in loving memory of Dan and Barbara Jessup
European Type And American Type Dobemans
First: understand what "type" means. Type refers to those traits, both physical and temperamental, which make each breed unique. Shown a greyhound outline, you would know it was a greyhound, and not a basset hound. Greyhound character is far different from basset hound character. Second: within an established breed, breeders can and do produce specific LINES of dogs (of the same breed) which have enough unique characteristics as to be recognizable as coming from the "so and so line".
This is particularily exaggerated in certain breeds - almost always breeds which have SPLIT into "working" and "showing" lines. Below I show the example of two dogs which are both English Setters, one bred for show, and one bred for field work. The same breed, yes, according to registering bodies. But they are certainly of very different type, depending on what they are used for.
Not only do the above English setters LOOK different, but they ACT differently as well. Show bred dogs are never represented in top winning field trial dogs, lacking speed and "birdiness". Field English setters are not going to win Westminster Best of Breed, lacking the exaggeration of type needed to win a beauty contest.
Another example of dogs which many consider "one breed", but which has evolved recently into three distinct "types": (L) an authentic game-bred American pit bull just a couple generations away from the dog pit. (M) a show bred version, registered with the AKC as an American Staffordshire Terrier, bred to "look tough" with exaggerations which would actually be a detriment if the dog was used for its purpose. And (R) the recent and terribly sad "fad breed", developed by breeding American Staffordshires with show bulldogs and other deformed breeds such as French bulldogs. Not only is the physical traits altered, but there is zero similarity between the authentic American pit bull and this new "type" of "pit bull" (sometimes called American bullies). Exaggeration is the hallmark of "show breeding". This is because the breeder is attempting to catch the judge's eye with something that stands out in the ring - they do not care about a dog's character.
Now! The Doberman! Now that you understand that ONE BREED can have different "types", we can understand the issue of "type" in European bred Dobermans and American Dobermans.
ALL Dobermans are related, and all go back to the late 1800s Germany where a handful of men and woman developed the breed from a mixture of Beauceron type shepherd dogs, Rottweilers, pinchers, a black greyhound, a female Manchester terrier and a few other breeds. The breed quickly became popular in Germany, and was used in both World Wars. The very first registered Doberman in America was reported in 1908. So quickly did the popularity of the breed grow, that there were already Doberman breeders from New England, the Midwest, all the way to Washington state by 1914! However, it wasn't until the 1920's and 1930's that the breed "exploded" here in the USA.
There really wasn't a division in type until rather recently. This is due to the exaggeration inherent in dog shows. In America, the "elegant" Doberman became the fad - longer, thinner neck, legs, head; and a long body, ears and tail. Every part of the Doberman was exaggerated and lengthened to show "elegance". Below left, is an example of a Doberman who was at one time the winningest Doberman in the USA as well as a hugely popular stud. Ch. Marienburg's Sun Hawk shown as a fully mature, six year old dog.
To the left if an European champion male. There is a noticeable different in "type". It is NOT my intention to say that one type is more correct than another. There are fine champions in both types. Obviously I prefer the European type, but that is a purely personal decision.
Within the European "type", there are exaggerations as well! There is a recent tendency for some European show dogs to be bred with excessively heavy heads, lips and chest. They are faulty, as the Doberman must be a unique combination of strength and agility!
Here I have discussed only the appearance differences. Is there a difference in character as well? Almost without doubt - yes. For the simple reason that European champions must pass WORKING TESTS in order to win the highest levels and become popular breeding dogs. For this reason there does tend to be a much stronger character found in European dogs. The bitch at right is a recent winner at an Doberman Pinscher Club of America event. To me she is far too frail to function as an authentic Doberman. I don't find this type attractive. She is as "overdone", in the opposite way, as the "American bully" above.
(L) Authentic American Pit Bull (M) Show bred American Staffordshire (R) Overdone "American Bully".