The Difference Between European vs American Dobermans
This is a generalization but the photo above shows the physical difference between European and American Dobermans. According to both the European Doberman Standard and the American Doberman Standard, the Doberman is a medium-sized dog. But the European Dobermans do tend to look stronger compared to the American’s more lean body. European Dobermans are usually bred for working purposes, so they need to be stronger and more muscular to do “bite” work. But one is not better than the other.
Some people also believe that their temperament is generally different. European dogs are seen to have a higher drive and motivation to work. They are specifically bred to have a stronger working “drive”. This is needed for dogs to do Schutzhund, protection, or law enforcement work effectively. Whereas the American Doberman is seen as softer and more suitable to fit in with the typical American family lifestyle. Think form over function.
Other notable differences include that all European Dobermans must pass a ZTP temperament test (Breed Suitability Test) before being bred. This test checks for working aptitude and includes protection skills. American Dobermans aren’t required to have any specific tests before breeding. Although many have conformation show titles to their name. Here is a video of a Doberman going through ZTP testing. And lastly, European Dobes are usually not ear cropped since this procedure has been banned in most of Europe.
I think instead of referring to these dogs as American or European, a better distinction for classifying them would be working dogs or non-working dogs. You can have European Doberman puppies who don’t show a temperament for working. And you can have American Doberman puppies who show a great working temperament. Every puppy has it’s own unique personality and aptitude for certain tasks.
Buying a European Doberman in the US
Lastly, it seems that nowadays, the label “European Doberman” is being used as a marketing gimmick. If you’re looking to buy a Doberman for working purposes, you will probably have a harder time finding a quality breeder in the US. And be very cautious about importing a European Doberman without knowing the breeder’s reputation. If it’s a working dog with a higher drive you are looking for, the United Doberman Club is a good place to start looking for a breeder. This club is dedicated to preserving and protecting the Doberman and its heritage as a working dog in the US.
I think it’s important that anyone looking to buy a European Doberman, really ask themselves, why? If it’s for looks you can find American adult Dobes that have more muscular bodies. And if it’s for working purposes, again American Dobes can have the necessary high drive and natural instinct for protection duties. They can do Schutzhund. If it’s for high-level competition protection work, then maybe you want to look for a European Doberman from a respected breeder. But again does the average person in the US need this?