Donovan's Pinscher

A Powerful New Hybrid Developed as a Working Dog for Police Security and Therapy

The Donovan's Pinscher (or Donovan Pinscher) is a powerful working dog with a highly intimidating presence and behavior best controlled by expert handlers.


Some say that this is a rare breed with few dogs available in the United States, while others claim that this imposing dog is an accomplished breed, working K-9 security, and personal service work for therapy purposes. While described as the "number one utilitarian working breed in the world," it is not a recognizable name and few admit to actual ownership of the dog.

The breed is about 16 years old and was originally developed by Dominick Donovan, a trainer and handler who operated Donovan K-9 Training and Breeding Facilities, originally in New Jersey. He and his partner, Jennifer Barisano, also ran an attack dog training center and boarding kennel called Pet Care Associates in Luzern County, Pennsylvania. That establishment was shut down by the State Department of Agriculture's Dog Law Enforcement division in January of 2006 after it was discovered that 23 dogs were sickened and had died from parvovirus. The owners were subsequently charged with one count of animal cruelty, because they failed to keep their kennel in appropriate sanitary conditions. Still, the verdict was largely upheld and the couple was ordered to pay $1600 in fines, reduced from the original sentence of 60 days in jail and $3200 in fines.

The dog has been called a Molosser and may have a wide variety of breeds in its ancestry, including the Dutch Shepherd; Belgian Malinois; American Pit Bull Terrier; Japanese Tosa; American Bulldog; German Shepherd; Neapolitan Mastiff; English Mastiff; Rottweiler; Fila Brasiliero; Bullmastiff; Akita; Cane Corso; Presa Canario; and other types of “bandogs.” It was intended to be an excellent working dog emphasizing the best traits of its parental lineage. Those who have experience with the dog report that it is highly energetic manifesting characteristics of its daunting heritage with superior aptitude for learning and pervasive apprehension. Although there is some Doberman Pinscher in the original breeding, it was used only briefly, while the Dutch Shepherd, apparently a favorite of the breeder, was used extensively.


The head is well-balanced and well-proportioned in relation to the rest of the body and is wedgeshaped when viewed from the top and side. The neck is long with prominent muscles; the teeth are awesome, closing in a scissor bite. The skin is loose and thick around the neck and chest, and tight to the body elsewhere. Vertical folds around the neck and chest should be present even in very athletic animals. Coat colors are fawn or red, with or without black masks. They can also be any shade of black or brindle. In adulthood, the Donovan's Pinscher can weigh 65 to 100 pounds and stand 20 to 26 inches at the shoulder. The ears are cropped in "military" style.


Opinion about the breed's temperament is mixed. While many say that the breed is a superb working dog that is very devoted to its trainer, others have said the personality is unpredictable at best. While bred to be aggressive "when needed" to guard people and property, sometimes they can simply be aggressive for no reason. One of the online forums devoted to this breed detailed a story in which a woman was suddenly kept out of her house because her pet Donovan's Pinscher, which she had raised from puppyhood, suddenly became threatening. Another, who had bought the Donovan's Pinscher to be a herding dog, said that it became more antagonistic as it matured with erratic behavior. Therefore, it cannot be conclusively determined that this is a docile breed even in the right hands.

A description by the breeder himself says that, "Like most working dogs, when handled properly, this mighty Molosser could make an excellent family companion, but the Donovan's Pinscher is a very serious and driven breed and there aren't many specimens found as pets, if at all." Therefore, this type of dog is probably not suitable as a family pet, although it apparently can be an effective service dog in the hands of experienced trainers to whom it is devoted.

Strong, agile, and intelligent, the Donovan's Pinscher purportedly has the ability to reason and then react with an absolute, undiluted intensity unique to this breed. Under the tutelage of an expert disciplinarian and focused on a task, the dog is said to be clear, completely obedient, and easily controlled. Ideally, the breed’s attitude should be attentive to its handler, alert and confident, and in control of its environment. It should not be fearful of its surroundings, shy, or insecure in any way if it is to meet the standards established for the breed.


The Donovan's Pinscher is a hybrid (designer dog) that is not registered with any major canine or breeding organization, such as the American Kennel Club. However, based on descriptions found in support of this breed, it appears that this is a hardy dog with few health problems. According to some sources, the breeder has used as many as 14 breeds in this dog’s development which would logically result in a minimal number of breed-related illnesses or health problems. Since the breed has only been in existence for about 16 years, its true lifespan has not been established.


There is no grooming information on the Donovan's Pinscher, although its coat is short, glossy and hard. This would suggest that grooming would be relatively easy, perhaps a simple brushing and wipe down on a regular basis, bathing only as needed.

Should you adopt the Donovan's Pinscher as a pet?

That's difficult to say at this point. Enthusiasts have said that the dog is "like butter" in the hands of an experienced handler, meaning that it is utterly obedient and devoted. Others have said that even when these dogs have been absolutely focused and obedient as puppies and young dogs, they can develop an aggressiveness as they grow older, making them difficult to handle. Regardless, the dog is bred to be aggressive when told to be so, and is apparently extensively used in guarding and protective situations. Therefore, at least at this point and before further information is known, the Donovan's Pinscher is probably not suitable as a household pet, especially if you have small children. Again, even the breeder has said that while they "may" make suitable family pets, as many breeds can eventually become, they are bred to be "serious and driven." He gives the impression that indeed, the Donovan's Pinscher would truly not make a good family pet, although it is an excellent working dog in many situations.


Собаки Сибири: Donovan Pinscher.

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

Donovan Pinscher.

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

Donovan Pinscher.

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

Leerburg Forum: What is a Donovan Pinscher?

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

Pit Bull Forums: Donovan Pinscher movie 2009.

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

Working Dog Forum: Donovan Pinscher.

Retrieved April 6, 2014.

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