A Dobie First?

Doberman Pinschers are truly fabulous dogs. Versatile, easily trained, and friendly when bred and socialized properly (true of any breed), so it’s unfortunate that Hollywood so often mischaracterized them in movies.

It shouldn’t happen to a dog.

The Boys from Brazil, Chinese Zodiac, Trapped, In the Mouth of Madness, to name a few, portrayed the breed as vicious, and not surprisingly, it taught some people to be fearful at the sight of a Doberman Pinscher in real life. To be fair, however, there are also movies (often comedies) in which the breed was presented in a better light…but it took a awhile.

But which movie was the first to show a Doberman Pinscher for longer than a nanosecond? Some readers might say it was The Doberman Gang from 1972. Others – film buffs, most likely, might cite Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire from 1953, or The Man with My Face made in 1951. We have no definitive answer, but certainly in the running would be the film, It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dog (note clever literary echo from the first paragraph) from 1946. Starring Carole Landis and Allyn Joslyn, some cinephiles believe the film was possibly the first starring role for a Doberman Pinscher. Check out this clip, the first scene in which we see the dog:

The plot of the movie is pretty basic: A journalist investigating crimes ends up working together with “Rodney” the Doberman Pinscher to take down the Valentine gang. Rodney turns out to be a important in bringing justice to the criminals. Read: Hero.

The movie came out towards the end of WWII when Gl’s were coming back home, often with their Doberman war dogs. Prior to this date, Dobies were spotted in bit parts, often put out by Dogs for Defense, the US military program in which pet owners were asked to donate their pet dogs to the war effort following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. It’s thought that some 25,000 dogs were donated to serve in some capacity, though we’ve seen numbers as high as 50,000-300,000 dogs. You can read more about the DOD program here. 

Getting back to the subject at hand, you can watch It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dog in its entirely on You Tube. Interestingly, “Rodney” portrays a dog recently discharged from his World War II duties in the K-9 Corps.

Our image is the movie’s billboard poster which you can still buy here

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