Finding the ideal dog for your family isn’t an easy task. There are numerous dog breeds out there, each with its unique traits. Families looking for more significant dogs – a dog for companionship and as a family pet – commonly land on two breeds: German Shepherds vs. Dobermans.

The truth is: Both breeds have similarities.

Both originated in Germany and were bred as working dogs. German Shepherds were herding dogs, while Dobermans were bred as guard dogs. Those genetic traits persist today, with Dobermans tending to be the more protective.

Regarding size, both breeds share many similarities, as well.

Adult male GSDs stand about 24-26 inches tall – slightly shorter than the Doberman at 26-28 inches – but weigh slightly more. A full-grown German Shepherd weighs about 75-90 pounds, compared to 60-80 for the Doberman.

But beyond these similarities, both of these breeds have their unique differences. Regarding intelligence, shedding, exercise needs, and much more, German Shepherds differ significantly from Dobermans. Here are some of the critical differences between German Shepherds and Dobermans:

Temperaments

Both breeds are highly intelligent, alert and loyal, but there are some marked differences in personality.  

For example, German Shepherd puppies develop an early attachment to their owners and always want to please. Dobies, on the other hand, tend to be more aloof and are very intelligent.

Both dogs have high levels of energy, but that’s more so true of German Shepherds. Starting Shepherd puppies early with mental exercise and socialization are keys to developing an even temperament, and helping your dog expend some of its natural energy.

As far as aggression, both types of dog can be aggressive, but German Shepherds tend to be less aggressive. That’s one reason early, and consistent obedience training is necessary for keeping this trait at bay. Dobermans, on the other hand, tend to display more aggression, especially when it thinks its owner is in danger.  

Consistent and firm training is necessary for both breeds, as it significantly reduces or eliminate aggression.

Exercise

German Shepherds are known for their high energy levels, and that’s something that breeds both shares.

Shepherds, though, require plenty of walks, large spaces for running around, as well as a regular mental exercise in the form of obedience training. Shepherds don’t adapt well to small areas – they need room to run around – and aren’t usually recommended for apartments.

Dobermans tend to require daily exercise, as well, but they are a more adaptable breed. A Doberman likes daily walks but can adapt to living in a smaller space, like an apartment.

Training

Both breeds are highly intelligent, which means they’re both trainable. There is a difference in how to approach training. German Shepherds, for example, are known for their versatility. They can be trained for a variety of disciplines – from competition to herding, to protection.

Shepherds tend to be suspicious of strangers, and that’s why early socialization is so necessary. Introducing a German Shepherd puppy to many different people and types of situations helps these situations be more agreeable later in life.

Dobermans tend to be trainable, but their curious minds and cleverness can make them more challenging to train. Dobies tend to be aloof, for example, and that requires firm and consistent training from every member of the family. This is one reason Dobermans aren’t great for households with young children, as younger children are less likely to be firm with the animal.

With Children

According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd is the No. 2 dog breed in the U.S., And it makes sense.

German Shepherds make devoted and loving family companions. They’re great with kids, but do require proper socialization and training to help them become comfortable around small children. With appropriate training – they’re one of the most loyal and loving breeds for families.

Dobermans, on the other hand, can be great with children as well. But they can develop aggressiveness without proper socialization and consistent training. Firm training and a watchful eye are necessary for ensuring bad habits around children don’t materialize.

Shedding

Shepherds are moderate shedders, which means they do require some grooming. Even so, the GSD is a low-maintenance breed. Regular brushing is necessary for its thick coat, and bathing is needed as well.

Dobermans, on the other hand, are light shedders. They have a thin, sleek coat, which requires very little grooming.

Which Breed Is Right for You?  

Both Shepherds and Dobermans make loving, loyal family pets, but that starts with a commitment to training. Dog obedience training should begin early with both breeds, which is indeed a consideration when choosing either.

As far as which type is right, if you have a large backyard, have time to commit to daily exercise and mental training, and don’t mind a bit of pet hair in the home, the German Shepherd makes a devoted and loving companion. If you live in an apartment, though, a Doberman may be the better choice.