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FINDING BREED TYPE IN THE DOBERMAN
BY BOB VANDIVER
B reed type is much more subtle and much more complicated than what can be defined by words alone. One of my favorite sources on the subject of breed type is a book written by Rich- ard Beauchamp entitled, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type. In his book, Mr. Beauchamp examines many breeds and discusses qualities of type that are important for each breed. He gives the read- er an appreciation of how diverse the dog species are... and how difficult it is to describe breed type in words. After considering those many breeds and identi- fying their defining qualities, Mr. Beauchamp con- cludes that there are five elements that determine breed type. Those elements are: • Silhouette • Head
VERY GOOD DOG
• Gait • Coat • Breed Character
I believe Mr. Beauchamp is spot-on in defining the components that constitute breed type as it applies to Dobermans—and other breeds.
VERY GOOD BITCH
“BREED TYPE IS MUCH MORE
FIRST, LET’S LOOK AT SILHOUETTE The visual outline of a dog is the major way that we identify a breed. You should be able to see a dog at a distance and be able to identify the breed by outline alone. The silhouette conveys much about breed type; size, proportion, substance, angulation, topline, underline, tailset, head carriage, along with a myr- iad of other traits. All of these traits must combine in a unique way to become that breed, and to be unlike any other breed.
SUBTLE AND MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN WHAT CAN
BE DEFINED BY WORDS ALONE.”
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are not even close to resembling a Doberman. Dobermans have a dry head with a flat skull, smooth planes on the side of the head, erect ears, and a vigorous and energet- ic expression. The head should give the impression of planes, not curves, and intensity, not softness. The standard’s wording of a blunt wedge is not an exact measurement. A blunt wedge can vary from very wide (think Rottweiler) to very narrow (think Collie).
You can describe a dog until you exhaust your vocabulary, and still not have a person visualize a breed that he has never seen before. But show a live dog or a photo of a correct Doberman, and that person has an immediate appreciation for how the breed should look. Since outline or silhouette is, decidedly, a mark of breed type, it is important to have an image of the breed in mind to determine breed type. Shown above are photos of very good male and female Dobermans. These images should be so affixed in your mind that you can very quickly compare a Doberman standing before you to the mental image of the ideal. You can see from these images the compactness, the correct head proportion, the proper neck that flows smoothly into the 90-degree front angu- lation. You will observe the solid, slightly slop- ing topline ending in a two o’clock tailset with a moderate underline, and with rear angulation that matches the front. With the silhouette, you will see the strong substance, tight cat feet, and athleticism. Once you have the ideal silhouette committed to memory, and after observing many representatives of the breed, you will be armed with the tools to help you identify this element of breed type. NOW, LET’S LOOK AT THE HEAD Just as you should be able to identify a breed by profile alone, you should be able to identify the breed of any dog when only the head is visible. Although the description of our head is similar to other breeds, the Doberman head does not look like any other breed. Many breeds ask for parallel planes, blunt wedge, dark eyes, and high ear set, but they
A heavy-bodied Doberman will likely have a wider angle to the blunt wedge, whereas a narrower skull may be more appropriate on a dog with lesser substance. Both could be acceptable as long as the head fits the rest of the dog. You must know the limits of the wedge that are correct for a Doberman. You can do this by having the image of the ideal head stored in your mind’s eye for reference. Of major importance of the head is a full muzzle with a full complement of teeth. The Doberman was bred as a personal protection dog. To protect against threats, a Doberman needs the strength of head to manage a full-sized man who threatens the dog or his owner. The standard calls for a disqualification for dogs with four or more missing teeth, or overshot more than 3/16ths of an inch, or undershot more than 1/8ths of an inch. The most frequently missing (and easiest to find) teeth are the pre-molars. Miss- ing teeth can occur at any part of the mouth; inci- sors, pre-molars, or molars (usually the rear-most molar). It is imperative to check all teeth for proper dentition. Extra pre-molars are quite common in the breed. The standard calls for 42 correctly placed teeth. More teeth is not better. “More” actually represents two faults. First is that there are more than the 42 specified by the standard, and second, the teeth cannot be correctly placed if there are too many of them. Having said all of this, a missing or extra tooth is incorrect, but a dog should not be excluded from consideration for this singular fault.
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THE NEXT ELEMENT OF BREED TYPE IS GAIT
Another consideration in the mouth is the occlu- sion. Occlusion is best examined by examining the bite, then lifting the lips to reveal the upper and lower premolars. These premolars should fit such that they mesh symmetrically between each other as shown here. A good understanding of the correct head will lead you to become a better Doberman judge or breeder.
Each breed has a distinct gait, but there are many common factors of the gait that are typical of many breeds. Dobermans tend to have a strong, powerful gait, yet with light-footed action. They tend to have wider strides than many breeds. As an example, some Herding breeds call for similar structure in their standard with strong reach and drive, but in comparison, they have a more moderate gait than a Doberman. When observing the “running gear,” the essen- tial characteristics for Doberman side gait move- ment are correct reach and drive, interchange of the feet under the dog, and feet close to the ground. The reach and drive should be balanced, with the front foot reaching near the nose and the rear drive extending in a like angle, and with the hock joint fully open and the rear pastern fully extend- ed. The exchange under the dog should be with the back foot stepping into or near the exiting front foot.
CORRECT SIDE GAIT
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CORRECT FRONT AND REAR MOVEMENT
THE FOURTH ELEMENT OF BREED TYPE IS THE COAT
The dog world is teeming with different types, textures, lengths, and colors of coats. It is clear- ly one of the most important components in breed type. This element is the easiest to understand in the Doberman. It has no unusual characteristics, but it’s coat does help to define the breed. The Doberman coat is a short, hard, shiny coat, with little or no undercoat. If undercoat exists, it will typically be in the neck area. The coat should always be hard. There are coats that are soft, smooth, and shiny. They can be very attractive, but they are not correct. There are four colors; black, red, fawn, and blue, all with tan or rust markings. The only allowed white is a small patch on the chest, measuring no more than 1/2 inch square. Any other color is a disqualification. THE FINAL ELEMENT THAT DEFINES BREED TYPE IS BREED CHARACTER The elements of breed type discussed above deal with the physical appearance of the breed. That’s all that has been described and many people would stop there, but those elements don’t tell the whole story. The breed must present the proper character for its breed. The AKC Glossary of Terms defines character as “Expression, individuality, and general appearance and deportment as considered typical of a breed.”
“THE ELEMENTS OF BREED TYPE DISCUSSED ABOVE DEAL WITH THE PHYSICAL APPEARANCE OF THE BREED.”
In addition, the dog must maintain a look that is very similar to the dog when he is in a stacked pose, including topline and underline, with a slightly for- ward head carriage, and tail carriage as shown. The Doberman figures above show the correct movement for the down and back. Notice that the front leg forms a straight-line column and moves in the same plane as the rear leg on the same side. The legs converge toward a centerline under the dog. “Which is more important, the side gait or the down and back?” The answer is “both.” The char- acteristics that are important in side gait are not observable in the down and back. Conversely, the characteristics of correct movement in the down and back are not observable in the side gait. Even though you can see more characteristics in the side gait, the down and back is equally important. Both must be observed to find a sound dog.
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Harold Spiro’s book Canine Terminology limits his definition towards temperament, and defines character as: “Dogs mentally equipped to perform those functions for which they were originally designed are referred to as being “true in character” for that particular breed.” The Doberman is a regal breed with the distinc- tive combination of being elegant while still main- taining strong substance. It should be a compact, athletic, confident dog that presents himself as aware of his surroundings and in total control. The standard has descriptive phrases: “Elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility and temperament. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient.” They all are important. Since the Doberman was bred as a personal pro- tection dog, he should exhibit the traits of an ani- mal that can perform those duties... quick, power- ful, determined, confident, and controllable. A docked tail is clearly defined in the standard. There should be no other acceptable tail. dog with uncropped ears deviates from the standard in three specific instances: It is not cropped. The ears are not carried erect. The standard states that the Doberman look is “determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient.” Natural ears on this breed have a much softer and less daunting look than the erect ears of a cropped Doberman. A soft look is counter to the appearance desired in our breed. This is a third and important deviation. One should be able to identify a breed solely by its silhouette. The Doberman sil- houette cannot be identified as having cor- rect breed type if it has natural ears and an undocked tail. THOUGHTS ABOUT CROP AND DOCK
The athleticism, stature, and presence of a con- fident Doberman draws attention from everyone, irrespective of their breed of choice. Observe a good Doberman returning from moving, and hit- ting that perfect stack with the look of “I’m here, and I’m in command.” Could that be one of the reasons that Dobermans are so successful in Group competition? If you have watched a number of strong Work- ing Groups, you’ve seen it. When you see it, you will know “that’s a Doberman!” CONCLUSION If you thoroughly learn the first four elements of breed type and have those mental images in your mind, you will be able to choose the physically cor- rect Doberman. The final (and arguably the most important) factor that you will evaluate is breed character. Choose carefully, breeders and judges. You control the future of the breed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Vandiver has been involved in Dobermans since 1970, having bred many champions, including Top Ten competitors. He is approved by AKC to judge all Work- ing, Sporting, Non-Sporting, and Herd- ing breeds. He is a former Chairman and is now a member of the DPCA Judges Educa- tion Committee and was Chairman of the Doberman Pinscher Illustrated Standard.
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JUDGING THE DOBERMAN
JUDGING THE DOBERMAN BY FAYE STRAUSS, CHAIR DPCA JEC
D oberman breed authority Peggy Adam- son said, “Breed type emerges from the whole standard.” The whole dog is important, deviations should be taken to the extent of the deviation. The only deal breaker other than the disqualifications, is temperament. In the beginning, when the Doberman didn’t look like a purebred, he acted like a Doberman. This was the endearing characteristic that made them so valu- able. With time, their look developed. So, first and foremost, never award a dog with poor temperament. How can you be expected to determine tempera- ment in a 2.5-minute examination? I say, if a dog can’t keep it together for 2.5 minutes, he has flunked the temperament test. A dog should be expected to stand proud, determined, alert, and noble.
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JUDGING THE DOBERMAN
When the judge approaches, questionable temperament is evidenced when the dog's eyes are rolling (showing white), if his ears are pinned back, if he is shaking, or looks like his skin is crawling, if he is leaning on his handler, or racking back upon approach. These are signs of improper Doberman temperament. He may be the best looking and moving dog in the ring, but he should not win. If there are no other good dogs on that day, withhold ribbons. That is how important temperament is. If I see a dog with questionable temperament, I give them more time to help make the experience positive. If the dog is superior, I tell them how lovely their dog is and that they need to correct the problem. I get complaints from exhibi- tors and handlers when they witness a shy dog winning. Unfortunately, it happens way too often. We don’t want you to give a temperament test in the ring. We just want the Doberman to display breed type as described in the first paragraph of our standard. The procedure I use with the Doberman is the same as what I do with every breed. Walk up to the dog from a slight angle, not straight on. I extend my hand palm up and put it under the chin. This is a non-threaten- ing gesture that allows me to feel the underjaw and check the muzzle and skull planes and view the almond-shaped, moderately deep-set, dark eyes. With the DQ for missing teeth and incorrect bites, I ask the handler to show me the mouth. From the front, I see the bite and incisors. Then with mouth closed (to also view occlusion), they show the premolars on each side, then open the mouth to view the molars. I put my hands on both sides of the head to feel the clean line of the blunt wedge, and then view the par- allel planes and a slight stop from the side. After the head exam, I proceed toward the rear of the dog, feeling the forechest, shoulder and upper arm, and depth of body. I feel the topline, short, wide loin and well-filled out croup, and the tail, which is slightly off the horizontal. It is amazing how few people know that is what the standard says about the tail. Our breed is plagued with high tails and handlers who push up the high tails to adver- tise the fault. I guess they are also advertising the fact that they haven’t read the standard, but that is for another article. Then I check the testicles and feel the muscling in the rear. At this point the hands-on exam is over.
IT IS AMAZING HOW FEW PEOPLE KNOW THAT IS WHAT THE
STANDARD SAYS ABOUT THE TAIL.
OUR BREED IS PLAGUED WITH HIGH TAILS AND HANDLERS WHO PUSH UP THE HIGH TAILS TO ADVERTISE THE FAULT.
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I look down at the dog from the rear to see the hips being broad and in proportion to the body, breadth of hips being approximately equal to breadth of body at rib cage and shoul- ders. You can also see from the top view if the flow is smooth, without lumps and bumps. Then it is time to move the dog. I do a down and back. When the dogs moves toward me, I ask the handler to let the dog stand on its own; free stack. They can bait the dog. This is a crucial test. It shows how the dog stands unaided by the handler and tells a lot about the temperament. I observe their demeanor from the front, and the breadth of chest and the front legs and feet. Then I walk around the dog. Does he notice my motion, but continues to be unfazed? Does he stand confidently, with the breed-defined nobility; fearless, watchful, determined—an alert stance with proud car- riage? If he does, he passes the test. On the free stack, I can also observe the balance and proportion that is so important to type. The compact, muscular and powerful body is square. Ideally, he is a one-piece dog, all parts fitting together smoothly. If some- thing stands out, it is probably out of balance. His neck and head should be in balance with his leg and body. Please note that our standard does not say the neck is long, it says it is in bal- ance. This is a square breed and the height from elbow to withers equals height from ground to elbow. The brisket reaching deep to the elbow. The front angulation matches the rear. The shoulder blade is the same length as the upper arm, and the upper thigh is the same length as the lower thigh. The underline is curved to a well tucked-up, short loin. This is a well-angled breed. When the front and rear are in balance, he can move smoothly in a trot. The final test is the go around. The dog should look as good as he did standing. He is well-muscled, powerful, one-piece. His head is above his neck and forward a little to allow for good reach and drive. He has a straight topline, tail slightly off the horizontal. His rear foot leaves the ground as high as the front foot and both are close to the ground. The gait is free, balanced, and vigorous. In conclusion, please remember this is a personal companion dog. He is muscular and powerful with heavy bone, yet he is elegant in appearance and agile. In other words, he is not coarse or fine. He is strong and a threat to be reckoned with. He is noble, determined, alert, fearless, and of great temperament. Please NEVER reward poor temperament. We encour- age you to review our video, “How to Judge the Doberman.” You can find it on the DPCA web- site or on YouTube. The DPCA JEC website is a wealth of information, check it out. Enjoy our breed, they are amazing companions.
HE IS MUSCULAR AND POWERFUL WITH HEAVY BONE, YET HE IS ELEGANT IN APPEARANCE AND AGILE. IN OTHER WORDS, HE IS NOT COARSE OR FINE.
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THE DOBERMAN PINSCHER
1. How many years in Dobermans? Do you judge? Also tell us a little about yourself: Where you live, what you do for a living, what you do outside of dogs.? 2. Who was your mentor? What did he/she teach you that you value most highly? 3. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general, and your breed in particular. 4.. What is the biggest health concern facing the breed today? 5. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder? 6. Advice to a new breeder? 7. Advice to a new judge of your breed? 8. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? 9. How has the docking/cropping controversy affected you? 10. What’s more important to you, a win at an all- breed show or at a Specialty? 11. What’s your favorite dog show memory? 12. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? 13. Anything else you’d like to share? DR. MARY- HELENE (MIMI) BROWN I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I retired in 2016 after 37 years as an OB/GYN Dr. I am the current president of the Dober- man Pinscher Club of America. I judged intersex at our 2016 National specialty and found a great depth of quality Dobermans. My biggest concern is Dilated Cardiomyopathy and the decreasing longevity of our Dobermans because of it. Biggest problem as a breeder is finding owners that want a multidimensional dog. Dobermans need to have a job to do and excel in many venues. They are not just house pets. They are working dogs. Advice to new breeders: Look at health testing and talk to your mentors, but don’t just base breeding on test results. Breed for the total Doberman. Breed for phenotypic appear- ance and good temperament and working ability. Advice to new judges: Apply our standard, as you do with any other breed you judge. Look for a balanced dog, medium size, square, with a correct head.
Most common fault I see when traveling is long bodies, snipey muzzles, straight fronts, over angulated rears, lack of bone and substance. Dobermans are a wonderful breed to share your life with. You will never go to the bathroom alone again. MARGARITA FILES I currently live in Illinois and outside of dogs, I care for my parents. I feel the current quality is not great. It’s not horrible but I do feel that we as breeders should do more to improve the breed. Research is needed to produce better quality. If you own a bitch the first question you need to ask yourself is how can I improve her? whether it be health, temperament or con- formation. That’s the foundation for this breeding. Then you start your search for the best stud dog for her. Not the dog of the day, or the top dog that is winning. This is not the fix for every bitch. I have two concerns one is DCM, my opinion is easy use the test as a tool. We also need to use the pedigree to deter- mine where the DCM is in the genetics and not breed it so close together. we don’t breed VWD affected together or VWD affected to carriers together so why do we do it with two animals that may each have a parent that died from this dreadful disease. The other concern is the strait fronts. There is nothing more unappealing to me than a straight front. The biggest problem facing me as a breeder is health. My advice to a new breeder and to a new judge is to get a good mentor. The most common fault I see when traveling around the country is bad fronts and gay tails. Love your breed with all your heart. Breed like this may be your last litter. Always try to move forward and most of all remember you cannot fix every problem with one breeding. Not all puppies in a litter have to be shown and bred. Years ago I had my girl Blue MOA’s once ina blue moon. I was just starting and was told that my bitch always need to relieve herself prior to going into the ring. So I matched her and put her in a public x-pen. Well Blue was not having any of that and refused to go so I put another match in, she will still not go. Another match. Finally she goes but, oh my god, was she mad. I gave her to my handler, they went in the ring and she showed like something I had just untied her from a tree. My handler gave her back to me and asked what was wrong with her. I told him what I had done and he laughed. S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2019 • 289
doberman pinscher Q&A WITH DR. MARY-HELENE (MIMI) BROWN, MARGARITA FILES, ERIC GLOFKA, CHERIE HOLMES AND PATRICIA REINARD-KOPSA
Blue stood there and would not acknowledge me at all. Every- one else would come and speak to her and ask for a kiss which she gave with no reserve. I asked repeatedly and she would just turn her head and look the other way. This was hilarious to me that she was so human. She did finally forgive me. That was one of my heart dogs. I miss her to this day. ERIC GLOFKA I have been involved with Dobermans for eight years since we purchased our first pet Doberman—Niko. Lucia was my first show bitch and our world has never been the same since we went to our first AKC show. I knew from that point on that helping support this breed in any way possible was my life’s work. My wife Lynda and I, along with our four Dober- mans Lucia, Liberty, Justice and Niko live in Dade City, Florida which is just north of Tampa. I am a Regional Asset Protection Operations and Safety Director for Lowes covering the South East. Outside of dogs, we love the outdoors such as fishing, hiking and going to the beach. Carol Petruzzo from Carosel Dobermans has been my mentor for the last eight years. Carol taught me all about the proper breeding of Dobermans as well as the ins and outs of the dog show world. Carol also co-bred and helped me with my first Litter. Carol taught me most importantly to enjoy every show, the people, and the atmosphere. Carol would always say “Don’t try to figure things out.” Just enjoy the pro- cess. If you have the right quality Doberman your time will come. Enjoy every show and enjoy watching your dog per- form in the ring. While I understand that we can’t breed out every health condition, I do believe that we should try to do our best to pair up two healthy animals. I am a big believer in putting health and longevity first, then beauty and conformation. As I have learned pedigrees over the years I have been shocked to see some breeders intentionally pairing up animals that I know have passed away early from DCM and other significant health ailments. While you can’t avoid it all together, dogs that have had significant health issues should never be bred head to head. If the conformation process is to identify the best breeding stock of the future, health needs to be number one in that conversation. How has the docking/cropping controversy affected me: it has not affected me personally but I do fear what I am start- ing to see rise up in America. I believe that we need to do all we can to educate people about proper docking/cropping and aggressively fight any movement forward against docking and cropping in the US. What’s more important to me, a win at an all-breed show or at a Specialty: a Specialty show for sure. Top dogs travel from all over the country to compete in specialty shows. To win a Doberman Specialty is extra special and memo- rable just due to the increased competition and the size of these shows. My favorite dog show memory: I have two memories that stick out the most. First, our first bred Champion “Liberty” GCH Carosel V. Epic Saturday Night Special CGC finished her Championship with two Specialty Majors at the Royal Canin
National and the Atlanta Doberman Pincher Club of America. What incredible exciting memories those were to see Lib- erty win and be recognized against some of the top dogs in the country. Second, we started 2019 spot showing Liberty in the Spe- cial Ring to get her ready for her 2019 Campaign. In three weekends, Liberty finished her Grand Championship win- ning multiple breeds over Top 20 Specials. We are excited and optimistic about Liberty’s future. CHERIE HOLMES I live on southern Vancouver Island and I am the current president of the BCDPC. I retired from being a musician in a rock band in 1995, sold my cabinet shop in 2004, and since my husband died in 2010, I have been doing home share/ respite for persons with disabilities. This allows me time to work with my all breed club, and also with the four Dober- man Pinscher clubs that I belong to. I have been given the job of running the concession stand at our all breed show every May, and enjoy all the cooking, and serving the exhibitors. Our menu is becoming famous for home cooking and home made pies and squares. This is not only giving the people a great meal at a great price, it also helps pay for the wonderful building that we use for the show. We are lucky that this venue does not have a contract in place for the kitchen, allowing us to rent it every year. I judge the Sporting, Working, Non Sporting groups, and have started working on Terriers and have owned and shown Dobermans and Smooth Fox Terriers since 1971. I am pleased with the progress that Doberman breeders have made improving structure in the last 40 years. The abil- ity to DNA test for some diseases has helped us to beat some diseases, but we still struggle with the eradication of cancer and heart disease. Our many dedicated fanciers work hard to produce the healthiest and soundest dogs possible. We had a lot of dogs a few years back with lower thighs that were too long, and were too high in the hock, but as we recognized this trend, work was done to remedy the issue on most dogs. It is a balancing act to produce good fronts and matching rears, and the pendulum swings while we all work on attaining perfection, without perpetuating health risks. The biggest problem we in Canada face at present is the growing inability to crop and dock our puppies. This is a world “WHILE I UNDERSTAND THAT WE CAN’T BREED OUT EVERY HEALTH CONDITION, I DO BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD TRY TO DO OUR BEST TO PAIR UP TWO HEALTHY ANIMALS.“
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wide issue facing us all, but I am hoping that the U.S. will not follow this trend. The possible answer to this may be to open the stud reg- istry (as other breeds have done) and continue the work of our predecessors in the 20’s and 30’s to continue to build this breed, this time with a prick ear. We may be able to breed a natural bob tail as well, as back in the first 25 years of the breed’s existence, some natural bob tails were born in litters. We need to re-think the process, and say that maybe we are just not done yet! As I observe dogs around the world, I still see some dogs that are not balanced, but I know that each one is a work in progress, and we are all trying to breed the 90 degree lay back with a matching rear, in a short backed dog. As daunt- ing as that is, we all are still trying to achieve that Nirvana! We are closer than we were 40 years ago, so kudos to those breeders who continue to strive for perfection. I love dog shows, love watching all the breeds that are shown to us, and live for the thrill that comes from watch- ing a superb animal, groomed and shown to perfection enter the ring! PATRICIA REINARD-KOPSA I got my start with Dobermans 15 years ago by purchasing a Doberman for obedience. A few people told me how beauti- ful she was and encouraged me to show, and show I did! After several shows, my now mentor, CarolAnne Haven- er, Rauschund Dobermans, befriended me and we became instant friends. She took me under her wing and taught me many valuable lessons, the most being to breed responsibly, especially for health and temperament. CaroleAnne showed a great deal of confidence in me and trusted me with my first true show dog, Husker. My most memorable show moment was when I handled Husker to winners dog in his first show at six months of age. Through CaroleAnne’s trust and encouragement, I got my foundation bitch from her and that is when my kennel, Gerhund Dobermans, was started. I am fortunate that I have very loving and dedicated puppy people. Two are starting their show careers with one of my boys quickly earning six points in very limited showing. My dogs are also very ath- letic and a couple will be pursuing performance careers with their owners. I think the biggest health concern facing our breed today is DCM. I lost my first Doberman to DCM and it was devastat- ing. We really need to find a way to eradicate this disease. In addition, the docking and cropping controversy needs to be met with resistance. I am fortunate that New York State does not have this law yet. We need to ban together and stop these laws from passing and ruining this beautiful breed. I am dedicated to Dobermans and in my breeding pro- gram I promote good health and follow the Puppy Culture protocol where I can see the positive impact this brings in their temperaments. doberman pinscher Q&A WITH DR. MARY-HELENE (MIMI) BROWN, MARGARITA FILES, ERIC GLOFKA, CHERIE HOLMES AND PATRICIA REINARD-KOPSA
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DOBERMAN PINSCHER STRUCTURE
by PAT HASTINGS
O ne of the most emphatic recommendations I offer to novice dog people—no matter their breed—is to spend time studying Doberman Pin- schers in the ring. For one thing, the Doberman is a structurally “generic” breed. A Doberman should be so per- fectly balanced that you are visually drawn to the dog as a whole. It is: • A square breed from the forechest to the buttocks. • A medium breed in every characteristic. No aspect should be overdone. • A totally balanced breed. All parts are in balance with the whole. The other reason I encourage nov- ices to study Dobermans in confor- mation competition is because struc- tural soundness is fundamental to the Doberman’s breed type. There is no other way for a Doberman to excel in conformation.
Since structural soundness is at the heart of our breed’s conformation, we cannot properly assess a Doberman by appearance only. We must feel for the tissue strength and muscle balance required to hold the structure in place, thus enabling the dog to move properly and efficiently. As we go through our standard, the interrelationship between standard and structure becomes readily apparent: Neck proudly carried— Without a proper shoulder assembly, a dog does not have the ability to carry the neck in a proud position. Neck well arched— This requires proper ligamentation of the neck verte- brae. Therefore, a ewe neck, caused by poor ligamentation, is contrary to the standard. A dog with a ewe neck lacks the strength in its neck to be capable of holding onto a person. Anytime a dog is lacking a component that prevents it from accomplishing the purpose
for which it was bred, it is lacking in breed type. Nape of neck widening gradu- ally toward body— This requirement prohibits a stovepipe neck, which is caused by poor musculature and again prevents the dog from doing the job for which it was bred. Withers pronounced and form- ing the highest point of the body— The withers are the area between the set on of the neck to the back. It con- sists of extremely thick, strong muscles which also help protect the shoulder blades. The withers should be pro- nounced but shoulder blades should never be the highest point of the dog. The spine should always be higher. High shoulder blades can loosen the shoulders and cause an up-and-down motion, like that seen in the shoulders of a cat. (This high-set, loose shoulder makes for a leaping motion instead of a strong trotting action.) Back short, firm— The “short” aspect increases strength in the back and makes it less susceptible to inju- ry. The “firm” aspect is created by a good front assembly. A soft or dipping topline is an indication of a structural weakness or imbalance in the front assembly. Along the same lines, a roach or rise in the topline is almost always caused by a structural weakness of the rear assembly. Chest broad— A broad chest is the result of both proper ribs and a proper front assembly placement. A front assembly placed too far forward will not allow the appearance of a broad chest. Forechest well defined— Because nothing on the Doberman should be exaggerated, a pigeon-breasted dog is as incorrect as one with an overdone forechest.
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“IF THE BONES ARE OUT OF PROPORTION, IT CAUSES THE MUSCLE THAT IS OVER THE LONGER BONE TO BE STRETCHED FARTHER THAN THE OTHER MUSCLES, WHICH IN TURN AFFECTS ITS STRENGTH. THE STANDARD CALLS FOR BALANCED, SMOOTH MOTION, WHICH IS UNATTAINABLE IF THE MUSCLES THEMSELVES ARE OUT OF BALANCE.”
Ribs well sprung— This is crucial for lung and heart capacity. If lung and heart capacity is restricted by slab-sided ribs, the dog’s stamina and endurance can be impaired. Brisket reaching deep to the elbow— This is also necessary for heart and lung capacity plus proper attach- ment of the upper arm and is also nec- essary for balance. Belly well tucked up, extending in a curved line from the brisket— This excludes a herring gut, which is cre- ated when the length of the ribs ends too abruptly. The ribs behind the legs should all be approximately the same length to the ninth rib, and then gradu- ally curve to the tuck-up. If the depth stops too abruptly, there is a much straighter or more extreme line to the loin. The more extreme the underline, the more restricted the heart and lung capacity. A dog with a herring gut will lack stamina and endurance. Loins wide and muscled— There is no support for the topline past the attachment of the last rib, so a short (within reason) loin makes for a stron- ger back, which is less susceptible to injury. The muscling of the loin is cru- cial for proper flexibility. Tail—appears to be a continua- tion of the spine, and is carried only slightly above the horizontal...Hip Bone falls away from spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees, producing a slightly rounded, well filled-out croup— The croup and tail- set determine how the rear legs swing. The steeper the croup and the lower the tailset, the farther forward a dog will bring its rear legs, thus reducing its rear extension. This interferes with a smooth, efficient motion. The flatter the croup and the higher the tailset, the less forward motion and the more extreme the rear kick, which is wasted action and again interferes with a smooth, effi- cient motion. (There is one exception to this which I will discuss later.)
Height from elbow to withers approximately equals height from ground to elbow— This 50:50 ratio helps to create necessary overall bal- ance. If the dog has more leg than depth of body, either from a chest that is too shallow or from legs that are too long, the dog becomes top-heavy, which means it must slow down to make quick turns. How efficient can a Doberman be that is unable to make quick turns at top speed? Elbows lie close to the brisket— Always check for looseness in the elbows by rocking the dog to the side. Poor ligamentation usually causes the elbows to pop or move outward when in motion, which in turn can cause the dog to toe in its front feet. Loose elbows increase the risk of structural damage when landing from jumps; the impacts stretch the tissue. As the tissue wears out, there is greater wear on the bone, which increases the possibility of arthritis as the dog ages. Pasterns firm and almost per- pendicular to the ground— The pas- terns are one of the areas most suscep- tible to injury. If they are too straight, they lose the ability to absorb shock. If they are too angled, they lose the strength necessary to provide support. The angulation of the hindquar- ters balances that of the forequar- ters...Upper Shanks at right angles to the hip bones, are long, wide, and well muscled on both sides of the thigh— This is crucial as this is the ham. It must have the same amount of meat on both sides of the bone. If muscles are imbalanced, there is no balance. This imbalance of the muscle mass is what causes a dog to be either cow hocked (where it is more heavily muscled on the inside of the legs) or barrel, spread or open hocked (where there is more muscle on the outside of the legs). A lack of muscle mass on either the inside or outside of the rear legs destroys stability. The dog will
Shoulder Blade sloping forward and downward at a 45-degree angle to the ground meets the upper arm at an angle of 90 degrees— A dog cannot reach any farther forward that what the angle of the shoulder allows. Also, its reach cannot extend beyond the end of its nose. So the shorter the neck, the shorter the dog’s reach, no matter what its shoulder angle is. The straighter the upper arm the farther forward the front legs are positioned, which affects both the static (stand- ing) and kinetic (moving) balance. The space between the shoulder blades must always fit the dog. If the blades are too close together, front motion is affected and the dog’s ability to lower it head is inhibited. If the blades are too far apart, the front legs are set farther apart and roughen the shoulder lay into the body; both of these consequences prohibit smooth, efficient front assem- bly motion. Straight or wide shoulder blades are the main cause of wrinkles over the shoulders. Length of the shoulder blade and upper arm are equal— If the shoul- der is relatively the same length as the upper arm, front assembly muscles can work in unison. If the bones are out of proportion, it causes the muscle that is over the longer bone to be stretched farther than the other muscles, which in turn affects its strength. The stan- dard calls for balanced, smooth motion, which is unattainable if the muscles themselves are out of balance. The upper arm provides the pendulum motion of the front leg and contributes to the center of balance in motion. A short upper arm is incapable of bring- ing the front far enough under the body to create speed and balance. Therefore, it impedes the dog’s stride in a gallop. In a trot, it creates excess motion, usu- ally in the pastern area, or prevents the dog from moving along a single line of support.
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“DOBERMANS BRED TO THE STANDARD ARE BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED AND STRONGLY BUILT— A STUNNING MIX OF AESTHETICS AND FUNCTIONALITY.”
have a limited ability to make fast or tight turns. Upper and lower shanks are of equal length— The length from the point of the buttocks to the kneecap should be the same as the length from the kneecap to the point of the hock. Just as with the front assembly, equal lengths allow the muscles to work properly. If the lower thigh is longer than the upper thigh, the rear assembly is weakened. Hock to heel is perpendicular to the ground— The stability of the hock is the cornerstone of the rear. There should never be any motion in the joint—not in, out or forward. Gait—Free, balanced, and vigor- ous, with good reach in the fore- quarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting, there is a strong rear-action drive... When moving at a fast trot, a prop- erly built dog will single-track— These only occur when the structure is proper, according to the standard. All three directions of move- ment—coming, going, and side gait— are equally important. To judge on less than all three directions implies to exhibitors that they need not give full weight to the standard when breeding, thus increasing the risk that our breed will lose its overall quality. For example, a square dog (as required by the standard) will have a proper side gait, IF it is properly made. A longer dog may appear to have a prop- er side gait without having as good of structure. Therefore the standard of a square dog demands better structure. By the same token, the straighter the angles, front and rear, the easier it is to create clean motion coming and going, but straight angles restrict movement as seen in the side gait. Also for a dog to be clean coming and going it must have a proper prosternum. There can only be as much muscle as surface to
attach it to. The more shallow the pro- sternum, the less muscle there is attach- ing the upper arm to the rib cage. This is one of the major reasons for sloppy front action. With specific regard to gaiting, the point of balance for almost all canines is to drop a plumb line from the point of the buttocks to the ground. The line should touch the tips of the toes. If the foot is forward of the line, the rear legs are too short and the dog will not have the required angles. It may create a col- umn of support under the hips, flatten- ing the pelvis, which in turn causes the tail to be more upright or carried gaily. If the foot is behind the point of bal- ance, the rear legs are too long. This is one of the main causes of a functional sickle hock. The dog moves its foot forward for balance which creates the look of a sickle. There is not time in the sequence of motion for a leg that is too long to move both directions. The long rear leg moves forward but the sequence of motion is over before it can follow through behind. The hock returns to a perpendicular position instead of the required rear extension. If the leg is way too long, the dog must lead with a rear leg instead of a front, which is a waste of motion. Another way a dog may compensate for this fault is to “bicycle” with the rear legs. This rotating motion destroys the action of the rear drive. Rear legs that are too long is the exception to the croup controlling the rear motion ( see tail and croup ). If the dog’s rear legs are too long, it will be lacking in rear extension. On the other hand, too high of a tail set will cause too much rear kick. These two faults have the tendency to cancel each other and it will appear that the dog moves correctly, but it does not change the fact that the dog still has both faults. For speed and endurance, a proper hock is crucial. A long hock is effective
for an initial burst of speed. In order to have great endurance, speed and good driving power, however, the hock must be well let down (short). Although this is not specifically addressed in the stan- dard, it is indirectly addressed in Gen- eral Appearance , as well as in Gait . The Doberman Pinscher standard is one of the very best standards out there. Dobermans bred to the standard are beautifully balanced and strongly built—a stunning mix of aesthetics and functionality. Better still, a Dober- man bred to the standard enhances our understanding of and appreciation for structural excellence. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Pat Hastings of Oregon has been involved in the dog world since 1959 along with her late husband E.R. “Bob” Hastings. They were profes- sional handlers for many years and Pat began her judging career in 1991. She currently judges five groups. Along the way, Pat has chaired local shows, National Specialties and a major ben- efit for “Take The Lead”. As a highly respected educator in the dog world, Pat has always endeavored to teach by example, to approach all aspects of the Sport with respect, com- mon sense, and personal integrity. She has presented seminars for over 25 years around the world, has authored four best-selling books and produced a popular DVD in addition to writ- ing numerous articles for a variety of publications. She is a great believer in the value of mentoring and has worked with novices and new judges providing information, moral support and encouragement. Her years of dedi- cation to the sport of dogs led to her being awarded the 2014 AKC Lifetime Achievement Award in Conformation.
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JUDGING THE DOBERMAN
by JEFFREY LYNN BRUCKER
I n order to judge the Doberman, you must first know what you are look- ing for. You must have a mental picture of the ideal. You need to make yourself very knowledge- able about the standard and the history of the breed. You also need to know what Dobermans were bred for (compan- ion and guard). Know- ing the reasons for the Doberman will help you decide which parts of the
standard are most important. All show dogs have good parts and faults. When you make your decision make sure it is based on the standard, not only on which dog is showing best. After all, you as the judge, are basically endors- ing dogs for breeding stock. In 58 years of breeding and show- ing dogs, I have seen them go through many changes. Too big, too long, miss- ing teeth, and not enough bone (they should be heavy boned). It seems as if as soon as we correct one problem, we have to address another. The only way to monitor the current problems in the breed is for the judges to enforce the standard.
“KNOWING THE REASONS FOR THE DOBERMAN WILL HELP YOU DECIDE WHICH PARTS OF THE STANDARD ARE MOST IMPORTANT.”
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