenomenal around children. Both are lushes for their family. While they my have a different view on guarding techniques. Such as rather rushing into a attack mode, they may try to block you with their bodies from the predator.Still non the less would defend if need be defended. They are lower exercise requirements, and would fit you're exercise bill a bit more I'd think personally. As I said if you're willing to accommodate, you may want to check them out.

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 8:18am PST 
If you are located in and possibly purchasing in the US, Rottie hands down. For all the reasons Mulder stated.

Dobies in the US are in a very rough state at the moment. Particularly if you want a working dog.

You've mentioned play repeatedly in your post. That is something I use often in training and downtime; I can tell you that the average Rott is MUCH more willing to happily go down that path right along with you. A working Dobie, not so much.

A Rottie is an easier dog to train on your own with some guidance for family protection. They are natural guarders, and easily perceive their inner circle as their responsibility, some are capable of exceptional discernment. They're better able than the Dobie to switch easily between the role of fun and goofy family companion to that of serious guardian.

I've experienced a wide range from very well-bred Rotts, to scruffy hard luck rescues. All were honestly stable, great all-around companion and guardian dogs with average exercise needs for a large breed and basic consistant OB training. You have to work hard to screw them up, a big plus for a young family or novice.

Member Since
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 1:37pm PST 
Thank you Mulder and everyone!

Interesting, Zoey. Like other posters mentioned, the few Dobies I've encountered have been absolutely brilliant with children. I was ready to bite a child *for* a Doberman in one case. wink I also know for a fact that the Dobermans in question were very highly trained, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

Our cat only runs from dogs when they bark at passersby. For the most part he stands his ground, swatting and hissing when he's had enough sniffing or pawing. He can be quite grumpy.

Mulder, it's interesting that it'd be easier to find a club for a Rott. I have heard that most club trainers don't know how to get the most from Dobermans, but I had also heard that some decoys didn't relish working with Rotts because they bite too hard. shrug Also that there would be some breed snobbery because they aren't a Mal or a GSD. (Maybe people are just making excuses why their dog didn't do well?)

Angel Lou, I had been entertaining a Mastiff of some kind (maybe the Bullmastiff), but I think both of the ones you mentioned drool too much. Are there any Mastiffs that don't? What's more, I wasn't pleased to learn that they just tear ACLs right and left. There's also the issue of our car. Big enough for either a Doberman or a Rottweiler (pushing it), but for a dog any larger we'd have to buy a new vehicle. I want to, but it's just not on the radar right now. That said, I'm not opposed to exploring other breeds if they're a better fit for us.

It is sad to hear that Dobermans have changed so much here. This makes me wonder why Rottweilers haven't been ruined to the same degree... Good to hear they have mostly been spared, but why?

Lucille, it's good to know that my experience with our Rott wasn't just a fluke. They are patient/forgiving dogs. Not something I want to test, but it takes some pressure off just the same.

So does a working Rott have a sense of humor and joy of family, or should I be looking at show lines that have some OB/Agility but no real bitework?
Katana - (fallen not- forgotten)

Katana's the- name and- pleasin's the- game
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 2:16pm PST 
I have to speak up about Dobies and being good with cats. My hubby and I have a 5 year old male dobe who was trained to hate and kill cats. I retrained him to where now cats dont even bother him. I have had him out for walks and had a stray cat walk up toward him and I just remind him to "leave it" and he walks on with not so much as a sniff. He is always willing to romp and play with us. But thanks to his former owner he doesnt have a great recall but we are trying to fix that problem. He has done good with it but there are still times that he can forget. Dobes tend to bond with one member of their family more so than another. But with A LOT of work they will listen to all members of the family and can be very protective of the one they choose to listen to. They can be very goofy and a lot of fun to play with.

The Cuddly- Hellhound
Barked: Fri Jul 20, '12 2:55pm PST 
My parents used to have Dobbies when I was an infant and they were great. This was a farm setup and they were indoor dogs. I was born after the dogs came into the house, and my sister was two years older than me. We also had my teenaged half-brother.

The dog was great with us, very protective and as for prey-drive, they knew the difference between a coyote or a bobcat (or a rattlesnake for that matter) and the animals that were off-limits or part of the family (rabbits, goats, chickens etc).

If you're getting it as a puppy, I wouldn't worry as much, once the dog learns that cats are part of the pack, at least YOURS won't be in any danger.
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