Golden Retriever vs. Doberman: 10 Differences Between Them

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Golden Retriever or Doberman Pinscher, which is the right dog for you?

Goldens and Dobermans are two popular breeds, but they each suit very different lifestyles.

Learning about each breed’s characteristics will help you decide which will work best for your personality and family life.

We’ll first look at a brief overview of the two breeds, and then take a deeper dive into comparing them in a variety of categories, including:

  • Temperament
  • Activity Levels
  • Trainability
  • Family Life
  • Physical Appearance
  • Health Concerns
  • And much more!
golden retriever vs doberman pinscher

Golden Retriever Overview

The Golden Retriever is a lovable, intelligent, friendly family dog, and is one of America’s most popular dog breeds.

Goldens are known for their outgoing personality and companionability in family homes.

They were originally bred in Scotland to be gundogs who retrieve shot birds for their hunters.

(This has several implications today that we’ll talk about in a bit.)

Goldens are exuberant workers who excel in dog sports and field work.

Although originally bred to have high stamina, these days Golden Retrievers primarily serve as family dogs.

They are medium-large in size, and have a double coat that comes in a variety of shades, from cream-colored to dark red.

Goldens require daily exercise and mental stimulation in order to meet their needs.

Without this, they may find themselves getting into trouble in the home.

Golden Retrievers are eager learners who respond very well to training, which helps set them up for a successful, harmonious life with their human families.

Doberman Pinscher Overview

Doberman Pinschers have risen in popularity over the last 30-40 years.

These striking dogs are highly intelligent, athletic and elegant. 

Dobermans are affectionate with their families, extremely trainable and fearlessly protective.

They were first bred in Germany in the late 1800s to be protection dogs.

While they can make excellent family companion dogs, Dobermans have high exercise requirements and a somewhat intimidating appearance.

They are medium-large sized dogs with short coats that traditionally come in several different colors and combinations.

Dobermans are a high-energy breed who need frequent exercise and are often eager for the next adventure.

Dobermans are known as one of the smartest breeds, and they can make great family pet dogs, so long as they’re properly exercised and socialized.

Now let’s dive into how these two breeds compare.


doberman pinscher

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are known for their extroverted, gentle nature.

They are devoted and friendly dogs, with an eager-to-please personality.

When well-bred, Goldens are highly sociable and adaptable.

They are not an overly reactive or aggressive breed.

Goldens can be very intuitive and in-tune with their families.

Their sensitive side can be both a positive and negative quality, depending on the situation.

They are a family-focused breed who would prefer spending time with you over being left home alone.

The Golden Retrievers’ stable temperament makes them excellent service dogs and they generally enjoy having a job to do, whether that’s playing fetch or retrieving a bottle of water from the fridge.

Doberman Pinscher

Despite their intimidating appearance, Dobermans, or Dobies as they’re lovingly referred to, are quite friendly, sweet-natured dogs.

Dobies take their jobs very seriously.

Historically, they’ve done things ranging from personal protection to military and police work.

Although Dobermans were initially bred to be watch dogs for guarding purposes, with the right socialization and training, they can be lovely family dogs.

They are playful, versatile dogs who prefer being with their people.

They’re so devoted to their families that many have affectionately earned the nickname “velcro dogs”.


Golden Retrievers are sociable, friendly dogs with a gentle disposition and sensitive personality.

When appropriately socialized, Dobermans can also be affectionate and sweet, though they may not come hard-wired that way.

If a naturally easygoing temperament appeals to you in your future dog, then a Golden is likely more your speed.

If you’re looking for a protection dog, then a Doberman is

Activity Levels

Golden Retriever

A typical Golden will do well with about an hour or two of physical exercise a day.

Ideal exercise for Goldens would be a hike out in nature where they can move their bodies freely and engage in typical dog activities, like sniffing, digging and foraging.

Goldens also love to play fetch out in the yard, go for a swim, or play fun training games to satisfy their exercise needs.

Depending on the type of Golden you have (working-line vs. show-line) their energy needs may vary.

Be sure to choose the Golden that best suits your lifestyle and personal activity level.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobies are a highly energetic breed who require plenty of daily exercise.

An average Doberman will do best with 90 or more minutes of activity each day.

The Doberman’s athletic build and muscular body makes them excellent running or biking partners.

Like Goldens, Dobies also require free movement in nature, so a nice long hike off leash (or on a long line) should wear them out sufficiently.

Dobermans are high-energy dogs across the board, so be sure to take that into consideration when choosing your next pup.


Golden Retrievers are an active breed that requires daily exercise.

Dobies have higher exercise requirements and would enjoy a family who’s very active and able to provide them with high-intensity daily exercise.

golden retriever kisses


Golden Retriever

Goldens are highly engaged, cooperative learners.

They’re intelligent, fun, quick learners that enjoy working together with their handlers to master whatever training you throw their way.

Depending on their personality and genetics, Goldens can be anything from calm, gentle service dogs to energetic search and rescue partners.

Goldens respond well to positive reinforcement-based training.

Doberman Pinschers

Dobies are easy to train and known to be one of the smartest breeds out there.

Since they’re large, powerful dogs, foundational training from a young age is in your best interest.

Dobermans are motivated students who tend to really love training as a means to meet their mental stimulation needs.

Taking advantage of your Dobie’s naturally bright personality with daily training is a great way to bond with them.


Both Golden Retrievers and Dobermans are highly intelligent, engaged learners who love to train.

All dogs should be trained with positive reinforcement-based methods.

Family Life

Golden Retrievers

Goldens are highly adaptable dogs who would do well in a home with children or without, in the city, suburbs or on the farm.

Because of their gentle, happy disposition, for years Goldens have been one of the most popular dogs for homes with children.

Goldens are often excellent at modifying their play style from soft and calm with smaller kids to more boisterous and rough with older children and adults.

However, young children should always be supervised when in the presence of dogs.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobies love to be with their people, whether inside or outdoors.

They’d do best in a home where they have plenty of outside space to run around and play.

Dobermans tend to be quite rambunctious, so they may not be suitable in a home with very young children, especially during their adolescence. 

But with proper socialization, top-notch breeding and training, they can be very successful family pet dogs. 


Golden Retrievers are great family pet dogs, and typically do well with children of all ages.

They’re adaptable dogs who can live just about anywhere as long as their exercise needs can be met.

Dobermans are playful, affectionate family dogs, though their sometimes rowdy playstyle may not be suitable in homes with very young children.

Dog and children interactions should be supervised by an adult at all times.

doberman dog

Physical Appearance

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers have long, feathery wash-and-wear double coats that come in a variety of golden shades, from light to dark.

Depending on their lines, Goldens can be muscular and sturdy, or lean and athletic.

Their heads are large and blocky with sweet, expressive eyes and big floppy ears.

Goldens have a long, slightly curved tail, with long hair and an almost constant, happy wag. 

According to the AKC, male Goldens should be 23-24” tall and 65-75lbs., while females should be 21.5-22.5” tall and 55-65 lbs.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobies are sleek and sporty, with short, dense coats that most commonly come in black, blue, red or fawn.

Historically, Dobies had their ears clipped and set into an upright pointed triangle, though these days many families opt to leave them naturally floppy.

A Doberman’s tail was also traditionally cropped to a short bob, but many Dobie owners are moving away from that, as well.

According to the AKC, male Dobies stand 26-28’ tall and 75-100lbs, while females are 24-26” and 60-90lbs.


Golden Retrievers are medium-large breed dogs with long, feathery coats, sweet facial features and happily wagging tails.

Dobermans are medium-large, elegant dogs, with short coats and historically cropped ears and docked tails.

If you prefer a softer-looking, happy-go-lucky type of appearance in your dog, then a Golden Retriever is a better fit for you.

If you’re partial to a sleek, athletic, more pointed look, then the Doberman Pinscher is more suited to your taste.


Golden Retriever

With their thick double coats, Golden Retrievers look like they’d be difficult to groom.

While Goldens are actually pretty low maintenance, they do need weekly brushing to keep their long, feathery coats smooth and shiny. 

Golden coats can get matted with burrs, so occasional clipping might be part of their care routine.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobie coats are super short and easy to maintain. 

Your Dobie will never need a full, professional groom or cut, though a sporadic bath will help keep them looking sleek and elegant. 


Golden Retrievers have long coats that need weekly brushing and occasional clipping to keep them clean and shiny.

Dobermans rarely need any coat maintenance, though bathing from time to time will help sustain their sleek coat.

If you have little time for coat upkeep then a Doberman is likely a better fit for you.

golden retriever dog

Health Concerns

Golden Retriever

Some of the most common health issues that plague Goldens are:

  • Cancer
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Skin allergies

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans also struggle with some rather serious health issues:

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism 


Unfortunately, both Golden Retrievers and Dobermans commonly suffer from some serious health concerns that can be fatal.

Goldens have a high rate of cancer, while Dobermans are prone to DCM.

Life Expectancy

Golden Retriever

Goldens live an average lifespan of 10-12 years.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans also typically live 10-12 years.


Both Goldens and Dobermans live about 10-12 years on average.


Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever puppy from a high-quality breeder can cost anywhere from $1,500-$3,500.

It’s important to consider what goes into the cost, and what testing the breeder is doing on the puppy’s parents.

Doberman Pinscher

An ethically, well-bred Dobie will cost $1,200-$2,500.

Questions about proper genetic and health testing are very important to ask of your breeder.


Golden Retriever puppies can cost more than Dobermans.

Researching breeders and their programs is super important in ensuring you get a well-bred, physically and behaviorally healthy dog.

Puppy Availability

Golden Retriever

As one of the most sought after breeds in North America, Golden Retriever breeders and puppies are not at all hard to find.

Many great breeders have waitlists for their litters, but you shouldn’t have to wait too long to find a puppy.

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans are also pretty high up on the list of popular dogs these days, so Dobie puppies are pretty readily available.

While not as easy to find as Goldens, there are many great Doberman breeders around.


Goldens and Dobermans puppies are both fairly common, but there are definitely more Golden breeders than Dobermans.

Final Thoughts On Getting A Golden Retriever Or Doberman

golden retriever and doberman

Golden Retrievers and Dobermans are very different breeds that require research and consideration in order to choose the one that best suits your lifestyle.

Genetics, early socialization and learning are critical in raising well-rounded dogs.

Golden Retrievers and Dobermans are both energetic, athletic dogs, but the Doberman requires more daily activity and outdoor space to roam.

Goldens tend to accept all people, and are fun, friendly, gregarious dogs.

Since they were genetically bred to be guard dogs, Dobermans need plenty of socialization to all kinds of people in order to happily accept them.

Goldens and Dobermans can both be excellent family pets, though a Doberman’s size and energy may not be ideal in a home with small children.

Golden Retrievers have longer coats that can get matted and need weekly brushing. 

Dobermans have very low-maintenance coats that need little but the occasional bath to keep them sleek and shiny.

As you begin your search for the next perfect family pet, consider which characteristics are important to you.

Be sure to find a breeder producing the dogs that best fit your family and lifestyle.

Read our other breed comparisons here:

To learn more about whether or not a Golden Retriever is right for you, take the Golden Retriever Quiz!

And if you’ve decided on getting a Golden Retriever, check out this article on how to raise a Golden Retriever puppy.

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