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Doberman Pinscher vs. American Pitbull Terrier: Breed Differences & Similarities


Last Updated: April 17, 2023 | 10 min read | 1 Comment

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When comparing the Doberman Pinscher vs. the American Pitbull Terrier, you’ll find two equally beautiful dogs, but unfortunately, they are both unduly feared by those who do not know them. Those who do know both of these guys know they are energetic and fun pups who adore their family very much.

Both breeds are surprisingly affectionate with their loved ones, secretly being big softies at heart. What separates them is their appearance and size, with the Doberman being the larger of the two, and that the Doberman is often aloof with strangers compared to the over-friendly American Pitbull Terrier.

If you are trying to decide between these two gorgeous breeds then it is important to understand what the differences are between them, and where they are comparable, so that you know which one better suits you and your lifestyle. So, read on to learn a lot more about both of these beautiful and misunderstood breeds.

Breed Comparison

Doberman Pinscher

  • Height 24-28 Inches
  • Weight 60-100 Pounds
  • Temperament Alert, Fearless, Loyal
  • Energy Very High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Pitbull Terrier

  • Height 17-21 Inches
  • Weight 30-65 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy High
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Breed History

These guys have quite differing histories, but their histories have similarly earned them an unfair reputation, which has meant that they often find themselves falling into Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher is an extremely popular working breed.

The Doberman Pinscher finds himself in the working dog group, having been purposefully bred to protect his tax collecting master in 19th Century Germany. The Doberman Pinscher has always been utilized in protection services ever since his creation, and he was the first canine casualty in World War II, having marched well ahead of his humans to warn them of approaching soldiers, and consequently saving many lives.

While this bravery and loyalty are still apparent in the breed, the Doberman is more commonly found warming himself up in front of the family fire rather than on the battlefield. He first arrived in America in 1921, and America is one of the only places in the world that kept the ‘Pinscher’ part of his name.

In 2019, the American Kennel Club (AKC) listed this breed as the 17th most popular dog breed in America. Celebrities such as Kevin Hart and Mariah Carey are avid fans, with Mariah’s Doberman, Princess, featuring in her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” music video, eagerly wagging her tail. The Doberman is often compared to similar working dogs like the German Shepherd, or another look-alike, the Rottweiler.

American Pitbull Terrier

Pitbull Terrier
American Pitbull Terriers are known as “nanny dogs.”

The Pitbull Terrier is notoriously known for his pit fighting history, put against rats, dogs and bulls; however, this viciousness was more of a reflection of his willingness to please his master who trained him to fight in the ring, rather than his violent personality.

His ancestors arrived in America in the 19th Century, so he is a relatively new dog breed in the canine kingdom. Ever since these blood sports were banned, he has increasingly found employment on farm ranches, and those that know the breed well have invited him into their family home.

The Pitbull Terrier was similarly used in World War II due to his loyal temperament, with Sallie being a famous Pitbull pooch who stood guard over wounded and fatally injured soldiers on the battlefield.

The Pitbull Terrier is not recognized by the AKC, and therefore a popularity comparison cannot be made against the Doberman; however, it is estimated that there were 4.4 million Pitbulls in America in mid-2018 with this number rising, so it is fair to say that there are quite a few of these friendly pooches about.

There are actually four different generic Pitbull classified breeds that classify as “Pitbulls”, and many shelter dogs that are euthanized every year are mistakenly classified as some type of Pitbull Terrier mix.


Pitbull vs Doberman
Both breeds are built solid with great muscle tone.

The Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are very different-looking dogs, with their athleticism being their main similarity. The Doberman is the much bigger of the two breeds, measuring between 24 and 28 inches tall, from paw to shoulder, compared to the Pitbull Terrier who measures between 17 and 21 inches tall.

The Doberman weighs between 60 and 100 pounds whereas the Pitbull Terrier weighs between 30 and 65 pounds. Despite their size differences, they are both athletic-looking dogs who are very proportionate in their frame, and rarely will you find an overweight specimen of either breed.

They both have a shiny coat, but the Dobermans coat is slightly longer than the Pitbull Terrier. The Doberman typically sports the black and rust color and distinctive markings, whereas the Pitbull Terrier is accepted in almost all dog colors, but more popular in red and blue.

The only color that the Pitbull Terrier is not accepted in is merle, and the Doberman, despite the somewhat trending color, is not accepted with a white coat, as this is simply albinism or leucism. So, if someone advertises a merle Pitbull Terrier or a white Doberman, while they might be just as cute, these colors are not naturally found in the breed and should be avoided.

Both of these guys often have their ears cropped because it is in keeping with their traditional looks, however, their natural ears are quite different, with the Doberman sporting the large drop triangle-shaped ear, with the Pitbull sporting the rose-shaped ear. Generally, the Doberman is described as elegant and formidable in appearance, and the Pitbull is described as looking stocky and sporty.


Doberman and Pitbull Temperament
Both breeds have differences and similarities in their temperaments.

The Doberman is described as one of the best guard dogs around, so if you are wondering which of these guys would make the best family guard dog then the Doberman wins paws down.

It can come as quite a surprise to many who don’t know the Pitbull Terrier that he does not make a great guard dog unless specifically trained to be, simply because he is a super sociable pup who would let anyone past the gate in exchange for a belly rub.

The Doberman is aloof with strangers, and combining that with his naturally suspicious nature, is the very reason why he regularly finds himself in protection and military employment.

The Doberman’s guarding tendencies mean that he can be quite a strong-willed pooch, which means that he is better suited to those families who have previous dog experience, or those who are up to the challenge of being a strong and dominant master. Many people mix Doberman with other breeds in order to tame this dominant behavior.

The Pitbull Terrier is much more submissive when it comes to his human pack and is suited to a novice dog owner. They are both known to be very playful and puppy-like long into their mature years, so you can expect a lot of fun with both of these guys.

They are better suited to families with older children due to their boisterous nature. As long as they are both trained well they would suit a multi-pet household too, so overall they make a great addition to most families!

Both the Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are very loyal and loving with their family, and would do anything to please them, so you can expect an obedient canine companion with these two guys. It does mean, however, that you can also expect a canine who suffers from separation anxiety and as such, they should only be placed into homes that can guarantee that they will spend a lot of time with their chosen breed.

Both breeds are prone to becoming more aggressive if not trained properly, in addition to their anxiety.  To assist with this behavior, we’d recommend looking at our favorite crates perfect for those pooches who suffer from separation anxiety.


Pitbull vs Doberman Exercise Requirements
Exercise requirements are similar for both breeds.

The Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are very energetic dogs who need around 60 minutes of exercise every day in order to fully expel all of that physical and mental energy of theirs. The Doberman will need slightly longer and more intense exercise during exercise sessions, whereas the Pitbull will need slightly more interaction in the form of games throughout the day as he is more restless.

Despite their high energy levels they are both partial to a snooze in the daytime with their family, particularly the Pitbull Terrier, but expect the Doberman to be quick on his paws if he suspects there is someone at the gate, or the Pitbull if he hears the rustling of a chip packet.

They are both very intelligent canines who would benefit from a variety of exercise activities, such as jogging, hiking, and interactive games such as frisbee and fetch. Being athletic also makes them top contenders for agility courses, so why not enroll them in a local competition.


Two Dogs in Training Outdoors in Green Grass
Both breeds are incredibly smart and are capable of being trained.

The Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are both very trainable thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please their masters. Positive reinforcement training is really important to train both of these guys, and it is likely that they will both be driven by praise from their master, with the Pitbull Terrier also being driven by their love of food, so the odd treat would also be appreciated.

In addition to this, it is important to socialize them from a very early age just so that they get used to being around different animals and humans of all ages and sizes, especially the Doberman who might become overprotective otherwise. If you plan to crate train your dog, both breeds train equally well, and you’ll want to make sure you have an appropriate sized crate for your Pitbull or your Doberman.

The difference between the Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier is that the Doberman will need much more intense training than the Pitbull, to ensure that he remains obedient and doesn’t try to challenge the pack hierarchy.

It is important to ensure that the entire family is on board and familiar with his training routine, and you can expect that training will be a lifelong commitment with the Doberman. Enrolling him in an obedience training class will help him on his way to becoming a well-balanced and polite pooch.


Pitbull vs Doberman Health
The Pitbull is usually a pretty healthy pup, but the Doberman can have slightly higher frequencies of health issues.

Both the Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier suffer from Hip Dysplasia, which is the abnormal formation of the hip sockets which, over time, causes painful arthritis of the joints, with the Doberman also suffering from additional Elbow Dysplasia.

The Doberman is also prone to Von Willebrand’s disease, which is caused by a blood platelet deficiency that stops his blood from being able to clot normally. It can be a serious condition because if he were to suffer an injury, he is at risk of losing a significant amount of blood, but DNA testing can identify whether this is present.

The Pitbull Terrier is prone to skin allergies, but once the allergen has been identified it is easily alleviated and managed with medication and high-quality kibble. Occasionally, he is also at risk of Cerebellar Abiotrophy, which results in a reduction of his mobility caused by abnormal brain function.

Overall, the Pitbull Terrier typically suffers from lesser health complaints and he lives longer than the Doberman, which is of course a factor to consider in regards to longevity and health costs.


Two Dogs Eating Food From Bowl and Human
Both breeds are quite active and need a diet that supports active dogs.

On average, the Doberman consumes around 4 cups of food every day, whereas the Pitbull Terrier consumes less at around 2 ½ cups of food every day. As they are both energetic and athletic dogs, they would do well on a high protein diet that provides them with the energy that they need to keep them sustained throughout the day.

While they do not have a tendency to become porky pooches, their food should be age-appropriate and free feeding should be avoided.

Because the Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are both at risk from Gastric Torsion, which is where their stomach twists either after eating one very large meal a day or eating immediately before or just after exercising. This can be a very serious life-threatening condition, which needs to be researched by all prospective owners.


Pitbull vs Doberman Grooming
The Pitbull and Doberman have similar grooming requirements.

Both the Doberman and the Pitbull Terrier are relatively simple to care for when it comes to their grooming schedules, which is great for those active families always on the go.

The Doberman would benefit from 2 brushes every week, and the Pitbull sheds less than a Doberman sheds, so they only require one. This is simply to keep their coat dander-free and healthy. Both of their coats are relatively short; however, they do shed seasonally and neither breed is appropriate for families with slight dog allergies.

If the Doberman keeps his large and drop-down natural ear shape then it is important to check his ears twice a week for a buildup of wax and infections, however, all other grooming routines for both breeds, such as bathing and nail clipping, should be completed as normal.


Two Small Puppies in Grass
Expect to pay $800+ for a Pitbull and $1,500+ for a Doberman.

The average price of a Doberman puppy costs around $1,500 and the average price of a Pitbull Terrier costs around $800, both from a reputable breeder. It is important to ensure that you work with a reputable breeder because not only can they provide you with health certificates from both of their parents, but you can also be sure that they have been given the best start to life and they would not have been mistreated in any way.

For those families wishing to adopt the best place to start is to research breed specific rescue centers. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America list rescue centers state by state, as does the Pitbull Rescue Center website.

It is always worth noting here that because both of these breeds often fall under BSL, particularly the Pitbull Terrier, it is important to check your local laws and understand what this might mean for you, as often there are financial implications to be aware of.

Final Thoughts

The Doberman Pinscher and the Pitbull Terrier are both affectionate and loyal dogs who love their entire human family very much, and would do just about anything for them. They are also both energetic and need to be placed with families that can offer them with plenty of exercise and attention throughout the day.

They both look very different from one another, with the Doberman being the larger breed, so if space is an issue, or a smaller and more sociable dog would suit your living conditions better, then the Pitbull Terrier would be the obvious choice. Equally, if you prefer larger dogs or you are seeking a family guard dog, then the Doberman would suit this role better.

Whichever breed suits you and your family, you can rest assured that they are both loving breeds that will shower you with equal amounts of love and canine cuddles, and there will never be a dull moment with one of these guys around.

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