Doberman – The Breed from Apolda

The Doberman is the only breed of dog that got its name from its first known breeder: Friedrich Louis Dobermann, born on January 2nd, 1834 and died 60 years later on June 9th, 1894. However, very little is known about Friedrich’s life.


Although Friedrich was the first breeder of this breed of dog, the traditional look that we know today actually comes from another breeder and dog catcher named Otto Göller, who also played a major role in the early years of breeding. He introduces the breeder and namesake of the breed around the turn of the century in a short book “The Doberman Pinscher in words and pictures”. So Friedrich was now officially within his rights to be a dog catcher on the side.


He selected particularly good dogs for breeding – at least from what he could find in Apolda. For example, he mated his favorite mixed breed dog “Schnuppe”, a cross between a German Shepherd and a Pinscher, with a forerunner of the Rottweiler, which has similarities with a German Shepherd: the so-called butcher dog. He is also said to have paired Pinschers and hunting dogs.


Purebred dogs as we know them today were very rare at that time. Friedrich D. is said to have bred his “own breed” with the breeds already mentioned above in the 1870s, which were not only watchful but also quite reliable farm and house dogs. Due to their steadfast nature, they were often positioned as police dogs, which led to their nickname of the “gendarme dogs” at the time. “Gendarmerie” or “member of a gendarmerie” is a slang term for a uniformed and armed police officer.


These predecessors were not only used in the police, but also in hunting; this is a subspecies, however. Their main purpose is to protect against other predatory game. Otto Göller describes this breed as the tradition of the “unofficial breeders from the Apolda area”.


Göller himself ascribes the ancestry of the well-known breed to the ancestors of the German shepherd dog, the blue mastiff, the German smooth-haired Pinscher and short-haired hunting dogs.



The author of the standard work “Dog around the world, shown on the Doberman (Hund um die Welt, aufgezeigt am Dobermann)”, Dr. Dorn, however, instead suspects the crossing of Great Dane blood and contradicts Göller’s theory.


He justifies this contradiction with the difference in size of the breeds. He also describes the typical blue color of the hair of a Great Dane, which is rarely found in the Doberman breed as an indication.


The doctor actually came to this reason through Göller himself. The mention of the “Apolda early breeders” leads Dorn to the conclusion that the “butcher dogs” of the time played an important role in the formation of the breed. He regards this breed as quite “well-bred” under the circumstances at that time.


In this context it is interesting to mention something about Göller’s statement. He denied the cross between Black and Tan Terriers until the turn of the century – that this did not take place. He justifies his statement with the fact that the said English breeds only became known in Apolda at the end of the nineties.

It was only recognized late that for good breeding or improvement of the resulting animal one had to look for certain points in the choice of mating animals, as well as keep records. Because of this, the early history of this dog breed is likely to be somewhat obscured forever.


Dog studbooks based on biological principles were not introduced in Germany until the turn of the century.


In short, one can thank Friedrich Louis D. for being the first breeder of the dogs named after him and that he was able to establish them as his own breed.


And Otto Göller, who is described and quoted here, is not only responsible for recording the history and beginnings of this breed, but also for his writing talent, as well as his active kennel “von Thuringia”, which ultimately paved the way for the breed.


After all, he was also the one who founded the first Doberman Club on August 27, 1899 – located in Apolda.

After Friedrich died, Goswin Tischler continued to breed purposefully with the kennel “von Grönland” and Gustav Krumbholz with the kennel “von Ilm-.Athen” and are regarded as representatives for all breeders who follow Friedrich’s plan.


In 1895, Tischler brought the Doberman to be recognized as a separate breed in Germany. According to Göller, it was shown for the first time at an exhibition around 1898. It is interesting that the dog was still called “Doberman Pinscher” when the Apoldaer Verein was founded, although it was previously called as it is today