Doberman vs German Shepherd: Which is the Better Guard Dog?

Written by Megan Martin
Published: April 19, 2022
Share on:


Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are popular as protective guard dogs that can help keep your home and family safe. However, when it comes down to the Doberman vs German Shepherd, do you know which is the better guard dog?

Protectiveness and the ability to work as a guard dog come from a variety of factors, in which the Doberman and German Shepherd differ. Keep reading to learn which is best for fulfilling this invaluable role. 

Comparing the Doberman vs German Shepherd

The German Shepherd and the Doberman are both interesting guard dogs.
DobermanGerman Shepherd
Size24 to 28 inches22 to 26 inches
Weight60 to 100 pounds75 to 90 pounds
Coat/Hair TypeSmooth, short coatDouble coat with medium length
ColorsBlack and rust, blue and rust, red and rust, white, fawn and rustSolid black or blue, or bicolor with black and a variety of colors, including tan, red, and silver. 
TemperamentFearless, alert, protective, loyalIntelligent, loyal, courageous, confident, aloof with family
Life Expectancy10 to 12 years10 to 14 years
Energy LevelsHighHigh

Doberman vs German Shepherd: 5 Key Differences

taste of the wild high prairie puppy

German Shepherds are born with floppy ears.


Guard dogs aren’t created equal. While both the Doberman and the German Shepherd can thrive in this role, their differences help set them apart and determine where and with whom they’ll thrive. The Doberman is a large dog, one that is two inches and ten pounds larger than the German Shepherd. They’re also a quieter breed that’s easily trainable with enough time and effort. While they lack the double coat that helps the German Shepherd thrive in any environment, Dobermans are also highly adaptable. 

Choosing the right breed to be your guard dog, then, falls onto your lifestyle, home, and family. Keep reading to see the differences between the Doberman and the German Shepherd and which type of family they would do best with as a guard dog.

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Size

Size plays a large role in the effectiveness of a guard dog. Larger dogs can be more intimidating, and there are fewer things that are threatening to them. However, there may also be breed restrictions for certain large dogs, making it harder to bring them into an apartment environment. 

The Doberman is larger than the German Shepherd. When you’re comparing their heights, the Doberman is around two inches larger. While this difference is less than the size of a credit card, it does play a role in other size factors. For instance, while the Doberman is only around two inches taller, they’re around ten pounds heavier.

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Trainability

taste of the wild sierra mountain

German Shepherds can be friendly with other dogs and families.

©Dmitry Kalinovsky/

While some dogs have a natural instinct for guarding and protecting, it’s still important to be able to train them to properly utilize these instincts as a guard dog. Both the German Sheperd and the Doberman are highly intelligent breeds and eager to please, which can help them in training. 

The Doberman, however, has a sense of independence that can pose some problems if you aren’t firm enough in training. Despite this, it responds best to gentle and positive training rather than sharp. Rewards are the way to this breed’s heart. German Shepherds respond well to positive training as well, though they have less tendency to be defiant. 

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Temperament

While it’s important to train a dog properly in order for them to become a guard dog, it’s also important to start off with the right foundation. This includes a natural instinct for protection but also the right temperament. Temperament also plays a role in whether or not a guard dog is right for a family environment.

Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are fearless protectors who can be affectionate with those they determine to be family. They can even be good around children so long as they are trained and socialized properly. However, German Shepherds have lower natural aggression, which can make them a better choice if you have smaller pets, like cats. 

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Bark

Doberman Pinscher pair

Dobermans are less likely to bark over nothing with proper training.


A loud bark can be both a blessing and a curse. While barking can be fundamental in helping keep your family safe both by alerting you and by deterring potential threats, there’s a time and a place for it. This is especially true if you live in an apartment setting or otherwise shared living situation where noise complaints are probable over a constantly barking dog. 

The Doberman tends to be a fairly quiet breed. While it has a loud, intimidating bark when need be, it is not likely to bark over nothing, especially with proper training. German Shepherds, on the other hand, not only barks a lot, but loud enough that it may not even be able to hear you. This can make training it to control their bark difficult. 

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Adaptability

Adaptability refers to a dog’s ability to live in any situation or environment. Because guard dogs may live fully inside in a house or apartment, or they may spend some time outside, it’s important to choose a breed that can thrive in any setting.

Both the Doberman and the German Shepherd are highly adaptable so long as their needs are met. However, because the Doberman lacks an undercoat, it can struggle to thrive in certain temperatures, especially if they are outside for long periods of time. 

Doberman vs German Shepherd: Conclusion

smartest dog breeds - Doberman Pinscher

Doberman is the better guard dog.


Choosing any pet can be a difficult decision, but it can be especially challenging to pick a guard dog. You want a dog that will help keep you and your family safe without posing a risk of aggression. You’ll also need to take into account your lifestyle and home.

The Doberman and the German Shepherd are both versatile breeds able to adapt to nearly any situation and anyone with enough training and socialization. While the Doberman may exceed weight limits for certain apartment complexes, it is much quiet than the German Shepherd. It also does better with smaller animals, although both can be good with kids with the right training.

Overall, the Doberman is the better guard dog due to its size, trainability and adaptability, and temperament. However, the German Shepherd can easily fit right into your home as well. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Dmytro Zinkevych/

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Share on:
About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.