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American vs European Doberman: KEY Differences

Many of us have heard of the Doberman breed, but you may not be aware that there is an American Doberman and a European Doberman.

You may not even notice the difference if you see the two out and about, but there are actually quite a few subtle traits that set these dogs apart. 

We want to help you spot the difference between these two Dobermans, so let’s discuss each of their breed traits in our detailed guide below. Let’s get started!

Are American & European Dobermans The Same?

Though they may have many similarities, the American Doberman is not the same dog as the European Doberman.

These dogs were bred with different breed standards in mind, which led to the current differences you will notice in the two breeds today.

They are two distinct types of Dobermans, and we want to help you feel confident in telling them apart moving forward.  

American Doberman Vs European Doberman Breakdown

To help you better understand the many differences between the two types of Doberman, let’s break down each breed trait below. 

History Differences

When it comes to the history of the American and European Doberman, much of their story is the same.

Both of the dogs got their start in Germany in the late 1800’s, and were originally bred as an experiment to create the perfect watchdog for a tax collector named Louis Doberman.

His career increased the risks of running into some dangerous bandits, so he was always on a mission to create the perfect protector. That’s how the Doberman was born!

It is believed that the only historical difference is that one of these dogs made their way to America, which eventually led to the American Doberman we know and love today.

Their origin is the same, but they did have different experiences once they began to be bred around the world.

There are different breed standards in both Europe and America, so these pups have grown to develop a few physical differences throughout the years. 

Physical Differences

As we mentioned above, both Europe and America have different breed standards when it comes to most canine friends.

This is why there are a few subtle differences in appearance when comparing the two Dobermans, so let’s break down the differences below. 

Size & Weight:

The European Doberman is typically bigger than the American Doberman, with the European Doberman standing up to 29 inches in height and weighing up to 110 pounds.

Though the European Doberman is slightly larger and bulkier than the American Doberman, it’s not always drastic enough to tell them apart upon first glance. 

Coat Color & Texture:

Similar to the size differences of the American and European Doberman, the coat color differences are typically a bit subtle as well.

While they can sport many of the same coat colors and patterns, the European Doberman is said to have a richer coat color than the American. This results in them having a more pigmented, darker coat than the American Doberman. 

Though this is not a difference in appearance, it’s important to know that not all coat colors are recognized as the breed standard in the European Doberman. Only black and rust and red and rust are recognized in European Dobermans, where the American Doberman is recognized in blue and fawn as well. 

Personality Differences

Personality and temperament seems to be where these two Dobermans differ the most. The American Doberman was bred to be a loyal family dog that forms a close bond with those they love, while the European Doberman was bred to be a reliable working dog.

  • This means that the American Doberman is often better suited as the family pet, while the European Doberman is perfect for those looking for a hardworking pup with a high prey drive.

Keep in mind that just because they were bred for different purposes does not mean they couldn’t excel in either role. These personality differences are just something to keep in mind when you are trying to figure out which Doberman would be best for your family. 

Exercise Requirement Differences

Due to the fact that the European Doberman has been bred for work over the years, then they will naturally require a bit more exercise each day than the American Doberman.

While the American Doberman may only need about 45 minutes of daily exercise, the European Dober can require anywhere from an hour or more. 

It’s important to keep in mind that while the American Doberman may need less exercise each day, they still need quite a bit of it. If you are looking for a calm pup with minimal exercise requirements, neither of the Dobermans are the right fit for you. 

Training Differences

There may be a few differences in terms of the personality and appearance of each Doberman type, but both of them are extremely intelligent.

Training should come easy to both dogs when following positive reinforcement style training, as well as offering them consistent rules to follow. 

Just keep in mind that intelligent dogs are prone to getting into trouble when they are not offered obedience training and socialization, so we suggest introducing them to training from the moment they enter your home.

Health Differences

Similar to how the intelligence level is the same in both types of Dobermans, both the American and the European Doberman will struggle with the same risk of health complications down the line.

Both types of Doberman have a healthy life expectancy of 10-12 years, but there are a few health risks they are more prone to developing. 

The most common health threats to the Doberman breed include:

Bloat or GDV:

Gastric dilatation volvulus is a life-threatening condition that is common in large, deep-chested dogs like the Doberman.

This involves the stomach filling with gas and causing gastric dilatation, but it can progress to a gastric dilatation volvulus if the stomach flips on itself and cuts off blood circulation as a result.

Both are considered a life-threatening emergency, as if the stomach flips on itself, it is considered a fatal situation. 

Hip dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia is a common joint disease that often impacts our beloved Dobermans. Hip dysplasia is a condition that refers to the abnormal development of the dog’s hip joints, which makes the hip joints more loose than they should be.

This laxity causes the joints to be unstable, which ultimately leads to rubbing and grinding of the joints with each step. This is not only extremely painful for the dog, but it can lead to a serious case of secondary arthritis. 

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM):

DCM is a heart condition that is often seen in our Doberman friends. This refers to the enlargement of the heart muscle over time, making it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively.

This eventually causes the weakening of the heart valves and leads to fluid buildup in the chest and abdomen. 

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA):

PRA is an eye condition that is unfortunately quite common in Dobermans. This is believed to be an inherited disease that is passed down from dog to dog, and leads to impacted vision over time.

It is a progressive disease, but it often progresses to the point of blindness over months or years. 

Not all Dobermans will fall victim to the conditions we listed above, but it’s important to be educated on the conditions just in case they develop in your canine friend. 

10 Dogs That Get on Well With Dobermans

Summary Of American Doberman vs. European Doberman

As you can see, while the American Doberman and the European Doberman are very similar, there are a few distinct personality differences you should be aware of when determining which breed is best for your family.

No matter which Doberman you choose for your home, you are sure; to find a loyal and loving canine companion!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.