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European vs. American

We will compare the European and American Doberman by first showing their respective standard, showing some images of dogs and bitches of each color, and finally pointing out the differences that I consider note-worthy. The following information is for educational purposes and therefore use of images are protected under the Fair Use Law. We are not attempting to defame either type of Doberman in this explanation. We are only attempting to educate the reader as to the differences that we have noticed among the American Doberman and European Dobermann.


Europe, Russia, Asia, South America, Central America, and a few other parts of the world use the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard for judging the conformation of the Dobermann (they spell Doberman with two ‘N’s). Click on the image below to see the complete FCI Dobermann Standard:

Below are images of Dobermans from the International Doberman Club (IDC) website. The IDC follows the FCI standards and is the largest Doberman club in Europe.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) Doberman Pinscher (AKC uses Pinscher in the name) Standard is used solely in America. The Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA) is responsible for the creation and review of the AKC Doberman Pinscher Standard. Click on the image below to read more about the AKC Doberman Pinscher Standard:

Below are images of Doberman Pinschers from the AKC website.

Differences between European and American Dobermans

  • Working trials are mentioned in the FCI standard. Almost all European Doberman show dogs have at least one working title, and many have either a ZTP (breed suitability test), IPO1, IPO2, or IPO3 title. I would consider this to be the biggest difference between the two. Some European countries do not allow Doberman owners to breed their bitch without her first having a BH title. This is not to say that American bloodline Dobermans cannot be working dogs. It is to say that there are far fewer American than European Dobermans that are best suited for work because of the non-existence of working trials in their standard and breeding practice. The IDC has separate world championships for conformation and work, with some Dobermans competing in both during their lifetime.


  • Their conformation is different. The most obvious is the size difference. European Dobermans tend to be about 10% larger in muscle and bone than their American counterparts. American Dobermans have a more upright neck; sometimes referred to as a “swan neck”. European Dobermans almost always have a thicker neck and head in relation to their body when compared to American. European Doberman’s topline is more angulated and consists of one linear segment, while the American’s topline is comprised of two adjoining linear segments. American Dobermans usually (not always) have more of a tuck under, while the bottom line a European can be less tucked (but should still be present).


  • Many of the conformation differences can be seen in this image.

  • American Dobermans are required to have their ears cropped and tail docked to compete in AKC conformation, whereas the Europeans are required to be natural. There might be a few European Dobermans that still compete as cropped/docked, but they are only permitted because they were born before a certain date. Very soon, there will only be natural Dobermans competing in FCI competitions. It is illegal in most of Western Europe to crop and/or dock almost any dog; the only exception being a police/military/hunting dogs with paperwork being required. So, almost all Dobermans have their natural tail and ears. We are fortunate to live in America, a country where the owner gets to decide whether he/she wants to crop and/or dock. We have sold puppies and juvenile dogs that have been both natural and cropped/docked. We can see the beauty in both natural and altered ears and tails.


  • American Dobermans can compete in four different coat color combinations: Black & Rust, Red & Rust, Blue & Rust, and Fawn & Rust. European Dobermans can compete in two different coat color combinations: Black & Rust, and Brown & Rust. Even though the Europeans use the word Brown instead of Red, both words represent the same coat color. I have noticed that European Dobermans tend to have darker rust markings. Till recently, Blue and Fawn European Dobermans have still been born, but haven’t been able to compete in FCI events. Many years ago, Europe allowed Blue Dobermans to compete. Both colors, Fawn (Isabella) and Blue, have been deemed unacceptable to European Doberman Clubs; their reason being that both diluted coats have very weak hair follicles that have a strong tendency to break off, causing multiple skin issues. In its creation, one of the first two Dobermans made was described as being a mousy gray-blue color. In the past, we have had dilute (Blue & Fawn) puppies come out in our litters and have had great success in finding great homes for them. Blues and Fawns have to be inside-only dogs to ensure their coat and skin stay healthy. We have many blues and fawns that are older now and look great, but they have been inside and pampered most of their life. Now-a-days, we strive for having all black & rust and brown & rust puppies for easier coats.


  •  A few decades ago, Dobermans from Russia and countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union were healthier than American and Western European Dobermans, but it cannot be said with a high degree of certainty that Dobermans from any particular part of the today’s world have a smaller probability of suffering from any particular disease or illness. Many Doberman experts believe that this phenomena is due to Russian and Eastern European breeders using Western European Dobermans to make their lines have a certain look. We like to believe that the Dobermans out of the Russia/Ukraine area are still healthier, but that is merely our opinion (could be considered speculative) and would need research to back up such a claim. The research done on the health of Dobermans from different regions of the world is very dated.


The following is some of the research mentioned above:


*Even though there are other differences, these are the ones that we felt were most apparent.