The earliest surviving written reference to the place dates from 1326; it mentions that ethnic German mining experts had settled here. It received a town charter in 1417, becoming a major town for the minority of Carpathian Germans and a center of mining (gold, silver, nickel, later iron, cobalt, copper, mercury etc.) and iron processing in the past. In the vicinity are mines of various materials, some of them very ancient.
Until the 18th century, Dobšiná was more or less a German enclave, but after strict Magyarization, the German community lost some of its strength, although it was still the dominant ethnic group in the town. Oddly enough, in 1927 there was a German (Buliner) Festival to celebrate the 600th anniversary, much of which was conducted in German, as the majority of the town still spoke it, as well as Hungarian. The church records from as early as the 1600s show that the town was still overwhelmingly German. The residents referred to themselves as Dobschauer or Topschauer and spoke a dialect of German called Buliner. During World War II, Slovak forces forced the ethnic Germans to leave, and at the war’s end, when they were returning to their home, Slovak soldiers massacred most of them, thereby effectively destroying the German presence in the town. After the war, Slovaks from other parts of Czechoslovakia were resettled in the vacant homes.