Well, they look an awful lot alike. Similar coloring, similar body structure, but at 24 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder, the Doberman pinscher is much bigger than the miniature pinscher, who stands only 10 to 12 1/2 inches. So are the Doberman and the min pin related?
It's All Relative
Both the miniature pinscher and the Doberman are breeds recognized through the American Kennel Club as well as dog breeders’ associations around the world. So, technically, yes, they are related and could even be called cousins. But when it comes to the question of if the min pin is literally a miniature Doberman, the answer is no. While some mistakenly believe that the mini pinscher is a toy version of the Doberman, the two breeds have distinctly different origins, with one theory maintaining the reverse: that Dobermans were bred up from mini pinschers.
Murky Origin of the Mini
Because "pinscher" is the German word for "terrier," Germany is often credited as being the originating country for both breeds. D. Caroline Coile, however, explains in her book on miniature pinschers that the origins of the miniature pinscher can't be documented and tells of one theory that min pins were the result of crossing a small, short-haired terrier with the Italian greyhound and the dachshund. Other theories of the mini pins' beginnings place them in Scandinavia a century before the Doberman breed was developed and claiming that they are the product of crossing small German pinschers and Scandinavian Klein pinschers with the possibility of Italian greyhounds thrown in the mix. Because of their rat catching and killing prowess, it's not disputed that mini pinschers were bred to hunt rats and rid homes and barnyards of them.
Equally Hazy Origin of the Doberman
The popular and most widely accepted story of the development of the Doberman pinscher tells of a tax collector, Louis Dobermann, who wanted a dog of medium size to be a guard dog and a companion. Dobermann is said to have cross-bred Rottweilers, Great Danes and most likely German pinschers to finally acquire the type of dog he wanted. This story, too, is one that cannot be documented, but considering the size and attributes of the Doberman, it is possible.
Other than the difference in size, these two pinschers have an uncanny resemblance to each other, but the similarities don't stop there. The AKC describes both breeds as active and needing regular exercise. Both breeds make excellent companions and watchdogs, ready to sound the alarm when an intruder is present. And because the feisty min pin thinks he is a standard-sized dog, both will be at the ready to back up a warning to a stranger -- although the Doberman is more likely to make an impression. With both breeds having short coats, grooming requirements for both the mini and the Doberman pinscher are minimal. An occasional brush and shampoo will keep either dog clean and looking nice.
Which One is Right for You?
If you love the look of both pinschers and are enchanted with their personality traits as well, a few distinctions may help you decide which of the two breeds is right for you. Both need daily exercise, but if you live in an apartment or lack a yard for a larger dog, the min pin would be the better choice. The AKC reports that the miniature pinscher will be happy with apartment life, living with a family who treats him like the big dog he thinks he is. On the other hand, if you do have the room and would like a larger dog, the Doberman pinscher is the choice for you. He will fearlessly watch over your property and be an obedient and loyal companion.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.