Dobermans were first bred in the town of Apolda, in the German state of Thuringia around 1890, following the Franco-Prussian War by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. Dobermann served in the dangerous role of local tax collector and ran the Apolda dog pound. With access to dogs of many breeds, he aimed to create a breed that would be ideal for protecting him during his collections, which took him through many bandit-infested areas. He set out to breed a new type of dog that, in his opinion, would be the perfect combination of strength, speed, endurance, loyalty, intelligence and ferocity. Later, Otto Goeller and Philip Greunig continued to develop the breed to become the dog that is seen today.
The breed is believed to have been created from several different breeds of dogs that had the characteristics that Dobermann was looking for. The exact ratios of mixing, and even the exact breeds that were used, remain uncertain to this day, although many experts believe that the Dobermann Pinscher is a combination of several breeds including the Beauceron, German Pinscher, Rottweiler and Weimaraner. The single exception is the documented crossing with the Greyhound and Manchester Terrier. It is also widely believed that the old German Shepherd gene pool was the single largest contributor to the Dobermann breed. Philip Greunig's The Dobermann Pinscher (1939), is considered the foremost study of the development of the breed by one of its most ardent students. Greunig's study describes the breed's early development by Otto Goeller, whose hand allowed the Dobermann to become the dog we recognize today. The American Kennel Club believes the breeds utilized to develop the Dobermann Pinscher may have included the old shorthaired shepherd, Rottweiler, Black and Tan Terrier and the German Pinscher.
After Dobermann's death in 1894, the Germans named the breed Dobermann-pinscher in his honor, but a half century later dropped the word 'pinscher' on the grounds that this German word for 'terrier' was no longer appropriate. The British did the same a few years later; now the US and Canada are the only countries who continue to use Pinscher and have dropped an "n" from Dobermann's surname. During World War II, the United States Marine Corps adopted the Doberman Pinscher as its official war dog, although the Corps did not exclusively use this breed in the role.
In the United States, the American Kennel Club ranked the Doberman Pinscher as the 12th most popular dog breed in 2012 and 2013.