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American Vs. European Doberman – Everything You Need To Know


Doberman is an intelligent and active breed belonging to the working group. It means they can be trained quickly and become good watchdogs alerting their owner of anything intrusive and dangerous. Their protective and alert nature makes them a ferocious breed used by the police and military in search and rescue operations. Dobermans are high on energy and need plenty of exercise to keep them active.

Doberman does well as a guard dog that is protective of its owner. However, if early training isn’t provided to a Doberman puppy, they are more likely to think of themselves as pack leaders. Also, they aren’t resistant to cold temperatures, so make your Dobie get enough warmth this season. Usually, neighbors and strangers are afraid of Dobermans due to their ferocious personalities.


Getting into some background about the Dobermans, Louis Doberman, a German, bred the first Doberman in the 1880s. His job demanded protection, for he was a tax collector and faced threats from people. This also solved the purpose of being his partner at work. Thus, Dobermans were popularly called “The Tax Collector Dogs.”

Dobermans in Europe and the United States came from this Doberman bred by Louis. These dogs are split into two variants:

  • The European Doberman (Working Dog) 
  • The American Doberman (Show Dog)

Dobermans in Europe were bred as working dogs meeting the breeding standards, while the American Dobermans broke this convention and were bred as companion dogs for families. Compared to the European variant, the American Dobermans were more regal in their looks. Thus, they are different appearance-wise.

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Physical Features

American Doberman

The American Dobermans are medium-sized, shorter, lighter, elegant, athletic dogs with slim, sleek, and elongated builds; the neck is slender and extended with a smaller chest. They bear a narrow and wedged head, thin and sharp muzzles, long legs, nimble feet, and tiny paws. They look elegant with some noticeable features like an elongated neck with a graceful arch extending towards their body. Thus, they are more of a show dog and less brave. In addition, they prefer an indoor environment and a hot climate. 

According to the AKC, the male dogs range between 26 to 28 inches in height and  75 to 100 lbs in weight. Females stand 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh 60 to 90 pounds. These dogs have cropped ears, one of the unique features of American Dobermans as against the European conventions where it is considered illegal.

An American Doberman’s gait is free, vigorous, and balanced. The forequarters are well defined, and the hindquarters are agile. Their hindlegs are so strong that when they trot, it looks as though their legs are plunging. 

European Dobermans

European Dobermans must undergo rigorous training and testing for their registration. The Zuchttauglichkeitsprüfung (ZTP) is a breed suitability test run by the International Dobermann Club. The test classifies the breed as 1A or 1B, making them fit for breeding or to be deferred and deemed unfit to breed.

European Dobermans are taller and heavier with more muscle mass; the neck is thick and short, with a broader chest. Nevertheless, he is brave, likes to face new challenges, loves to be outdoors most of the time, and can live in cold and hot climates. 


European Dobermans bear a build required for an excellent working dog and are used as guard dogs. Some distinguishing features are evident in these canines: 

  • Heavy, compact, and oversized with a sturdy bone structure
  • The neck is short, thick with no pronounced arch-like his American cousin’s neck
  • The body is not as slender as the American Doberman Pinscher.
  • Ears and tails are not cropped
  • Strong legs, block-shaped heads with sharp angles, and giant paws. 
  • Muscles are blunt.

A European Doberman’s gait is free, elegant, elastic, and agile. The movements of the forelegs and hindlegs are broader. They are stretchy and flexible. Their forelegs and hindlegs diagonally move as they run. 

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Physical Features Overview

Physical FeaturesAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
HeadLong and blunt wedgedBroader and muscular muzzle and jaws.
EyesAlmond ShapedOval Shaped
Eye ColorsBlack coated Dobermans – Medium brown to dark brown.

Red, blue, and, fawn coated Dobermans – Same as their coat color
Darker in colors except for brown-coated Dobermans who are permitted to bear lighter shades
EarsCropped EarsUncropped Ears
NeckWell arched, appears longer due to sharp riseShort, thick with a slow rise
ChestSmaller and narrowerMuscular and broader
CoatSmooth, thick, short, and close, lying with markings on the muzzle, top of their eyebrows, along the throat, two spots on their chest, inner side of the hindquarters, and under the tail. White markings on the chest are allowed.Smooth, thick, short, and close, lying with markings on the muzzle, top of their eyebrows, along the throat, two spots on their chest, inner side of the hindquarters, and under the tail. White markings on the chest are not allowed.
ColorBlack and rust,
Blue and rust,
Fawn and rust,
Red and rust
With lighter rust markings.
Black and rust,
Blue and rust,
Fawn and rust,
Red and rust.
With darker rust markings.
Body and ToplineLong, lean topline with a well-toned body.Compact, solid, broader, topline with a pronounced, muscular body essential for a working dog
Forequarters, Hindquarters, and tailCompact feet, refined, delicate legs that are straight and parallel to each otherLarger feet, stockier with more muscular mass, almost straight when seen from all sides. 
GaitAKC: “Free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting, there is a strong rear–action drive. Each rear leg moves in line with the foreleg on the same side. The rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out. The back remains firm. A properly built dog will single-track when moving at a fast trot.”FCI: “The gait is of special importance to both the working ability and the exterior appearance. The gait is elastic, elegant, agile, free, and ground covering. The forelegs reach out as far as possible. The hindquarter gives far-reaching and necessary elastic drive. The foreleg of one side and the hind leg of the other side move forward at the same time. There should be good stability of the back, the ligaments, and the joints.”

How are American Dobermans Different in Temperaments from European Dobermans?

European Dobermans

European Dobermans are loyal, assertive, and confident dogs. They are bred as guard dogs and police dogs because of their fearlessness and alertness. Apart from these, he can also make a good family companion. However, their prey drive and hard-working attitude make these dogs less suitable for family life. 

European Dobermans are stubborn and very possessive of their owners leading to biting or plunging into actions when threatened. Due to his high energy, he needs tons of exercise. However, with proper socialization and training, they can be well-mannered dogs. They are the happiest dogs when they are put on tasks. In short, these canines can be described as dogs who are:

  • Energetic
  • Loving
  • Tough
  • Alert
  • Protective
  • Confident
  • Careful

American Dobermans

American Dobermans are obedient and loving family dogs excelling in show rings. They appear alert and magnificent since their ears are cropped and tails docked. Although these come under the working dog’s group, they are usually bred as family companions. These canines are easy to train and obey your commands with sincerity. This breed is devoted to its family and is known for understanding human emotions well. 

Like the European Dobermans, the American Dobermans are also very protective of their owners but won’t bite or plunge into action; however, they make excellent guard dogs when trained appropriately. Though he seems intimidating, he loves to be cuddled. He was separated from the original Dobermans to create sleek and affectionate family dogs. To sum up their nature, American Dobermans are:

  • Great with kids
  • Loving and affectionate
  • Trustworthy when left alone
  • Easy going
  • Smart
  • Easy to train

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Temperament Overview

TemperamentAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
Affectionate with familyHighHigh
Friendly with strangersLowLow
Prey driveLowHigh
Barking instinctHighHigh
TerritorialLowHigh
Adapt to new environmentLowHigh

What is the Difference between Training an American Doberman and a European Doberman?

American Doberman

American Dobermans are very obedient and highly trainable. They do well when positively reinforced and need gentle training. These canines are people pleasers, and so they are easy to train.

European Doberman

European Dobermans are hard-headed and stubborn and require an experienced dog parent to teach them obedience. In addition, they need an assertive and strong owner who can provide them with proper training. Therefore, this is an unsuitable dog for new owners.

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Training Overview

TrainingAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
Training methodGentleStrong
Easy to trainHighLow
Suitable for new ownersYesNo
Excel at working eventsLowHigh
Excel in police workLowHigh
Easier to handleEasyTough

How Do the American Dobermans Differ in their Exercise Needs from the European Dobermans?


American Doberman

American Dobermans are very active and high-energy dogs who need exercise to fit physically and mentally. They would need a minimum of an hour’s exercise every day. They are well suited as family companions and for active owners living in apartments who would provide the required exercise needs. 

European Doberman

European Dobermans need a lot of exercise due to their working instincts, but they also have a high drive for tasks and prey. They are well suited to an active lifestyle or a family that considers them guard dogs. Thus, they are unsuitable for apartment living or inactive owners and are not recommended as companion dogs.

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Exercise Needs Overview

Exercise NeedsAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
Energy level MediumHigh
Exercise needs HighHigh
Intensity High High 
Playfulness HighMedium

In What Way Grooming Needs Differ for an American Doberman and a European Doberman?

Both the Dobermans are low-maintenance dogs and need less grooming. Their coats are easy to groom and require little maintenance to keep them in good shape. Brushing twice or thrice a month will be more than enough. Clean their ears properly, and clip their nails once a month. Brush their teeth regularly to maintain good dental health.

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman – An Overview

GroomingAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
Easy to groom MediumMedium
Drooling tendency MediumMedium
Amount of shedding High High 

How are the American Dobermans Healthier than the European Dobermans?

The American and the European variants suffer from general canine ailments that cause illness to the breed. AKC and FCI believe a healthy American Doberman and a healthy European Doberman will live 10 to 12 years. However, some ailments are vulnerable and involve not only genetic but also other health problems.

Some illnesses that are found commonly in both the Dobermans are listed below:

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Degeneration of the heart muscle is referred to as cardiomyopathy. The thick muscular membrane of the left ventricle becomes thin. These thin membranes expand because of the blood pressure inside the heart, which leads to a much bigger heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy  (DCM) is the medical term for this ailment. This condition is caused due to the improper conduction of blood to the heart, causing a sudden rise in heart rate. Sadly, this results in fainting and may lead to unexpected deaths.

Bloat: Also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, bloat is a condition in which a dog’s stomach twists when it fills with gas, food, or liquids. GDV appears out of nowhere and can progress swiftly. However, there is always a situation that requires immediate attention.

Hypothyroidism is when a dog’s metabolism is slowed due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Symptoms are: 

  • Lethargy 
  • Gaining weight 
  • Reluctance to work out 
  • Hair Loss

Von Willebrand’s Disease: The most prevalent hereditary bleeding problem in dogs is Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD). It’s caused by a lack of a specific protein that helps platelets (blood cells that aid with clotting) adhere together and form clots to close damaged blood arteries. Von Willebrand factor is the name of the missing protein (VWF). 

Wobblers Syndrome: An inherited disorder that affects canines through a cervical vertebral flux or malformed spinal canal.  

Symptoms:  

  • Spinal cord compression  
  • Paralysis of the legs  
  • Neck pain

Progressive Retinal Atrophy causes gradual degeneration of the retina in the eye. Symptoms include night blindness and gradual loss of vision.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a disorder that affects dogs during their growing phase. It causes the hip joint to relax, resulting in discomfort and dysfunction. In addition, the cartilage and bones in the dog’s hip start to wear away as he grows. This leads to arthritis, muscular atrophy, and decreased mobility over time.

Color Mutant Alopecia: This disease affects the blue or fawn-colored dogs. Dogs are born normal, and the disease progresses as they mature. Symptoms include:

  • Brittle Hair
  • Patchy skin
  • Scaling and itching
  • Hair Loss
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

Using medicated shampoos can prevent scaling and itching.

Narcolepsy: This neurological disorder affects the brain’s ability to regulate wake-sleep patterns. A dog with narcolepsy may suddenly feel sleepy and fall asleep. Research is underway to find a suitable treatment.

Albinism: This is a genetic condition that affects most Dobermans. Dogs with albinism become sensitive to sunlight. Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Recurring illness
  • White patches with pink skin and nose 
  • Blue or light gray eyes

In extreme cases, albinism can cause cancer. Therefore, it is recommended and advisable not to breed Albino Dogs.

PHTVL/PHPV: The Persistent Hyperplastic Tunica Vasculosa Lentils (PHTVL), called Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV), is a developmental disorder that results in cataract and variable leukocoria.

American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Health Overview

HealthAmerican DobermanEuropean Doberman
Overall health Medium to high Medium to high 
Weight gain tendencies Medium Medium 
Size Medium to highMedium to high

What are the American Doberman and European Doberman’s Diet and Nutrition Needs?

According to their body weight, the Dobermans are large, active, and weigh about 60 to 100 pounds, requiring more energy and calorie intake than other breeds. Therefore, Doberman’s chances of gaining weight are higher if a balanced diet is not given. The diet should include:

  • Biologically appropriate protein and healthy fats.
  • Ground bone.
  • Vegetables packed with the required minerals and vitamins for optimum health and performance.

Dogs’ digestive system is anatomically different from humans; feeding a large number of carbohydrates may cause an unnecessary spike in insulin, glucagon, and cortisol levels, putting stress on vital organs with severe health conditions.

Adding an American Doberman to Your Family

Consider the following points before you add an American Doberman to your family:

  • A fierce-looking yet gentle companion.
  • Sweet-natured calmer dog that goes well with the family.
  • A puppy that is attuned to human emotions.
  • If you fancy a Doberman with elegant looks.

Adding a European Doberman to Your Family

A European Doberman looks robust, wild, and massive. Consider the following points before you add a European Doberman to your family:

  • If you are adventurous and would have a lot of time to spend with your dog.
  • If you wish your pet to compete in sports like IPO, Schutzhund, French Ring, etc.
  • If you want to have a guard dog as your pet.

Things to Remember Before Breeding an American Doberman and a European Doberman

Some coat colors like the blue and fawn are accepted standard by AKC only for the American variant. It is non-standard for European Dobermans and is disqualified in some international dog shows. While buying a Doberman puppy, look for a certified breeder.

Several factors are involved in the pricing of a Doberman Pinscher, which applies to the American and European variants. They are as follows:

  • Reputed Breeders
  • Vaccinations
  • Bloodline
  • (For American Dobermans) Options like show quality and pet quality Dobermans
  • Certification from Kennel Clubs
  • Disease Testing
  • (For American Dobermans) Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

Always keep observing your pet, and if you find any changes in their routine with their temperament or diet, you must immediately take them to the vet. Fixing regular vet checkups and sticking to vaccination schedules are the two ways to help you keep your Doberman healthy and hearty.

Cost of An American Doberman Puppy

The cost of an American Doberman puppy is $1500 to $2500.

American Doberman Puppy
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Cost of A European Doberman Puppy

The cost of a European Doberman puppy is $2500 to $3500.

European Doberman Puppy
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