5 Differences Between the Doberman and the German Shepherd

Although both are robust and strong dogs, the differences between the Doberman and the German Shepherd are noticeable with the naked eye.
5 Differences Between the Doberman and the German Shepherd

Last update: 07 October, 2021

Although the Doberman and the German Shepherd are large dogs we often associate with security and herding duties, they also offer companionship and loyalty to their masters. The differences between Dobermans and German Shepherds aren’t very extensive, but each of these dogs has distinctive features that allow them to be categorized into different breeds.

Just take a quick look at these breeds and you’ll realize the differences that exist between the two dogs. However, some features aren’t visible to the naked eye (such as their behavior and health) that can easily go unnoticed. Here are the most important ways the two breeds differ.

1. Origin of the races

One of the lesser-known differences between the Doberman and the German Shepherd is that both breeds have the same origin. The Doberman is a German dog whose conception dates back to the 19th century. It wasn’t selected for herding, but for guarding. Currently, this breed of dog continues to fulfill this task, although it can also be found as a companion dog.

The German Shepherd, on the other hand, was conceived for herding and its origin also dates back to 19th century Germany. At first, this breed focused exclusively on controlling and protecting sheep, but their tasks were soon expanded to security and assistance tasks. Today, it’s very common to find this breed of dog in police work, in the military, or as companion dogs.

Another difference in its origin is that the German Shepherd was bred by Max von Stephanitz in order to find a loyal dog with a lot of perseverance (which is why it was so important in the world wars). On the other hand, the Doberman was developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, the owner of a kennel who crossed some breeds to obtain the one that we currently know.

A giant doberman.
A Doberman.

2. Differences between the Doberman and the German Shepherd: health and diet

Regarding their health, both breeds have some health conditions that derive from their size. However, the differences lie in the fact that the Doberman has a more delicate health, as it’s prone to suffer from eye problems, hip dysplasia, meteorism, and heart diseases. In addition to this, this breed shouldn’t be exposed to much cold.

The German Shepherd has more stable health, but it’s normal for it to suffer from some diseases such as skin conditions, hip and elbow dysplasia, and epilepsy. However, their indiscriminate breeding is a trigger for eye and gastrointestinal disorders.

As for the diet of the German Shepherd and the Doberman, in both cases they can be offered between two or three meals a day in small quantities.

3. Size and weight

Physically, both breeds are dogs of great size and weight. The German Shepherd weighs between 32 and 42 kilograms, in addition to a height of between 56 and 66 centimeters. Its constitution is more robust than that of the Dobermans and its body is more elongated.

For its part, the Doberman weighs between 30 and 40 kilos and has a height of between 61 and 71 centimeters. Its constitution is more athletic and muscular than that of the German Shepherd.

Another difference between these breeds focuses on their coat. German Shepherds are characterized by a black or tan coat, although there are also cream or sable colors. They also have a double layer of fur, wherein the undercoat is internal and external is hard and stuck to the body. In contrast, the Doberman has black tan and brown tones, in addition to having only one external coat that’s hard and short.

4. Character or temperament

As we mentioned at the beginning, there are a few ways in which we can compare these breeds. Their character is one of them, as both are very intelligent, loyal, and love to protect their owners. Although people think that the German Shepherd is safer for young children, the reality is that both breeds coexist perfectly well with children if they’re properly educated and socialized.

5. Breed care

The differences in care between the Doberman and the German Shepherd lie mostly in their coat. While with the former it’s a simple task due to its short coat, the German Shepherd requires more repetitive brushing, especially if it’s long-haired.

Physical activity is another important aspect of dog care, and, in this case, the Doberman requires a lot of daily physical activity. This breed needs plenty of space to play and exercise, while the German Shepherd prefers several daily walks or strenuous exercise.

A running German shepherd.
A german shepherd.

As you can see, there are several differences between these races. Their physical appearance, their behavior, and their care are the main ones. However, both canines represent the ideal companion for security tasks, or to have a loyal and loving companion at home.

It might interest you...
Discover The Seven Best Guard Dog Breeds
My Animals
Read it in My Animals
Discover The Seven Best Guard Dog Breeds

If you're looking to choose among guard dog breeds, know that any of them would give their own life to protect you and your home.



  • Pastor Alemán VS Dóberman. Recogido el 5 de septiembre del 2021 de: https://perropastoraleman.info/pastor-aleman-vs-doberman/

  • Wess, G., Schulze, A., Butz, V., Simak, J., Killich, M., Keller, L. J. M., … & Hartmann, K. (2010). Prevalence of dilated cardiomyopathy in Doberman Pinschers in various age groups. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 24(3), 533-538.

  • Alasia, G. T. (2018). La enciclopedia del pastor alemán. Parkstone International.