Doberman Pinscher Breed Magazine - Showsight

Doberman Pinscher Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Doberman Pinscher General Appearance: The appearance is that of a dog of medium size, with a body that is square. Compactly built, muscular and powerful, for great endurance and speed. Elegant in appearance, of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility and temperament. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient. Size, Proportion, Substance: Height at the withers: Dogs 26 to 28 inches, ideal about 27½ inches; Bitches 24 to 26 inches, ideal about 25½ inches. The height, measured vertically from the ground to the highest point of the withers, equaling the length measured horizontally from the forechest to the rear projection of the upper thigh. Length of head, neck and legs in proportion to length and depth of body. Head: Long and dry, resembling a blunt wedge in both frontal and profile views. When seen from the front, the head widens gradually toward the base of the ears in a practically unbroken line. Eyes almond shaped, moderately deep set, with vigorous, energetic expression. Iris, of uniform color, ranging from medium to darkest brown in black dogs; in reds, blues, and fawns the color of the iris blends with that of the markings, the darkest shade being preferable in every case. Ears normally cropped and carried erect. The upper attachment of the ear, when held erect, is on a level with the top of the skull. Top of skull flat, turning with slight stop to bridge of muzzle , with muzzle line extending parallel to top line of skull. Cheeks flat and muscular. Nose solid black on black dogs, dark brown on red ones, dark gray on blue ones, dark tan on fawns. Lips lying close to jaws. Jaws full and powerful, well filled under the eyes. Teeth strongly developed and white. Lower incisors upright and touching inside of upper incisors a true scissors bite . 42 correctly placed teeth, 22 in the lower, 20 in the upper jaw. Distemper teeth shall not be penalized. Disqualifying Fault - Overshot more than 3/16 of an inch. Undershot more than ⅛ of an inch. Four or more missing teeth. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck proudly carried, well muscled and dry. Well arched, with nape of neck widening gradually toward body. Length of neck proportioned to body and head. Withers pronounced and forming the highest point of the body. Back short, firm, of sufficient width, and muscular at the loins, extending in a straight line from withers to the slightly rounded croup. Chest broad with forechest well defined. Ribs well sprung from the spine, but flattened in lower end to permit elbow clearance. Brisket reaching deep to the elbow. Belly well tucked up, extending in a curved line from the brisket. Loins wide and muscled. Hips broad and in proportion to body, breadth of hips being approximately equal to breadth of body at rib cage and shoulders. Tail docked at approximately second joint, appears to be a continuation of the spine, and is carried only slightly above the horizontal when the dog is alert. Forequarters : Shoulder Blade-sloping forward and downward at a 45-degree angle to the ground meets the upper arm at an angle of 90 degrees. Length of shoulder blade and upper arm are equal. Height from elbow to withers approximately equals height from ground to elbow. Legs seen from front and side, perfectly straight and parallel to each other from elbow to pastern; muscled and sinewy, with heavy bone. In normal pose and when gaiting, the elbows lie close to the brisket. Pasterns firm and almost perpendicular to the ground. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet well arched, compact, and catlike, turning neither in nor out. Hindquarters: The angulation of the hindquarters balances that of the forequarters. Hip bone falls away from spinal column at an angle of about 30 degrees, producing a slightly rounded, well filled-out croup. Upper shanks at right angles to the hip bones, are long, wide, and well

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muscled on both sides of thigh, with clearly defined stifles. Upper and lower shanks are of equal length. While the dog is at rest, hock to heel is perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, the legs are straight, parallel to each other, and wide enough apart to fit in with a properly built body. Dewclaws, if any, are generally removed. Cat feet as on front legs, turning neither in nor out. Coat: Smooth-haired, short, hard, thick and close lying. Invisible gray undercoat on neck permissible. Color and Markings: Allowed Colors-Black, red, blue, and fawn (Isabella). Markings-Rust, sharply defined, appearing above each eye and on muzzle, throat and forechest, on all legs and feet, and below tail. White patch on chest, not exceeding ½ square inch, permissible. Disqualifying Fault - Dogs not of an allowed color. Gait: Free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting, there is strong rear-action drive. Each rear leg moves in line with the foreleg on the same side. Rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out. Back remains strong and firm. When moving at a fast trot, a properly built dog will single-track. Temperament: Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient. The judge shall dismiss from the ring any shy or vicious Doberman. Shyness-A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination, it shrinks away from the judge; if it fears an approach from the rear; if it shies at sudden and unusual noises to a marked degree. Viciousness-A dog that attacks or attempts to attack either the judge or its handler, is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed viciousness. Faults: The foregoing description is that of the ideal Doberman Pinscher. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation . Disqualifications: Overshot more than 3/16 of an inch, undershot more than ⅛ of an inch. Four or more missing teeth. Dogs not of an allowed color.

Approved February 6, 1982 Reformatted November 6, 1990

Judging the DOBERMAN by BoB VandiVer

A s a member of the Dober- man Judges Educa- tion Committee, I have received a number of calls in the last few months from handlers and breeders who I respect. They are the mature individuals who know what they are showing. Their complaints aren’t that they aren’t winning, but sometimes they are winning (or losing) for the wrong reasons. When they speak with a judge after the breed is finished, they find that the judges chose a certain dog because “it was so square.” Never mind that it was stick straight front and rear, or had the topline of a terrier. Recently I attended a dog show and observed a permit judge in action in the Doberman ring. This person is a well- known and well respected judge. In one class of bitches he had three representatives. Two were very good examples of the breed. One was consid- erably less so. To my surprise, the less- er bitch won the class and went on to Winner’s Bitch. The permit judge saw me watching at ringside and came to me later to discuss the breed. The discussion went quickly to that bitch class because he heard that his Winner’s Bitch was third in the class on the on the prior day under a breeder judge. In our discussion, he justified his choice because “I made my first cut on square.” I didn’t have an immediate answer and the judge needed to leave to start judging another breed, so we weren’t able to continue the discussion. On the way home I started to think about his statement. Have we oversold the concept that square is the most important characteristic of the breed? Maybe so. I know that when asked to describe a Doberman, a typical breed person starts with ‘it’s a square breed,” and then goes on from there.

Yes, square is important. It’s one of the defining characteristics of the breed. But to immediately exclude other exhibits based on that one fac- tor can’t be right. There has to be some consideration of all the major virtues and deviations, not just one.

It seems complicated, but it’s no more difficult than finding a particular car or flower. If you have the right pic- ture, you can find the right one... just as a picture of a Porsche or a rose will help you identify the right car on the lot or the right flower in the nursery.

“it seems complicated, But it’s no more difficult than finding a particular car or flower. if you haVe the right picture, YOU CAN FIND THE RIGHT ONE...”

So what should that judge have con- sidered on his “first cut?” That depends on the judge’s priorities, but selecting any one attribute may leave the best dog out of the running. There are some “must haves” and many “wants” in judging. The first “must have” is to find breed type. When the class enters the ring, the first decision should be “which dog most resembles the ideal Doberman?” The overall picture (the profile) is the confluence of the desired attributes from the breed standard. This is a visual comparison of what stands before you, relative to the mental picture you have of the ideal. The overall profile of the dog should include the head as well as the body proportions (square, body depth equal to leg length, prosternum, heavy bone), angulation (90 degree front placed well back, rear balancing front), a correct neck and tail placement/carriage, and planes (topline, head).

Here’s a photo of the ideal Doberman dog and bitch that you are looking for:

The next priority is how they hold themselves when they go around. They should look very much like the ideal profile, but with legs moving correctly and head slightly dropped as illustrated in the photo below:

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and as long as they can articulate why they chose a certain dog, then it is the right dog for them.”

It’s amazing to me how many times a class enters the ring and my first thought is “Wow, this is a good class” only to find when they move they are lacking reach and/or drive, going off in the topline or tailset, bouncing, or any of several other problems. The search for the best Doberman just got a lot more difficult. So, in the first few minutes when they have entered the ring and then gone around, you have made some major decisions, and it wasn’t on one attribute like square. You have decided which ones have the best profile and can move while keeping that profile. Fortunately, many times there are several dogs that rise out of those first two decisions... profile and move- ment. They have passed the first two “must haves.” A full body evaluation is next on the priority list. Now is the time that you start setting priorities. This is when “I made my first cut on square” is appropriate. This is the point at which head, bone, feet, muscle tone, conditioning, down and back movement, and many other essentials are evaluated. It’s also the point where judge’s opinions diverge substantially, and that’s okay. The head is a breed defining charac- teristic and it must be given due consid- eration and must be high on the priority list. As in the first priorities in judging (profile and movement), head must be of correct Doberman type. No matter how well a dog matches the profile and move- ment, if it does not have an acceptable head, then it is not a correct Doberman. That being said, will you give a little on the head to be square? Or will you give a little length for a better head? Your decision.

Below are the images of a correct head that you must have in your men- tal picture to complete the three most important priorities in judging.

I know that we Doberman people emphasize square to every judge and anyone who asks about the breed. Apparently, many judges are mak- ing their first cut based on square. It’s important, but it’s only one attribute. The point here is to make your first cut based on the most important points, and not one or two specific characteristics. About the Author

Mr. Vandiver has bred and owner handled many Doberman cham- pions under the Mistel prefix. He is approved to judge all breeds in the Working, Sporting,

Breeders and judges all place empha- sis on the areas that they feel are most important. Some judges cannot accommodate a dog with a less than superior head. I’ve often heard it said that “the head is the first thing you see, and I want it right.” Okay, that’s a major priority for you and you can weigh it more heavily than other characteristics. Others may consider proper front angles to be a major priority, as the cor- rect front is noticeably absent in many Dobermans. It’s hard to successfully breed and easy to lose. Still others may consider the rear to be the most important characteristic, as that’s what furnishes most of the power in forward motion. With so many options and so many individual “druthers,” you can see why judging seems to be inconsis- tent. Good judges aren’t inconsistent, they just have different priorities from one another. If judges select a Doberman that most closely matches his mental picture for profile, movement, and head, then he should not be expected to choose the dog that you or another judge would select. Judges can put up different dogs for different reasons, and as long as they can articulate why they chose a certain dog, then it is the right dog for them.

and Herding groups. He has judged numerous prestigious specialties and all-breed shows in the United States and has judged internationally in China, Japan, India, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Phil- ippines, Mexico, and Canada. Bob has judge the Westminster Kennel Club three times, including judging the working group in 2013. He has been a past officer in the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and former chairman and present member of Judges Educa- tion. He has authored several articles on judging. Bob has been involved in many other all-breed clubs as an offi- cer, show chair, or working member. In addition to conformation, he has par- ticipated in performance and working dog sport. When not involved with the dogs, his other interests are technology and physical fitness. Bob is an engi- neering graduate of Texas A&M Uni- versity, and retired as a member of the Executive Management Team at one of the largest Engineering and Construc- tion companies in the US.

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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.




The current problems in the breed as I see them at this current point in time are lack of underjaw and planes that are not parallel. Both of these faults seriously affects the expression. Another fault currently plaguing the breed are incorrect tail sets. The tail is a continuation of the spine, yet over and over I see judges overlooking extremely high tail sets. Some of them look as if the tail were longer they could scratch their head with it. Another current problem is the dogs are too long. Dobermans are supposed to be square with a level topline. Dogs that are long are winning all the time. Thirty to forty years ago we rarely saw a dog with a sway back, let alone one that was winning. Temperament: The Doberman being a companion and guard (not or a guard), I expect no shyness. Size: Males are 26 to 28 inches. Females are 24 to 26 inches. In evaluat- ing the size, the fault should be in the deviation from the ideal. I hope in some way I have helped you on your journey. Judging is always

a work in progress, and that is what makes it so exciting. This article is authored by me, and in no way rep- resents the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. ABOUT THE AUTHOR • Past President of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America • Past President of the Doberman Pinscher Club of Canada • Past board member of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America • Past Chairman Judges Education DPCA • Top 20 judge SUGGESTED READING MATERIALS: • The Doberman Pinscher Brains and Beauty by Rod Humphries and Joanna Walker • Visualization of the Standard • The Doberman Pinscher Club of America Judges Education materials and articles




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.



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.






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.





T he Doberman Pinscher Club of America Judges’ Education Committee has received a number of concerns regard- ing the judging of our breed. Legend- ary breed authority, Peggy Adamson, said, “Our breed type emerges from the whole standard.” The Doberman was bred as a per- sonal companion and protection dog. These qualities require certain mental and physical attributes. The dog must be stable, confident, energetic, driven and still be sociable and biddable. The DPCA Judges’ Education Committee would like to emphasize the following: The Doberman Pinscher is a medium sized dog with a body that is square. The Doberman is not tall or rectangu- lar. Dogs are 26"-28" and bitches are 24"-26". Either sex will look imposing if it possesses the correct broad chest and heavy bone required. Although the Doberman may seem bigger than his inches, any deviation from the correct size should be faulted. The square, compact Doberman is measured from the forechest to the


rear projection of the upper thigh. The topline will appear level when gaiting if the dog is balanced with approximate square and equal angles at both ends. The withers are the highest point of the body. The depth of the body is one-half the height of the dog at the withers. The underline is well tucked, but not over- stated. The loin is wide and muscled. The coat is smooth, short, hard, thick and close lying. The head should appear long and dry, resembling a blunt wedge from both frontal and profile views. The planes are parallel with a slight stop. The eyes are dark and almond shaped.

The jaw is strong, with underjaw visible from the front or side. The mouth has 42 correctly placed teeth. Poor occlu- sion is a problem and the mouth should be thoroughly evaluated, both closed and opened. Four or more missing teeth are a disqualification, as is overshot by more than 3/16 " or undershot more than ⅛ " . The Doberman is elegant in appear- ance, of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility. The elegant appearance is a result of the smooth transition of the neck into the well laid back shoulder blades, the smooth straight topline blending into a slightly rounded,


well filled out croup. The tail is carried only slightly above the horizontal. The Doberman looks like he was poured into his tight fitting skin. The dog must hold his silhouette when moving. His head comes forward to lead the way. His body maintains bal- ance and square appearance and the topline remains firm. The Doberman is a balanced, agile, quick and power- ful mover with fully extended reach and drive. Like a fine oil painting, the profile must first be appreciated from a distance. Then a closer view from front, rear and above will give a true assess- ment of correct structure. The Doberman is a breed of balance. To quote the standard, “Length of head, neck and legs in proportion to length and depth of body. Length of neck pro- portioned to body and head.” Height to length is equal, depth of body to length of leg is equal, front and rear angulation is equal, shoulder and upper arms are equal and upper and lower thighs are equal. Everything is in proportion and nothing is exaggerated. Good temperament is a must. The standard states, “…of proud carriage, reflecting great nobility and tempera- ment. Energetic, watchful, determined, alert, fearless, loyal and obedient.” All this in a confident dog that is aware of everything and in control. The Dober- man was bred as a personal companion and guard; therefore, good tempera- ment is essential. Good Doberman judging will encompass the foregoing points. The Doberman fancy will applaud the efforts of conscientious judges who do so. Additional information is available on the DPCA website at under the heading “Education”. Click on the “Judges’ Education” link. There are many articles used in the DPCA Judges’ Education program that are included in this section. A free copy of the DPCA Illustrated Standard is available to all judges by emailing: DPCAEducational-





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


• 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.



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.





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.




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.







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.”


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.



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. A 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.




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.



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.



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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