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American Doberman Vs. European Doberman: Breed Differences & Similarities

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Last Updated: June 12, 2023 | 7 min read | 3 Comments

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Are you comparing the American Doberman vs. European Doberman for your next canine companion? Although they are the same dog breed, subtle differences between the two Doberman nationalities might make one bloodline more suitable for you than the other. If you have already completed your breed research and are sure the Doberman is the breed for you, this breed comparison article is an essential last step in your research.

In a nutshell, American Dobermans are more aligned with the show ring. A softer, sleeker, and smaller choice than the larger, more muscular, and hardworking European version. European Dobermans are much more focused and independent, making them more challenging to train, but typically better guard dogs. American Dobermans are more popular in America, so you can expect to pay a higher price for a European Doberman.

We explore all these details and more in this breed comparison guide. Thankfully, both Doberman lines make brilliant pets or guard dogs for the right family. But to get off on the right paw, let’s dive into all their differences and similarities and discover which side of the pond your Doberman should come from.

Breed Comparison

American Doberman

  • Height 24-28 Inches
  • Weight 60-100 pounds
  • Temperment Alert, loyal, affectionate
  • Energy High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 years
  • Puppy Prices $2,000

European Doberman

  • Height 25-29 inches
  • Weight 70-100 pounds
  • Temperment Alert, loyal, headstrong
  • Energy Higher
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 years
  • Puppy Prices $3,000

Breed History

You can learn a lot about what kind of dog a breed is by looking at their history. They are a relatively new dog breed from the 19th century in central Germany. Louis Dobermann needed a protection dog to accompany him in his tax-collecting duties. Tax collection was a dangerous job then, and Dobermann was also the town’s dog warden. So breeding the dogs he collected, he created a dependable and protective pooch.

The Doberman Pinscher is a loyal, loving, and formidable-looking pooch. The Rottweiler, Black and Tan Terrier, and the German Pinscher are believed to be part of the Doberman bloodline. Dobermann’s dogs were larger and more ferocious than we know them today. So much so that, later down the line, a man named Otto Goeller refined the breed to be more trainable and family-friendly.

Dobermans first came to the States in the early 20th century, and we instantly fell in love with them. Like many other dog breeds in Europe, they nearly became extinct during the World Wars. Thankfully, American breeders saved the breed with their stocks. But despite American and European stocks being mixed with increasing Doberman numbers, there was still a difference between the two Doberman lines.

Appearance

Scary Looking Doberman Pinscher
Separate kennel clubs govern the two different Doberman lines.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) outlines the appearance guidelines that American Dobermans should follow. Overall, American Dobermans can be one inch shorter and ten pounds lighter. Although this does not sound like much when comparing pictures of them side by side, you can instantly see that American Dobermans are slightly more compact and slender.

The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) offers slightly different appearance rules. European Dobermans should be a minimum of 70 pounds and 25 inches tall. They also tend to have a slightly deeper and thicker chest, another telltale sign of a European Doberman.

The most common Dobie color is black and rust, but there is a slight difference in coloring between the two. The FCI breed standard states that European Dobermans are only bred in two colors, which are black or brown with rust red. Compared to the AKC standard, American Dobermans are allowed in four colors, black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella), all with rust markings. White Dobermans exist in both lines, but you need to be sure they are truly white and not albino dogs.

Both Doberman lines are medium to large-sized, athletic, and muscular pups. If you’re considering welcoming one into your home, you need plenty of space for them. They also have tall and proud frames, holding their head high with purpose and elegance. Dobermans have short but thick fur and a single coat. They have wedge-shaped heads and large almond-shaped eyes and look similar to Dachshunds.

Temperament

Dobermans are guard dogs and are alert, loyal, and fearless. This is why they are commonly employed in the military and police, and search and rescue. Dobies are protective of their family and stand in the face of danger when needed. But they aren’t brutes looking for a fight. They are also sensitive, sweet, and caring, which is why they succeed in therapy work and other jobs.

Regardless of nationality, Dobermans do not like being left alone for too long, and they suffer from separation anxiety. You must be sure you can spend most of your time with them. Otherwise, the Doberman breed is not a good match for you. They are both intense characters. But it means they thrive in your company and make extremely fun playmates.

Doberman Planet is the largest Doberman channel on YouTube. In 2021 they surveyed owners who have experience with American and European Dobermans and found subtle differences in their personalities. They conclude that European Dobies are more headstrong, protective, and confident. They are also more energetic too. American Dobies tend to be softer with lower energy levels.

The survey also highlights that both lines are equally or similarly in-tune with their human emotions and accept strangers in their homes. Doberman Planet accepts that its survey is not scientifically reliable and recognizes that factors such as environment, socialization, experiences, and individual genetics play a massive part in shaping the personality of a Doberman. But the results are interesting and show subtle differences between the two lines.

Exercise

Dobermans are energetic and working dog breeds that need high daily exercise levels. One hour of intense and varied activity every day is required. Otherwise, they become unhappy, destructive, and behaviorally problematic. Interactive exercise with their family is crucial to meet the Doberman’s need for closeness and partnership. Similarly, the American and the European Dobermans need an active family to be happy.

Because the European Doberman is more work-focused than the American Doberman, so they usually have a higher exercise need. They might need longer exercise sessions or more intense activity than the American Dobie. It varies from pooch to pooch, and you’ll work it out after spending time with them. They also have more mental energy, so investing in durable dog toys is crucial to keep a European Dobie happy.

Training

Black Dog Sitting Attentively
Doberman Pinschers are highly trainable, as well as make great guard dogs.

Dobermans are intelligent, eager to please, and tenacious, making them highly trainable. Because of their protective and guarding nature, they must be socialized from a young age if you want them to develop into friendly dogs. Positive reinforcement training is needed for both lines as they are surprisingly sensitive dogs who do not take well to harsh training.

All Dobermans have the potential to be dominant dogs because of their independent and protective nature. But the European Doberman is consistently the more independent one of the two. If you don’t have previous experience with guard dog breeds, the American Dobie is probably the better option for you as they are softer and easier to train.

European Dobermans have a higher work drive and independent nature than American Dobies, which is a noticeable trait when comparing the two. Although both lines make brilliant family pets, if you’re after a working Doberman, the European Dobie could be a better and more reliable choice for you. However, they can be more challenging to train, so you need to have dog training experience to get the best from them.

Health

There are no differences between the American and the European Dobermans regarding their health. Both lines are relatively healthy and are expected to live between 10 to 12 years on average. The most common conditions to be aware of as a Dobie owner are dilated cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, and various eye conditions. All dogs are different. Some Dobies suffer from none, some, or all of their predisposed health concerns.

Nutrition

American and European Dobermans have the same nutritional needs. How much you feed them depends on a long list of factors, including age, sex, size, energy levels, and more. Generally speaking, if a European Dobie has a larger body with higher energy levels, they would eat more than a smaller, less active American Dobie. Regardless of which nationality you pick, always feed your Doberman a high-quality diet designed for large dog breeds.

Grooming

The American and the European Dobermans have the same coat and grooming needs. They might sport different color jackets, but they both have a short, dense, single coat that is stiff but silky to the touch. According to the American breed standard, an “invisible gray undercoat on the neck is permissible.” But the FCI states that undercoats are not allowed at all. Dobies shed moderately throughout the year. Brush your Dobie once a week to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Both Dobies need bathing once every two or three months to keep them smelling fresh. Unless your pooch gets super dirty, please don’t wash them more than this because you risk damaging their natural coat oils. Regular dental cleaning is also a must. It’s advised to get them used to their grooming schedule from a pup so that they don’t mind it when they are an adult. Because all Dobies are feisty, they won’t wash if they don’t want to wash.

Puppy Prices

The price of an American Doberman puppy is usually lower than a European Doberman pup. That’s if you live in America. If you live in Europe, the price for a European Dobie is likely to be lower. The average price range for an American Dobie falls between $1,500 and $2,500, and the European puppy price falls between $2,500 and $3,500. The setting up costs of welcoming a new dog into your life are practically the same as each other. Dobermans in rescue shelters are usually cheaper to rescue in comparison.

Whether you choose an American or European Doberman, working with a reputable breeder who produces healthy and happy pups is essential. Speak to them about their health clearances, and meet the puppies and at least one of the parents before handing over a deposit. Independent reviews are a great way to discover other people’s experiences with the breeder.

Final Thoughts

The American Doberman and the European Doberman are more similar than they are different, and that’s because they are effectively the same breed. However, there are subtle differences between the two and different breed standards to follow. Overall the American Doberman is slightly smaller than the European, and they are less independent and work-driven, with a softer personality. European Dobies are better suited for work life and often command a higher price tag too.

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