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Are Dobermans Smarter Than Average Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

Doberman 9 months old

Are Dobermans Smarter Than Average Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many of us have certain traits and qualities we look for in a canine companion—temperament, physical characteristics, and health needs are all important to consider. Some of us want a loving companion, while others have more utilitarian needs. If you’re looking for a breed that is among the brightest of the bunch, one that’ll appreciate your S.A.T. score from ages ago, you’ve probably considered Doberman Pinschers.

While famous for their speed and strength (it makes perfect sense that they’re so often used as police, military, and guard dogs), they’ve also earned a reputation as being smarter than the average pooch. Doberman Pinschers perform very well on objective tests that measure working and obedience intelligence. While all dogs are intelligent by nature, Dobermans are certainly graduating among the top of their class.

They also demonstrate a high ability to tap into two more subjective types of intelligence: instinctive and adaptive intelligence. Let’s look at these three types of canine intelligence, and see how Dobermans exemplify them.

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Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence describes how well a dog breed performs at being itself. All dog breeds were bred by humans over the centuries to perform and excel at different tasks: herding, hunting, tracking, guarding, or simply being a companion.

Dobermans as a breed were developed in Germany in the late 19th century by a German tax collector named Louis Dobermann, who required a highly responsive canine protector due to the nature of his job. Years of breeding between different types of dogs led to a mix of the German Pinscher, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, and both the black and tan Manchester Terrier—all of which combined to create the Doberman Pinscher.

During World War 2, Dobermans were used by the military to lead patrols, track the enemy, and guard troops at night. After the war ended, many returned home to join civilian families who came to appreciate their ability to fulfill both utilitarian and companion roles in society. They fiercely love and protect the humans in their lives, making them uniquely well-suited for living with children (with the proper training and guidance).

Working & Obedience Intelligence

Working and obedience intelligence is what we tend to associate most closely with dogs. When picturing this type of obedience, we tend to picture training rings at dog shows, and the skill and ease with which dogs can navigate various physical challenges and obey their trainer’s commands.

A canine psychologist, Stanley Coren, worked with obedience judges from both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) to come up with a list of the most intelligent dog breeds. Together, they looked at how quickly a dog could learn a new command, and how successfully a dog performed a known command on the first try. The average dog learned a new command after 25–40 repetitions—compared to Dobermans, who learned the same command after only five repetitions. That’s some serious brain power they’re flexing!

In terms of known commands, Dobermans performed them correctly on the first try 95% of the time, compared to 50% of the time for average dogs—putting them in the same elite category as Rottweilers, Papillons, Shelties, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers. If you want to add a quick and obedient learner to your family, who is also unabashedly a smarty-pants, a Doberman Pinscher would be a good choice.

dobermans sitting on grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence refers to how quickly a dog can learn on its own. This type of intelligence is part of what makes dogs so charming to humans; seeing them find a toy we thought we’d hidden so well, or bring us their leash when nature calls, are some of the behaviors that make dogs so special. Though hard to quantify, adaptive intelligence is, nonetheless, an important aspect to consider when determining which dogs are the smartest.

Quickly and easily taking in new information from the world around them, and then changing or modifying their behavior based on that information is something that Dobermans excel at. They are natural problem solvers and are comfortable interacting with new environments.

Caring for Doberman Pinschers

If you’ve chosen to bring one of these intelligent canines into your home, it’s essential to know how to meet its unique needs. It should come as no surprise that Dobermans love to exercise. They need both a fenced-in area to play in, as well as daily long walks and hikes. Dobermans also benefit from training because of their strength and temperament; a bored Doberman can often be a destructive and depressed one as well. Their coats are relatively easy to groom, and typically don’t need professional services.

Like all dogs, Dobermans always need excellent-quality dog food and access to fresh water. In terms of health conditions, the breed is prone to bloat, which can be life-threatening when left untreated. Some genetic conditions can occur in Dobermans—including hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, von Willebrand’s disease, progressive retinal atrophy, albinism, and hypothyroidism—some of which are typically tested ahead of time by breeders.

doberman and his owner near the lake
Image By: Piqsels


Final Thoughts

Dogs are one of our closest companions for many reasons, and high up on that list is their intelligence. Doberman Pinschers have a well-earned reputation for being among the most intelligent dog breeds, as they demonstrate excellence in various types of intelligence. While the average dog is already a smart cookie, Dobermans are well above average when compared to other breeds. If you’re looking for a dog that is both intelligent and physically capable, a Doberman Pinscher would be a wonderful choice.

Featured Image Credit: Wynian, Shutterstock

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