american vs european doberman

American vs European Doberman: How Different Are These Two Breed Lines?

If you have never heard of the European Doberman or the American Doberman before, you are definitely not alone.

Most people don’t find out about these differences until they start researching to find their new Doberman puppy.

But are the American Doberman and the European Doberman two different dog breeds? Or are they simply two different breed lines with a shared basic genetic lineage?

Find out what you need to know about the American vs European Doberman in this informative article.

American vs European Doberman

The American Doberman and the European Doberman are both still Dobermans in terms of belonging to the same dog breed.

However, there are some visible differences in the size, height, weight, coat color, and temperament that you should be aware of before choosing your new Doberman dog.

Learn the Difference Between American vs European Doberman

This short YouTube video outlines the major differences between the American Doberman and the European Doberman breed lines.

In addition to these differences, keep in mind that the Doberman breeder you choose can have a lifelong impact on the health and social skills of your new Doberman dog.

A Brief Overview of the Working Doberman Dog

Doberman dogs belong to the working group of purebred dog breeds. Working dogs are bred to do specific jobs. Breeders may spend decades or even centuries refining key traits to produce a dog that excels in a certain type of job.

Doberman Pinschers, or Dobermans as they are often called, have been bred to excel at guarding, protecting, and patrolling.

Dobermans are frequently top picks for K-9 and military work, security and guard dog work, service and therapy dog work, and search and rescue work.

Dobermans also excel at canine athletics and in the show ring. These dogs score high marks in intelligence, work ethic, courage, loyalty – all qualities dog lovers prize in their canine companion.

In fact, prior to the last half-century, Dobermans were seldom kept as family pets. These dogs worked alongside humans in important and sometimes life-saving roles where humans and canines were true partners.

Before choosing a Doberman of any lineage as a pet, it is important to remember that Dobermans, whether American or European, have been bred to work and will crave daily activity on a physical and mental level.

A History of the Doberman Dog Breed Development

The Doberman Pinscher Club of America recounts how the first Doberman dogs were actually developed in Germany.

The official breed founder, Louis Dobermann, also gave his new dog breed his name. His goal was to develop a fierce protection dog who could guard him while he did the difficult work of tax collection.

Doberman Rescue League charity states that breeders are still not completely certain which dog breeds were crossbred to develop the modern Doberman dog breed.

Breeders believe early Dobermans were crossed with cattle dogs, shepherd dogs, terriers, and also Greyhound dogs.

Well-bred modern Dobermans have qualities and characteristics that seem to uphold this – they are sleek and slim and quick like Greyhounds, tireless workers like cattle dogs and terriers, and fiercely loyal and protective like shepherds.

Since Louis Dobermann’s day, additional breeding efforts have softened Doberman’s fierce reputation somewhat.

These later refinements have produced a dog that may be reserved with strangers but can be deeply affectionate and playful with their human family members.

This is no doubt why the Doberman currently ranks 18th out of nearly 200 purebred dog breeds on the American Kennel Club (AKC) most popular dog breeds list.

However, Dobermans are still a less common choice for a pure family pet because they are demanding and intense, especially in puppyhood and young adulthood.

What Is the Difference Between American vs European Doberman Dogs

In the following sections, we will talk about the basic differences between the European vs American Doberman dogs.

The most important thing to keep in mind as you review each of the sections to come is that these are not two different dog breeds. Rather, the American Doberman and European Doberman are simply two different breed lines.

What does this mean?

It means that Doberman breeders do not always agree about what an ideal Doberman dog should look like and act like. Because of this, different breed lines have developed based on different breeder opinions and preferences.

So now let’s take a closer look at the key differences between the American Doberman breed line and the European Doberman breed line.

American vs European Doberman Size, Height, and Weight

Appearance is the easiest difference to see when you are comparing the European vs American Doberman dog breed lines.

American Doberman size, height, and weight

The American Doberman generally weighs 60 to 100 pounds, stands 23 to 28 inches tall, and tends toward a slim and sleek appearance in head, body, and legs.

American Dobermans are often nicknamed “show Dobermans” because of the intense focus on breeding Dobermans to strict appearance standards.

European Doberman size, height, and weight

The European Doberman typically weighs 65 to 105 pounds, stands 25 to 28 inches tall, and often displays a stronger, stockier appearance in head, body, and legs.

European Dobermans are often nicknamed “working Dobermans” because there is more of a focus on breeding a sturdy dog with a strict working dog temperament.

Because of this, there can be more variance in appearance in the European Doberman breed lines than what you will typically see in the American Doberman breed lines.

American vs European Doberman Personality and Temperament

As we just mentioned in the previous section here, American Dobermans are more apt to be bred for show purposes, breeding purposes, or as family pets. European Dobermans are more likely to be bred to work in specific roles such as K-9 or service dog jobs.

Because of this, there can be distinct personality and temperament differences between the American and European Doberman breed lines.

American Doberman breed standard

As Always Faithful Dobermans kennel and breeder explains, there are two reigning breed standards followed by Doberman breeders around the world.

American Doberman dog breeders follow the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, which is developed, maintained, and submitted by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.

As its name suggests, the American Doberman breed standard is only followed by Doberman breeders in America. In America, the Doberman is also still called the Doberman Pinscher, with “pinscher” meaning “terrier.”

European Doberman breed standard

Outside of America, Doberman breeders follow the breed standard developed by the International Doberman Club (IDC) which is filed and maintained by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Outside of America, most breeders also spell the official dog breed name with the double “n” at the end – Dobermann – and do not use the word “pinscher.”

As the name suggests, the European Doberman breed standard applies throughout Europe. It also applies in Russia, South and Central America, and Asia.

American vs European Doberman Personality and Temperament

Now you know the basic size, height, and weight differences between the American and European Doberman dogs. You also understand how those differences are driven by the two different Doberman breed standards in use today.

But are American and European Doberman dogs different in their personality and temperament as well? Let’s find out in this section.

American Doberman personality

Doberman Chat forum brings up an important point about the difference in personality between American-bred Doberman dogs and European-bred Doberman dogs.

The American Doberman has been further refined from the original working Dobermann line to be a faithful, loving, loyal, protective yet surprisingly gentle family pet. A well-bred American Dobermann will be sensitive, intelligent, and playful with their family.

However, the American Doberman will still be watchful, guarded, and somewhat reserved towards people and animals they don’t know. And American Dobermans will still be fiercely protective and vigilant as family guard dogs.

European Doberman personality

Outside of the United States, Doberman dogs are a less common choice for a family pet. European Dobermans are still predominantly viewed as working dogs and treated as such.

European Dobermans are a top choice for canine athletics including Schutzhund (IGP or IPO), a canine sport that focuses on honing a dog’s protective, obedience and tracking skills.

As Beshara Doberman Kennels points out, in Europe, most breeding Dobermans also hold at least one Schutzhund title.

European Dobermans are also top picks for K-9, military, security, and police work.

Throughout Europe, breeding for work ethic and working dog temperament is prized above breeding for the appearance aspect of the breed standard.

American vs European Doberman Coat Type and Colors

Many dog lovers want to learn more about coat types before making a commitment to a new dog. This is especially true for dog owners who have pet allergies.

Both American and European Doberman dogs are working dogs and have the traditional double layer working-dog coat. The outer layer is water-resistant and protective while the inner layer is softer and insulating.

Any dog with a double layer working-dog coat is going to shed lightly year-round and more heavily when the seasons change. All Dobermans will go through one or two “coat blow” sheds each year when the undercoat sheds out.

However, both American and European Doberman dogs also have a short, flat, neat coat that makes brushing and grooming less of a chore. Where you will see more coat differences is in color.

American Doberman coat colors

The American Doberman dog has more coat color variation than the European Doberman. American Doberman coat colors can include blue (more of a grey), fawn (a light brown), black, red, and rust.

European Doberman coat colors

The European Doberman typically has a brown-black coat with strong rust markings. The overall appearance of the European Doberman coat is typically strong brown rust.

American vs European Doberman Training and Exercise

There are three very important things to know about American vs European Doberman training and exercise needs.

The first thing to know is that both American and European Dobermans need to finish growing before being allowed to do any sustained or vigorous exercise.

This is true for any large dog breed because too-vigorous exercise too early in life can stress the major joints and cause skeletal malformation or damage.

You will need to have your canine veterinarian X-ray your Doberman puppy’s long leg bones to find out if the growth plates have closed and hardened before allowing your young Doberman to do any vigorous or sustained exercise.

The second thing to know is that both American and European Doberman dogs need to have at least two hours of physical and mental enrichment, activity, and exercise each day to stay healthy and happy and not be destructive inside the home.

The third thing to know is that both American and European Dobermans need early and ongoing positive training and socialization to temper their protective instincts.

American vs European Doberman Health and Lifespan

PetMD states that the American Doberman typically lives 10 to 12 years.

The life expectancy for European Dobermans is maybe even less than that at 7.67 years.

The LA Doberman Hybrid project, which crossbreeds American and European Dobermans, states that their life expectancy is anywhere from nine to 13 years due to increased genetic diversity.

As Prima Dobermans kennel explains, both American and European Doberman dogs have a higher than normal incidence of such serious genetic health issues as von Willebrand’s disease, Wobbler Syndrome, vestibular deafness, PRA (blindness), hypothyroidism, dilated cardiomyopathy, and dysplasia (hips, elbows).

Regardless of whether you prefer the American vs European Doberman breed lines, always make sure the breeder screens the parent dogs with genetic health testing before making a commitment to a puppy.

This is the best way to make sure you bring home a healthy Doberman dog.

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