4 Types of Doberman Dogs | Impostor vs The Real

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4 Types of Doberman Dogs

When it comes to elegant and powerful dogs, there is no doubt that the Doberman breed is one of the favorites. The Doberman is brave, intelligent, and vigilant; It is not for fun that he is internationally known as one of the best protection dogs. But did you know that there is no single type of Doberman?

If you are a recent admirer of the breed, I invite you to continue reading to find out what all the types of Dobermans are ( true and false ), what characterizes them, what color these specimens can be, and how to know if a Doberman is purebred or not.

How Many Types Of Doberman Are There?

Only 2 types of Doberman are officially recognized: the European Doberman and the American Doberman. The European breeding line is recognized by the International Cynological Federation (FCI), whose standard is in force in the countries of Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, and Russia. For its part, the American breeding line is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), whose standard is only applied in North America.

However, in the popular sphere, there are usually 4 types of Dobermans in total :

  1. European
  2. American
  3. Giant or “king”
  4. Miniature pinscher

The last two types are not recognized as true Dobermans, and in the specific case of the miniature pinscher, they are not even close relatives. Let’s see what are the main characteristics and major differences between these dogs.

European doberman

For many, this is the one and only true Doberman dog. It is a medium-sized specimen with a powerful build. Despite being strong and muscular, the European Doberman also sports traits of nobility and elegance.

Contrary to what many believe, this dog is considered suitable as a companion animal. Of course, he exhibits a temperamental personality and always has the expression of a determined dog.

The breed was developed in Germany in the 19th century. It is said that the first breeder, a tax collector and amateur dog, was dedicated to crossing especially biting specimens, which led to the production of a useful dog for guarding tasks in homes and farms.

Later, the Doberman became an excellent police dog and vermin hunting dog.

The Doberman breed is named after Friederich Louis Dobermann, its first known breeder. In Europe, the name keeps the two “n” at the end.

American Doberman

The American Doberman is a dog very similar to its European counterpart. It is also medium in size, compact in construction, and square in the body. But the change in breeding purpose resulted in a more friendly, elegant, and attractive line.

The European dog’s reputation for bravery, intelligence, and loyalty quickly made it popular in other regions, especially in the United States, where a careful selective breeding process led to the origin and recognition of an American line

In the United States, this breed is not known as a dobermann but as a Doberman pinscher.

Giant Doberman (fake)

giant boderman

The giant Doberman is not a legitimate type of Doberman, but rather a similar-looking dog but much larger in size. Experts say that the Doberman is always a medium dog, so any exceptionally large version is not considered a Doberman at all, at least not purebred.

The most widely used method of obtaining these large specimens is by crossing the Doberman and Great Dane breeds, but some breeders also crossbreed with Rottweilers or other breeds to produce “rare or valuable” giant Dobermans.

As explained by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPAC), the Doberman does not need to be bigger than it is; this dog is already the ideal size as a protection and companion animal.

Giant specimens are not known to be as fast or maneuverable and are also prone to joint and heart health problems.

Miniature Doberman Pinscher (false)

Doberman mini (miniature pinscher): Everything you need to Know

Among the so-called Doberman types, the miniature or mini pinscher is the imposter par excellence. Given its great resemblance, many mistakenly believe that the miniature Doberman pinscher was derived from the standard Doberman, but the truth is that it belongs to a different and much older breed.

This is a fearless, fun, and confident dog, which was originally bred in Germany to hunt vermin in homes and stables. Its lustrous coat and stocky build give It an almost identical appearance to that of the true Doberman.

The FCI recognizes it as a pinscher-schnauzer type dog, while the AKC includes it in the group of Toy breeds. In both cases, it is described as a companion dog and for the home

Genetically, the miniature pinscher is very different from the doberman . This may be hard to believe due to their strong physical resemblance, but experts do not consider the two dogs to be related.

One theory suggests that they do share a common ancestor: the German pinscher; but the truth is that there are many other differences besides size.

They do not have the same temperament or behavior, they belong to different canine groups and were bred for different purposes.

How are the American Doberman and the European Doberman different? Comparison Chart

Many admirers of the breed wonder: how can I distinguish a European from an American Doberman? Generally speaking of physical differences, such as size and musculature; however, the differences are slightly more profound.

Take a look at the following comparison chart and discover what are the specific characteristics recognized by the experts:

PartEuropean DobermanAmerican Doberman
General descriptionIntelligent, sociable, self-confident working dog.Affectionate, loving dog, in tune with the owner’s emotions; smart, family-friendly pet
HeightMales (26-28 Inches), female (24-26 Inches)Males (25-28 Inches), females (23-25 Inches)
WeightMales (90-185 pounds), females (72-95 pounds)Males (85-112 pounds), females (60-90 pounds)
StructureThicker, more compact and muscular body; thicker bone structureMore refined and slim body; sleek and toned build of a show dog
HeadWider with thicker muzzle and jawSlimmer and wedge-shaped, with a slimmer muzzle and jaw
EyesDarker brownLight brown
EarsThey are left naturalThey are usually cut
NeckShorter and thicker; has less elevation from the shoulderLonger and thinner; rises sharply on the shoulder
ChestBigger and widerSmaller and narrower
BodyCompact and muscularElongated and thin
LegsThicker and more muscularThinner and more elegant
LegsLarger compact structureSmaller and more refined structure
TrademarksDarkerMore clear
TemperamentYou can react with barking and physical intervention if your family is threatened.

It responds well to strong direction and is less sensitive to physical correction.

Calmer and focused on the family; less physically protective.

Responds well to positive reinforcement and is more sensitive to physical correction.

In summary, the main difference to consider is that the American Doberman is a more elegant and temperamental dog focused on the family environment, while the European Doberman is a slightly larger and more muscular dog, with the necessary impetus and temperament in a working dog.

Like people, each dog is different and has a unique genetic makeup. That means it is not uncommon to see variations in temperamental and physical traits. This is true for any doberman, be it of the American or European type.

Which of the Doberman types is better? European Doberman vs. American doberman

types of doberman

There is some controversy surrounding these two variants of the Doberman breed. Passionate on both sides assure that their Doberman type is the best.

On the one hand, the AKC, the largest club in the United States, judges dogs primarily on their appearance or “conformation.” In fact, many winning specimens in exhibition shows have been considered for their exceptional physical characteristics, not so much for their temperament.

Considering that puppies that are descended from title winners are highly desirable, the American Doberman Pinscher is often bred based on appearance. As a result, the genetics and character of these dogs may not be consistent.

However, many argue that this has helped create a much sleeker Doberman, family-friendly in nature, and easier to handle for novice owners.

Proponents of the European Doberman argue that breeding lines developed strictly as a pet, or for display, have made the American dog much more shy, sensitive, fragile, and less impulsive than the original breed.

In the case of the European Dobermann, the personality and general disposition of dogs tends to be much more standardized, especially since each of them must pass a temperament test before being approved for breeding.

Passing such a test requires the dog to maintain a certain level of confidence in many different situations, and to be able to physically intervene to protect its owner.

In response, many advocates of the American Doberman are of the opinion that generations of European breeding have developed very large, clumsy, and unwieldy alpha dogs, except for professional trainers. In essence, they describe him as a dog that is out of the reach of the average owner.

So which of the two is better? There is no one better than another. The answer will always depend on the purpose and personal taste of each owner.

Colors And Markings: What Color Can a Doberman Be?

Almost everyone visualizes the Doberman as a black dog with tan markings, but while this is the most popular and recognized color, the truth is that Dobermans can be born with other colors.

The breed is said to display 7 colors in total :

  1. Black and rust
  2. Red and rust
  3. Blue and rust
  4. Fawn (Isabela) and rust
  5. Black
  6. White
  7. Albino

Not all are accepted by breed standards, and specifically, the existence of the albino color is still a matter of discussion.

Doberman markings

In addition to the main coat color, this breed is known for its prominent rust or tan markings. All variations have these traditional markings. It should be noted that some American-type Dobermans have a small white patch in the chest area.

The AKC standard dictates that the American Doberman must have well-defined rust-colored markings. These should appear on each eye, on the muzzle, cheeks, throat, chest, on all four legs and feet, as well as a patch just below the tail. In case of presenting the white mark on the chest, it must not exceed the size of ½ square inch.

For its part, the FCI indicates that tan markings must be clearly defined and located on the muzzle, cheeks, on the upper part of each eyebrow, on the throat, two points on the chest, on metacarpals, metatarsals, and feet. , inner thighs, perineal region, and iliac protrusions. In essence, they are the same as the American dog, except for the small white patch in the chest area.

1. Black and rust

(black, black and tan, black and brown)

Accepted by European and American breed standards.

The black and rust Doberman is the most seen color combination. These specimens are the most traditional. They are the ones that commonly represent the Doberman breed in film and television.

Although most Dobermans do not do well in extreme temperature climates, black ones are known to be more likely to experience problems with heat and direct sun exposure.

2. Red and rust

(red, brown, chocolate)

Accepted by European and American breed standards.

This is the second most common color in Dobermans. The shade of the coat can range from a light coppery hue to a reddish-brown or dark chocolate. Some owners claim that Red Dobermans are a bit more cheerful and less territorial.

3. Blue and rust

(blue, gray, silver)

Accepted only by the American standard.

The blue Doberman is slightly rarer than its black and red counterparts. This color is not observed in the European dog, and despite being approved by the AKC, it can sometimes be a reason for disqualification in some of its shows. This is why many breeders avoid the color blue, hence why it is rare.

According to experts, these dogs are not actually blue but dilute black. They are said to be prone to color dilution alopecia, a genetic skin condition that can cause hair thinning and loss, dry and itchy skin.

4. Fawn and rust

(tawny, isabela, light brown)

Accepted only by the American standard.

The Dobermans tawny are the least common of the 4 standard colors. Breeders tend to avoid this color because, as with the blue doberman, it is often a reason for disqualification at events. This is considered a rare and unpopular type of doberman.

The fawn color is technically a dilute red. It is also associated with an increased risk of coat and skin health problems (alopecia, ingrown hairs, skin infections).

5. All black

It is not accepted by either of the two standards.

The black Doberman is a product of genetic peculiarity that causes excessive production of pigment (melanin), making them appear totally black. In general, they still have the typical marks of the breed, but in a dark shade much more difficult to distinguish.

Since they are not accepted in Europe or America, these dogs never compete in shows or competitions. Breeders generally avoid any type of brood that can produce them.

Some believe that black Dobermans are the result of inbreeding, hence they are more prone to certain health problems. There is still some debate about it.

6. White or partial albino

(cream, ivory)

It is not accepted by either of the two standards.

The white Doberman is considered a “leucistic” specimen, which means that it is not completely albino. It does produce melanin pigmentation, but this is very limited. The coat is very light in color, but it is not completely white. The marking area is an even lighter shade of white.

These specimens have blue eyes, with the nose, the lips, and the edges of the eyes of pink color. In general, they are very rare and are not accepted in any setting.

White Dobermans can suffer from vision problems, including increased photosensitivity; it is common for them to close their eyes when exposed to the sun. They can also get sunburned and are much more prone to cancerous tumors and other skin problems.

7. Albino

There is some debate about the existence of the albino Doberman, but some experts say that obtaining it is theoretically possible. Lacking the pigmentation gene, this would be a significantly whiter specimen than the white or cream Doberman Pinscher.

It is common for a white specimen to be confused with an albino, but apparently, there is a way to differentiate them. The white Doberman will have blue eyes, while the albino Doberman will have pink eyes.

In theory, these dogs should also suffer from health problems linked to photosensitivity, sunburn, and cancerous tumors.

According to the European FCI standard, a Doberman dog can be only 2 colors: black or red / brown with rust-colored markings . The American standard recognizes two additional colors: blue and fawn , also with rust or tan markings.

Quick Answers to Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the right type of Doberman for me?

As with any other breed of dog, the most suitable Doberman is the one that best fits into the lifestyle and environment of its owner. Choosing a dog whose temperament is appropriate should always be the priority. Keep in mind that each specimen is different and has its own characteristics, regardless of genetics.

Considering the traits of the dog in question is much more important than the place of origin, that is, whether it is European or American. Still, here are some suggestions that can help:

A European Doberman might be better for you if :

  • You have an active family and you want a dog that will join in with family activities.
  • You are an experienced dog owner.
  • You want the best watchdog possible.
  • You prefer a larger, more powerful-looking Doberman with visible muscle mass.
  • You want to compete in working and protection dog events or join search and rescue organizations, etc.

An American Doberman might be better for you if:

  • You live in a quiet family environment and you prefer a closer dog.
  • You are an inexperienced owner.
  • You value a dog that can read human emotions well.
  • You prefer the beauty of an elegant and refined Doberman.
  • You want to compete in breed-shaping shows.

Whatever your choice, take the time to find a reputable breeder.

Can one Doberman be better than another because of its color?

Apparently, Dobermans can be more or less prone to certain health problems depending on their color. Black-coated and red-coated specimens are usually healthier compared to rare or less common Dobermans, for example, blue, fawn, or white.

Can a Doberman be completely black?

Some Dobermans can appear totally black; however, upon close inspection, you can always see that they have faint but discernible marks. It is said that Dobermans that are completely black often are not purebred.

This does not mean that it is impossible to produce a perfect black specimen naturally, but it is unlikely. In most cases, it is a cross with a black dog very similar to the Doberman, but it is noted that the result is not a purebred.

What is the difference between a Doberman and a Doberman pinscher?

The use of both names has caused many people to think that they are two different races, but the reality is that there is no difference. Both “Doberman” and “Doberman pinscher” can be used interchangeably to refer to the Doberman breed.

What is the difference between a Doberman and a miniature pinscher?

First of all, the Doberman is a large and muscular working dog, which can grow to be 27 inches tall and weigh 185 Pounds. As its name suggests, the miniature pinscher is a toy-sized companion dog, whose weight does not exceed 20 pounds and the height ranges between 10 and 15 inches

In addition, these dogs do not have the same origin nor do they belong to the same breed. The Doberman is related to the Rottweiler, Greyhound, and German Shepherd, while the Miniature Pinscher descends from the cross between the Dachshund, Italian Greyhound, and German Pinscher.

How to know if a Doberman dog is original (purebred)?

A Doberman must meet very particular specifications to be considered purebred. But in general, the most important thing to take into account is the physical aspect (height, the shape of the head, muzzle and ears, fur, marks, etc.) and the record that proves the purity of their lineage.

Consider that if a puppy looks like a Doberman, but his breeder does not have an official record indicating the pedigree of the parents, or one of the dogs in its pedigree has been sold only “as a pet”, then it is likely that it is not a pure race.

How to choose a Doberman puppy?

The best method of choosing a good Doberman puppy is to do some basic litter research. This not only involves making a visual inspection but also a series of tests that help check the temperament of each puppy.

Are European Dobermans more aggressive?

The European type of Doberman has been bred to accentuate a temperament with working and protective traits. Although these specimens are not usually aggressive by nature, they can show aggressiveness in case of danger or threat towards their owners. The European dog stands out for its impulsiveness and determination.

What is the relationship between the miniature Doberman pinscher and the Doberman?

None. Experts and historians do not consider the Doberman and Miniature Doberman Pinschers to be related. Some believe that there may have been a distant ancestor in common, the German Pinscher, but the truth is that no strong genetic links have been found between them.

Regardless of the difference in size, both dogs look very similar, but the truth is that they are very different in purpose and temperament.

Final Thoughts

Final thought

We hope that the article has been useful and to your liking. Now that you know what the types of Dobermans are and how they differ, we invite you to continue discovering the true types and variations of other popular breeds, such as Poodles, Pitbulls, Bloodhounds, Schnauzers, Retrievers, Rottweilers, Terriers, and Huskies.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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