Has anyone owned a Doberman? Are they good family pets? Five kids + big dog indoors, yea or neigh?

Our dear old dog died last month & we’re considering getting a new one. He was a mixed breed - smallish sized dog who didn’t shed (poodle mix of some sort?) I like big dogs, but we got our little guy when our kids were young thinking it would be less hassle… and I’m sure it was. He was a good dog. Now we’re thinking it would be ok to go back to a bigger breed… although my husband questions if a little dog is still best for our busy family?

I have always wanted a doberman. When I was younger, I had a neighbor who had one and he was a fantastic dog, very obedient. My husband is a little leary … thinks we’d not know if the cute doberman puppy would grow up to be overly aggressive since they were bred to be guard dogs.

Here’s our family - 5 kids ages 18 - 5, medium sized house & fenced “in town” yard. We are very active & outdoorsy - walk, hike, camp. Dog would need to be kept indoors as we have freakishly cold winters. How badly do they shed? How hyper are they? Our house is 100 years old - wooden floors with wooden steps - would the big dog plow our kids over I wonder??? We’d take him to obedience classes - wondering if a female would be easier to train? If your experience, are they good family pets? Or am I crazy because a big dog is SO much more work?


Dobermans, like most breeds, can be trained to be good family dogs. They do tend to be very loyal to their families, but leary of strangers. One thing with a dog such as a doberman; I would be sure that you are confident you can train him properly and give himt he physical and mental exercise he needs. These dogs are bright and could be troublesome if they get bored and are understimulated.

I personally wouldn’t get a dog like a doberman, rottweiler, etc. Although I am fully aware that they can great pets, I know that they can make other people who are unaware of this quite nervous. I used to be nervous when I went to someone’s house who had a breed like this.

I would personally go for a dog from the AKC sporting group. They are generally very loyal, friendly, and active. I guess I do have a soft spot though as I am a hunter and have an English Springer Spaniel. I grew up with Goldens and they were also wonderful dogs.

Just my 2 cents!

You have to be cautious with certain dog breeds. I would include dobermans in the list with rottweilers, German Shepard’s, pitbulls etc. These breeds have been bred for specific purposes which value certain aggressive traits. Now any dog if mistreated can become aggressive, the difference here is that these dogs have also been bred with physical attributes that makes them extremely dangerous if they do become aggressive.

I have heard enough stories of these dogs snapping and biting kids on the face, that I would never recommend them for families with young kids. Yes, they can be trained, but they still can react dangerously if some some hyper kid pushes one of their buttons. These are good breeds for what they are intended and they are not intended to be indoor large family dogs. I am voicing my opinion, not only because I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, but also I don’t want to see one of these dogs get put down (which is common when these dog don’t work out)

There are many large dog breeds and mixtures out there that are better for families.

I would agree with the above. My uncle had many dobermans. Although they were loyal to the family unit and very obedient to them, they were a danger to everyone else. They lived in the middle of nowhere and the dogs were definitely a deterent to strangers, etc., which was one of the reasons why they chose that breed of dog. They also only had female dogs. Unfortunately, though, any time family or friends would come over, they’d have to chain the dogs up because their immediate reaction would be to attack and also everyone was pretty nervous around the dogs. I was nipped on the leg by one of them as a child. What saved me from really being hurt (she only drew a little bit of blood and didn’t tear up my skin too badly) was that the dog was at least obedient enough to know that she was not allowed to go to the second floor of the house, so she let go of my leg once I made it up about 3 or 4 stairs. I don’t think that’s something a dog owner would want to worry about with friends of their children or their own children.

We were also never allowed to walk to their home through the woods unless we called over first to let them know that we were coming to play with the cousins. (Sometimes the dogs would be outside and they were known to attack anyone coming onto the property.)

So, I am probably biased based on my limited experience with them, but I personally wouldn’t get them as family pets unless you can really spend the time to train them to not attack others outside of the immediate family. As the above poster mentioned Springer Spaniels are great, as well as Golden Retrievers. Any dog from the retriever family would be great for families with kids, actually. We have a Yellow Lab retriever and she is incredible with our 1-year-old especially now that she walks and likes to pet the dog and tease it. You still have to watch any pet with small children, but retrievers are good pets to have for kids. BTW - Freethinker, my husband is also a hunter and trained our lab as a good gun dog. She’s a great pup. (Will be two this Feb)

See the above comments. Get a lab or a golden if you want a big dog for your kids. Thank us later. There is a reason you see labs and goldens on TV with little kids all the time!

I am partial to labs and goldens, but there are many big dogs that are great with kids. A Doberman is NOT on that list, at least in my opinion.

Thanks for the replies. I’m begining to second guess the Doberman idea… although I wonder if it’s possible to socialize them a lot as puppies to avoid their distrust of non-family members? We live “in town” and my kids have friends who are always over… the dog would grow up with lots of social contact.

Still - maybe another breed is better.

Regarding Goldens… how much do they shed? I asked a Golden owner this question & here’s what they said, "Imagine dog hair ALL OVER your house… now X that by 10. Yikes?! Is that true?

Looked up Englsih Springer spaniels… they are adorable - and seem like good family pets. Although two different site said that breed sometimes suffers from “Rage syndrome” - attacking for no reason whatsoever - almost like an epileptic seizure that causes it to attack? I’ve never heard of that… maybe it’s rare?


While friends were on vacation, I kept their Springer Spaniel in the back yard with my two dogs. Our employee had to open the fence gate, walk ten feet into the yard, to get into the garage. The Springer Spaniel bite her leg, requiring an emergency room visit.

Once a dog has bitten a person to the point of them needing medical care for dog bite infections & puncture wounds, the clinic is required to contact the police.

The police take the dog, check for rabies vaccinations and quarentine it for up to a week’s time (boarding cost of $100).

The family owning the dog will be counciled and told what the behaviorial and housing requirements will be for that dog. If the attack is vicious enough, the local government in most areas has the right to kill the dog.

I was watching an Animal Control program on television, some cities have local ordinances in which any pit bull being walked by a child under the age of 18, will be euthanized.

Some dog’s minds mentally flip as they age.

Where you think they will remain docile, they suddenly become “lord of the manor” and their aggressive instincts take over, protecting home and family from people who are not threats.

My sister owned a Springer who had this rage syndrome. Her dog growled constantly when people attempted to pet him. The dog’s mother went berzerk one day and mauled the lady who owned her.

My sister’s second Springer attempted to attack me when I scolded him for continuously barking at a neighbor.

I love dogs, am well aware of their stubborness (I have a terrier mix), but I would never own a Springer.

I have heard enough tragic reports about pit bulls to not want anything to do with them… but I have to say, after researching dog breeds I’m very confused because they are often described as wonderful family pets??? One site listed the American Staffordshire Terrier (pit bull) as one of the Top Ten Best Family Dogs - right up there with Collies & Labs.

What the heck?

It might depend on the dog. My husband and his family had a golden - wonderful, wonderful dog. She shed, but it wasn’t like what was described above. My mother-in-law said the hair was easy to clean up because it was usually in clumps and not spread out all over the place. I grew up with a dalmation and she really shed ALL OVER THE PLACE, much more than the golden. Our lab sheds, but not like our friend’s lab who leaves clumps hair all over whenever they come to visit. He’s a much bigger lab, though. Ours is a field line lab breed and is a female, which is smaller.

Still, I try to vacuum at least every other day. It’s amazing how much hair a dog sheds in a day.

We knew my uncle’s dobermans from the time they were puppies. They were cute and friendly as puppies, but as they got older, they just became what they were bred to do. If you didn’t live in their home, they would be aggressive towards you no matter how much they knew you from the time they were puppies.

Rage syndrome is claimed to be a problem, but you can type “X breed rage syndrome” into Google and get the same results. It is thought that this is more common with spaniel breeds, but it is still very rare. If you do your homework and find a reputable breeder it shouldn’t be a problem though. Problem dogs (behavioral or health) tend to come from back-yard-breeders or puppy mills. A good breeder should be able to trace back for generations without problems, and provide you a health guarantee (genetic defects) for the life of the dog.

If a springer is something that interests you feel free to send me a PM. I did a lot of research before getting our dog and I know of a few very good breeders.


I’m a dog guy, I own several, and I looked seriously into getting a Dobie. I’m a bachelor with no kids of my own, so as for the little kid issue, I can’t comment on personal experience, but I do know a bit about dogs period. A doberman is going to be a doberman-protective, strong willed, and forceful. There is little you can do to change that, but you certianly can control that. Prove that your the boss early on and keep reminding the dog your the boss. With my boxer (who comes from the very protective line of the breed) I’ll put my hand in his food while he is eating it, I enter rooms first before he does, and do other things to let him know that I am in charge.

Virtually all dogs, in my opinon, are like that. If you tell them who is in charge, and remind them, they’ll be wonderful family pets, some better than others.

I love boxers. A good friend of mine has a boxer and he is possibly the most affectionate dog I have ever met. He loves everyone who walks through the door. I think any guarding instinct was bred out of his line long ago!

Look into Irish Setters, similar personality to goldens, although more energetic. They have a single coat and don’t shed as much. Great with kids and strangers. If you go for a purebred, be sure to do your research and get from a good breeder. Most of the historical issues with setters and other purebreds had to do with too much inbreeding. Go to the AKA website for the breed you are looking for and start with their breeder list (i can help you if you are looking at setters).

Try looking at the Terrier group of dogs (and not bull terriers). They are midsized dogs and a good compromise between sporting and tiny dogs. Wired hair Fox Terriers and Schnauzer’s are great with children especially when then come into the family as puppies. They do not shed, and are sturdy dogs. I have had 3 of them with my nieces and all have done very well.

Golden’s shed a lot and all the time. Labs shed, although not as much, but both are hunting dogs and grow winter coats. They require at least 40 mintues of exercise every day. So if you have cold winters, you might want to consider a treadmill. Otherwise they can be chewers when they get bored.

Follow your husband’s lead on this one, he is on the right path.

We have a Schnauzer mix also and she is great with kids. She’s protective but not in the Rottie, Dobie, Pit Bull kind of way. She just barks her head off when someone comes up. She does not shed. I find hair from the cats and us but not from her.

Definitely another breed to consider. Schnauzers also come in a 3 different sizes minis, standards, and giants.

I have also had an Airedale and would recommend them as well. Wonderful dogs, great with kids yet also protective without being overly aggressive.

Here is my two cents’ worth (well…maybe three!) I will share some advice for anyone thinking about getting any dog.

My DH and I have worked with a Rottweiler Rescue group for many years and have helped rescue, place and foster Rotties. I get upset that the mindset is that Rottweilers are “aggressive” simply because they are large and black. It is true that the breed is a bit stubborn and aloof. That will become an aggression issue IF the owner allows it. Aggression is not genetically-coded into any domestic dog breed. No - not even Dobies or GSD (German Shepherd). It is true as I said already that some breeds are strong-willed — so couple that with a big, muscular body and you spell trouble if you do not establish your leadership with that dog by training, socializing and exercising the dog appropriately. Boredom, lack of a “job” to do, lack of proper exercise and training will allow ANY breed of dog become an aggressive dog! One of the most agggressive dogs I ever came into contact with was a Chihuahua-mix little demon. And conversely - one of the most gentle, loving, and affectionate dogs I have ever known was a Rottweiler.

You are correct that American Pit Bulls are great family dogs — IF you keep the above rules in mind! Eleanor Roosevelt had Pits and loved them. I once knew a Pit who was the goofiest dog I ever went around! He would kiss and slobber all over you! But if you take one of the breed - cut his ears nearly off, dock his tail, starve him and beat him so he learns to fight…well I would not want to be near that dog!

Now — my advice FWIW:

Go to the library and get a book that tells you the characteristics of the breeds of dogs. Then ask yourself some of these questions and match your answers with what you find out about the breed:

Take into account how much daily exercise you will give this dog. Every day. Can you walk or play outdoors at least an hour a day? or more? If you get a large breed dog, do you have the time and money to go to training sessions with the dog? Large breeds really should have professional training with their owners to learn exactly WHO is the Master. (or "Alpha Dog - even though I don’t really like that term.)

How large are the rooms in your house? How “fancy” are the furnishings? Do you really care about dog hair all over the place? (Even in your food?) Dog nails can scratch hardwood floors or pull threads on certain carpet fibers.

Does anyone in the family have allergies to dust or animals? Are you willing to groom a dog or pay a groomer to do so? (Some breeds such as a Poodle or Schnauzer will cost you $50 or more to groom once every 2-3 months. The Giant Schnauzers can cost $75-$100 or more.)

Are your children going to help with feeding, playing and cleaning up? (Or will it become your job?!) Are your children easily scared or frightened of a big dog or do they scream and/or squeal when they play? I ask this because many dogs do not know how to interpret the noises that young children make at play and can sometimes become aggressive because the screams/squeals make the dog fearful or nervous. Then the dog can charge the child, knocking him down or bite out of fear. A dog that appears to be nervous around noisy kids is not a dog you should adopt!

Will you be able to afford the veterinarian costs (regular immunizations along with illnesses, possible surgeries, etc.)? Can you afford the food bills? Treats? Collars, toys and accessories? Please - def consider micro-chipping the dog! If he runs away or gets loose, then he can be returned to you! Micro-chipping involves introducing a small computer chip just under the dog’s skin via a hypodermic needle and doesn’t even make the dog wince. The cost is fairly cheap - especially when you consider that it will allow your best friend to come back to you if he decides to go on an adventure some day!

Why do you want a dog? Companionship? To guard your home when you are not there? What will you do with the dog when you go on vacation? How many hours a day will the dog be alone? Do you want a dog who will lie at your feet everywhere you go, seeking petting and affection? Or do you want a dog who is content to simply be in the room with you, but lying on his bed on the floor?

(Continued next post)

Do you have any other animals in the house? Cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds? You may not want a sporting breed if your children also have a bird or a hamster!

Too many people IMO get the “dog of the day” – after certain movies, there is always a “run” on the breed in the movie! Or a man will think he has to have a “manly” type of dog.

Remember that large dogs tend to have shorter life spans and smaller dogs live longer. My Mini Schnauzer lived to be 13 (even with some health issues) but my Rottweilers have a shorter lifespan. Giant breeds like Giant Schnauzers or Great Danes (those are WONDERFUL family dogs, believe it or not! They are couch potatoes!) will live to be only 8 - 10 years.

When you look at dogs, take the entire family with you! You will want the dog to be able to interact with every member of the family it will be living with. You should ask the owner who is selling the dog to allow your and the kids to “play” with the dog and handle it a bit. See if the parents of the dog for sale is on the premises or somewhere you can meet them. Often any aggression, shyness, friendliness or other qualities will be apparent in one or both of the dogs parents. If you look at puppies, stand away from the pups and make kissing noises to see which pup comes over to invesigate the sound. I have found that the inquisitive puppy is the one who has a great temperment. Don’t immediately love the little “shy” puppy or the puppy that plows you over when you come to see them! Often the one you will find more suitable is the one who simply acts like he is checking you out the same as you are checking them out!

If the dog you look at is an adult dog, ask the owners why they want to sell/give him away. LOOK at their home for signs of reasons they are not telling you! (Chewed upon furniture! Stained carpet!) I have gotten adult dogs the last several times and the nice thing about them is they are usually already house-broken and calmer than a puppy. And done with the teething! Beware that if you get a dog from a shelter, the humane society or a rescure - you may not know much, if anything at all, about his background. But often I think the dog “knows” you have rescued him and will reward you with a great love and affection that you will not get anywhere else!

I have owned a small beagle-mix. Beagles are very friendly, shed some, do not need a lot of grooming, do not have tons of health issues and are affectionate. But - they are very busy dogs and need lots of things to keep them occupied and exercised. In my experience they tend to be runners, too. Open the door - and out they go! They follow their noses! But they tend to be great with kids.

I have owned a Miniature Schnauzer and we have also owned Giant Schnuazers (The Giants were two brothers from the same litter). They are not the same breed at all, (and Standard Schnauzers are a third different breeed, too.) But they look alike and have a lot in common. My mini - Gretchen - was the sweetest dog and very affectionate. GREAT with the kids who were small at the time we got her. Schnauzers tend to be a bit stubborn and hard-headed which can make some training (like house breaking) a challenge. But they are VERY smart dogs. They do not shed much at all - but you do have to groom them. You can learn to do it yourself … but I would personally rather pay for the bother of it. (Plus they look prettier!) The mini have a tendency toward kidney problems for some reason. The Giants - like all large breeds - tend to have joint problems. Schnauzers tend toward certain cancers, too. Schnauzers also tend to be barkers - something to consider if you have neighbors close by.

My involvement with Rottweilers came after the above other dogs. We had put down out Giants and were lost without a dog in our home. I told DH I wanted to get a rescue dog. Rescues are not shelter dogs. They are breed-specific and will take care of vet needs, housebreaking and socialization test the dogs while they are at the shelter. You need to “apply” to “adopt” a shelter dog and good shelters will check out your past experiences with dogs, even calling your vet to make sure the dog is going to a good “forever home”. You are obligated to return the dog to the shelter if you no longer can keep him. You will sign a contract to that intent.


Our first Rottweiler was a lovely two year old named Sasha. She was the epitome of a “good dog”. Loving to a fault - there was not a human, big or small - she did not make friends with. Yet she knew her masters and her home were hers to defend. If you made aggressive moves toward me or DH or came into the home without knocking - you would find Sasha standing in front of you, blocking your way and showing her teeth! But once we told her that you are a “friend” (she knew the word) - she remembered that and would greet you like a long-lost lover the next time you came over! That can be very typical of the Rottweiler breed.

In between Sasha (who died of bone cancer) and the two Rotties we currently own (Razz Marie and Lucy Lou), we have helped place and adopt out over 15 Rottweilers. I also “hospice” cared for one Rottie who won my heart with her sad face. We knew she had a short time to live, but I didn’t think she deserved to die without first knowing a loving family life, so we took her to our home from a shelter (the shelter had called the Rescue we work with.) I took care of her for about 3 weeks before she passed away. She had plenty of petting and kisses in those 3 weeks and a warm home with a soft bed.

Rottweilers are great dogs – very family-oriented dogs. They must be with their family! This is a dog breed that will follow you everywhere - even to the bathroom - much to the shock and surprise of some of my friends who find they didn’t tightly close the bathroom door! They can be “bull-headed” and as they are a large breed, you MUST take them to a trainer and learn how to be the Master. They do not shed a lot, but they do shed. They tend toward having joint issues - Razz has had an ACL (ligament) in her knee surgically repaired.

Well - I hope I have helped. Good luck with your search for the perfect dog for your family! I love dogs and would not consider my life complete without one there. :slight_smile:

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