Doberman vs German Shepherd: Breed Comparison

Photo of author
Written by: Celestine Gomez
Last updated:

The Doberman and the German shepherd are two breeds that make great guard dogs and loyal family companions but require a lot of training and exercise.

Which one is the right breed for you?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the similarities and differences between the German shepherd and the Doberman.



The Doberman is one of the most recognizable dogs in the world – especially with the characteristic clipped ears and docked tail. They are tall, muscular dogs with a sleek short coat of black or tan fur, and a lean snout. They’re a fearsome sight for any burglar.

Dobermans come in two varieties – American (Doberman Pinscher) and European, with the European variety being generally heavier and more muscular. However, both varieties of Doberman are larger than the German Shepherd.

The German shepherd has medium to long tan hair, typically with a black cap on the head and a black spot on the back, although there are a variety of unofficial colors in the breed. They have erect ears and a lean snout.


Dobermans have a long list of known health problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia, spinal instability, heart problems, and Von Willebrand’s disease. 

German Shepherds also have a long list of genetic vulnerabilities. They are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as cataracts, and a condition called bloat that can be life-threatening.

For either breed, it is vital to go through a reputable breeder to avoid some of the worst health problems, while keeping an eye out for any of those issues that do arise.

Dobermans typically live 10-12 years, and German shepherds live 10-14 years. 



Dobermans and German Shepherds are both loving dogs that are great with families but require good socialization as puppies and a firm hand in training.

Both breeds are incredibly intelligent, with German Shepherds scoring #3 in a list of most intelligent breeds, and Dobermans not far behind at #5. 

They require stimulation and not just exercise to stay happy and healthy – and they can be destructive if they don’t get the attention they need.

Dobermans are described as ” Velcro dogs” that love to be by your side. German shepherds are a little bit less attached to you at the hip, but both breeds tend to attach strongly to a single person in a family and love to be surrounded by their people.



German Shepherds and Dobermans are two of the smartest and most eager to please breeds. They are both very easy to train.

However, if one breed has an edge over the other in training, it goes to the Doberman. These dogs are so focused and intelligent that they often require very little repetition to absorb commands. 

However, Dobermans can also be very stubborn and willful, requiring a dominant pack leader who is ready to constantly correct their behavior. 

German Shepherds are a little bit less stubborn and are more easygoing in training. 

Both breeds score highly on guarding instinct, and they need to be socialized early to avoid becoming inappropriately protective or aggressive. German Shepherds naturally bark a lot and may require some extra training to learn to accept visitors without barking. 


These two breeds both need a lot of exercise for their bodies as well as their formidable brains.

Dobermans need more than 1 hour of vigorous exercise every day, and some need as much as 2 hours. German Shepherds are recommended to have 2 hours of exercise every day.

By “exercise” we don’t mean a leisurely walk around the block. These dogs need to run fast to increase their heart rates, and then keep it up for a long time to wear themselves out.

If you can’t keep up with a regular exercise schedule, it’s probably a good idea to choose a different breed. Lack of exercise is one of the foremost causes of misbehavior in both breeds.

Should I Get a Doberman or a German Shepherd?

If you are looking for a family dog that is also a great protector, and you are willing to put in the time and energy it takes to train and socialize them, either a Doberman or a German Shepherd would serve you well.

Dobermans are larger and heavier and can seem more imposing. They are also more stubborn and prefer a direct communication style. They tend to bond with a single owner and follow that person around very closely. 

German Shepherds are smaller and more easygoing, although they are also great guard dogs. 

Both breeds suffer from genetic health problems, they’re both very intelligent, and they both need a lot of exercise and training. They are working dogs that require a big commitment from their owners, and offer a limitless supply of loyalty, love, and service in return. 

Photo of author

Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.