Pictured above is a Doberman pinscher in two of the moods which have earned him a reputation as one of the most controversial breeds in America. To some people, he is an elegant, well-mannered companion of children and a faithful defender of the home. To others, he is an evil-tempered, snarling monster, eager and ready to attack anyone and anything.
There are dozens of authenticated stories to support both attitudes.
?In Dallas last month a father fought off a 75-pound Doberman which viciously attacked and mangled his 5-year-old daughter.
?In Michigan a Doberman found a 3-year-old child lost two days in a forest. The dog sat next to the child and patiently signaled their location to rescuers.
?In New Jersey a former dog trainer in the Army's K-9 Corps says, "Our outfit gave all the Dobermans to the Marines. They were just too vicious to handle."
?In Chicago a Doberman alerted its owners to fire and was credited with saving four lives.
?In Connecticut a veterinarian told the owner of an injured Doberman, "I'll treat him if you strap him to the table."
?In Arizona a runaway stallion kicked and trampled a rancher's 4-year-old son. The child's young Doberman saved his life by fearlessly attacking the horse and driving it off.
Each story adds to the misunderstanding which surrounds the breed. And, depending upon who is telling the story, the Doberman emerges as either a darling or a devil. In truth, he is neither. The Doberman pinscher is a highly specialized breed, superb in the uses for which he was developed, but like most specialists totally unsuited to many of the random tasks he is unfairly asked to perform.
"A Doberman must be trained to absolute obedience, ruled with a firm hand and mastered with unflinching authority," says John Behan who has trained hundreds of Dobermans at his Canine College in West Redding, Connecticut. "He is probably one of the easiest breeds to teach but one of the most difficult to control. An owner who is not unconditionally confident in his own ability to handle the dog under all circumstances should look to another breed. The average Doberman pinscher is too much dog for him.