American & European
THE RISE OF THE DOBERMAN(N) ON SCREEN
The 1960s & 70s were a time of great uncertainty and callousness in America. Military troops were deployed to Vietnam, crime was rapidly increasing, great social unrest, and high profile assassinations were occurring often. American television and film was transitioning to a more coarse depiction of society. Top actors of these times were “gritty characters” played by men such as Steven McQueen, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood. The era of television saw a decline of "family” and “rural-oriented” programs and an increase of more socially contemporary and provocative shows. Music was also starting to push the boundaries of the times. A few of the top music artists were Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and Bruce Springsteen. The reputation that followed the Doberman(n) from Germany, along with the media's depiction of it being the aggressive guard dog, made the Doberman(n) a symbol of the times. There was an explosion in the breed's popularity. In the thirty-three year period from 1933 to 1966, Doberman(n)s appeared in media approximately eight times. In the twenty-three year period from 1966 to 1989, Doberman(n) appearances in movies jumped to over fifty-six times, in addition to reoccurring roles in popular television shows. They always played the no nonsense guard dog. Thus, from the late 60s until the 1980s, Doberman(n)s were in high demand.
FAILURE OF THE AMERICAN BREEDER:
THE SHOW FANCIER & THE BACK YARD BREEDER
The explosion of the Doberman(n)'s population in the late 1960s created an opportunity for many people to cash in. These people mated Doberman(n)s without any careful consideration to health, temperament, structure, or working ability. People with no experience began producing litter after litter with no specific goal in mind. This became known as a “Back Yard Breeder”. This does not mean that the breeder literally breeds in the back yard, but it simply refers to someone who main objective is money and his/her motives and procedures are not in the best interest of the dog breed. The Backyard Breeder's primary focus is to produce puppies for profit. They began selling these poorly bred dogs as pets/ companions. The dogs that Show Breeders produced that were not quite good enough to be competitive show dogs were also called pet/companions. Now, there were two types of breeders in America targeting families: the Show fanciers who molded the Doberman(n) into their own elitist ideas, and the Back Yard Breeder who had neither vision nor knowledge regarding the breed.
American Show breeders were primarily concerned with the outward esthetics, refinement, and socializing their lines for families. This created a dog that lacked strong character and strong physical traits. The Back Yard Breeder had no standard or goal beyond making money. Mass production without careful selections by Back Yard Breeders and Show breeders led to poorly bred Doberman(n)s in America that are labeled as companion/pet lines. Today, Show Breeders and BYBs come from all type of social and economic backgrounds, but their objectives remain the same. The BYB is still primarily concerned with money. The Show Breeder's priority is still the outward look of the dog and producing family companions. In most recent years, a greater emphasis has been placed on health testing. However, Show Breeders still do not prioritize working character above outward esthetics.
FAILURE OF THE AMERICAN OWNER
The saturation of poorly bred Doberman(n)s eventually caused it's popularity to slowly decline starting in the 1980s. However, that did not stop pet owners from loving their animals regardless of where they came from, how much they cost, or how poorly they were bred. To us, they are not only the best pets in the world, they are family. Sadly, some breeders prey on pet lovers, and count on unconditional love to conceal unprofessional breeding practices. When a breeder say "my Doberman(n)s are bred to be sweet loving companions", understand what that means. It means that no previous goals or considerations were established prior to the production of the dog. This means that the dog will have no clear instinctual meaning or purpose other than wanting to be with its owner. This makes the dog dependent on the owner for it to be balanced. Unfortunately, there are many people who buy Doberman(n)s for this very reason. They love Doberman(n)s because it is a "Velcro Dog". These people understand that a "Velcro Dog" need to be near them for it to feel complete and assured that everything is okay. As a result, we have created an instinctual void and a neediness in the Doberman(n) that compliments the human desire to feel needed. We have transitioned the Doberman(n) from a work tool for man to an emotional crutch for man.
A person with physical, emotional or psychiatric special needs requires a therapy dog. A Show Doberman(n) that has been properly trained can make an excellent therapy dog. However, these dogs that bring balance to humans must first be balanced them self. Instability merely feeds instability. Proper selection and training ensures that the dog is able to assist an individual that has special needs. In addition, the individual them self must realize that they are in need of not simply a dog, but a special needs dog. If you are in need of a plumber, you do not call someone else who is also in need of a plumber. If you are insecure or anxious, you should not turn to one who is also insecure and anxious. The parties can only share empathy for each other, but there can be no resolution. Yet this is precisely what we have done to the Doberman(n). Unrestricted breeding AND OWNERSHIP has shaped the companion Doberman(n) into a dog that has special needs instead of a dog who can assists individuals with special needs. People who love the idea of a "Velcro Dog" has robbed the Doberman(n) of its instinctual purpose to protect man. The American Doberman(n) is now the one who need to feel protected. The companion Doberman(n)'s confidence disappears when the owner is absent.
Doberman(n)s that were bred solely for the purpose of being a companion often have separation anxiety and nervousness when not comforted. Unfortunately, there are more Doberman(n) owners who love these traits than those who realize that it is debilitating. They love the idea that the dog's sole purpose is to love them and be near them. Such selfishness is causing the demise of the greatest breed in the world. The recovery of our breed depends on the realizations of harsh truths. Breeders and owners share in the success and failures of the Doberman(n) breed. We must ask our self, do we want the Doberman(n) to be the dog it was intended to be, or do we want to continue changing its nature? Because of the changes that our breed has incurred over the years, there are far less Doberman(n)s that are capable of real protection. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, the companion Doberman(n) is one of the least reliable protection dogs. This is a direct result of turning it into a "Velcro Dog". It does not cling to us because it want to protect us, it clings to us because it lacks instinctual direction, purpose, and confidence without us. At some point, Doberman(n) enthusiasts should ask themselves the question, am I the right person for this dog breed.