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The Doberman(n) is the only dog bred specifically for personal protection. There are many breeds that do this job well, but they were bred as multi-purpose dogs.  The Doberman(n) was created by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann exclusively to be a human defender.  This means that the original intent of the Doberman(n) was to be a dog that specialized and excelled at only one thing. The original Doberman(n)s were compact muscle bound dogs with very aggressive temperaments, fiercely loyal to only their owners.  They were extremely suspicious of anyone other than its owner.  Many judges and handlers were bitten at shows.  Although there are European breeders who breed primarily for Show Line, in Europe a Doberman(n) litter cannot be registered unless at least one parent has passed certain character test. Thus, European Doberman(n)s of today usually have greater nerve stability when compared to the American Doberman Pinscher.  Modern day Euro-Doberman(n)s are not as suspicious of strangers as in years passed, but they do possess a measured reservation when it comes to unfamiliar people.  After 1949, it was decided that Pinscher (which means Terrier) was no longer appropriate for the breed as it had evolved from the initial vicious traits of “Pinscher type” dogs to a more reserved and attentive character that's makes for a more stable protection dog in todays' society . European breeders simply began calling the breed the Dobermann, spell with two N's.  America maintained Pinscher, continuing with the name Doberman Pinscher.

The American Doberman Pinscher was bred and cultivated by American fanciers and breeders to which it evolved into a different type of dog in structure and temperament than the original Doberman(n) from Apolda Germany. The American bred Doberman(n) as a generalization has had the working temperament bred out of it.  American breeders focused on refinement and body form more than character.  They selected dogs for their breeding programs that possessed the particular look that they wanted, while ignoring the dogs that were extraordinary in character.  Working ability is not a part of the American AKC standard.  While the AKC Breed Standard states that a Doberman Pinscher should be energetic, watchful, determined, alert, and fearless, they require no tests that will ensure that these qualities are present. Without requirements, working traits began dissolving in the American Doberman Pinscher resulting in a different dog in character from their European counterparts. 


The reduction of working traits simultaneously made the breed more manageable for novice owners which in turn made the breed more popular.  More families felt comfortable having a Doberman(n) in their home.  This was the continuation of a slow but steady trend that began in Europe and continued over the course of decades.  Today in the United States, Doberman(n)s are predominantly kept as family dogs.  Their former accurate reputation for being assertive working dogs has largely disappeared.  The American Doberman Pinscher is now known to be gentle, loving, and sensitive. This gradual evolution of the Doberman(n) has contributed to the development of "softer" American Doberman Pinscher lines that are less likely to be successful working dogs today.


Physically, American bred Doberman Pinschers are more refined and typically smaller overall.  They are shorter at the withers and lighter than the European Dobermann. They are also finer boned. Those physical traits make them less suited for vigorous Working Line activities.  


American Doberman Pinscher vs European Dobermann



                                        Characteristics (Generalization)

It is important to note that the below generalizations are based on the American Show Line and the European Working Line.  We cannot compare American Working Line to Euro Working line because there is no American Working line.  Notwithstanding, the Euro Show Line is very similar to the American Show Line.  Both Show Lines are more similar to each other than they are in comparison to the Working Line.  The primary difference between the Euro Show Line and the American Show Line is body structure and drive, not much else.  A more accurate description of the below listing would be Show Line vs Working Line.

AMERICAN DOBERMAN PINSCHER                                    EURO-DOBERMANN

                                           Characteristics (Generalization)  

  • Loving and devoted to its family. 

  • Excellent Service Dog

  • Loves sofas, beds and cuddling. 

  • Elite Watch dog. Vigorously barks upon strangers entering its territory. Reserved and cautious with strangers.

  • Not eager to initiate physical contact with strangers or intruders.   

  • Protective of its family & home, but reluctant to physically intervene and engage due to its low stress threshold.

  • When the dog or its family is physically threatened, the dog will bark vigorously at the threat while maintaining a safe distance. Dog may retreat or engage erratically if threat advances.

  • Unlikely to have a correct (full) bite if worked in protection. May bite shallow or tentatively.

  • Sensitive to human emotions. Very perceptive of the slightest change in human's emotions and attitudes.  Actively seeks engagement with family members.

  • Excels through positive leadership & training. Slower to forgive stronger discipline.  Easy to train.  Responds to clear, positive training.  

  • May become anxious in new environments, but should adapt when given time.

  • Medium prey (chase) and food drive. Easy to live with. 

  • Medium ball drive. Will excitedly engage playing & working for a ball or tug. When you put the toy away, he will calm down, relax and realize that play time is over. Less likely to be successful in serious working jobs (Schutzhund/IPO/Police Work/Military Work/Personal Protection). Rarely found in serious working jobs today. 

  • Exceptional Watch Dog 

  • Below average protection dog

  • Loving and devoted to its family. 

  • Need general activity

  • Must have a focused job.

  • Watchful. Barks confidently.

  • Confidence remains high with unfamiliar people, unfamiliar situations, and unfamiliar locations

  • Elite guard dog

  • Very interested in making an up-close physical inspection of visitors 

  • Very confident while physically inspecting strangers and vehicles.

  • Physically protective of its family & territory.  Confident intervening.  May need to be restrained.

  • When his territory or family is threatened, he will bark, and confidently engage the intruder, even under stress

  • Tuned into human emotions, but not drastically impacted.  Actively and assertively seeks engagement.

  • More "thick skinned" and forgiving. 

  • Has a deep, correct bite when defending.

  • Easy to train due to high drives and confidence.

  • Responds to clear, positive training. 

  • Confident and at ease in new and chaotic environments.

  • Likely to have a strong prey (chase) and food drive.

  • Does very well in homes experienced with high drive dogs.


  • High ball drive. Will excitedly engage playing and working for a ball or tug. When you put the toy away, and tell him play time is over, he is very likely to persistently pester you to get the toy out again. If you have it in your pocket, expect persistence in trying to reactivate the toy even if you are done -- he may work to engage you for hours. May have to be crated to have 'down time."

  • ​More likely to be HIGHLY successful in working events (Schutzhund/IPO/Police Work). 

  • Common in police, military work, and personal protection work across the world.

  • Less common as a family dog without a job

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